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The Burning of Books

Posted Sep 09 2010 12:00am

“Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings”

~Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1823

A church in Florida has made the news this week because of its plans to burn a copy of the Koran.  I find it amazing and sad that in this point in history that anyone would want to burn a book.  We are at a point in history where we are the most educated and we live in the most global culture that has ever been.  Most of do not live in a culture that is ignorant of the differences in belief systems of others. We are not living in a dark age where we do not have the information at our fingertips which can help us understand and appreciate the diversity of the world we live in. How do we explain the choice of some to propagate ignorance that belittles others who may not believe as they do which in the end results in a violent act such as burning a book which many in this world consider holy text?

Burning of any book is an act of aggression against our own humanity.  Burning a book that is the basis of a cultures belief system is a violent act that is designed by the very nature of the act to incite violence in the minds and hearts of the very people who claim to be loving and peaceful.

I do understand that by burning a book you are only destroying the book which is a physical thing and that one is not destroying the ideas or beliefs that are found in the book. I do understand that this is a symbolic act.

“The paper burns, but the words fly away”

~Akiba ben Joseph

Burning of a book, such as the Bible, the Koran, the Torah or any other book is a violent act and an expression of ignorance.  In this case the proposed burning of the Koran is an aggressive act which fuels emotions that can and very well may escalate to physical violence.

The proposed burning of the Koran is not a loving act, the idea is not borne of love. One may attempt to cite nationalism and say that this is a political statement that is being exercised to drive home a point or to generate some type of awareness. This is a rationalization which is borne of ego and misalignment with our true self. We are beings of love. Love is our foundation and if we have the courage to go within and ask ourselves “what would love do” we would come to a quick conclusion that burning a book is not a loving act.

May we all find compassion rather than hate and revenge. May we all find wisdom rather than ignorance. May we each come to love  each  other for who we are and understand that we are all from the same source rather than hate people because of what they feel, believe or even do. May we each take the time to learn about the individual person rather than make choices based on labels.

Today I send love to all the people who are affected by the proposed burning of the Koran, the people who will be offended by this act and the people who are participating in this act. May people on both sides of this issue find the love that resides within them to love each other and not use the burning of a book, the hateful utterances and acts of others as an excuse to respond in kind.  May we all choose to be kind rather that act in kind.

“Book burnings. Always the forerunners. Heralds of the stake, the ovens, the mass graves.”

- Geraldine Brooks

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