Gifting – Again

Mariner has written a time or two about gifting. He thinks gifting, as a core habit among daily life, will correct the world’s preoccupation with money, indifference, social abuse, and the pall of inadequacy hanging over each of us. Feel free to use the mariner’s search box to find other posts using the word ‘gifting.’

A quick description of giving versus gifting: Giving is when one authorizes a perfunctory distribution of one’s physical or fiduciary assets for personal reasons; gifting is when one deliberately distributes one’s physical or fiduciary assets founded on a desire to be compassionate and a desire to create positive relations within human nature. Mariner’s frequent example is the behavior known as ‘passing it forward.’ That act is intentional in its desire to make another person’s life a bit better; not because one is aware that it is a form of courtesy.

This seems easily understood. A single individual could alter one’s attitude with practice and become a kinder, gentler and self-confident person while simultaneously improving the lives of others. But this is a global issue. Lack of compassion has infected whole cultures, societies, governments and even belief systems that explain the universe. One cannot simply say, “Everyone . . . be more compassionate!”

We will know compassion is part of American society when –

Health services cease to be a profit market and becomes an obligation to those in need of health services.

Immigration is considered a chance to help those who come to assimilate and receive from them their gift of knowledge and life experience that will enhance the nation.

Commerce has returned to its understanding that commerce has an obligation not to greed but to the wellbeing of communities.

Class prejudice is replaced by a desire to consider every citizen equal in value and importance.

Every citizen maintains loyalty to each other through the machinations of government.

Tax policy is a tool to fairly share the wealth of the nation with every citizen.

Mariner could go on but the reader has the basic idea.

 

REFERENCE SECTION

Now may be a good time to recommend some exceptionally insightful sources:

֍When it comes to theology, religion and its role in society, one cannot find a more enlightened individual than Reza Aslan. Mariner learned of Aslan a few years ago watching an interview on Fox television which tore into him from the outset about how could an Iranian Hindu understand Christianity. He never had the chance to speak about his book or any of his ideas. Aslan has educated himself around the world not only by gaining a stellar educational résumé but by personally visiting every acknowledged religion, every religious culture and with surprising insight, understanding the effect of religion from a sociological perspective. The book mariner recommends is:

God: A Human History, Reza Aslan, Random House, 2017

on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com $13.99; text hard copy $17.63

One can pass on the book to watch a first class interview about the book on CSPAN. See: https://www.c-span.org/video/?437532-2/god

֍It is more difficult than one may think to find a moderate thinker in the United States today. Mariner has found one in the most unexpected place: CNN – Fareed Zakaria, host of Global Public Square (GPS) on Sunday morning. Mariner recommends his television show on CNN, his column in the Washington Post and his twitter account, @fareedzakaria; his website is https://fareedzakaria.com . Fareed is particularly keen on the subject of a fading United States, suggesting other nations will step in to fill the gap of a dysfunctional US. The recommended book, a nice read, is:

The Post-American World, Release 2.0, Fareed Zakaria, W.W. Norton, 2011

Also available on digital readers.

֍For those with a liberal arts bent, put the following website in your favorites list and subscribe to the email service. Each week you are offered interesting sources from literature and other esoteric subjects:

https://us9.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=8cbd654fc43afe6be9455ae3b&id=bcec0a1a30

Ancient Mariner

Church v State

In the early days church v state was not an issue. Before Jesus the government function known today as the ‘upper house’ (House of Lords?) was occupied by a collection of anthropomorphic gods. The lower house and the executive branch spent most of their time trying to guess what the gods were going to do next in their own interests and what twists of fate would they impose on the citizenry. The Old Testament in the Holy Bible spends a significant amount of time trying to have a relationship between Israel and one god, let alone a pantheon of gods. In Greece, military leaders had to visit an oracle to get the final say on whether the next war was worthwhile.

In the western world, Christianity took hold as the major religion. During the Roman Empire era and the expansion of Christianity into Europe, Christianity dominated human politics; all governments were theocracies to the point that the Pope could depose Kings with a thumb pointed downward. To realize how dominant church was over society, read about the Spanish Inquisition or the first oligarchs AKA Christian monasteries or the life and times of Galileo imprisoned because he said the Earth was not the center of the Galaxy or the Universe. However, human self-interest would not go away. Remember Henry VIII?

