Martyrdom is seldom required

small-boulders-268002_640pixabayWriting a blog which aims at examining current events through the lens of culture and literature often includes having to consider tragic news. I haven’t written anything over the past two months not due to a dearth of worthy topics but because I am finding the status quo depressing and painful. But I volunteered for a duty of sorts by starting this blog and cannot stay silent any longer, even if my mind’s a jumble.

I would have been shocked at Britain’s vote in favor of leaving the European Union if I hadn’t just spent a year watching the Cheddar Mussolini rise to prominence and a presidential nomination here at home in the good ole’ United States. I am no fan of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Gramsci, etc., but the concept of false consciousness which evolved through their writings certainly applies today. False consciousness, sometimes used as a synonym with ideology, sometimes distinguished from it, is the adoption by the ruled of the rulers’ world view contrary to their best interest.

As soon as we buy into an ideology—a political platform, a religion, a cultural attitude, etc.—we must look up in careful search of puppet strings. Britain, America, the world, look up! If we are to be puppets, let’s at least make that our choice and carry a sharp pair of scissors in case we decide to leave the show.

A little tap can send a boulder down a hill. Let’s spread critical thinking. Let’s speak up and continue to ask why. Yes, I’m not the best advocate for activism, having just spent two months hiding under a rock, but I do hereby make a commitment to myself and everyone who reads this: I will no longer keep my mouth shut, I will speak up when I see racism and prejudice, I will ask why when presented with hatred, even if it costs me. I don’t aspire to martyrdom, I’m a coward, but I do have a few pebbles I could start rolling down that hill.

Before we go, let’s reflect about and pray for a true hero, Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi. He gave a suicide bomber a hug and died to save others. Fox News and CNN won’t cover him, but we can do better, and if Najih Shaker can give his life in defiance of a toxic ideology, we can speak up the next time we find ourselves at a party with our racist friend.

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