Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Battle Lines and Rituals

Copyright 2007. G. F. Hohnstreiter
All rights reserved
I spent most of yesterday with a group of people engaged in memorializing the life of an ex-cop who died suddenly last October. He was the husband of a close family friend.

We spent the morning scattering his ashes in the East Mountains and the afternoon attending a memorial service that included a Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department honor guard. The memorial was presided over by the Albuquerque Police Department chaplain. This was actually the third memorial for him; there were two previous ones in California. He was from New Mexico, however, and had served as a Bernalillo County deputy sheriff and as a Rio Rancho Police Detective. He had asked that his ashes be scattered in the Sandia Mountains, and so, respecting those wishes, yesterday's events were organized.

I naturally thought about how ritualized all this was from the moment of his death, all the various officials, the priests and chaplains, churches, friends, family, the officers of the law and so on who were brought together, some repeatedly, over the months since his passing to handle the many details and to remember and to honor his memory.

And I thought about the many battle lines that have been drawn between the People and the troubled or failed institutions that have been involved in these memorial activities. They and we are able to engage in these rituals and memorials, to come together for a period of time -- at least in some cases -- and then return to the Struggle for however long until the next time we are brought together in something like harmony.

Was it like this during previous revolutionary eras? Somehow I think it must have been.

Much as rebels may seek the overthrow or replacement of the Existing Order, we and they are still so intimately intertwined -- especially if we are of a certain age -- that the sorts of rituals that bring us together are as commonplace as confrontations over important (and of course revolutionary) issues.

We are intertwined until the moment we aren't.

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