In the far reaches of Northern Europe, beyond the original advances of Rome and its theocracy, early Christianity was more of a wild card. Theology and theocracy were owned by local kingdoms like Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland. Along with the Nordic countries, these emerging nations lived on a frontier of war for centuries. Eventually, especially in England, the barons found they were spending too much on war and sought an agreement that would limit the power of the King and assure a degree of political independence within each baron’s territory.

They had a big meeting in 1215 and signed the Magna Carta Libertatum[1].

Church v state was born.

The Magna Carta was a deal between human factions. For the first time, human rights were based on common agreement rather than religious proclamation. The Magna Carta had a profound influence on Western political governance. In the United States, one can see the direct and overwhelming influence in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The United States is a nation based on the rule of law – not the beliefs of a given religion. Nevertheless, in all the documents, religion is granted the practice of religious principles without restriction.

– – – –

Nothing in history is automatic. In fact, mankind does everything it can to muddy the waters of change. From the start, religious authority is implied because God is printed on all US money. Citizens are warned to tell the truth by God’s standards (so help you God…). How quickly we ignored the Christian guide book in Matthew 20:21 that says …”give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

What clobbered the clear principles of US founding documents was the Reformation. America simultaneously was populated and grew with opportunists and religious zealots. The church led early settlement across the nation as it moved west and insisted on strict commitment to the faith. On the other hand, opportunists wanted as little regulation and interference from the government as possible. Generations of citizens grew up with close scrutiny by their parish leadership and virtually none from the government. Consequently, threads of theocratic governance persist to this day. The rule of sanctuary in a religious building still is granted credence; the Amish have their own justice system. Ironically, a beautiful, poetic religion was obliterated when the US destroyed the culture of the North American Indian.

– – – –

So here the US is today – having to go to the Supreme Court to interpret the line between church and state. Not just once but for every piddling conflict: abortion, gays and trannies, commercial restrictions, race, non-Christian religious practices, wedding cakes, and marriage licenses. Amos grows tired of tolerance.

The simple rule is a person is allowed to practice and express their religion in ritual, within family, within any realm of personal possession or likeminded group – even in their personally owned business (without violating state law). On the other hand, that person cannot deny the right of others or the state to have beliefs and legislation of their own that may not be compatible with that person’s religion.

It sounds blunt but if one doesn’t believe in abortion don’t practice it. On the other hand, one cannot dictate the beliefs or rules of others or the state where there are differences in practice.

Mariner leaves it to the reader to decide the rights of Kim Davis who is an elected clerk in a state government post who denies marriage licenses to gays. Do we need the Supreme Court to determine Kim’s responsibility to the freedom of religion clause or the state to act independent of religious proclamation?

Ancient Mariner

[1] (Great Charter of Liberation) For a full and helpful translation of the Magna Carta, see: http://www.magnacartaplus.org/magnacarta/

Witness to the Acceleration of Change

Addressing the older folks for a moment, remember when . . .

Reality was dependable. It was familiar. There was time to pause. Weather was the common conversation. Religion had been around a long time and played a stabilizing role in the community. Families lived through generations without much change between them. Without giving it a thought, jobs lasted a lifetime and often multiple generations worked at the same place. Daily life was stable and dependable – so much so Norman Rockwell could freeze American life on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Music was friendly and fun. Dancing was ebullient and expressive, or a slow, romantic melody that left time to share feelings with a partner. It was the forties and fifties. It was the last time American culture stood still. Considered only an irritation to the public at the time, the public did not realize that McCarthyism ignited the fuse of change, separatism and social divisiveness that would last to the present day.

Innocently, society wandered into the sixties: Kennedy was shot. King was shot. Bobby was shot. Civil Rights stirred prejudice and violence that hearkened back to slavery; whole neighborhoods were set afire. The Cold War increased. Then the Viet Nam war; college students were shot on campus for protesting – by the National Guard! No one talked about the weather anymore or had time to pause and enjoy reality. Reality couldn’t be trusted anymore; it was full of angst, prejudice and social conflict. By the seventies, ‘one nation indivisible’ no longer existed.

