The Cross is universally recognized as a symbol of the Christian faith. Like all good symbols it communicates a wealth of information. While there are literally thousands of different interpretations of just what Christianity is, and what being a Christian means, and how that it purports to affect the behavior of those who claim it as their faith, the Cross has become the umbrella– the icon–of all Christians.
Its history is in many ways the story of humanity and Empire.
The Romans were not the first State to use crucifixion, nor sadly was it the last, but they are forever linked to and identified by its use as a method of execution. For at least several thousand years before the time of Christ, and for hundreds of years after, the mere sight of the Cross was cause for immediate fear.
There were any of a number of forms of execution practiced in Roman time. Poisoning was common, but this was usually reserved for the Elite, who were given the option of taking their own lives for capital offenses. Another, less common, was the straightforward beheading. This was considered to be the most humane of all executions, and was reserved for citizens of Empire. In fact, to demand death by beheading was the right of any Roman citizen. Needless to say, most of those who lived in the Roman Empire were not citizens of the Roman Empire.
The populations of all lands and nations conquered by Rome, all slaves, all artisans, all tradesmen, were possessions of Rome, to be used or discarded as necessary.
These were the ones for whom execution could be exercised in more … creative ways. These were subject to being put to death in the Stadium, at the hands of a Gladiator or by means of ravenous wild animals. But this method of execution became more a form of entertainment than a statement of authority. And there was also being torn apart by means of being tied to horses or chariots facing in different directions, or being burned to death. Nero elevated this to a sort of performance art by using the condemned as living torches to light his gardens.
While all of these methods were gruesome and painful they were also of relatively short duration. As such their use was of little value in terms of making a lasting impression on the oppressed. Death was, after all, a daily and public occurrence. Children who grew up watching death as entertainment grew into adults for whom witnessing death had very little chance of making a lasting impression.
Crucifixion, that is to say the process and ritual of crucifixion, stood alone in its ability to make a lasting impression. When done correctly the suffering and agony of the condemned could be prolonged for hours, sometimes days. It was the highest expression of inhumane brutality. As such, its use became a symbol, that carried a great deal of information.
Rome did not waste this form of execution on the likes of common thieves, petty crooks, even murderers, for fear that its singular message would be diminished. Crucifixion was reserved for enemies of Empire, those who dared to oppose it, who dared to call for resistance or rebellion. Death by crucifixion was used to enforce the power of Empire.
It was not a message to be ignored. Oppose Rome and not only will you suffer and die, but your suffering will be as prolonged and enhanced as possible, and your death will come only after hours or days of intense public agony. So in its time, the Cross could instantly instill fear and compel obedience in all but the most foolhardy. Crucifixion, and its tool of the Cross, was a statement of faith in Empire.
In the early days of Christianity the symbol of the fish was the faith’s icon. It was only after the passing of a few centuries when the faithful began to use the sign of the Cross, to claim it for their own and to impose a different meaning on it.
The Drone is quickly and universally becoming recognized as a symbol of the American Nation. Like all good symbols it communicates a wealth of information. While there are literally thousands of different interpretations of just what the Drone is used for, and what its use means, and how it use impacts the behavior of, and expresses the morality of, both those who support or oppose it, the Drone is becoming the umbrella–the icon–of all Americans.
Its development represents long and focused intellect, countless hours of labor and trillions of dollars spent. It is the height of ingenuity–streamlined, efficient, and easy to use. For that reason alone it can be said to represent an American ideal. Never mind that ultimately it is only a weapon of death and destruction; there are many who would claim it is an American ideal because it is a weapon of death and destruction.
The Americans are not the first to use a form of mechanized death, but sadly for humanity, they may well be the last. Sadly because mechanized death may ultimately help to spell the end of humankind. What can be said is that the drone represents in all important ways The Empire of America.
The history of war–some might say the history of humankind–is the development of machines of death that create ever more distance between the combatant and his enemy. The bare hand gave way to the rock, to the spear, to the bow and arrow, the crossbow, the catapult. All provided a distance and a superiority in combat.
Gunpowder was originally used as a relatively harmless form of entertainment, to make little rockets that made pretty explosions in the air and in the form of firecrackers to make loud noises for celebrations of State. It was swiftly used to make ever-bigger rockets and bigger bombs whose purpose was death and destruction. The technology rapidly expanded to develop guns and bigger guns, and then the technologies were combined to become jet-powered rockets, missiles gave way to guided missiles.
And ultimately it all coalesced in the drone, both a weapon of war and a method of execution.
Like crucifixion, the drone and its use carries a message and a warning. The message is that the government of the United States as embodied in the office of the President of The United States claims the right to execute anyone, at any time. The warning is that to oppose the Empire of America is to assure swift death without charges, due process, or judicial oversight. And more, it is the application of the death sentence that by its very nature assures not only the death of the supposed enemy but the death of his friends, family, and neighbors as well with no regard as to their guilt or innocence.
As such, use of the drone represents faith. Faith in the rightness of America, faith in the ascendency of our way of life, faith in the government and its Elected Representatives to do what is right in the name of its people.
To support the use of drones, for whatever reason, is to profess faith in American Empire. To allow or excuse the use of drones, for whatever reason, is to unmistakably stand on the side of Empire.
The Cross–”‘He who is not for me is against me.”
The Drone–”He who does not oppose me supports me.”
In both cases you cannot be half in, half out. You cannot choose to support a part of the faith and reject another part.
It is the quandary and the moral dilemma of this generation. Any opposition to Empire while you remain a citizen of Empire is meaningless. Where is your faith?