Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Weak Are Meat

            Have you watched “Cloud Atlas”? The movie, based on the novel by David Mitchell, left me scratching my head. After the second viewing I had a better idea of what was going on but still wondered how many themes and sub-themes I’d missed.
            I did come away with two themes. First, the actions of individuals, though small and seemingly inconsequential, matter. That theme is important because of the second theme: the weak are meat, and the strong do eat.
            The weak are meat, and the strong do eat.

            Wow! That sounded a bell in my psyche that is still resonating. It struck me as one of the clearest, most concise summaries of the history of human interaction that I’ve ever heard.
            The weak are meat and the strong do eat.

            That’s why we spend our lives trying to lift ourselves above the masses. We spend our lives trying to lift ourselves above the rank-and-file because we know that ordinary people, the masses, the weak must forever toil in the fields, the factories and the bedrooms of the strong, and when they call, we must go and die in their wars.
            The weak are meat and the strong do eat.

            Some 2500 years ago a notable thing happened. In the ancient city state of Athens, ordinary people realized that the only way for the weak to become strong is for them to unite. They realized that they could rule themselves. It was revolutionary! Ordinary people could choose one of their own to sit as head of the government. It was the birth of democracy.
            It had a short life of a couple of hundred years. The strong don’t like to share power so, after a time, the strong took over and democracy perished. There was probably a really good reason for it. Perhaps there was the threat of terrorism. The strong may have said, ‘we’re strong and we can take care of this emergency, and when this threat is eliminated, we’ll give democracy back to the people.’ They didn’t, of course. They never do, and democracy died. It lay dead for more than two thousand years. Then another group of ordinary people saw how destructive the power of the privileged few could be and they decided that the people should rule themselves, and so democracy was set as a foundational principle of the United States of America.

            You and I were taught that those in authority over us actually care about the people. We were taught that they care about us and will protect us from our enemies. That might have been so, once upon a time, but I don’t believe it’s true any longer. We have trustingly followed the Judas goats – our political, social and religious leaders – into the pen, and we are just about ready for the slaughter. We hear the insistent bleating of a few, but we ‘pooh-pooh’ the nuts and ‘conspiracy theorists’. ‘That can’t happen in America!’ we say.
            It is happening in America. Democracy, it seems, has a short shelf life. After only two hundred years, American democracy is dying. It may already be dead. Since September 11, 2001, our constitutional rights and guarantees have steadily been stripped away under the guise that the strong are protecting us from terrorism.

            I grew up during the Cold War. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. In those days there was the real possibility that nuclear missiles could fall upon American cities, but the government didn’t take that as an opportunity to strip away our constitutional rights. Or maybe back then we still had politicians who cared about the constitution and the people.
            I have come to believe that the most insidious and deadly terrorist threat facing America today is the threat posed by the faceless powerbrokers who sit behind the scenes and by the smiling politicians that they carry around in their pockets. I’m not afraid of outside extremists. I am afraid of those men and women who crave absolute power and who will not stop until they have taken away every last one of my freedoms.

            I wonder if I’ll go to jail for that. Back when we had free speech and the free exchange of ideas, that thought would never have come to mind, but there aren’t any guarantees any longer. Democracy, that rare and beautiful flower, is dying. You and I are watching it die.
            I hope you won’t take this as a rant against the current administration. It isn’t. It’s a rant against every administration because it doesn’t matter who sits in the main seat. He has no power. He’s led to believe that he does by the fawning flatterers, but he is being worked like a marionette to secure the agendas of the strong. He may not even realize it, but he is. It’s my position that John Kennedy was the last president who understood that the people had to be protected from the power elites, and that is what got him killed.

            So what will we do, you and I? Will we sit quietly, sip our lattes and turn a blind eye to the wave of tyranny and oppression that is already drowning freedom and liberty in America? The fate of our children and of their children hangs in the balance.
            These are uncertain times, but amidst the uncertainties of life, this much is certain: the weak are meat and the strong do eat.

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