It's Memorial Day and I'm in the office, so of course I'm looking for ways to procrastinate. New post time!
After the VT tragedy, a local church put up 32 (by my count) flag poles in memorial. Each pole is flying a flag of the state that was somehow associated with one of the victims. So, as you can imagine, there are probably 25 or more American flags flown, as well as an Indian flag, an Israeli flag, and several others I couldn't name off the top of my head.
This memorial is a profound statement of how ridiculous our symbolic landscape has become. Note the process: individual -> nationality -> state; this memorial manages to conflate all three. In this process, it demolishes the individuals, with all their variety and independence, far more thoroughly than any bullet.
Let us not forget that these were real, living people. No symbol or category could contain them, because like us, they were unpredictable and ever-changing. Should we now try to box them up in symbols to serve our own fears, our own perverse anxieties?
As individuals, we all need to understand the total process of authority and what a silly game it is. If we can get past the barriers it creates, perhaps we will be able to appreciate each other fully before the next tragedy, whatever it may be, rather than being left with only regret and emptiness.