Memorial Day – A Reflection

Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection. It is a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a great deal since it was founded. At its inception, it was meant to honor African American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those who were former slaves; men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had to keep the union whole.

Memorial Day was created to honor those who died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for a vision of it that the prayed for, but was not yet real; they got something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming, one that is more or less just, depending on where you are born, what color your skin is, what class you belong to.

Those men and women died for us, for good or ill, they died for us. They died for promises that went un-realized.

We have yet to repay them, we have yet to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, America the true, and good, America the arbiter of justice.

Now, we honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.

We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who gave their days to public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and those yet to come.

This year we must even children, who stood in the way of gunfire to protect their classmates and paid for it with their lives.

We must honor them, and their sacrifice, they died upholding our most cherished values, in recognition of the fact that we are one people, that we are descended from many nations, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these.

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free.
It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.

We are not kept free through armed conflict.

We do not face such an existential threat from beyond our borders and shores right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from anywhere.

The real threat we face is from ourselves, from our ignorance and from our fear.

It is we, and we alone who can protect us from ourselves.

Our own apathy, our prejudice and hatred, these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, that threaten our freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power.

To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances and collaborate.

Our collective failure as citizens of the Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the guarantee that our votes will be counted.

This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of the border we share, they are only seeking the same thing as my own forebears did when they came here a little over a hundred years ago.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public officials in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.

Honor them by participating in public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.

Stand up, and be counted!

We must rebuild America, reform our institutions, we must do this for the sake of all Americans and our future generations. We must take responsibility for our own freedom.

We will have nothing to protect if we let our freedom be stolen from us while we are busy watching TV, posting pictures on social media of the last meal we ate, and arguing with one another about who is the most liberal, most progressive, most concerned about the common good.

Honor the fallen, in this way.

Participate!

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994

Given 1st 2015.05.25

Revised 2019.05.27

Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Twenty, Collective

Week 21
The care of a loving family is like the wet clinging mesh of a spider’s web. Humans are trapped in it, suspended, enwrapped in it. The majority of people who have ever lived, never lived a day apart from these sticky-bonds.

Familial obligations are invisible. We are bound by them through our emotions; by fear and love, hate and pride, anger, hope, and jealousy, the feelings that bind us to our parents and our siblings, to our clans like the ligaments that join bones to muscles.

We are conditioned by rituals; by the stories we tell, the drums we play, by music, and language, by the seasons we live and the hours of the day. They are the food that nourishes our identity. We are raised in the patterns that play themselves out, in both the small cycles and the great.

Everything we are comes from the family, everything we do redounds to the family name, the name of our clan, our tribe, our village, our state.

Our identities are completely enmeshed with the identity of the group we are raised in. Only the most profound betrayal can break the patterns we are conditioned to live by, and even then, those who break free from their familial identity, or through no choice of their own are exiled and then cast-out, they leave the family only to recreate the same structures in new places with new people.

The individual can be raised up, lifted high, made strong by their family and tribe.

They can also be shunted, marginalized, and cast aside.

Families have a tendency to cannibalize their strength. In times of great need they will go so far as to eat their own, or set up the strongest and most beautiful as holy victims for the gods they worship, to barter their best and brightest away in the hope of some kind of boon.

As families become clans the bonds of loyalty are fixed in the body, constructed by chemicals and enzymes, by proteins and amino acids, by the songs and rhythms unique to each group, and through which they reinforce the knowledge of their history, their ancestral memories, passing them on from one generation to the next.

These are bonds that we do not see, bonds we never question.

Rituals are developed to lift up and memorialize the common ancestors whose great deeds, or terrible failures were such that the clans wrote songs about them, and passed them on to their children, and their children’s children, as the saga of their kin.

Every person reared within the group learned to see themselves as a continuation of the clan’s broader narrative. They saw their own deeds as a reflection of the deeds of their ancestors.

They imagined their departed dead as living beside them, all around them, and they were not wrong.

The departed spoke to them through ancestral memory, not just the patterns of their consciousness remaining with the clans and tribes, but their actual consciousness remaining with individual families, bound to them and the planet in the electromagnetic field called the nous-sphere.

The ritual remembering, the songs they sang, the drums they beat, these reinforced the connection and secured it, keeping it vital through that period when the groupings of human beings were still small enough that every person could trace their connection to the other through their blood lines.

They were migrating and wandering, they were navigating by the stars. They marked their narratives by the movement of the constellations, and projected their own stories into the heavens.

They were together and they were one.

Every individual saw themselves as a part of the tribe, and saw the fullness of the tribe as manifested in them. The clan was the clearest representation of the structure of human unity and belonging. It had a sufficient critical mass to draw the individual outside of themselves, and yet it was not large enough for the individual to feel lost within it. The clan was the family writ large, it was small enough to be intimate and large enough to provide for the safety of the group through the structures they form.

Hierarchies emerge in village life, just as they do everywhere in the animal world.

Human beings are animals after all, and in their need to establish social structures they are no different from the wolf, or the lion, or the ram.

In the animal world it could be dangerous, even deadly. The competition for leadership was intense, it was largely physical, and the strongest usually won.

Among humans the intensity was no less, but it was often more deadly, and physical strength was not the most significant indicator of primacy.

Social hierarchies formed in villages; around the well, at the markets, in the places of worship and religious life, and most importantly in the seat judgment.

The center is everything, with social rank flowing from it in concentric rings.

A person was either in or out of the village, either in or out of the center, with movement and access regulated between the spheres.

The beginning of cohesion around village life was the beginning of the disintegration of families, clans, and tribes.

