Wednesday, February 08, 2006

We The People

From historic, even pre-historic times, Kings, Queens and tribal leaders have claimed some sort of divine patrimony in their claim to power. Rights flowed down from the Gods to their chosen favorites who then visited them upon the people!

Along the way some variations on the theme appeared in the form of Plutocratic Republics in the form of Greek cities, Sparta, Rome and even some of the cities of renaissance Italy. The basics however remained unchanged; Rights and Power flowed from the Gods, the intermediaries were blessed and the subjects just had to suck it up!

Then came a seismic event – somewhere around mid to late 1700s to the early 1800s – today referred to as the Age of Reason followed by the Enlightenment – when some intrepid souls made the intellectual leap of saying that just as natural phenomena could be understood and explained by uncovering the laws and principles governing the natural order of the universe so could the phenomena of the social order be understood and explained.

To cut a long story short from this came the three most important words in the history of man to date (in any language!) – We The People.

Contained within these three words is the concept that all universal rights and powers are a priori vested in the human community at large. And, at their pleasure and in their wisdom We the People do give to various institutions within society the right to exercise some – a chosen few – of those rights and powers in our name and for our collective benefit. The Executive, The Judiciary, The Legislative; Presidents, Prime Ministers, Senators and Judges – are all empowered by the people in each their limited ways. And implicit in this arrangement is the hitherto unspoken corollary that that which is NOT given remains – inviolate – with We the People.

This tectonic shift in the source and locus of rights and powers liberates human kind to crawl out of the Dark Ages and leap to the Moon. Free enterprise, the pursuit of happiness, social welfare and universal education all become possible because it becomes the pleasure of We the People to make it so.

Human history however, also teaches us that the Powerful never voluntarily share or relinquish power (no matter how small the power!). Power addicts absolutely – more than money, sex, wine or drugs or even all four combined! Power is the first and final refuge of the divinely appointed. Divinely apportioned Power is their reason for being. Unmodulated Power. In the Fundamentalist world everyone is imbued with the Divine Power and is beholden to no one other than the divine source of that power. In the necessarily secular world of We the People – we are beholden to ourselves and our brethren for our rights and powers.

In the world of We the People cartoons and satires humble us and remind us what responsibilities we bear in being the universal repositories of all rights and powers a priori. In the Fundamentalist world – if God can be a joke then what am I? Such is the wretchedness of the blessed.

The Cartoon Terror, The War of Terror on Cartoons or the War against Terrorism – no matter how you view it – is not war of civilizations or a war for oil or a war about economic hegemony – or even a war between conservatives and liberals.

It is a systematic ravaging of the secular locus of universal rights by the powerful fundamentals of divine rights.

This is why elections, eavesdropping, environment and equality do not matter. They are all secular mirrors reflecting the nakedness of divine power. They are challenges to the Gods that choose the powerful – they are blasphemers.

We the People (warts and all!) are under attack. The light of the enlightenment is to be extinguished because it dared to shine that light on the apple of knowledge. Are we to be banished from Eden again?

I for one, refuse.