Le temps



Comme les aiguilles d'une montre, on revient constamment à ce point de départ, ou repère. Non pas encore comme un vieillard, quasi en obsédé, qui se borne à se répéter sans cesse, mais parce que c'est une énigme qui me fascine. Elle m'a toujours fascinée, ce qui a souvent été démontré à travers le temps, par les idées visuelles y consacrées.
Fasciné peut-être aussi parce que je n'ai pas trop de conception du temps. Il passe à côté, ou discrètement comme l'ombre d'un nuage.
C'est la relativité du temps qui est au coeur de cette fascination. La longévité d'un tilleul, rend la durée de la vie d'un être humain comme celle d'un éphémère. Ou par rapport avec le temps cosmologique, la longévité de cet arbre n'est que le temps d'un clin d'oeil.

C'est vrai qu'avec le temps justement, la mémoire commence à manifester quelques failles. Nos repères peuvent se réduire, par exemple, aux bons moments partagés par ce que l'on a mangé de si mémorable en certains endroits. 

Mais pour les artistes dont peut-être la plupart n'a pas trop de conception de temps, il y a autre chose de plus essentiel. Il y a le souvenir imprégné de la création de ce que l'on fait de valable. Il y a des périodes où inspirés, les artistes produisent des œuvres qui défient le temps. Et lorsque ils regardent ce qu'ils ont fait de bien à leurs yeux il y a un mois, trois ans, 35 ans, etc., le temps n'a aucun rapport ni importance. En regardant chaque œuvre à laquelle ils se sont investis et consacrés aussi bien que possible à ce moment là, ils se rappellent de presque tout, les sentiments, la concentration, la tension, l'angoisse, l'objectif, la lumière, etc., comme s'il s'agissait d'hier.

Avec le temps, en principe, on évolue. On apprend davantage. Un bon enseignant passionné par son sujet sinon par tout, ne se limiterait jamais à la connaissance pédagogique décrétée et limitée par le système de l'éducation nationale. Il ou elle serait constamment en train de découvrir et d'apprendre davantage, pour aller au delà d'eux-mêmes. C'est avec cette passion qui n'expire jamais avec l'âge non plus, qu'un bon enseignant inspire et encourage les enfants à s'ouvrir à la vie pour en être aussi inspirés et passionnés, tout au long de leur propre chemin d'existence.

C'est un chemin personnel, à travers le temps d'une vie. On n'a pas forcément besoin de regarder en arrière (regarder les réalisations d'hier, des créations personnelles faites dans leurs propres temps, des œuvres qui parlent et parleront toujours pour elle-mêmes, n'est pas regarder en arrière). Mais parfois de regarder le sillage de notre trajet nous montre encore à quel point rien n'est dû au hasard. C'est aussi cela qui détermine la beauté de la vie et de son trajet.

La beauté des femmes, j'en ai déjà fait allusion, mais il y a aussi une forte liaison avec le temps. Une femme belle dans tous les égards, reste belle quelque soit son âge. Car il y a cette essence de la vraie beauté, comme le parfum d'une belle rose qui reste imprégné comme l'âme de la fleur même, jusqu'au bout, sinon au delà..

Pour d'autres hélas, la vie n'est pas aussi passionnante, et le temps semble cruellement interminable. Il y a ceux qui pour des raisons de santé, de maladies incurables, veulent en finir malgré (et aussi à cause) de leur lucidité. Puis il y a d'autres cas peut-être même pire physiquement, qui eux continuent à s'investir dans leur passion à merveille. Comment ne peut-on pas en être stupéfié d'admiration par les Stephen Hawking de ce monde?
Puis on se demande comment aurait-il été, celui toujours capable de penser et de voir, qui voulait tant mourir, si il n'avait pas eu sa maladie? S'il était donc en bonne santé, aurait-il eu une vraie passion, une envie d'accomplir quelque chose de personnelle dans sa vie?
Malgré sa maladie et handicap énorme, Stephen Hawking se considère même fortuné (...). Car 'le progrès lent de sa maladie lui a permis de faire des découvertes scientifiques influentes, et ne l'a pas empêché d'avoir une famille très attirante'..

