We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.
Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk
Monday, July 16, 2012
The leaders of this sect found the monument offensive because of its obelisk shape, which they associate with pagan cult objects condemned in the Old Testament. It was to them a sacrilegious object not fitting as a memorial to a man like Nash or to a church. Thus, they took it upon themselves to destroy the monument beyond repair.
It takes your breath away. Their action was in every sense legal, according to the letter of the law. It was also religious. And it was wrong. In all honesty, the destruction of a small, unassuming, not well-placed monument to a church and community that have long since disappeared is not important as the world measures important events. It is, however, important to any number of local people for whom the past is important. The farm families that have long lived in the vicinity valued the monument because it tied them to their own past. Members of First Presbyterian Church, Lowville, valued it for a similar reason. Others in the Lowville community valued it because it reminded them of a part of the county's history—indeed, was a physical piece of that history. For these local folks, the destruction of the Stow Square Monument is indeed a monumental injustice.
This act calls to mind the ugly sect group in Kansas, which has picketed the funerals of soldiers as a religious act of judgment on the nation. It calls to mind the Florida group that advocates Koran burning. It calls to mind the "pro-life" murderer who assassinated Dr. George Tiller, the Kansas physician who performed abortions. In all of these cases, including the one here in Lewis County, radical religious leaders impose their will on their neighbors for reasons that make no sense to the rest of us. Thus, to destroy a 19th century monument dedicated to a church and community because it was shaped like ancient Egyptian "pagan" cultic pillar is a senseless act based on an equally senseless, obscure connection between objects separated in time by thousands of years.
We can hear them reply, "Time doesn't matter. If it was wrong in ancient times, so it is wrong now." That logic is as senseless and violent as the act of destruction itself.
It takes your breath away.