Thursday, 16 January 2014

What is Sacred in our world?

I get to read a lot of news and the more I read the more I wonder about what our XXI century society considers Sacred with a Capital ''S''.
Is there anything in our world left that is Sacred? I mean by that something we all hold in common and can agree upon that is Sacred.

The word Sacred as defined means: From the Latin, Sacrare, Middle-English, Sacren, French, Sacrer.
Inviolable, untouchable, Holy, worthy of veneration. Humans in all cultures and since time immemorial have held certain things to be sacred, one is life, birth, another is burial grounds, Religious Temples in every Faith are sacred, anyone performing a religious rite in a ceremonial,
a Constitution, a National Flag, Human Rights as defined in the UN Charter and recognised as such by the Nations of the World.  

However because our general culture tends to trivialise what was considered Sacred many now think that little or nothing is Sacred and can be ignored or discarded, at any rate it is open to debate on the internet where people are free to insult each other with impunity and anonymity.

Is Life Sacred? Recently a man was shot to death in a cinema for texting before the show started to his child. Some commenters, several of them, commented that he fully deserved it, he had it coming, they said. Really? A human life is so worthless today that a simple text message, a disagreement can lead to murder?

In Ottawa in the last 3 years there has been an epidemic of hit and run by careless drivers who injured seriously or killed people. After hitting someone the driver simply takes off, thinking no one will have noticed. However escaping justice is difficult since all car repairs are reported to the Police in case of accidents. Only after the drivers have been found or denounced by someone do they come forward, how disrespectful can you be towards another human being. It seems that not assuming any responsibility is the norm.

What about all the children and other people who are slaughtered in various schools or public places in the USA and still despite the horror, some people claim that their right to own an assault weapon trumps everyone else right to live in peace.  An obscene point of view based on twisted logic and depraved sense of entitlement.

Many great figures have been ridiculed and attacked publicly because they did not meet a certain modern popular idea or standard decided upon by a trendy way of thinking.

I think here of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) who devoted his life to others, built a hospital in Africa and cared for his patients, a visionary in his time.  A Nobel Peace Prize Winner and recognised by the World as a Humanitarian of high moral standing is brought down by an article with unproven facts, simply vague rumours claiming he was an awful person, this is trumpeted on Radio-Canada in an historical segment.

No one is safe from salacious rumours and stories surfacing decades later simply to titillate a bored public thirsty for dirt. No one will ask if it is true or not, the public appears more than willing to believe just about anything.

There are schools of thought, I do not know if you can call them that, but this is how they present themselves, who will say the harshest things simply in a crusade to set the record straight or this is what they believe. Correct the mistakes of the past by denouncing them in the present, very reminiscent of Communist Regimes like China and North Korea. Can we ever correct the past? How? What is past is past. How can anyone not living during a specific time period and born later sometimes decades if not centuries later, claim that he or she can correct or apologize on behalf of the dead. We can correct current behaviour or not repeat past mistakes, though with the prevailing ignorance of events more than 20 years old, one wonders if we are not condemn to repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

The same in the work place, we have policies on a Respectful Workplace but that is totally meaningless. No one understands what it actually means. Employees who are incompetent hide behind it. It appears that bullying by Management is now the norm, it is all passive, aggressive behaviour, lies and deceit. Management unable to provide proper guidance and a lack of interest in the job to be done. Every manager has her eye on the Media, what are they saying and how will this affect my bonus or promotion, doing the job is not even on the table. Customers and employees are abused in the worst way and no one is held responsible.

Have you ever noticed now how when you phone a large corporation who is suppose to provide a service they will address you by your first name. You have no idea who this person is speaking with you, but they treat you with contempt and provide generally poor service. You have little choice in the matter. Where is management, they are no where to be found and will not respond to any enquiry. It seems that lack of respect for people in general is the way of the world. But why have we descended to this level?

Another outrage was committed recently in a London Cemetery where the ashes of Sigmund Freud and his wife were interned in an antique Urn 2300 years old. The vandals smashed the Greek Urn at New Year in what appears to be an aborted theft. Freud died in 1939 and his wife in 1951, they had been left at Peace until now. Again what kind of mentality in our society allows people to disturb the dead and vandalise burial grounds. A total lack of respect, of consideration for others. Unable to understand the gravity of the gesture or the words expressed.

Unfortunately there is more and more lack of respect in our society for people, ideas, or what was considered until now as Sacred by all. We strive so much to push the real accepted rights and the made up imagined rights of the individual over those of the collectivity that our shared values are forgotten. What hope is there for any Civilization amid such confusion.

Tiepolo, Pulling teeth.


  1. I don't think anything was ever truly 100% universally sacred. But it seemed to be so simply because people weren't as mobile. If an ancient person or society encountered someone different, lots of mayhem usually ensued with very little respect for anything the other held sacred. Today that kind of cultural clash occurs constantly.

  2. I've just read Erich Kaestner's extaordinary, semi-autobiographical novel about Berlin in 1930, Going to the Dogs. The protagonist is a supremely moral individual who finds himself in many seedy situations - certainly nothing's sacred but the author points the way forward to post-1945 possibilities (in 1931!) and makes us see how so many of those ways of taking responsibility have shaped Europe since then - for the better, I must say. And I do believe there's vastly more good in our tentative peace than there was in those hideously unstable and pathological times when even respect and the sacred were placed in false idols.

    1. I remember years ago on our first visit to Dresden when the Fraun Kirchen was not fully rebuilt we walked by the sculpture of the boy Erich K. sitting on a garden wall. We looked at it but could not figure out what it was or why it was there. Now we know thanks to you. I will look for that book.

  3. Woe to a society with no sense of the Sacred is all I got to say.

  4. “However because our general culture tends to trivialise what was considered Sacred many now think that little or nothing is Sacred and can be ignored or discarded, at any rate it is open to debate on the internet where people are free to insult each other with impunity and anonymity.”

    I read my first Stephen King novel last month. I have to say with no intention to sound the snob that the experience was just about what I expected. He incorporates too many cute asides and too much graphic detail for me, but his admirers do expect that, so… The book is the time travel outing, “11/22/63”, about an attempt to stop the Kennedy assassination. Late in the book, King has his hero quote: “Peek not through the keyhole, lest ye be vexed”, then follow with “Is there a bigger keyhole than the Internet?”

    Nicely put. I remain conflicted.