Colonial and cultural celebrations and Arseholes

Previously on Peter’s Punchbowl

Last week I asserted that people who ignite loud explosive fireworks which frighten and have the potential to kill animals, are Arseholes. As expected it is those very arseholes who launched a feeble attempt to attack me for “attacking our culture and religion”.

I did not attack anyone or any group or any culture and certainly not any religion. Religion seems always to be the ‘holy cow’ which it is forbidden to criticise. Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and Sam Harris ignore those restrictions.

Colonial tradition inherited by S’Effica.

What I did last week and repeat now, was to simply call a spade a spade and not a damn shovel. But let us examine culture and the related traditions. Guy Fawkes and his misguided cronies started one tradition in 1605.

Houses of Parliament, London. Image by Michael D Beckwith : Unsplash

They wanted to blow up King James I and his government in the Houses of Parliament by igniting 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars. They failed and Fawkes escaped a slow and painful death by falling off the scaffolding and breaking his neck. To this day the British tradition is to search the cellars of the Houses of Parliament for barrels of gunpowder before every session of parliament. Fawkes, a strong Catholic, and his cronies did what they did without regard to religious affiliation. Why do we in South Africa then, in the midst of throwing off our colonial past, follow the fireworks tradition which was started by our Colonial Masters as a result of that Gunpowder Plot? Australia banned celebrating Guy Fawkes Day more than 30 years ago. Actually we don’t follow the “tradition”. Most people today don’t know the history or origin of celebrating Guy Fawkes Day with fireworks. We just know that we must remember remember the 5th of November and we have an abundance of arseholes who think that it’s fun to ignite loud explosive fireworks which frighten animals and have the potential to kill them. How can that possibly be fun?

Victory of Light over Darkness

I was in Durban as a teenager and ran the risk of being arrested by BOSS – the Bureau of State Security. Not because I was a political activist but because I celebrated Deepawali with some friends. “Nee meneer.” The police would say when threatening to arrest me. “ Jy mag nie met daardie coolies speel nie”. The times were awful but the celebrations were wonderful. I recall parades along the beachfront with music and happy noisy celebration and food-stalls and colourful Saris and lots of sparklers. Yes. An abundance of sparklers and Catherine wheels and the whoosh throwing out a fountain of bright bouncing colours sprayed into the air, but no loud explosive bangs.

The Victory of Light over Darkness.
Image by: Pure Julia: Unsplash

Hundreds of candles to spread the light, but no bangs. What changed in the past decades? Diwali is the festival of the victory of light over darkness. The victory of good over evil and the victory of knowledge over ignorance. As a precursor and precaution before writing this, I checked with several of my Hindu friends. I also consulted a Guru at a local Temple. All agree. Diwali is the Festival of Light – – not of loud.

This year Guy Fawkes and Diwali coincide. Diwali starts on 4 November. Perhaps Guy Fawkes will be forgotten. Hopefully, light will shine brightly and spread love while loud will lay low.

Why? And who would …?

I emphasise that I am not talking about tradition or culture or religion. We are free to follow any religion, or not to follow a religion. We are free to celebrate our culture and free to follow any tradition which we choose. But we are not free to cause harm. I am not even dealing with the law regarding fireworks. There are laws and most cities and towns have by-laws. I am not discussing the legislation which specifically protects animals. I am focussing on the harm to and potential death of animals. Animals are now regarded as sentient beings. There is no doubt in science that animals are able to perceive and feel things. No one will disagree that animals have feelings and express emotions. They are capable of forming attachments and have distinct personalities. Animals show affection to other animals and to people who in turn show and express great love for their furry and other animal friends. The love which your pets give to you is unconditional. Why would anyone in their right mind seek to harm pets and animals? Who would do anything to cause them harm, pain, suffering and even death?

Only an arsehole.

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects the views of the author and not of SAFREA or any of its members  

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