Drinking a cup of tea, I stop a war

Memorial Day

A cup of tea from the Allied armies in 1944

A cup of tea from the Allied armies in 1944

We learned that freedom of speech is sacrosanct: that you should always allow someone the courtesy of saying something idiotic and extreme for fear that anything that quashes freedom could sanction yours.

That sort of freedom was always theoretical.

In our small berg where I was a reporter, fresh from college, we didn’t have rallies by the IRA or the KKK.

The Vietnam War was over and, to be frank, the issue of freedom of speech never arose.

But I always hoped I would be asked to commit to a cause, and that I would side with our freedom to speak.

Today I’m not so sure.

Recently two men were shot and killed at an event designed to ignite raw feelings over religion.

The recent event in Texas was held under the guise of freedom of speech but, if you dig down deeply, you’ll find that the organizers were baiting extremists to rally.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative organized an event titled, “Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest” at a conference center in Texas.

Organizers invited artists to depict Muhammed in art-form.

Like other religions—including Judaism and Christianity—Islam forbids worship of a false prophet (such as a golden calf).

The contest to draw Muhammed is clearly designed to denigrate Islam.

But the moment of truth turns on the organizers’ spurious claims that the event was held to shine a light on freedom of speech.

In truth, the event was designed to gain publicity and to cause harm—all under the guise of freedoms.

Judging from the heavily-armed battalion hired to oversee the event, organizers understood the event would cause harm.

And that brings me to the topic of Memorial Day.

I attended a gathering this weekend where we considered Memorial Day and its meanings.

All week I’ve been struggling with the issues surrounding the shootings in Garland, Texas, where two men who arrived with assault rifles were roundly dispatched when they opened fire on armed guards.

Apparently the two men were disturbed by the conference agenda and brought guns to settle the score.

Where do we draw the line between hate and compassion? Freedom and murder? War and peace? Love and hate?

As I struggled with these questions inwardly, the Sunday gathering considered Memorial Day against the backdrop of a statement:

Drinking a cup of tea, I stop a war.

The statement is designed to get you to think: there are myriad interpretations of what this means.

I tried to strip away the metaphorical vines and roots that surround the statement.

What if there are no laws—no First Amendment? No definition of hate speech?

What if there is no Bible or Quran or document that proscribes our behavior?

What are we left with?

What if—what we are left with—are just…people.

No laws or sanctions or stories.

Just us.

And imagine we share a cup of tea.

We sip.

By drinking a cup of tea, we can’t engage in combat.

Drinking a cup of tea, I stop a war.


Photo from http://www.historyplace.com/weeklyphoto/best/girl-cup-tea.htm


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, framing, freedom of speech, Indian, journalism, Memorial Day, native american, Native Science, science, science communication, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Drinking a cup of tea, I stop a war

  1. Maria DePriest says:

    Love this post!


  2. Russ L says:

    Nice thoughts!


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