The seventies finally eradicated the memory of that stable culture back in the post war years when Ozzie and Harriet seemed a reasonable interpretation of America. The seventies were dominated by Russia, the cold war, a viable threat of nuclear war, Richard Nixon, and US inflation climbed to 17%. George Wallace was shot. America was growing weary of conflict not only in war but in society as well. The role of religion was under attack by secularists. It was the end of Jimmy Carter and the beginning of Ronald Reagan.

In the eighties, Ronald introduced policies that diminished the influence of a citizenry over their government. Ronald fathered an economy that favored entrepreneurship and capitalization as the power of change. While these policies quieted the populist nature of the citizenry, only today is the Reagan Doctrine declining. As a result of Ronald’s economic policies, assets and income of the citizenry no longer grow at the same pace as the nation; assets began to assimilate unevenly toward the elite classes.

The nineties were a sort of halftime, a pause to enjoy an amiable President and to enjoy the growth in entrepreneurship that led to a relatively strong economy. It was a time to catch a breath in the unending changes society had passed through since the forties. Beneath the respite, however, corporatism and governments diseased by excessive cash from the new entrepreneurs began to damage the culture in a new way. The idea of a job for life was disappearing; regulations controlling the business environment began to protect corporations over the wellbeing of human beings. By 1998, computers and artificial intelligence threw their own wood on the fire that was reducing middleclass comfort, security and identity. John Henry would roll in his grave.

So here we are in the new millennium. Our lives are jammed into a splintered information age stuffed into devices and databases that rapidly take control of that thing called ‘personal freedom.’ The old societal watch guards like religion, human value, the common good, trust in our nation, and equality among the populace, all are gone. Today our society struggles mightily to gain control of rapidly changing cultural values; we seek protection from raucous abuses in an uncontrolled society. To add insult to our injury, we have Donald.

Anyone care to stop over to binge watch some old Ozzie and Harriet episodes?

Ancient Mariner

 

 

What is it?

You can feel it. Everyone can. It is similar to flying through the Universe faster than the speed of light. It feels like a tennis match using a dozen balls instead of one. It whirls you about like a carnival ride. It feels like you are crawling under barbed wire in the mud while bullets fly around you.

It is change. Change in religion; change in life style; change in deep-rooted national values; change in economic dependability; change in the Earth’s environment; change in self-confidence; change in the workplace. It is change. Change happening faster than ever before. Change so pervasive as to leave the entire world in disarray.

War is changing. Fresh water is disappearing. Work is changing. Seas are rising. Vital food chains are disappearing. Human life lives too long to be supported. Changing weather drives millions out of their habitat into starvation. The mammalian age is fragmenting. Sea life is dying.

If you are older than the Millennials, it feels like passing out in a spinning centrifuge. If you are a Millennial, reality is a hodge podge of artificial experiences that lead nowhere.

Change is so disruptive it begs the question, “How can we change change?” We can’t. Change is not arbitrary; change has no speed control; change cannot be reversed. And, to identify the cause of change, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Broadcast news services cannot bring us all the changes. There are too many changes from too many diverse sources. News agencies are busy chasing down nothing more than political frivolity and gossip. Most viewers aren’t interested in change; viewers are interested in viewing frivolity and gossip which require little thought and action. Yet change rumbles the ground beneath us. Rock solid virtuosity is changing to flowing currents of ineptitude. Human life is in the midst of the largest quake in human history.

Ancient Mariner

 

Becoming Really Old

Mariner’s household watched HBO’s clip ‘If you’re not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast’ produced by Carl Reiner. It’s a fluff piece about the secret to living happily into one’s nineties. The sociological statistics one gleans from the show produce the following priorities for longevity:

Be a friend of Carl Reiner.

Be Jewish.

Be wealthy.

Have no life ending health issues.

Have no psychological entrapments – let go and enjoy success.

Be an artist.

Be in a profession that allows one to keep working into one’s nineties.

 

Amos thinks it was a way to get Carl’s friends together on a project that would be fun and also make money. Actually, it is a thought provoking film once one discounts the upbeat atmosphere of highly successful comedians and obviously better than average income. Mariner as well would have enjoyed seeing Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca and Howard Morris – fellow comedians from that magical era.

