Where a parody of ethics still is taught, we learned that it is bullying for the strong to torment the weak, for the powerful to batter the helpless. Bullying! and some would write it into the law!
But our stories and our culture say that when the clever out-smart the slower, with tricks and lies, it is a deserved victory for them. In social intercourse, in commerce, in political life, and in law, shrewdness and sharp practices, propaganda and deceit are prized. If a man is not quick witted, or a woman cannot defend herself in thoughts or words, or a child has not yet – as if he or she ever will – learned that dishonesty is acceptable in our culture, then we say that is their own faults, for it is the way of the world. We glorify the intelligent, the smart, and the clever ones who take advantage of others.
Most of all, we kiss the feet of the wealthy, for wealth can buy clever servants, learned employees, and, if needed, even brutal thugs. Wealth can buy death to, or suffering for, an enemy. Wealth buys more wealth, our laws ordain it, so it must be so! We worship money, and sacrifice what we have to the wealthy. For, by our customs and laws and culture and training, and even in what passes for religion, the wealthy are entitled to their property, as the children of kings and queens were once universally seen as holding dominion by right of inheritance.
As it always has been, when there are wealthy ones, they are carried on the backs of the poor. Minerals do not leap from the earth, refine themselves, and self-form into computers or automobiles or shovels. The fruits of the field do not jump into ovens and turn themselves into bread and casseroles. The fish of the sea do not make their ways onto our plates unassisted. No! Human hands, abetted by sweat and tears and suffering and death, bring us material goods – and cultural ones as well. For the bounty controlled by every wealthy man, an army of the poor have given their lives. Even for those not at the top, but in the so-called developed world, our comforts come at a cost, because what we have is created by the less fortunate, perhaps taken from them by force, but certainly by forceably depriving them of the opportunities to have a few comforts of their own.
“In God We Trust”, say our coins, but we worship at the altar of power, of wealth, and of mammon. Our coins are the tokens of our gods. All else is subservient: we will kill and steal and destroy to claim what greed has whispered is ours. We bow before the wealthy, step back to make way for the smart and clever, and stare in reverence at the images of the rich and powerful in print, on our screens, and when we get the opportunity, in person.
We lie to ourselves and to one another about this. Usually we do not look at the impoverished billions: we banish them from our pages and screens and sight, so that we do not need to be reminded of the logical fallacies in our own thinking, implied by their situations. When we do see them, we say their condition is their own fault, and of their own making. The truth must not be uttered: the rich are much to blame for the poor. The truth is a heresy in our material religion.
We were warned! We were warned by ancient Greek philosophers, by Jesus, by the Prophets, by poets, by sages, by Gautama, by Confucius, by Mohammed, and by countless more! But we ignore their words. The philosophers are dead, the prophets buried, ancient and passé, behind the times, their bodies buried or left to rot in the desert, or torn apart by armies and mobs; their spirits and words safely hidden away so that we do not have to hear or read them. As Jesus said, the lawyers killed the prophets: but the Christians, in turn, murdered Jesus. As for those old philosophers, we pretend them all to be pagans and heretics in the new regime. All those warnings are banished from the modern curriculum.
How did it come to this?
We listened to the clever and to the rich and to the powerful, and were seduced by their arguments. We let them write the stories and the lesson plans and the laws, and we permit them to watch out for our welfare. By these means they have arrogated control to themselves.
Dogs, barking, excited, wait for the owner to throw the stick, so that they might fight among themselves to fetch it, their attention focused completely on the branch in the owner’s grasp. The people eagerly await jobs, competing for fewer positions than needed for all of the job seekers. The dogs get their dog food, and after hunting is done, they may get scraps. The people get their wages, and after the profits are made, they, too, may get scraps. But the game and the profits belong to the owner, to dispense as he pleases.
The horse learns by crop and grain, stick and carrot. Whoa! Walk! Back! Left! Right! The commands are assimilated, the responses become reflexive, and eventually the beast will do what he is told, without need of whip or reward. The people learn by famine and food, by war and by peace, by torment and by release, and they, too, will come to do what they are told. The horse does not know his own strength, he is not aware that he has the power to kick down the fence and the gate. Likewise, the people do not know their own strength, that it is their hands which make the luxuries and tools and weapons accumulated by the owners.
The dogs, enthusiastic, assemble for their lessons. The horse takes his appointed position to be trained. The people turn on their screens, open their books, wait for the propaganda disguised as entertainment and news to begin. Fully and properly domesticated, we know not to soil the master’s carpet, for we will be the ones to clean it.
The rules against physical violence do not apply to kings or to sovereign governments, for that is their right by breeding and force. The kings are bred to rule over us. We are bred to obey. Those in the governments do the will of their masters, and, in turn, impose their wills upon us. We are taught that it is right, so we comply.
The rules saying that the profits, the yields, and the interest belong to the wealthy are written by the clever, by the lawyers and managers and politicians, who have their rewards from the owners who employ them. We know it is their right, that we would be wrong to take away their property which we built for them. So we have been told, and we are not allowed to question those smarter than we are. We are poor, proof sufficient that we do not comprehend the causes of our poverty.
The stories told on film and television, by studios and writers employed by the wealthy and the clever, tell us this, so it must be true.
As even our religious leaders tell us, the rich are entitled to the surplus because of the risks they take with what we have made. They take the risks! We do the working and the dying!
There is a law for the common man and woman, and a law for the privileged. We have the rule of law, but at the discretion of men. Those lawyers who construct the system – well paid by the privileged – are not judged by the people themselves, but only by other lawyers, just as the agents of the privileged have the privileges of immunity and yet more privilege. We know this to be true, for they have given us ten thousand reasons and justifications, which we don’t have time to read because we must go back to work for the owners.
If there is a complaint against a lawyer, who investigates? Lawyers! Who judges? Judges, who are lawyers! Who writes these rules? Lawyers! We are not allowed to question the law, because we are not lawyers, so we cannot understand. Of course, we must obey the laws which we cannot understand. This must be fair, because it is called “justice”.
The wealthy, the powerful, and the clever, and their agents, commit vast numbers of obvious crimes, and escape punishment. We are told that we don’t understand, because we are not wealthy or powerful or clever. I think maybe that’s right, because I don’t understand it.
It will remain this way, sometimes better, sometimes worse, until we understand that a man who tricks another is a bully and a thug, and a man who profits by right of being wealthy is a bully and a thug, and they are just as much bullies and thugs and wrong as those who use physical violence against the weak.
A wealthy man is as likely to enter into Heaven as is a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Looked at another way, he is going to Hell. If we follow the wealthy, then what then is our own destination?
There is an old common law principle, usually ignored by the courts but still valid, which says: A man who claims he didn’t know a fact, but who would have known had he acted reasonably, is judged to have known that fact, despite his protestations of ignorance.
Now you know.
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