Archive for March, 2011

The Magna Carta, signed in 1215 by the horrid little English king, John, has been described as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.” The Magna Carta’s ideology lies at the heart of all constitutional law in the English speaking world and it is the inspiration for every legal charter written afterward, including the Constitution of the United States.

Foundation of freedom….  I would argue with this idea of freedom. Freedom is such a vague word. Can you ever truly be free? When all is said and done, at the end of the day you are still a human living on a planet with 7 billion other humans, all bleeding their desires into the Hive Mind, all subject to the laws of physics and the constraints of space/time. These powers could be called despotic but their authority is hardly ever arbitrary. Better to say the Magna Carta was a nascent attempt at providing a rule of law that kept the predatorial and parasitical natures of those with absolute power under control.

Let’s put this in historical context. The monarchy of England claimed it had the right to rule by divine mandate. This worked to everyone’s benefit if the king happened to have a belief system that dictated honor and morality. John, having a rapacious appetite for all things of the flesh, had broken with his religion and abandoned any illusion of an ethical lifestyle. The Magna Carta was the result of a revolt by John’s barons, who, angry about having to bear the burden of the expense of 30 years of war with the French, were doubly offended by having to deal with a wastrel of a king who would not deal with them fairly. One cannot deal fairly with a liar and a thief. Ultimately, what the revolt was really about was having the ability to acquire and keep wealth on a fair and balanced playing field. They did not have a problem with giving their fair share to the king. They just wanted a say in how big that share might be

As great as this document was, it did not change the plight of the common man. The last serf was freed in England 360 years later in 1574, but a twisted form called indentured servitude continued for centuries afterward. If the barons thought of their serfs at all it was as property. The Magna Carta protected them as such. (If a baron had to send all their people, serfs as well as freemen and skilled soldiers, to war, who would plow the fields or keep the bandits at bay?) I cannot imagine that it went well for the first serf who stood up one day, waving his copy of the Magna Carta in the air, demanding equality under the law. The tale of Robin Hood is a fantasy told to children to give them hope while they slowly starve to death because the local baron has taken all the food as payment on the national debt.

Demanding equality…..  Here again, I would argue with this idea of equality. Equality is such a lovely buzz word. In a universe of infinite diversity, can any two thing be truly equal? Is the planet Jupiter equal to that of Pluto? What is more equal, the sun or the moon? Humans, like planets, have a weight in the Hive Mind, like unto a gravitational field in space/time. All exist, and in that existing must be accommodate, but each of us leaves a different mark upon the universe and the universe must shift itself differently for each of us.

So if we were to write the next great human charter, an opus for the next millennium, that would guide the human race to its next step up the evolutionary ladder, what would it say? Surely, there would be no talk of equality or freedom or justice under a system of law that has long since ceased to apply to our new state of being.

I think it would start something like this:

You are infinite and you exist, here, now, in a moment that is infinite, tracing its path from the beginning of time and the birth of the universe to the final ending, when all things are summed up and the circle is complete. There is no law but the law of the moment. There is no rule but the rule of order set down in the beginning of all things. This rule cannot be abrogated and applies to all things according to their inherent nature. Blessed be.

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When I was in grade school half a century ago, we learned to read from text books filled with fables and parables. The pages were filled with teaching stories like “Little Black Sambo”  (which was not as racist as the politically correct police would have you believe if one reads it in context as one would read Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain.  Little Black Sambo was a story about a clever little Indian boy named Sambo who, knowing he has only himself and his natural smarts to rely on, manages to avoid getting eaten by a tiger ) and “The Dog, the Fox and the Fleas”.

These stories were pre-Disney. That is to say a dog was just a dog and a fox was fox-like and every tiger or wolf wanted to eat you for its dinner as was the nature of all predators with big teeth. The animals did not have cute names like Todd or Max or Harriet. We lived closer to the natural world back then, and anthropomorphizing animals was considered just as crazy as naming your steak dinner Mirabel.

I vaguely remember The Dog, the Fox, and the Fleas. The dog had fleas. So many that it distracted him from everything else, including chasing the fox, apparently. (Remember, pre-Disney, the fox and the dog were never friends) The fox saw the dog’s distress and tells him to go find a sponge and take it to the river. There the dog must take up the sponge in his mouth and walk into the water very slowly, slower than a flea can crawl. This the dog does. Step by step he submerges his body until only his nose is sticking out. Then, holding his breath, he slowly immerses even his nose, at which point the dog lets go of the sponge, now laden with all its fleas, and lets the river wash it away.

Parasites can do that. Distract us from doing our job. Torment us until we forget what it is like to be sane and pain free. We are horrified by our own parasites, so much so that we cannot talk about them in polite company, and can only whisper their names when we seek help in their eradication. Lice, we say with a shudder. Ringworm. Pin worms, we choke out in horror. What is the source of our shame, I wonder? It is not like hosting a parasite is such a rare thing. In the field of biology, it has recently become quite apparent that parasites are the dominant force in every ecosystem. Who are we to think that humans are any different?

The surprising thing about all parasite/host relationships is the math. 66/33 seems to be the pivotal ratio. It is the percentage of healthy to infected individuals that a population can support before declining into population collapse. It is the amount of energy sucked out of the reproductive cycles of a species fully infected. It is the percentage of the ancillary positive side effects given to the species who prey upon and thereby profit from the parasite’s predations on other species. For every carp who has been turned into a zombie by brain parasites, there is a bird with a free fish dinner, taken in payment for spreading the parasite to other hosts.

There is that word.  Zombie. This is the fear and the horror. That we might be taken over and forced to do something that will get us eaten. That our thoughts just might not be our own. That our body can betray us if we are not ever vigilant.

I think human civilization rose up because of that fear. I think it is the engine that drives us ever onward, inventing bigger and better ways to beat back the parasites. What is civilization but a series of walls that protect us from the zombie hoards?

Unfortunately, for every wall we build, the parasites reinvent themselves, that they might sneak in past our defenses. It is the smell of plenty that attracts them. It is like the wet smell from the water cistern in a rainless desert. It is like the corral full of fat calves in a barren plane. It is like the fat purse whose jingle draws the pickpockets and the thieves. It is the business built on a great idea and the hard work. It is a land nurtured under wise stewardship that all the ensuing generations might live as well as those that came before. The fatter the prize the hungrier the predators. It is almost as if nature cannot abide plenty. That 66/33 number seems to work both ways.

Even in our own genome, one could argue that we have evolved into those who are full of life, living in synergy with it and those who prey upon that synergy, being unable after a couple of million years of natural selection, to fend for themselves, reduced to a half life stuck to the vein of others.

So, in the current political/economic quagmire, when the numbers guys are busy manipulating the numbers to suit themselves and their parasitic agendas and the parasite carriers who profit from the misery are distracting you with Mark Twain’s use of the word nigger or Hollywood’s cocaine problems, you might wonder at your rage at what seems like injustice. It’s that huge elephant in the room that no one seems to want to discuss. There is a reason. Intuitively, we all know when that 66/33 number has been violated. We do not talk about it, just as we do not talk about head lice or worms. There is shame in the illness, a mark of weakness in a world where the weak are thrown to the wolves.

But the straights we find ourselves in now is not a barely noticeable annoyance. This is a plague of bloodsuckers that have drained the world pale. Something must be done before the human race consumes itself. We are like Dog. We need to remember Fox’s advice and find a sponge. You just gotta remember that even though that moment when you are fully submerged feels like you are dying,  it is a very necessary last step before emerging from our bath flea free.

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