Thursday, November 3, 2011

Remember, Remember the 5th of November...

We are approaching the 5th of November.  Guy Fawkes day.  Although this is a British holiday, I know of the date because I have watched V for Vendetta 50 million times.

The lone man single-handedly leading a group of oppressed people against an overwhelmingly powerful government using only kung fu, homemade explosives and a few videos is uniquely entertaining.  The movie is exceptionally well-done and strikes a similar chord as The Matrix, which I watched 9 times in the theater.

I recently read up on Guy Fawkes, hoping to find a fascinating tale of heroism and bravery.  I thought that perhaps it would be a story of inspiration to impart to the readers of this blog.  Instead, I discovered that Fawkes was actually a failed terrorist.  He attempted to blow up parliament, but was betrayed by his comrades when they discovered that the plot would hurt innocent people, captured by the police and finally tortured until he confessed the names of his accomplices.  The only noteworthy aspect of his execution was that he managed to break his own neck before being drawn and quartered, thereby saving himself the agony of being disemboweled while he was alive.  Some even say the plot would have failed in any case because the gunpowder his group had amassed was too wet and old to create an explosion... not a very inspirational story.

Guy Fawkes ostensibly became a member of this plot to protest a lack of religious freedom.  He failed because he failed to apply the principles of his religion to achieve that goal.  Jesus was a clear advocate of nonviolence as a means of protest.  The idea of murdering even the worst oppressor would have been abhorrent to the founder of Christianity.

The problem with using Mr. Fawkes' likeness as a symbol of personal freedom is that he symbolizes not freedom from oppression, but rather enslavement to the very forces that have dominated mankind's history of violence, war and thievery for thousands of years.

In the words of Gandhi, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."  Guy Fawkes was truly blind.  He failed to recognize that the world is not composed of action heroes and evil villains, but of human beings; and that if effective change is to be achieved, it will be not through death and destruction, but through increased communication and empathy with one's fellows.

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