J'ai commencé à écrire ce petit soliloque avant de découvrir que Hawking avait justement écrit 'A Brief History of Time (Une histoire brève du temps). Selon lui, 'si on découvre une théorie complète, ce serait le triomphe ultime de la raison humaine, puisque nous devrions connaître l'esprit et la pensée de Dieu.'

En 2007, avant de prendre un vol zéro-gravité dans un 'Vomit Comet' pendant lequel il a expérimenté la sensation de l'apesanteur huit fois, ll disait:
'Beaucoup de gens m'ont demandé pourquoi je vais faire cette expérience. Je le fais pour plusieurs raisons. Premièrement je crois que la vie sur la Terre est en danger d'être éliminée par un désastre comme une guerre nucléaire, un virus produit génétiquement, ou d'autres dangers. Je pense que la race humaine n'a pas d'avenir sans aller dans l'espace. Ainsi je veux encourager le public de s'intéresser à l'espace.'

L'espace, et donc le temps.
On prétend que Noé eut vécu pour 950 ans. Il avait bien le temps de vivre, ainsi que d'apprécier le vin selon sa réputation. On a déjà fait allusion à lui. Mais la conviction tout à fait logique de Hawking, me rappelle de mes propres rêveries, comme le Cycle de Noé.

Par rapport à l'univers l'homme a peu de conception cosmique du temps. On est gouverné par notre propre système solaire et lunaire, comme par nos calendriers et nos horloges si insignifiants par rapport avec la chronologie cosmique.
Comme disait Hawking 'l'Univers est gouverné par les lois de la science. Ces lois auraient pu être décrétées par Dieu, mais Dieu n'intervient pas pour enfreindre les lois.'

Comme il n'existe aucune autre espèce de vie dans le monde obligée de développer son intelligence pour survivre, la théorie de l'évolution selon Darwin ne s'applique pas de manière très convaincante pour expliquer la présence sur terre de l'homme. Je suis tenté de croire donc que le Cycle de Noé soit même plausible comme explication.
Si pour survivre l'homme serait éventuellement obligé de fonder un autre monde, une autre civilisation ailleurs, qui pourrait affirmer avec certitude que ce serait la toute première fois? Après tout, finalement, et toujours, ce n'est qu'une question de temps.


 
Avec le temps
On parle un peu moins, peut-être,
On oublie, puis parfois on se rappelle.
On pense un peu plus, peut-être,
Bercés par le bateau
Qui flotte tant bien que mal,
Dirigé enfin
 Par les étoiles, selon les étoiles.
Nous prenons ce beau temps
De respirer
En regardant approcher doucement
Cet horizon voilé
Du pays d'origine.
Et derrière le bateau
Il ne reste que le sillage éphémère
Eclairé par les derniers rayons
Du soleil couchant.
Puis la mer devient floue
Et semble se calmer,
Comme un lac
Infini
__

Text and illustration © Mirino (PW). Source Stephen Hawking- Wikipedia, with thanks. August, 2012

Thomas Hobbes



Recognised as 'the second great English philosopher of the seventeenth century,' Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was one of Francis Bacon's pupils, and was to become an influence to John Locke.
After his education at Oxford, he tutored and acted as secretary to certain noblemen including members of the Cavendish family, as well as Bacon himself.

During the civil wars, being more or less a royalist, he lived in exile in Paris (1640-1651) where he wrote and had certain works published such as Leviathan.
He planned on three books. The first on 'physical bodies,' the second on 'human nature' and the third on 'state'. He wrote them in English and Latin, but the two versions differ considerably. The best known of this work was Leviathan, (published in Paris, 1651) but also according to the Norton Anthology, it 'does not fit into the scheme at all'.

Leviathan caused a scandal both with the Puritans and the royalists. It's categoric sectarianism disturbed the former, and as Hobbes seemed to give equal standing and legitimacy to both the usurper and the legal monarch, this infuriated the latter.

On his return to England Hobbes was forgiven by Cromwell. He even went unpunished for his royalist 'treason' after the Restoration, much to the anger of many royalists.
No doubt this enhanced his reputation and incited his 'followers' who called themselves 'Hobbists'. The majority of them had no philosophical or intellectual calling, therefore no academical reason to justify this disciple tendency. It was simply because the name 'Hobbes' evoked scandal.

