Let me first start off this post by saying that I think Banksy is a creative genius. There is something special in his work that is worth tipping our hats to. It makes us think and question and turn over ideas in our head that we long ago cast aside like a child bored with the new toy mom bought the previous week.
With that said, I think it is ironic that in many ways he contributes to strengthening the system he rails against.
Take the following piece:
“Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock that someone just threw at your head. … They owe you.”
Translation: “Do what you want because the world owes you.”
No. The world doesn’t owe us anything. Advertisers don’t owe you anything. The government doesn’t owe you anything. Rich people don’t owe you anything. Poor people don’t owe you anything, and neither does your neighbor.
In the middle of the vast cold void of space we were granted life, health and intelligence, and we often spend it sitting on a couch shoving potato chips in our face while complaining we don’t live like a Hollywood celebrity. Life alone should motivate someone to look inside themselves, be eternally grateful and then go out into the world to be the best person he could be. But instead, we’re told that someone or some thing “owes” us. It’s a poisonous seed of thought that generally just sprouts fear and envy and jealousy.
One of my best friends sent me the following email that sums it up quite well. (I’ve altered the text slightly, but he’ll understand why):
I think it’s the whole mindset that only govt can solve things … Since there is no personal responsibility, there are no personal human failings in their world because they believe only the system corrupts. Where they confuse me is that they want to add on to the system they hate.
I’d point out that when govt dominates every facet of life, you inevitably get the mess that you have in Detroit, and the people suffering are the poor, tax-paying (if there was a job available) people that they want to protect. The officials in Detroit artificially inflated wages (unions/politicians in city), they taxed heavy to “look out for the poor,” they filtered every city contract through a goverment committee that led to worse corruption — they threw money at everything — and look at Detroit now.
Talking biblically to them is difficult because belief in God forces you to acknowledge you are a sinner, which forces you to look at yourself. It’s much easier to blame the system. The reward is heaven. Jesus dies a horrible death, St. Paul dies a horrible death, 11 of the 12 apostles meet an end at human hands, and yet they didn’t “blame the system” — they kept trying to do what’s right (Jesus didn’t have to “try,” but you get my point). Even Judas took some sort of personal responsibility and threw the silver away and killed himself in shame realizing what he did. You will never get that mindset in their world.
I’ve thought long and hard about guys like them. I think it’s a fear to fail. Doing something about your situation is riskier than blaming God for your problems. The television will always be there, but stepping out on your own is much more difficult. I may fall flat on my face for leaving a comfortable job, learning a new skill set, and establishing a new career, but I hated what the company I worked for morphed into, so instead of blaming the system I decided to do something about it. I’d have it no other way, but I have faith in God and because of that, faith in myself. I actually feel sorry for individuals who won’t see past a system and tap into their own abilities.
Again, Banksy is a creative genius, but for whatever reason he looks around him, doesn’t like what he sees, and instead of looking inward he keeps his eyes focused on the material world. He seems to assume that people do not have free will, and instead of coming up with art that unleashes what is already inside all of us, he expresses himself in ways that, in all likelihood, calcifies the human spirit.
Coupling the idea that we should be able to do whatever we want with the belief that others owe us something is an extremely dangerous thing. While Banksy’s creative talent is worth acknowledging, the effect it has on society is something that deserves much more scrutiny.