Generally, the underlying message was to cast off the mental issues and daily hardships that plague all of us through life: feelings of inadequacy, emotional pains, persistent failure, meager circumstances, even physical disabilities. Instead, have full confidence that nothing is wrong about us. We are not focused on burdens; we are focused on lighthearted participation in whatever is going on – something that is entertaining or challenging or charitable. Pay no attention to internal thoughts that may constrain or restrict us; pay no attention to social judgment of our lifestyle. It’s not about us. It’s about everyone else.

Mariner has been blessed to know many nonagenarians. Many were suffering the ravages of age. Nevertheless, it was clear they were self-confident and focused on participating in life as best they could. Very few, if any of us, live a stress-free life; still, becoming a nonagenarian seems to require focus on the world beyond our nose.

Ancient Mariner

Whence the Next Religion?

Throughout mankind’s current history, that is, since about 10,000 years ago, some form of religion has guided culture’s behavior. Even in the days of Cybele eight millennia ago, the original mother of creation represented a need by Phrygians (Eastern Turkey) to have a bond with something beyond human capabilities.

Western civilization combined religious mandates with civil mandates creating theocracies that clearly were oriented toward human and governmental desires but nevertheless acknowledged ethics, morality and theology in their courts of justice. Sudan, Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and especially Rome spread Christianity/Civil Rule into Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and to the northernmost lands of Scandinavia. Even Russia depended on the Russian Orthodox Church from time to time.

But as Cybele lost the power of her myth, so, too, over time, Moses, Jesus, Paul and Augustine have paled as the powerful Christian and Hebrew mythic theology is confronted by time and knowledge.

Most telling is the separation of Church and State across the West. Always integrated in the past, modern constitutions and governmental ethics continually expand the civilian control of culture while excluding the moral authority of religion. It is a common opinion that the preferred religion is capitalism.

While practiced in the manner of a religion, Capitalism fails as an extra-human force that promotes ethical principles and meaning to individuals as a species, as individuals of common value, as an engine of virtue rather than wealth.

As mankind enters the new millennia, it enters without a true religion. Certainly Christian and Hebrew practices and beliefs still prevail but in a weakened state. Civility is not a central force today – especially in government – perhaps unaccustomed to managing culture without religion.

Whence the next religion?

One can take hope in the continuous improvement of special interest organizations. Everything from environmental organizations to racial and alternative living groups to human rights groups to equality of life groups are organized, funded, active, and importantly beginning to bring ethics and morality back into civil life. Humans are beginning to realize that today the onus is on them to sustain a quality culture – a function that was the role of the church in times past.

But what of Moses? What of Jesus? What of God? How must Christians breathe life back into the Holy Trinity?

We must create a new myth that unifies mankind with something beyond human control.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Art of Giving – III

The Art of Giving – I defined the key emotional verbs that underlie gifting[1] as a part of one’s life: sacrifice, sharing and compassion. The Art of Giving – II identified how difficult it is to deploy gifting into one’s lifestyle because of prejudice and an ingrained sense of self. Nevertheless, the future will require sacrifice, sharing and compassion if humanity is to remain civil.

The Art of Giving – III will examine sample practices that can be used as models to emulate in one’s personal effort to participate in the art of giving.

Many efforts at gifting fail because the individual does not consider the skills and resources that are available to them. Bill Gates, for example, has wealth; it is obvious that his personal success in sustained gifting is financing the efforts of others. Further, gifting is supposed to make one feel happy and content; an outstanding accountant may find it difficult to incorporate Habitat for Humanity construction into his lifestyle, even increasing his frustration instead of finding satisfaction and happiness.

Another misconception is to join a gifting organization without first finding in one’s self something that is meaningful and raises personal feelings because something is missing the quality of life it should have. For example, many people are concerned about the hardships and abuse of pets. They find reward in doing whatever they can to improve the situation dog by dog, cat by cat; it is an emotional commitment. If that person had joined the Lion’s Club to participate in the organization’s gifting programs, a sense of gratification may not be present – similar to the minimized reward many parishioners feel about their worship contributions.