Here is a short excerpt from Leviathan.

Chapter 13, of  THE NATURAL CONDITION OF MANKIND AS CONCERNING THEIR FELICITY AND MISERY.

'(...)
Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man and man is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit, to which another may not pretend as well as he. For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the stongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself.

And as to the faculties of the mind- setting aside the arts grounded upon words, and especially that skill of proceeding upon general and infallible rules, called science; which very few have, and but in few things; as being not a native faculty, born with us; nor attained, as prudence, while we look after somewhat else- I find yet a greater equality amongst men than that of strength. For prudence is but experience, which equal time equally bestows on all men, in those things they equally apply themselves unto. That which may perhaps make such equality incredible is but vain conceit of one's own wisdom, which almost all men think they have in a greater degree than the vulgar- that is, than all men but themselves and a few others, whom by fame, or for concurring with themselves, they approve. For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned, yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves; for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of anything than that every man is contented with his share.
(...)'

One can agree with Hobbes certainly regarding the intransigent constancy of human nature. But his affirmation that nature makes men equal in all other respects is, to my mind untenable, and surely this is just as well.

That human nature never changes is historically evident. Equality could thus be applied only to human nature as such. The only evolution that takes place is the need of human nature to adapt to change and to man's technological and scientific achievements which determine progress. Such adaptation however, is realised through habit and necessity, until it eventually becomes inherent. A natural inborn capacity of future generations.

As an obvious example, man was terribly, naively unaccustomed to the enormous potential of heavy artillery and automatic weapons used in The Great War. After too many thousands of young soldiers were needlessly slaughtered, it was eventually grasped that absurd, medieval military tactics should be changed.
Or, for a far less tragic example, whereas one first had to read in order to master the basics of using early (Mac) computers, (and in those days detailed manuals were considered a necessary part of the package) one's children never needed to read anything at all to use a computer. Such 'knowledge' was virtually inborn from their generation onwards, in ever increasing extents.

But this adaptation, which can be considered also as part of survival, implying all forms, including professional survival, has no influence on human nature itself.
Many great writers including Chaucer, Shakespeare and Molière, etc., are figureheads of its portrayal. They are the timeless illustrators and caricaturists of human nature, of its strengths and weaknesses, its grandeur and pettiness.
The timelessness of the works of these individual giants reflect the timelessness of human nature itself, that man will always be able to identify with, throughout centuries of civilisation, and for as long as humanity exists.

This however, is the only equality of humanity, for it's a fallacy to believe than man is born equal. The idea of physical or genetical, therefore mental and characteristic equality is an artifice, simply because it's not naturally possible. Natural conditions and individual circumstances cannot possibly determine equality. Man's positive evolution cannot depend on a condition of equality. If equality were an attainable, obligatory criterion, there would be no positive evolution. It would only engender mediocrity.

Obviously this doesn't mean that we shouldn't apply the rules of justice with absolute equity, or that we should refrain from the principle of trying to give our children 'equal' chances and opportunities, to benefit as well as possible from the best education available, at least that within one's means and the intellectual reach of one's children. But obviously one should never use 'double standards' in justice and politics. And one should never even dream of lowering the level of national education in what would be a vain and senseless attempt to bring about mythic equality.
In the latter case it means that if one aspires to reach the stars, and strives to attain the knowledge and capacity to do so, to discourage or block such an individual from reaching this goal would virtually be criminal.

Those who for the sake of an ideology, try to restrict the creator, or block the scientist, the mathematician, the artist, from reaching his or her zenith, and thus from adding that precious, individual contribution, that master-piece for the glory of mankind, progress, survival and posterity, are no better than brain-washed fanatics. Those devoid of reason, intelligence, talent, and sensitivity, who, for the cause of blind ideology, callously destroy the creations of others; the monuments of history, the roots of their own paltry existence, to replace them with nothing other than dogma, lies, mediocrity, dust and death.
Isn't this conclusive enough of the fallacy of equality as an ideal or natural attribute?
__

Text © Mirino. Excerpt from The Norton Anthology, English Literature, Volume 1. Biography sources include The Norton Anthology. Top portrait of Thomas Hobbes (John Michael Wright 1617-1694) National Portrait Gallery, London. With thanks. August, 2012

The little boat
















The little boat was very old. It leaked badly and was no longer reparable. It lay where it had been abandoned, on a desolate stretch of beach amongst a litter of dried seaweed, rubbish, clods of tar and drift wood.

