YOU ARE EITHER WITH US OR AGAINST US
2011, Oil on Linen, 100 x 200cm
Nine days after the September 11 attacks, President George Bush infamously pronounced: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
There have been many interpretations of this statement, although few would be surprised to know its’ biblical source: Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad”. But where Matthew 12:31 goes on to talk of forgiveness, Bush made no such overtures.
Further complicating the issue is that although this statement denies neutrality or alternative opinion, it demands global allegiance to a particular brand of ideology that was never actually defined. Is it requiring compliance to the US spiritual, political or financial hegemony? Or all three?
This metaphorical painting is a response to the absurdity of reducing such complicated issues to such simplistic absolutes.
A symbol of wealth, power and status, the velvet rope divides the “opposing forces.” Yet its only strength is attributed power: as a barrier it offers no actual resistance. More united than divided, the participants are simply sharing the same field.
As are we all. It is a lesson from which mankind might well take heed, for we are all of the same flock sharing the same small piece of Earth, separated only by the imagined barriers of our own myth-making.