It’s curious the things we choose to commemorate, isn’t it? This week is the ‘celebration’ of Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes night) in England, which is historical and political but not relevant to today, other than if the terrorist plot had not been discovered, UK history, religion and especially the seat of our government, would be very different now.
There’s a great description of the event all those years ago on the Hatfield House website, which gives the story an interesting slant. Religious wars, and terrorism in the name of religion, has been with us since religion began and the more recent events of past years, seen in that context, are a continuation of hard-headed people trying to convince, or eliminate, others who don’t share their point of view. UK history certainly has more than its fair share of religious persecution, even within Christianity, but it is curious that we still burn an effigy of a person on the bonfire. Not a particularly pleasant thing to remember, surely?!
However, most people these days just go to bonfire night celebrations to watch some spectacular fireworks, enjoy hot dogs and have some fun by a huge bonfire! I shouldn’t think too many stop to think that the fireworks they are watching could have been the Houses of Parliament going up in flames if the plot had succeeded, and that the whole course of our history would have been very different from that point on.
Religion and politics – two subjects that influence the whole way the world works and how everyone relates to everyone else. Nothing changes, and yet nothing stays the same. History repeats itself, yet situations are different. What was an unprecedented act in 1605 has now become all too real. It seems so sad to me that we, as a species, cannot get past such behaviour and thinking. As individuals, the vast majority of us would like to live in harmony with our neighbours, but there are always a few who wish to impose their warped view on everyone else. Many terrorist plots are foiled these days. So maybe Bonfire Night could be a night to commemorate and silently thank those who work hard to keep it that way!