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the 5th November
Right about now, there are
armies of children around Britain foraging for wood and other combustible
material (also known as "chumping") in order to stack bonfires
for the annual ritual which occurs on the 5th November. Part of the
getting ready to set light to Britain also includes making a Guy Fawkes
look-a-like, which gets dragged around and used as an excuse to demand
money from passers-by with the cry of "penny for the Guy".
Then when the big day finally arrives, it gets shoved on the bonfire
as the final salute and it's big send off in glory.
This has been going on now,
for 399 years, ever since the first thwarted "terrorist" plot
by religious zealots attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
Back then, it was catholic
zealots who wanted to change their world using violent and explosive
means and the orders for this treasonous act apparently went all the
way up the chain of religious command, some suggesting even to the top
of the Catholic tree. Guy Fawkes was the man with the match, who was
discovered in the basement of the Parliament buildings in a rather too
compromising situation along with a large quantity of explosives. Needless
to say there were other co-conspirators, all of whom were executed.
But, Fawkes is the guy (sorry!) that people remember and who gets the
roasting every year.
Nowadays, the religious zealots
may be wearing a different mantle, but the methodology for enacting
change hasn't itself changed much in the last 400 years! Some people
still think that the way to solve society's problems involves pyrotechnic
statements of a terminal kind. And just as religious leaders then were
implicated in the dark deeds down in the dungeons, the supposedly spiritual
leaders of some communities now still believe that the road to God should
be a bloody one.
It's interesting to note
that the backlash from the gunpowder plot had the opposite effect to
that which the conspirators desired and resulted in tighter controls
on their brand of religion with apparently public support. Spot any
Isn't it now time we climbed
out of that particular groove of cultural consciousness and started
playing life to a better tune?
Perhaps we could try the
ancient and wise maxim - LIVE AND LET LIVE?
Footnote: for all
the bonfire night revellers - the law of 1605, which compelled the population
to celebrate the thwarted plot, by lighting bonfires every 5th of November,
was repealed in 1859 - so you can stop now!
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