A great philosopher once said in a rather cryptic manner that nothing changes; one could say that our naked, tame souls cannot fathom this simple dictum of life, how our reality is merely constructed out of our simple hopes and childish beliefs. Meaning and change are part of the same illusion, stemming from a lack of ability to realise this uncomplicated truth. There is quite simply no single straightforward truth in life. In Buddhism, life is simply suffering until the final stage, Nirvana, is reached. Christianity invokes forgiveness and caritas or brotherly love. Islam is submission to the one true God head. For the neo-liberal it is money, stemming from greed, that is the alpha and omega. And for some the force is the truth. Others choose their own truth derived from a belief system as a cornerstone for their reality, or life, which is only a grain of sand in the whole cosmos. The many truths of the universe fill it up in a manner that recalls Archimedes’ famous sand corn experiment.
And so, what once was is what still is, never becoming, since change and truths are illusions. A simple stroll down the annals of Western history sheds light on this “simple truth”. In ancient times, even in Athens, when faced with rebellion, the ruling establishment crushed all resistance. In the Roman Empire, Spartacus was put to the cross first, then came Jesus. Much later in history there would not only be causalities but also belief systems that were forced down the throats of those who dared challenge the status quo, individuals such as Bruno, Abelard, Malcolm X and countless others.
Last weekend the foot soldiers, Storm Troopers and lovers of conformism, came forth with their self-righteous indignation at the dirty hippies, or, quite simply, the group Saving Iceland. You see, here in Iceland, the happiest country in Europe, we do not like those who disagree with our affluent lifestyle. The truth that heavy industry is needed is pumped into our belief systems, like our own personal crack stash being supplied by level-minded politicians and business men, both here in Iceland and abroad. Their truth will guide us poor souls. It doesn’t really seem to matter that these companies supply the military or are guilty of foul play in other countries – as long as some people here can have their payday. “The prevailing truth” is that everybody that has a problem with heavy industry and shady companies – and takes action, something that has been done countless times in history – is now a filthy hippie who doesn’t know any better.
For upholding their natural right and display of civil disobedience, three members of Saving Iceland were detained at the police station on Hverfisgata. When I arrived at the police station, after the news, I stood by in awe: Icelanders never challenge the status quo, or at least they have stopped trying. Once there were famous protests such as the Gúttóslagur – and who can forget, although most Icelanders were not born, the day Iceland joined NATO. The city was almost torn apart because different belief systems clashed in Austurvöllur. Nowadays, I fear that more people in Iceland know who 50 Cent is rather than say, Trotsky or Bakunin.
However, what struck me as being the most ridiculous thing about this affair was that during the whole police charade I noticed a lone figure way up on top of the police building, like the mysterious lone gun man (not Oswald) of the JFK assassination. He was taking photographs of the protesters and, of course by default, bystanders. While I gazed at this versatile legionnaire of justice, I was reminded of the simple story of Peter Parker’s true origin. Stan Lee is not the sole creator of Spider Man or the Marvel Universe; actually, Jack Kirby is the true godfather of modern super hero comics. As luck would go, he is only a fringe figure acknowledged by geeks and nerds. Facts like this one shed light on how value systems and truth for some people can never be relative, and so there is always “the danger” for some to realise that a preconceived notion of truth is fallible when challenged by another truth. Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the phone is another example of this textbook fallacy of “established truths”. A person who clings to these straws of truth, from what they view as the jaws of death, can be compared to a tight rope artist who never actually crosses over the rope because he never sees the point. He is safe, therefore, he is also right. I was awestruck by this herd mentality of the police officer, who was shooting photographs right and left, just as if he was being paid $50 a piece by Jonah Jameson himself. Protesters and all those who dared stand by became victims of a “drive by photo shoot”. Later, I actually called him out and, like a startled lemur, he recoiled his camera ever so quickly as if he had just been spotted masturbating in public. After taking a few steps away again from the building, I turned my back and when I looked back I noticed he had whipped his toy back out. With great power there comes great responsibility. But what of responsibility if your moral compass and mental bearing in life can only see black and white?
The amazing thing about all of this is the total lack of diverse and divided opinions voiced by most Icelanders. Most actually utter the same clichés. Their writing and whining reeks of the genuine mental sloth of those who lack most, if not all, of the cognitive abilities in their grey matter. Dirty hippies, stupid protesters. Those damn rebels. This is the epitome of lazy thinking. When is it allowable to protest? Obviously you cannot protest the arrival of a mass murderer to Iceland, who is responsible for the death of Chinese students. It is considered rude to protest the war on terrorism – and the list goes on ad nauseam. While some Icelanders sit at home launching a diatribe at “those hippies,” they are at the same time teaching their children to be mindless lackeys, fat off of prostituting the land, obese because of KFC and McDonald’s and immune to questioning the system. My truth might not be right, but at least I would be willing to stand and die by my convictions. However, the self righteous “good citizens” of “what is right” might flip the channel and order Dominos, all along clinging to one grain of “truth.”