Destruction of Palmyra
Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Note: I wrote and scheduled the posting of this article before the attacks in Paris.
The great American writer John Steinbeck asked, “How will we know it’s us without our past?”
I have a very profound sense of the necessity of preserving our culture and history, and not just American, European, or Christian history, culture, art and literature. Cultural monuments and the great works of art and architecture belong to all of us, regardless of our religion, ideology, race, or nationality. They are a part of our common humanity, our common heritage; they must be protected, and when they are destroyed, it impoverishes all of us. Thus when a group, be it a group of political, racial, or religious extremists, decide to erase those monuments to humanity, it is an assault on all of us.
This has been done numerous times throughout history by various conquerors. In the past century it has happened all too often, and it has been happening with startling regularity in the areas controlled by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Shrines sacred to Moslems, Christians, and Jews; wonders of the ancient world that give us a glimpse of the magnificent past, are destroyed, while other artifacts are looted, and sold in order to fund even more cultural destruction.
The Islamic State are committing human atrocities that defy the imagination; ethnic and religious cleansing, forced conversions, rape and murder on a massive scale. In spite of that they can never succeed, unless they destroy the memory of the past.
Hitler and other despots tried this. Hitler and his Nazi criminal state attempted to exterminate, and then eradicate the memory of the Jews from Europe. He was not successful, but given more time, he might have succeeded. I think that it speaks volumes about the real intent of the Islamic State. George Clooney, who plays the American professor Frank Stokes in the film told his team members:
“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed.”
That is why defeating the Islamic State matters. It is not just about geopolitics, or oil, it is about protecting who we are and human beings.
Have a great weekend.