Why Build Statues?

Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley (1818)
I met a traveller from an antique land who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand, half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, tell that its sculptor well those passions read which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, the hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear: ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.”

I post this poem by Shelley a lot on FB and blogs because it reminds me so much about the transcendental forces of time that seem to diminish the perceived political importance of our own time.
I think looking back our scholars see the fall of great empires like Egypt, Rome, Greece, the Aztecs, Imperial China and so many others, and with an arrogant eye portray them as examples of some cultural, political, or environmental failure we may learn from and survive, when such societal collapses are simply preordained destinies. It’s the same path all civilizations must face, including our own, someday. Mankind may go on but not narrow ideologies or political powers or even government entities. And that is an important thing I think we must all perceive. 
It’s why this poem by Shelley is so important and powerful. It’s a message to anyone building monuments to the past or even the present…..that those things just do not last. And those who construct such things or who place great value in statues and monuments to so-called great leaders much less bigoted ones are fools…..and maybe even something beyond fools. The insanity of it boggles the mind, if you truly think about the idols we worship today in politics, sports, and entertainment.
We waste so much time idolizing things that not only are dead but shall certainly be completely dead and forgotten by time itself, soon enough. Why not jump ahead of time and just give each politician one great “hoorah” and their 15 minute of fame then say goodbye?
With all the art that goes into statues and hero-worship we should instead elect to build a monument to Humanities greatness that lives in all of us. And to those that find it’s weathered statue buried in the sands of time we might leave a joke or a riddle behind and say we knew our time would come but we lived in happiness and peace as one on this earth, giving each man and woman of every race and kind their time and space to find joy in some brief Brotherhood of Man.

– the Author 



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