Monday 19 May 2008

It's Only a Book

It’s only a book

I remember a song from my childhood when I watched the children’s program the lyrics stuck in my head for days; any idle moment was occupied by that song seeping into my mental tranquillity.

The first two lines went thus:

It’s only a book
Paper bound in leather and glue

I cannot remember the other lines but this is sufficient for the purposes I have raised it.

Abusing the Quran

The newswires are now excited with the news that a US soldier in Iraq had used a Quran for target practice; it was riddled with bullet holes and scrawled through with graffiti.

In any event, I would consider this act utterly insensitive, probably outrageous but I would offer the offender the benefit of the doubt that he was not malicious.

The American Army in Iraq has apologised to the local tribal leaders and hopefully, this will not be hijacked by malevolent forces to bring people unnecessarily onto the streets in protest.

Books, words and acts

I would concur that many religions have their books of knowledge and Scripture, which adherents hold in varying degrees of reverence, but a book on its own does not constitute anything in and of itself.

It has to have words that are read, meditated upon, voiced in prayer or preaching to make any sort of impact.

I would be very sorry if a rare version of the Quran, the Bible or the Torah were destroyed in some Barbaric vandalism, such a book might be irreplaceable but the import of the words would not be all the more potent if the same words were read from a modern-day cheap reproduction.

The benefit we have beyond the days of Johannes Gutenberg is that a basic Bible or Quran can be easily replaced by going to the shops without making wanton destruction affect us so adversely.

Giving books reverence

I remember the reverence with which people picked up their Bibles when accidentally dropped them, they were overcome with a combined sense of guilt and piety as they picked up the book and bowed their heads into it in mock worship.

I would be very concerned if the book were to accidentally leave the grasp of a holder and then fail to obey the laws of gravity just as I would have been concerned that religious books had such powers as to be resistant to the impact of bullets.

A book is a reference document; the quality of the information in it is only as good as how it is used; hopefully for the benefit of mankind – if a book begins to exhibit onomatopoeic tendencies without human influence or anthropomorphic attributes, one might be persuaded to say the book is bewitched.

Yet, we ascribe without thought powers to books which they do not have as inanimate objects – because only the realisation that the content when read can influence situations has any potency.

Between reverence and survival

It is only a book, paper bound in leather and glue.

I would wonder what would happen if one were caught in a dire survival situation where a fire was an essential thing to maintain life – one would hope that the essential bits of information to maintain faith and hope would have already been committed to memory – allowing for the book to be set on fire to provide warmth.

However, appealing to a greater sense of civility, I would hope that this matter would be treated with temperance and put in perspective whilst accepting the apology offered.

Religious fervour is not well served by bringing the mob onto the streets to protest about the peacefulness of one’s religion.

It’s only a book, paper bound in leather and glue, what would happen if one smashed a computer screen where the words in the book appear?

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