Am I Being Offensive?
Nevada Hindu Statesman, Rajan Zed, has caught me in his cross hairs. According to Zed, I’ve outraged Hindus all over the world and I need to withdraw merchandise from my e-commerce store and apologize immediately. However, I refuse.
What is the deal?
I’m an artist, guilty of merchandising images of Ganesha. A collection of shoes, t-shirts, etc. that I designed for my site mauiwoke.com are apparently “forbidden”. Words and phrases like, taboo, in the name of greed, I’m doomed to have been used by Mr. Zed. Fellow offenders include: super star Lady Gaga for her video Born This Way, President Obama for the News Week cover, designer Robert Cavalli, legendary London’s Harrods Department Store, American Eagle Outfitters, Amazon, Adidas and a plethora of other celebrities and name brands. Many of which, have succumbed to the demands of Mr. Zed in fear of protest for insulting a culture steeped in mythology.
Mr. Zed’s mission to eliminate all Hindu deity imagery for distribution and sale is for his own efforts to save Hinduism.
However, I didn’t realize Hinduism was lost. Currently Hinduism is strong with a reported 1.08 billion devotees, the fourth largest of the worlds religion’s. Furthermore, Zed was not elected nor endorsed to speak on behalf of all Hindu’s as a virtual unknown in his homeland of India.
American pop culture hungers for the dreamy imagery and inspiration of iconic Hindu deities.
Being erased from world view, is now their risk. For inspiration seekers around the globe this comes as sad and disturbing news. Are individuals to succumb to the sensitivities of the worlds religions and ideologies? What about OUR culture, liberties, tolerance and religious freedoms?
I’m truly confident I have not offended Hindu communities the world over, nor have I offended my creator. I recognize my gifts and talents are blessings of my creator. My soul’s desire is to express myself and link communities the world over through art and inspiration. I make no apologies to Mr. Zed for my art or how I choose to market it. I will not withdraw my merchandise under any circumstance regardless of his attempt to bully and force me into submission for his personal ideology.
I empathize for the traditions and devotees of Hinduism. Some believe wearing or displaying images of deities on shoes, fashion, film, video games, for profit yoga centers, and products are disrespectful. In my universe, my head is no less sacred than the bottom of my feet. In fact, the connection of my feet to mother earth is most sacred of all. I bare no shame for my Ganesha shoes, my existence, or how I choose to live. If I choose to adorn my sacred body with divine symbolism, I will – from head to toe. I AM a temple of divine creation.
In American culture we express ourselves freely without regard of others opinion. If we choose to wear a Virgin Mary t-shirt with skull and cross-bone sneakers, we are free to do so. Preferring to express ourselves as a culture without limits, we celebrate our identity beyond the confines of dogma. Would Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, be appalled that I cherish and adorn my sacred body and home with his image according to MY cultural desire?
Mr. Zeds demands and threats of protest have deeply hurt and offended me.
Again, it’s not within my spirit to harm or disrespect the Hindu culture or any other culture, person, or religion. I honor them and share inspiration through my art and passion. However, if I were to succumb to the sensitivities of all the world’s religions and ideologies, I’d be wrapped in a wet sheet, voiceless, shivering under a rock. We seekers of inspiration seek spiritual images adapted to our western culture.
Hinduism runs deep, very complicated and practiced in many different ways. Although, the attempt of Mr. Zed to wrap it in a neat little package to serve his agenda is impossible and serves no purpose. Hinduism, like all religions, belongs to the world, to the people and their personal interpretations. Religion and philosophy are public domain, without copyright, without discrimination.
My final words
A dangerous trend-word and belief system that is brewing in the world today, censorship. Intended to divide the very fabric of our culture and democracy. Being attacked are – Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of interpretation, and freedom of enterprise. I served my country in the United States Army (1982-1986) protecting our rights. No one can take that away from me. I love my country, my culture, my rights. While not perfect, it’s up to each of us to protect our rights. Moreover, I will continue to create and distribute art of my souls desire and express myself without condemnation by a dillusionist.