There is a woman who is skilled at baking bread. She takes pride in providing the bread for meals at a soup kitchen and a shelter. One can see her gift is not taken lightly. Sacrifice, sharing and compassion all are present. And, by the way, she is very happy with her life. Similarly, many hobby gardeners would feel remiss if their vegetables didn’t find their way to free outlets for those who need food. A hobby furniture maker contributes all his projects to gifting outlets supporting the indigent.

For the exceptionally altruistic, usually younger folk and retirees, one can uproot one’s life and join AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, several United Nations programs, and religious missions around the world.

Often understated or ignored is the need for leadership. In small town and neighborhood gifting, the good intent frequently is overwhelmed by organizational disarray. Skilled managers are always needed –especially those managers who have a moral commitment involving sacrifice, sharing and compassion.

Having reviewed the above examples, one can understand that the art of giving must be expressed in very personal terms. Gifting must be a one-to-one involvement. One must ‘get their hands dirty’ to quote an old phrase. To most who are engaged in gifting, gifting becomes a primary motivator because it engages very personal emotions. One is willing to sacrifice to sustain giving; one is willing to share in an attitude of full teamsmanship with recipients; one has an active and motivating compassion that sustains gifting.

Be vigilant about prejudice constraining your giving.

End of series.

Ancient Mariner

[1] The reader may notice the use of ‘giving’ and ‘gifting.’ Giving implies a broad approach to the subject. Gifting is the actual act of presenting a personal contribution.

The Art of Giving – II

The last post, The Art of Giving, introduced the key elements of giving: sacrifice, sharing and compassion. It is not enough to understand the definition of the three words; the words must be integrated into one’s code of living; the experience represented by the words must become an objective that pays a conscious reward. In other words, giving must become a priority experience beyond prejudice.

This sounds irrational but in practice it is more like a commitment similar to healthful practices: committing to walking every day, dieting – even commitment to going to work every day. The responsibility to sustain a viable lifestyle is not set aside. Rather, it is more like adding flavor to a recipe. If one can interpolate adding flavor to a recipe to adding happiness and fulfilment to one’s life, then one understands how the three words function.

However, interpolation is not easy. Consider the following:

Most US citizens decry taxation. Taxes are an imposition. Taxes are misspent by idiot legislators. Taxes do not do anything for one’s immediate situation. How difficult it is to switch one’s attitude from decrying taxation to one of personal satisfaction gained by sharing the load of national need. The three words must be deployed in order to change one’s attitude. To be sure, sacrifice is personal in nature but it also is collective. Democracy, in the hands of idiot legislators (prejudice), is an overhead that must be sacrificed as well. No act in any endeavor is free of inefficiency and inadequacy. But the key is to capture the personal satisfaction gained from sharing instead of paying – belonging to the team rather than being a victim. Compassion is the elixir that drives toxins from one’s spirit.

Prejudice is the worst sin. Prejudice is disruptive to the art of giving more than any other act or opinion. To focus the discussion of prejudice a bit, two of the common prejudices in the US are race and laggardness. Racial prejudice is easily defined; laggardness is widespread but ill-defined. Laggardness can be interpreted as someone who doesn’t appear to want work hard, doesn’t have a job but accepts ‘handouts’, or simply has a lax attitude about cultural worth. It is debatable that the working class has a more intense prejudice against laggards than they do against skin color. The darkest African American can gain respect through hard work; a laggard will never be respected.

If someone has a desire to recognize a need and provide a gift to that need, in many people an unconscious prejudice steers the individual away from nonwhite charity or providing aid to the unemployed. Many will give to abstract charities similar to wounded veterans, orphans, animals, diseases, and other charities that do not focus on race or laggards.

It must be said that in Africa alone 20 million humans are bereft of health and face death by starvation and common disease but are disregarded by those who are better off. This prejudice is associated with economic class. In the US, the world’s most intensely capitalistic nation, this prejudice is the most irrational and most dehumanizing of all prejudices: The successful deserve to be successful; the unsuccessful deserve to be unsuccessful. In other words, if one is lucky, that is their role; if one is unlucky, that is their role. Tough luck, kid.

Sadly, in the US it is this class that is opposed to government providing discretionary funding to their fellow citizens or even providing health care regardless of social circumstances. In other words, government is for the lucky. Otherwise, tough luck, kid.