The social order was undergoing change, metamorphosis, redefining allegiances.

These developments were not uniform, it did not happen in all places at once. It happened in key places; at the confluence of rivers, along the shores of the great inland lakes, in the desert oasis, at any place where the movements of migratory tribes would bring them together.

The villages were rising.

There was safety in the tribe, and the ability to test one’s self through competition with peers.

There was jealousy, yes, and envy. There were customs and taboos that were well established, intending to prevent such things from having a harmful impact on the life of the group and its cohesion

There were shared customs and stories, rituals, things that shaped both the structure of the tribe and its future. The narratives they spun taught all of its members the means by which they could advance, redress wrongs, recover from injury, hold fast to their position.

The tribal life was essentially democratic, members of the tribe could come and go as they pleased. There were no laws to bind them. There was only duty, obligation, and the expectation of those who were dependent.

It was only when the migrations ended and the tribes became fixed in villages and hamlets that the notion that people could be treated like property advanced and class systems became entrenched.

During the time of migrations men and women were essentially equal, neither was the property of the other, the concept of ownership was alien and everyone had a say in the destiny of the group.

The tribe might be governed by a chief, there could be a de facto leader, especially in times of conflict. That person was more often than not merely the voice of the people, the arbiter, the mediator, the negotiator, and judge.

In place of the single leader, more often than not, a council of elders held sway over the life of the tribe. The tribe did what it could to give every person a voice, to be inclusive. Everyone was a part of the whole.

Then there were the others.

Encampments became villages, and villages became towns. The human communities were growing, coming into greater contact with one another, realigning themselves both through necessity and by choice.

Towns grew into cities while people migrated into urban centers for trade and work. Individuals pulled away from their families, from their clans and tribes, pulling themselves into new relationships with merchants and farmers, with herders of new and different breeds of animals.

They clung together in ever greater numbers, both for protection, and opportunity. Learning from each other new ways of life, alien rituals and practices that each group had developed around their totem animals, their symbiotes, these began to be synthesized, re-contextualized for the purposive of enlarging the group.

In the beginning we learned to honor the other, the stranger, and we held in esteem the strengths they brought to new society.

They farmed, they built granaries and the foundations of the city flowed from there, from wellsprings to ziggurats.

The granaries became temples, where the people prayed for and received their daily allotment of food, grain and seed to themselves and their families. Temples became fortresses where they stored the fruit of their labor up against times of conflict, drought, disease and famine.

The temples became towers, ziggurats, great platforms that touched the sky, and from which the sages plotted the movement of stars across the heavens. These became the seat of priestly-royalty, and the place from which the laws flowed which bound human beings to their caste, class and station.

Families dispersed, becoming ever less important.

The division of labor ensued.

What became paramount were the relationship the individual had to neighbors and teachers, to systems of patronage and clientage. The individual had the potential to become both everything and nothing, a god-like figure or a slave, to be named in the annals, recalled and remembered, to be sung about or to be utterly forgotten. To achieve immortality through the songs and sagas of the people, or to become dust, nothing at all.

Most, the vast majority, nearly all went unremembered, but they did not disappear.

The cities gathered towns and villages to themselves, expanding and absorbing them, pulling their people away from their homes, relocating them in the urban centers. Cities did this just as clans and tribes had done with families and kin in past ages.

The bonds that formed were weaker than family bonds. Individually they were weak and flimsy, but like the spokes of wheel, together they supported a structure of great strength, capable of extraordinary movement, both radiating from the center and supporting the outer frame.

In the urban core social power concentrated itself in the hands of the few, the elite and the strong, the wealthy…the cunning.

The poor and the newly arrived, if they were free citizens, they needed representation.

The majority of those living in the urban centers were enslaved, either owned as private property, or they were the property of the state, its institutions and its temples, they belonged to the war machine that kept the state alive.

The free people needed sponsorship, the poor enjoined relationships with the rich, they became clients to their patrons, and these new bonds became formalized into extra-familial systems of societal structure.

This was a new version of a family, famiglia only loosely related to blood ties. Inter marriage and progeny strengthened these bonds, but they were not required.

These were the ancient bonds of vassalage.

They were bonds of the imagination, and bonds of determination. They were bonds of circumstance, and will, not happenstance or hereditary accident. They were forged by choices.

The cities became states, and in the cauldrons of statehood the relationships between all things and beings were redefined and refined.

Common language, common custom, rituals and religion all conspired to tie people together, just as connective tissues sew the limbs of the body together in the joints. Shared experiences are the sinews of human culture.

There are extrinsic and intrinsic movements with the ritual framework. Well executed rituals engage all of the senses.

The best rituals go beyond the physical structure of the world, and join the participants to one another through the inner sanctum of their memory, recalling the ancestral rhythms that move them.

When a ritual is serving its purpose it points the individual to a place beyond themselves, and creates in that person the sense that they are being pulled, drawn, or called in that direction.

Proper ritual juxtaposes the past and the future, it holds the ancestral memory in tension with future expectations.

When the rites are well executed it creates a space in which the whole community is moved by contact with the cynergenic field. They enter the nous sphere, and they transcend themselves and become one.

These are the essential building blocks of group identity and with their perfection came the ability to pull all the disparate parts of human culture together.

Nations were formed out of states, building on the foundations of security and prosperity for the people.

The old allegiances of family, tribe and clan were shifting ever-outward, away from people, into the world of ideas.

The fundamental buildings blocks of human identity were changing. Their National identity transcended their sense of themselves as a member of a family, and even as individuals.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Twenty, Collective
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

Like it, Follow it, Share it!