Royal Weddings, Monarchy and St. Augustine

It has been several weeks since my last post, mainly because I am wrapping up my studies. Also the prolonged bloodshed in Libya, Yemen and now Syria leaves one pre-occupied–and at times overwhelmed–at the size of the struggle against dictatorship and monarchy which have ruled the Middle East for so long, which brings me to my point.

The “royal wedding” the world cannot wait to celebrate recalled to me the importance of distracting society with just about anything grand, expensive, and royal. This excitement is, furthermore, in spite of Great Britain’s colonial past.

Even in the wake of the “Arab Spring” of revolutions, where monarchy and dictatorship have demonstrated their brutality, people are addicted to the media buzz surrounding Bill and Kate, who have had no (positive) impact on shaping the fortunes of the overworked, underpaid, and alienated men and women that adore them for the sake of a much needed distraction. I suppose some things in history never change.

Weddings are great. I am also not averse to appreciating a bit of bling bling every once in a while. But there’s something about such royal pomp that makes me feel uneasy. For this reason, I quote St. Augustine below, who concerning the hypocrisy of worshipping monarchs and condemning pirates states the following,

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.” (City of God 4:4)

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