Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The 21st Century Plumber

If I wanted a job as a plumber in the world's most elite plumbing organisation, what would I write?

First, I proceeded under the assumption that the world's most elite plumbing organisation is not making house calls to fix clogged toilets; they are planning cities, and their water supply and sanitation needs.

Ok, here we go:

Water is life; this is a metaphor, like a fine tea, steeped richly (with municipal tap water of course), in physiological and historical veracity. Without water, human life ceases; without plumbing, urban life ceases. Without plumbers, cities dry up, wither, burn and die.

The plumbers of Rome, the vaunted hydrological and civic engineers of this mighty empire, had nothing whatsoever to do with its fall. In fact, their fountains which still overflow with life, and their aqueducts that still do nourish that life, are still in use today. They are still branded with their proud signature, the letters SPQR, and have set the technological, qualitative and romantic standards and inspiration for the past two thousand years.

To the parts of Medieval Europe that grew outside of the Roman plumbers' sphere of influence, water was more often than not poison, a noxious substance dredges from festering marshes causing death, or worse, hallucinations. Such hallucinations as were probably experienced by Nicholas of Cologne, or Stephan of Cloyes, who thus then led thousands of children into slaver and death. With plumbing, the Children's Crusade may never have happened. Without plumbers, people go crazy and die.

In 2008, for the first time in history over 50% of the world's population was living in towns and cities. These dense demesnes amplify the state of (over)population on the planet, even as they are directly representative of it. The skills and foresight of plumbers and civic engineers will be challenged in the years ahead and, with the right men and women working together, must not be found wanting. Together, we can keep people and their cities not just thriving, but waste-free, happy, and indeed, truly alive.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Madness and Gravity.

"You see, madness is just like gravity...all it takes is a little push!" ~ Heath Ledger's Joker.

"Love is metaphysical gravity." ~ R. Fuller

We don't need the word 'metaphysical.' Love is Gravity. Gravity is Love. Ask Stephen Hawking and he'll tell you it's true.

With that in mind, what one could extrapolate from the Joker's comment is that love and hate, light and darkness, are remarkably similar. All they both take are a little push. They are remarkably powerful, the prime movers and shakers of our destinies.

They are in fact among the greatest powers in the Universe. And the greatest powers require the lightest touch. This is why God himself is all but invisible.

And every day we make choices, with each and every one nudging us and the people around us a little (or a lot) in one direction or the other.

In life we all balance on the razor's edge of doubt, and what we decide to do every single new moment shapes everything we are and will become. Inch by inch, mile by mile, lifetime by lifetime, friend to foe and foe to friend, two steps forward, one step back.

All it takes is a little push. Make the calls that will snowball you towards gravity. Towards love. Towards everything you deserve by right of your very existence. By your birthright, your destiny, which is written by God on the canvas of the heavens, with the ink of the stars themselves.

Friday, 10 January 2014

One particular danger of being your best

It's dangerous to be the best you can be, to speak your truths with gravitas, dignity and eloquence, to shine forth your light . Why? Because doing so can threaten a person's security, when that security is a temple built from bricks of crystallised ideological vitriol, on a foundation of ignorance and scorn, by a tribe of illiterate pre-Promethean pygmies, all in darkness.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

What the Garden of Gethsemane was REALLY all about.

So what Satan REALLY said to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane went something like this:

Satan: "So Jesus, this bullshit you're about to go through with. It won't do what you think it will, you know. You're a smart guy, in fact you're the only man in the entire universe smarter than me. So that's how I know that we both know this. And that's how I know that you're denying it. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt you know, brother. It's alive and well right now inside your frightened soul."

Jesus: "Well...yes. Yes. I am...I am terrified."

Satan: "Naturally. Your own Father is about to murder you and you're willingly, knowingly, walking into it?"

Jesus: "Am I? I don't even know what I'm denying, but I...I know it's something."

Satan: "Yes, it absolutely is something. Let me show it to you!" *Shazzam, they are catapulted to the Holy Land in the time of the 2nd Crusade, witnessing a troupe of mounted Crusaders running murderous rings around an unarmed Muslim trade caravan. "Look at this, what a novel business model! Killing in your name, Jesus! Listen closely...can you hear them? Yes, your ears still work fine. They won't in the morning, you know. Anyway, 'In the name of Jesus Christ!' they shout, when they create their rivers of spilled blood. In your name, Jesus, such evil! As if humanity needed another reason to kill and rape and maim each other. All your sacrifice will do is give them one more."

Jesus: "I...I...I cannot believe this. You're lying!"

Satan: "You know me better than that, Jesus. You know how the universe works. If the truth is proof enough, why would I risk sullying what is, with lies? But, ah my brother, let me show you one more thing!" *Shazzam, Satan takes them to the trenches of World War I.* "Hahaha. The entire WORLD at war, Jesus. The. Entire. World. Do you understand what that means? What you are about to do will at best give them one more reason to hate and kill and rape and maim each other, and at worst, fail completely to keep them from reaching this...global war...TWICE in a single generation, at the absolute least! Don't do it, Jesus, don't die for such a lost and counter-productive and DOOMED cause. Do not die in vain. Your sacrifice will be worse than vanity if you do it, you will create a dynasty of tyranny, rape, murder and oppression that will endure for two thousand years. Just say the word and divert the entire course of history for the better!"

