The hammer is one of the most basic and powerful tools ever devised by man. In the hands of a true craftsmen a hammer can shape raw materials into anything from a secure shelter from the elements to fine works of art.
I know a fair bit about the hammer and it’s usefulness. Most of what I know I learned from my father. As a skilled carpenter, he taught me about the hammer’s variety and usefulness in various tasks. I learned the proper grip, the all-important balance of the swing and how to apply just enough force to achieve the desired result. My father taught me how to build things with a hammer.
He also taught me how to use a hammer to destroy. He taught me that in the hands of a frightened and angry man, the hammer was a tool that could be used to wreak otherwise impotent fury on the world around him.
This is not a Father’s Day post. I only mention my father here because I wanted to make it clear that I have certain experience regarding Fools with Hammers.
When I began this blog several weeks ago I described my reasons for calling it the Stone of Destiny and my personal experience with the 5,000-year-old standing stone which resides on the Hill of Tara in Co. Meath, Ireland.
Sometime over the weekend of June 9th, that sacred stone was attacked and damaged. Some fool with a hammer struck this ancient monument no less than 11 times. Large chips of stone were riven from the surface and seemingly stolen by the assailant.
The news reports are calling this a case of “vandalism”. I believe this is too trite a word, too easily shrugged off and forgotten. “Oh, it was just vandalism,” you could say.
Was it JUST vandalism? Was it simply a case of random hooliganism, driven by the same destructive mindset as that of young punks who think overturning headstones is cool? Perhaps so, but it seems unlikely to me. Would common trouble-makers go through the trouble of removing the fractured bits of stone from the scene of the crime?
Or was it some selfish treasure-hunter who wanted a souvenir to take home? I suppose there are those who are willing to destroy a thing in order to take a piece of it for themselves. While I cannot fathom the reasoning behind such behavior, I know it exists. Yet there was a considerable amount of damage done if the goal was simply to remove a fragment from an ancient object.
To my mind, it seems far more likely that this was the work of some religious zealot.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
For the better part of 2,000 years the followers of the “one god” have made every effort to wipe all traces of their spiritual competitors from the globe. Fools with hammers, claiming to spread a message of peace, have time and time again used violence as the means to push their dogmatic agenda.
And still today, small-minded men, full of impotent rage against a world they cannot control, will cajole their flock into acts of violence against their neighbors.
So it’s not all that unreasonable to suspect that some religious malcontent decided to attack a pagan icon and keep the broken pieces to prevent any possibility of repair.
Such efforts may have paid off once upon a time, but no more. Our numbers are growing by leaps and bounds and we know well the crimes perpetrated against our ancient brethren. Groves burned, shrines destroyed, people mocked, persecuted and worse, but still today the gods of our ancestors walk among us.
I have no doubt that, as our numbers continue to grow and as the influence of christianity continues to fade, there will be more and more desperate men with hammers. Guided by fear, these men will strive to chip away at the things that are precious to us.
Yet, if the best that can be mustered in 2012 is some pathetic troll with a hammer sneaking into a park at night, it may just be time for them to pack the whole thing in once and for all. In the end, as they lash out at the world around them, they will do more damage to themselves and their cause than could ever be done to us or our beliefs.
When next I visit the Stone of Destiny, I will touch the scars gouged into it’s surface and I will mourn the damage done there (whatever it’s motivation). I have no doubt that as I do so, the ravens of the Morrigan will once again wheel above me on silent wings as the Tuatha Dé Danann watch and whisper on the wind.
Until that day, I will do my part to build a world where the gods, the spirits and the ancestors may be freely and openly honored by those who would follow them.
Now where did I put my hammer?