The seagulls that sometimes came to peck at the dry sea-moss on its hull, or to perch on its sides, were no company at all for they never showed any respect.

No one knew to whom the little boat had once belonged, or from where it had come. There had been many different owners, and each one had cared for the little boat, repainting it and giving it a new name. In those days it had a mast, two beige sails and a rudder. It had travelled quite far, and had weathered quite a few storms.

Now the little boat leaned slightly on one side, and seemed to reflect on the past. It had more than enough time for this. It would sigh and groan in the wind, or when strong tides sometimes sent little comforting ripples.

The last of the remaining green paint was bleached almost colourless by the sun. Flakes trembled before they were torn off by the wind. The oaken boards were split and bone dry. The remaining iron cord holds, stays and nails were corroded with rust.

One more summer when the families return, would most likely be the last for the little boat. If the children didn't do more damage to it, someone would certainly try to break it up to use the wood to make a beach fire.
The old boat shuddered in the breeze. Such an end would be terrible.

Naturally it yearned for the open sea again. Oblivious as one often is of one's age and condition, it still harboured aspirations of proudly riding the white-capped waves once more.
Its keel was sunk deep down in the sand, and it was still moored with an old hemp rope. It seemed that the little boat couldn't possibly be spared from a most ignoble fate.

Late in the following spring there was a fearful storm. It was so violent that even the seagulls were mute with apprehension. The sea was given free rein. It reclaimed the beaches and washed about the little boat.
The waves seemed delighted to be able to lift it out of its old bed of sand. The old rope gave easily, with a puff of brown dust, whipped away in the wind, and the little boat was soon floating free, far out to sea.
Never had it faced such a storm, and never had it felt in its old heart more worthy of doing so.

When finally fulfilled and exhausted, the little boat could no longer stay afloat, it creaked then gave a last grateful sigh as it sank beneath the waves. They bowed respectfully as it passed. Silently the little boat slowly turned, gliding gently down until it nestled upon the soft green seabed chosen for it. And there it lay amongst the noble remains of fine galleons that had once graced the oceans.
1981
 
Text and illustration © Mirino (PW). August, 2012

Syrian syllogisms
















Naturally by following news reports with videos and images that corroborate them, one becomes increasingly concerned by what's happening in the world. From the beginning of 2011 we've followed the sequence of events taking place in Syria.
We were shocked by the brutality of Assad's army and secret service who never hesitated in targeting and murdering unarmed Syrien demonstrators including women and children.

One of the catalysers of the civil war was the arrest of 13 year old Hamza, the 29th April, 2011. He was singled out for singing anti-regime slogans with other demonstrators. A month later his mother was contacted and ordered to come to collect his body. A video on Youtube is proof of the violence and torture inflicted on the boy, before he was finally killed. Hamza became an icon of the revolution. 'We are all Hamza al-Khateeb'.

Over fifteen months later, Bashar al-Assad is still struggling to maintain his dated power.
This whilst the free world continues to look on, officially unable to do anything to accelerate the end of his tyrannic reign.
But has the democratic world the right to continue to do so? How can one practice such blatant double standards with impunity? For it could be argued that if Gaddafi was guilty of crimes against humanity, he was relatively innocent compared with Assad.

The problem of course is the Russian and Chinese veto. They abstained in the case of Libya, allowing N. Sarkozy then D. Cameron to take their timely initiative.
The motives of Russia are, to some extent, understandable. Those of China are probably more commercially than politically motivated.
From noble Confucius, Imperial China, it's epic dynasties through the centuries onwards to it's first Republic (1912) proceeding the founding of the Peoples' Republic of China (1949), and then the reign of less noble Mao Tse-tung (under which an estimated 45 million people died of starvation). Ironically communist China, with its huge population of 1.3 billion, has finally arrived at a stage of its evolution by establishing what it seems to believe to be the ultimate culmination of power. The power of capitalism, which the Chinese have tirelessly consolidated and sustain. The power of having the democratic world in one's pocket.