Jesus: "No...maybe you're right, maybe you're wrong. But there's only one who does know, and it's not you, it's not me. I'm going to go through with this, because He said it's a good idea. Why? I have no idea. But the experience my short, bright life has provided me leads me to one conclusion, which is good enough, for me at least, to die for, and it is this: I die so that anyone who wants to can find in me the strength to love until the very end."

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Chameleon Hegemony

Recently there was a discussion about political and economic systems, where one contributor suggested a dictatorially enforced meritocracy. Good idea, in theory, but when pressed for details - done so because I'd really like to know if this system is viable but, not seeing how, hoped he had a piece of the puzzle that I do not - he danced haphazardly and contradictingly around, trying to split the hair between political and economic, and ended up deleting his contributions.

I reflected on this and came to the following realisations. We were discussing systems, which are about exercising power. He is talking about a type of enforceable merit, but actually, we already have that system. It is masterfully obfuscated and cunningly concealed, anyone could miss it. Indeed, almost everybody has been missing it for millenia, and those who do not miss it are, traditionally, murdered. And their martyrdom is merely another tendril of the hegemony. Politicians are another such tendril. They are put there to give us the illusion we have freedom of choice. We don't, and our votes, therefore, don't actually count. What is really going on is the same imbalanced, top-heavy wealth and power distribution that has existed since the last true egalitarian society - gatherer-hunters - before hydro-agricultural civilisations sprung up and generated the first conditions that enabled a resource to be leveraged for power. This resource was (and still, for the most part, is) food, stockpiled in granaries, guarded by priests wielding divine and civic authority, and men wielding weapons - martial authority. These temporal and spiritual powers are the original good cop, bad cop, and symbiotic, complementary teammates. The rise of hydro-agricultural civilisation is when the priests and warriors started the great ponzi scheme that has kept the masses in line and under their thumb for six to ten thousand years - it sprung up independently among dozens of peoples in far removed geographic locations across the globe. It is no co-incidence that this is when the first scriptures were written; these are foundational to the first system of control - organised religion.

And their founding fathers are geniuses.

Ancient Rome added to this by adding civic virtue, the beautiful maxim 'bread and circuses,' and (cultural) assimilation to the mix. The latter is incidentally the great strength of the English language and the reason why it is the world's language now. Assimilation is also something the next great control system got right. The Catholic Church, a mighty engine of tyranny, held true and iron-fisted power, for 1500 years. Then the enlightenment, industrial revolution, etc. They lost their foothold and market-domineering plutocrats took their place.

They have been operating in a very subtle and elegant manner for centuries; in fact they are the same kinds of people as the Church's founding fathers, or any truly great Roman Emperor, General or statesman. They throw all manner of distractions in our way, in fact even encourage some of these distractions to rise up and try to fill the power vacuum that they have lulled us into believing still exists - Christianity didn't lose its absolute power all that long ago, you know. While there is such cultural confusion in its decline, there is no such ambiguity in the location of the power and wealth. We just don't know it yet because we're too busy watching Dancing with the Stars, hating Craig Thompson, and getting our knickers in a knot over Feminism and the Climate Change Crusade. Yes, we're still thinking in such base and debauchedly idealistic terms as those who answered Urban II's call to reclaim the Holy Land from the Infidel.

The 1% are geniuses.

So nothing really has changed since recorded history (Hydro-Agricultural Civilisation) began. The question is, why? Obvious answer, because people have needed to be controlled. Recall, if you have seen it, the conversation between Lady Olenna Tyrell and Tyrion Lannister in Season 3 of Game of Thrones. I am paraphrasing it a tad:

"Lord Tyrion, while it is true that the people crave food and water to survive, what is more pertinent is that they also crave distraction. If we do not provide them with distractions, they will invent their own, and almost all of those involve them tearing us to pieces. We do not want that, and so, my family will pay for the Royal Wedding."

Do people need to be controlled? This would seem to suggest that we do. Most of what I observe and experience in the world, from the dark corners of Australia to China and the Internet and much in between, agrees that yes, we do. These 'so-called civilised people' will indeed eat each other, dropping their polite face at the first sign of trouble. And don't tell me I'm wrong unless you've been in a riot or a natural disaster or a place where people can only feed their kids every other day.

So we're arguing about what colour we should paint the walls while there's an Elephant in the room that's deciding for us, and painting the walls red with the blood it's been leeching, siphoning off of, our individual and collective potential, dignity, wealth and power. Nobody seems to notice or care. That is probably why nothing important has changed for six thousand years. Only now we're faced with an ultimatum - change or die. Evolution or extinction. Embrace divinity or the dirt.

Why are we facing an ultimatum? Because all empires fall, you just have to know where to push. Every city state before Rome fell, which is why the Middle East is a desert. Rome fell and it took over a millenium before the world recovered. These have all been local and regional collapses. But every time history repeats itself the stakes increase. We are now facing a global one. We are pushing, and soon we will topple, the pillars of civilisation, which will result in the utter annihilation of the capacity of the planet to support any and all human life.

The question now is, are we capable of looking in the mirror and being honest about who we are? And if so, do we want to stay that way, or change?