Author Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen had some thoughts to share on the state of the world in his recent blog post, “Fools who love marching“.
I’m happy that I read the title of this post with humour before opening it up to read the contents, which are of a very serious and dark matter indeed. Much of it echoes my own thoughts and concerns about the state of the world today, and where we are headed. I myself am of the mind that people ought to be free to follow whatever path they are on, I choose to celebrate differences rather than just tolerate them. I enjoy learning about other people’s customs and beliefs, sometimes observing, sometimes participating. I think we can respect each other, without becoming each other. And if someone decides to walk a new path for all they have learned, that’s cool too. My problem begins when others feel they need to compel others to different paths. This is commonly expressed through racism, intolerance, and religious zeal, and as Bjorn has pointed out, “fools who like to march”. When mob mentality kicks in, there is no thought, no mind, no reason that goes along with the march. These are the members of ISIS, the Christian Right, the Neo Nazis, The Tea Party, etc. who start to speak for the more moderate and tolerant people who may have somethings in common with these extremists, minus the outright bigotry, fascism and intolerance.
I guess I belong to one of these groups. And though I don’t believe Bjorn is a Pagan (I have no idea, actually), he points out that some of these extreme groups have adopted the symbolism of The Old ways, of Norse Mythology. As a Pagan who holds these symbols dear and as reflection of belief, both spiritually and as a remembrance of my ancestors, it is disturbing beyond measure to see them used in these horrible ways. This is the awful negative power of cultural appropriation, and it is done within all of these sects of fanatical extremists.
There is really nothing new about this sort of thing, it’s been happening for at least all of recorded history with differing degrees of success. For example in England, the old Celtic Gods and their symbols (whom, by the way were not the first people to call that island their home) were confounded and used by Rome during their earliest conquest, and when the Saxons came, they adopted and melded that symbolism and those ideas into their own understandings of life, as did the other various cultures (Vikings/Danes, Picts, etc) that would come to make up the rather homogenous group that today consider themselves “English”. Make no mistake, much of that appropriation was drenched in violence and extermination. And don’t think I need to even get into how the British themselves sought to impose their own ideology onto the cultures of other nations over the last several centuries.
So is it any different today? Doesn’t it seem hypocritical that a country like England can’t find a way to peacefully incorporate the likes of Muslim refugees into their own cultural soup, given they’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of cultural appropriation? Personally, I think so, and while the Brexit likely had little to do with racial issues, the racial tension growing within the people there was certainly used as leverage to pass it. And that brings us to the most disturbing point: the mob, the marchers are so damned loud and obnoxious, that the voices of reason and restraint are being drowned out. It’s already happening.
What will happen to a Europe divided. Well, we already know the answer. Europe stood divided for millennia and it knew only war. Sure there were more peaceful periods, Charlemagne comes to mind, but that peace was bought with plenty of blood. We’ve never before in our entire history seen Western Europe in a state of peace and cooperation as we have seen since the Cold War ended. Never. The European Union has so many problems, yes. Well, it’s brand new! Instead of working through it in a spirit of cooperation and unity, a mob has basically said, “Fuck it” and they did it based on racially motivated intolerance.
And what adds to my growing sense of panic is what’s happening in the United States. From my home to the north, I watch with growing concern not just that a narcissistic megalomaniac like Trump is actually the republican candidate, but that his campaign has normalized a stupid so vile, it was literally unthinkable just 8 years ago. Anyone of his missteps would have disqualified him as incompetent to even run less than a decade ago, and now we have a mounting pile of steaming nonsense that seems likely to be running that powerful country in a few months. I don’t even have words to express how depressing that is.
Sometimes it feels impossible that we live in one of the most educated periods in the whole of human history, with access to information from anywhere in the globe at our fingertips. National and global politics has become a spectacle and this is what it’s like to live in a reality TV show. People don’t care if things make sense, they only want what they want and don’t seem to care if it works or not. Build a wall, leak defense secrets, use a political office to pay out your personal grievances and send your country to war, it’s been done before, and sure, take us all back to the dark ages of tyranny and death. Let’s all go to North Korea, I’m pretty sure their culture is totally homogenized, sterilized, and no trying to take their menial jobs away from them, in order to create a brighter future for their children.
Sometimes people ask me why interested in herbal lore, survival skills, and a more natural knowledge when my background is in science and modern medicine. I usually respond with, “I just enjoy it” which is completely true. But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I think that this near-utopia we live in is just an illusion. It won’t go on forever. There may come a time when we cannot depend on society to live anymore. The grocery stores may become empty, the pharmaceutical companies dry up, electricity may not be pumped to our homes via infrastructure, and roads may become impassible.
I can hear people starting to tune out, A dystopian future is the construct of a paranoid mind, right? Let me tell you that our ancestors lived in a dystopian future for most of our human history. It’s extremely arrogant to think that the time we live in now is some sort of forward progress that history marched into by the roads of destiny. We are not destined to be this, we are not destined to stay on this path. Hard work, reason, intelligence, kindness, compassion, open-mindedness will keep us on this path, for those qualities are how we arrived here, not through the marching hordes. But it is not a guarantee that society will choose to stay on this path, and more and more it looks like we are headed for some very interesting times.
Read more about what Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hanson had to say about it here:
I have always found the concept of marching strange and quite unsettling. When I was in school, we had to march in the streets on the Norwegian National Day, and I couldn’t stand it. Shouting, sing…
Source: Fools Who Love Marching
And I will now return you to your regularly scheduled programing of a non-political nature.