Nevertheless, China's vulnerability is that its heart has become an enormous industrial pump. To insure that it continues to throb on healthily, it has to rely on an equally enormous amount of international clients. China could ill afford to be commercially boycotted by Europe and the USA, even for a few months. In this sense perhaps it could even be argued that China relies more on it's clients, than its clients rely on China. And no great nation should ever run the risk of suffering from the consequences of a capital heart attack.

Russia seems to be the more serious stumbling block regarding Syria, simply because Russia is Syria's ally. But logically Russia's main concern would be more the stability of neighbour nations than any historical ties, especially with a man who appears to have become a mad monster.

The present situation in Syria however presents an enormous question mark. Would it be in Russia's interests to continue to support a criminal regime, when it's becoming more and more evident that Assad will never be able to crush an opposition that not only seems to have unlimited clandestine backing, but also has the advantage of far greater mobility?

Such an opposing force could eventually exhaust the Syrian regime's army, from whose ranks more and more officers and soldiers are also deserting.
That even Assad's Prime Minister has quit his post not so very long ago, is also most revealing. (This former Prime Minister recently stated that Assad only controls 30% of Syria).
If the opposition forces are deprived of determining support, the civil war could be endless, and the final result could be an irredemably divided, and uncooperative Syria.

The question that Russia might therefore consider, is that if the Syrian opposition doesn't obtain the help it needs from democratic nations, it's unlikely to refuse help from extremist militia and Sunni djihadists, only too happy to be able to take advantage of the opportunity.

Assuming then that the opposition are eventually able to exhaust the regime and overthrow it, which now seems plausible, Russia, as the regime's accomplice, would have an extremely dangerous enemy close to its border. This instead of a stable democratic nation as its neighbour.

In view of this, would it not make sense, or not be too naively out of the question, to form an international delegation comprising first and foremost of Europeans (including Cameron and Merkel) to go to Moscow in order to try to persuade Russia to join Europe in aiding the officially recognised opposition either directly or indirectly? In doing so the nations involved, including Russia, would have more claim and capacity to be able oversee an effective transition in order to eventually bring about a real Syrian democracy. The abandoning of the regime by Russia, would in any case dramatically accelerate the end of Assad.

As was the case with Libya, the USA should hold back, also for geopolitical reasons. US help however, regarding logistics, satellite observation and a no-fly zone, would obviously be crucial.

The implications of what's taking place in Syria are enormous. They are bound to greatly effect Lebanon, Israel, Iran and thus the standing of the Hezbollah and Hamas organisations. This will obviously have an important impact on the Palestiniens as well. The collapse of Assad's regime is also bound to effect the political future of Iran, and therefore the future and stability of the Middle East. Naturally a positive outcome for Syria would be globally beneficial.

If there is any sense or possibility in such a suggestion, it could also be regarded as an opportunity to pull Russia more towards Europe. We have, after all, much in common. We share great chapters of history.
__

This interview (July 5th, 2012) with  Bashar al-Assad (German television ARD) is revealing because although the interviewer seems to avoid asking blunt questions, like why, for example, the Syrian army fired on peaceful demonstrators, or arrested and tortured young children in the first place, he seems to be humouring Assad.
Assad's replies are either evasive, incoherent or simply dishonest. Paradoxically one nevertheless gets the impression that he is absolutely convinced that the scenario he is trying to present is the absolute reality.
Isn't this symptomatic of madness? But one would have to be a qualified psychoanalyst to be able to reach such a conclusion.
In any case to continue to blindly destroy one's own nation is madness in itself.
 

Text © Mirino. Top image (modified) AFP Getty images. Lower image (modified) Reuters. 
With thanks. August, 2012

My Betty

 


My Betty hath the yellow moon
To cast soft light upon her;
And Betty hath the twinkling stars
Up high on which to ponder.
My Betty hath a little pig
 That squeals when she treads on it;
And Betty hath a gallant toad
That leaps when she doth flog it.
For Betty is a heartless wench-
Alas, that this be so-
As distant as a cold desert
She causes constant woe.
Sweet moon, when you spy on her,
Do tell me what you see.
Piglet, when she tramples on you,
I wish that it were me.
Gallant toad, when she doth whip you,
Do tell me what you feel;
For crushed and flogged by Betty,
Might well my true love heal.
 