Having defined these three common prejudices, one realizes how difficult it is to implement the three words sacrifice, sharing and compassion. One would have to suffer a massive change in their attitude and social identity. We can’t all walk the road to Damascus with Saul.

What can we do? What act will help the most? Where do I sacrifice and share to provide a meaningful gift?

It takes a godly intervention to change deeply rooted definitions of self. Fortunately, humans are of different social persuasions. If one were to elect to government candidates that first accepted the role of government to emulate intervention above espousing a commitment to serve your best interests and instead of being an economic hawk, you may have an amazing influence in promoting sacrifice, sharing and compassion as an element in the government’s gestalt.

Hints about a candidate’s understanding of the art of giving are reflected in the candidate’s lifestyle. Is the candidate a racist? Is the candidate an elitist? Is the candidate one who can afford to campaign but otherwise has no redeeming social qualities? Unfortunately, the common answer to all these characteristics is yes. The best gift will be to find a candidate that understands the art of giving.

Ancient Mariner

The Art of Giving

Giving is indeed an art. Few of us cover the art form in its entirety. Each art form, however, provides a different gift to those who give and to those who receive. More often than not, our greatest gift goes unnoticed over a lifetime.

One form of giving is associated with our culture. In the United States, we pay taxes, which is a form of giving – more at sharing – to support millions of people in need; we share roads and infrastructure in general; we help assure that civility and unity prevail. Too often, giving to our cultural norms is the subject of derision and dissatisfaction. Those who dislike taxes do not experience the gratification that comes from sharing. The art of giving is absent and their lives seem diminished – certainly no personal gift is experienced. Hence the word ‘tax’ instead of ‘gift’. Is our culture missing an aspect of humanity?

Another art form is giving without sacrifice. Bill Gates and others in similar financial circumstances give substantial amounts to quality of life programs around the world. There is no question that recipients immensely enjoy the gift. Giving full credit to Bill for his largesse, his own experience likely has little feeling of sacrifice and more a sense of moral responsibility fulfilled. This is very common in gift giving, that is, giving without sacrifice. Knock off a dozen zeroes or so from Bill’s income and assets and the gift is common to most of us – no sacrifice required. True, in form one has given a gift but the experience is light on a feeling of sharing.

There are two circumstances each of which almost qualifies as an oxymoron:

Military basic training inculcates a feeling of intense bonding between recruits. The experience of sharing (bonded commitment) is tantamount to self-preservation.

The second is the offering taken in religious services. One feels little sacrifice and at best that a moral responsibility has been fulfilled. Many congregations will not even commit to a pledge – how dare God impose sharing on a follower. What is this, a tax?

An important art form that, in the midst of great sacrifice and sharing, often is overlooked; the giver doesn’t perceive that they have given a gift over a lifetime. There are many circumstances where lifetime gifting is involved; two are selected:

Parenthood. It is the nature of all mammals and many other species to protect the next generation. In humans, this nature is most complex and requires many years of commitment. Parents, if they are in the range of normal, will sacrifice a great deal to sustain their children in life. This sharing experience is so strong that it continues throughout life even after the children have established their independence. Parents never deny sacrifice. Empathy and compassion are the art form.

Marriage. Perhaps marriage is even more complex than parenthood. A partnership begun in self-satisfaction over the years experiences times of tribulation. Often unspoken, both partners suffer the needs of their spouse. Both have shortcomings to be tolerated. In time, tolerance and mutual support becomes compassion and sharing. Each partner has gifted the other with a bond that goes unspoken, suffered silently and takes a lifetime.

The key words in the art of giving are sacrifice, sharing and compassion. The words together create a sense of sincere commitment and a unique feeling of deep joy – the quiet kind and the most healing for all parties concerned.

Ancient Mariner

 

Arrived.

Ancient has arrived at an intellectual state not unlike running out of gas in the middle of nowhere; or it may be similar to arriving where one intended but there is nothing to be found; or it may be like arriving in a country ready to have a rich experience but no one speaks your language or cares to communicate.

