Burn Baby, Burn

The Flag, the Bible, the Cross… all symbols that inspire, inflame and cause people to react in ways that never cease to amaze me.  What is it about these symbols, and others like them, that cause people to react in such an emotional manner?

Recently I was listening to Fortunate Son on YouTube and saw a video for a protest. In the video an American flag was being burned.  The comments from those who had watched the video, those objecting and those defending, were angry and filled with spite and malice.  One comment from a protester:  “F^#% that bastard. He should be beaten and burned!”  Another comment from a defender: “This country is f#$%ed. Burn all the flags and kill the politicians.”  Wow, really? Throwing the ‘f’ word around, and burning and killing people is the BEST option you can come up with? An emotional outburst to destroying a SYMBOL?  I am so sorry for you; for your feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

You want to burn the flag? Go ahead.  You want to burn the bible? Fine.  You want to burn a cross? Do it.  I couldn’t care any less.  Those are symbols. Nothing more, nothing less.  My spirituality, my views, my beliefs, my reason for living, my ability to get by in this world are NOT tied to these things and the more I object the more power I give to you.  Why would I give you that power?  Burning symbols does not anger me.   Anger stems from fear, and I am certainly not afraid that your burning of symbols is going to destroy religion, country, God, or me.  So I say to you… “Burn baby, burn.”  If it makes you feel better; if it makes you feel like you are making a difference, if you honestly believe you are making an improvement to this place you call home, then burn away.

No, burning symbols does not bother me.  It’s been done for years… nothing new or stimulating there.   What does bother me, though, is the blatant attempt to anger others by that act.  To purposely piss people off… to be a ‘Flamer’ or a ‘Troll’.  I don’t mind if we have a differing of opinion but when someone intentionally responds in a manner to deliberately push another’s buttons with no substance, no relevance, no real thought; just fearful, ignorant actions and speech, well, that bothers me.

I love the music of Johnny Cash. I went to hear him in concert and heard him say, “I thank God for all of the freedoms in this country, even the right to burn the flag… but I tell you what. We’ve also got the right to bear arms and if you burn my flag, I’ll shoot you. But I’ll shoot you with the love of love, like a good American.”  Well, I’m glad that we live in a country where we are allowed free speech but I am frustrated by the discourse that is shared simply to get a rise out of folks.  A passionate plea for cheers and “hell ya’s” and nodding of the heads, and the unspoken call to “shoot those hippie bastards”.

Have we always been a nation of emotional reactors; a nation of folks who prefer to incite with words rather than take action?  I think of the likes of Rosa Park… a woman who took a stand (well, a seat) without fanfare, without standing on the corner burning flags, or threatening lives. This is the example that I want to follow… not some flag burning, rhetoric spewing individual.

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One Response to Burn Baby, Burn

  1. luke says:

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