Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

I heard it first on the radio. Daesh have blown up the temple of Baalshamin. Now I’ve never been there, never seen it, probably never will, but I feel the loss.

But it’s interesting to just stop and think about what drives people. I think that some people have an instinct to destroy what they feel contradicts them. It’s an inability to cope with something which doesn’t square with their beliefs.

And for Daesh it manifests itself in the destruction of people who hold different beliefs, and of buildings and cultures that were created by different beliefs.

But how to they differ, other than in degree, from those who demand we re-write Shakespeare or some other dead author who has failed to keep up with fashionable modern mores?

I’m afraid that then I see US democrats posting memes about red-neck Christian scum, or when I heard people playing ‘ding dong the witch is dead’ when Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced, I see the same human emotion at work.

As far as I can tell, it’s fear. Fear that, actually, the other side is right and you’re going to lose in the end. Fear that history will mark you down as the wrong headed ones who stood briefly in the path of progress before being sidetracked and forgotten. Fear that your bright shining ideal is just nonsense and a philosophical dead end, one that might survive as a footnote in a rarely read history of the period.

I remember what C.S.Lewis wrote in the Screwtape letters.

“Hatred has its pleasures. It is therefore often the compensation by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate.”

And so they destroy and try and build their own petty empires.

“I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Yet in our hearts, in our dreams, Palmyra lives on still.



What do I know? Speak to an expert


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2 thoughts on “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

  1. The Story Reading Ape August 25, 2015 at 5:58 pm Reply

    It is the vanity of men that they each consider only themselves to be perfectly correct and all others as either semi-pious followers or sinfully wrong infidels…(Apeology – The (half) Wit and Wisdom of TSRA) 😄😈🙊🙈🐵

    • jwebster2 August 25, 2015 at 9:58 pm Reply

      Yes, the sad thing is that Daesh are just towards the end of a spectrum, they’re not a unique phenomena. They represent the fallen nature of the human condition, the perversion of belief, just to a great extent than you see in the other examples I gave 😦

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