In a word, Mariner, as Amos before him, euphemistically is retreating to shepherd his sheep.[1] The works of Amos in the Old Testament show that he was influenced by a very large Earthquake (8.0) that occurred north of Israel around 760BC. Amos 3.13-15 states the view of Amos about the collapse of the world:

13 “Hear and testify against the House of Jacob,” says the Lord God, the God of Hosts, 14 “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great house shall come to an end,” says the Lord.RSV In further verses, Amos makes it clear that no one will survive God’s wrath.

Today, we have no impending earthquake that will end civilization; perhaps a volcano may but none of the major volcanoes are due for thousands of years. Nevertheless, something is happening because God’s wrath has begun and moves ever faster.

 

The Dark Age

The model which defines the relationship of the present era to its future is the model of the Dark Ages, which lasted from the fall of Rome to the early years of the Middle Ages (450AD – 1000AD). It was a time when the social structure and ethic of the known western world had fallen into disarray. Governments (and the Church) disavowed responsibility for the underclass and anyone, for that matter, who could not participate in authoritarian power or its oligarchy. In that time, the general public lived a truly impoverished and brutalized life. The wealthy did not feel obligated to care about common folk. Food was scarce and never adequate; disease ran amok; the simplest barter economy was impossible because of abusive taxation; one third of all children died before age five; adults had an average life expectancy in the thirties; common land, where the populace lived, was treated as a permanent war zone where the powerful played constant war to improve personal power and wealth.

Does this sound relevant today?

The characters are the same. The failing cultural morality seems not to be restrained. War with inadequate purpose seems rampant. Governments ever increasingly seek to avoid responsibility for the growing underclasses. The Church lingers in the twentieth century with very little influence on twenty-first century society.

But ‘God’ is not waiting for an ultimate collapse. Even as the US Government denies the reality of global warming, the Earth is moving on to an environment that may not be suitable for humans. It certainly is not suitable for other species. Global leaders and the wealthy may grudgingly recognize that ocean levels are rising enough to be a nuisance. They do not acknowledge that as the Arctic Ocean and its accompanying permafrost melt, a rise of ocean levels to several feet is projected by the end of the century and that will not be the end of it – rising further in future centuries.

The weather is changing as well. The warming oceans evaporate unmeasurable amounts of water into the atmosphere – causing larger and more damaging weather patterns as well as drought zones that occur seemingly without reason.

‘God’ does not patronize authoritarian and otherwise imbalanced societies that disregard simple moral behaviors – behaviors that have deep genetic roots in a species with strong tribal social structures. The current US government reminds the mariner of a group of people grabbing as much wealth as they can before the end comes. ‘God’ will not be deterred.

There are too many humans. Far too many. Why is this? Give credit to man’s inventive abilities which produced the Iron Age, Industrial Age, the Fossil Fuel Age, the Technological Age and the current Age of Automation. Were humans still bound to the nature from which they evolved, there is no question that nature itself would oversee disproportional population. Man often is his own demise.

Even at this moment the US is fading from its leadership of the modern world. China understands global economics and is investing in newly defined trade and financing relationships with other countries that will ease transition from the twentieth century era. The US is doing its level best to return to cultural and fiscal values as they existed in the mid-twentieth century. True, that was the golden age but nothing escapes entropy.

Aside from the biosphere, world economies must change in concept if any country is to survive financially and culturally. Most critical is the relationship between jobs and income. The eight hour work day began in 1856. Accompanied by a concept of hourly wage, it has been the core device for redistribution of wealth ever since. But its role in the economy is waning. If the world population is to survive in any quantifiable measure, job and wage must be separated.

Mariner is confident that we approach dark times. Dark times will prevail longer than we will like; let’s hope not as long as the model from the Middle Ages – 550 years. For the last four years, mariner has probed endless subjects, admonished many for lax insight, and promoted newly required ideas drawn from modern but ignored commentary. Were that we could describe the collapsing world; perhaps even glimpse the edges of our dissolution as we can see the edge of a storm cloud – but each of us is an integral piece of the storm…. We are the storm.

We, the electorate, are the storm and we have no intelligence with which to steer ourselves to pleasant weather. The human species denies several global issues that may well end as Amos predicted.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Apocryphal works say that Amos was killed by the son of Amaziah, priest of Bethel. It further states that before he died, Amos made his way back to his homeland and was buried there.