With apologies to Thomas Lodge (c.1558-1625)
My Phillis  (Pg 28, XV)
 __
 
Parody and composite image © Mirino. With thanks for the toad and the piglet. August, 2012

Scottish myths 18


The Black Loch

Cardoness Castle, a six storey, fortified tower, was built around 1470. As it's walls are 2.5 metres thick and its windows small, its main purpose must have been defensive. Its location is a mile south west of Gatehouse of Fleet. It was originally owned by the MacCulloch family of Galloway, or the MacCullochs of Myreton, as they were also known. The castle is still quite well preserved. The family abandoned it in the 17th century, after the beheading of Sir Godfrey McCullock (on the Maiden guillotine) for murdering a neighbour of the Clan Gordon. This seems to have been the culmination of many years of bitter feuds between the MacCullochs and the Gordons.

There was another Cardoness Castle built more than a hundred years earlier. Legend has it that this first castle was very costly to maintain. A succession of three lairds were ruined as a result. A fourth laird had to plunder with local border thieves to make ends meet. It's even said that he had to repair the roof with heather as he lacked the means to have the work done more adequately. He gathered the heather on the Glenquicken Moor four miles away, and made several weary journeys carrying large bundles of it on his back.

When the work was finally done, and proved to be sufficiently effective, even under the additional weight of snow, things began to improve for the laird. His flock of sheep and herd of cattle multiplied considerably, and he began to feel prosperous and even more important.


This laird however, was a tyrant. After twenty years of marriage to a wife who had born him nine daughters, he threatened that if their next child wasn't a boy, he would find another woman after drowning his wife as well as their nine daughters in the Black Loch.

During the following winter, to the joy and relief of the family, the laird's wife gave birth to a son. The laird was so proud and content that he decided to celebrate by giving a great feast that was to take place on the loch then completely frozen. For the celebration however, he chose the Sabbath day, which discouraged most of the guests who had been invited, from coming.

Undeterred, the laird arranged that the festivities proceed as planned for his new born son, family and servants.
Despite the biting cold there was much joy and revelry, all lit by candle-light with a large, yellow moon rising as if to add its own special blessing, or whatever.

But a small unnoticed fissure traced itself insidiously across the frozen ice, and this quickly became larger. The ice then suddenly seemed to explode, and the cold loch claimed almost the whole family, servants and all.
'Almost,' because one of the laird's daughters who had recently married a MacCulloch, had preferred to stay in the warmth of her parents' bedroom to nurse her mother, exhausted from giving birth.

The obvious moral to this legend would be that good fortune should never be taxed beyond reasonable limits, especially by tyrants. In this case the Black Loch can only mirror the inverse of good fortune.
It has even been said that somewhere deep in this tenebrous loch still lies the laird's treasure, as well as the newborn son's little, iron cradle.
__ 
 Scottish myths 19 
Scottish myths 17

Text © Mirino. Sources include Scotland Myths and Legends, Beryl Beare. Top image The Black Loch, winter evening © David Baird, with many thanks. Lower image Cardoness Castle (photographer unknown) with thanks. August, 2012

The Badger




The footpad badger moves at night
And has no need of money.
He is well equipped for any job
And robs beehives of honey.

He trounces toads or snails and moles
And stores his swag away,
Where in a safe set underground
He snores throughout the day.

 *
 
Le blaireau furtif se déplace la nuit
Bien dépourvu mais sans fiel.
Il est équipé pour toutes les tâches,
Et vole les ruches de miel.

Il prend des taupes, et des crapauds
Puis il met tout de côté,
Où dans son sous-sol tanière
Il ronfle toute la journée.
__

Maybe we all qualify, to a relative extent, as thieves. Not generally in any extreme sense of the word, but often in the sense of using ploys as a means to obtain what we might desire.

Certain politicians use demagogy. All too often in order to gain what they want, they make promises that either they know they cannot possibly keep, or at best they are never totally convinced of their tenability. Isn't this a form of theft? To obtain what is desired dishonestly? Or they might be tempted to fabricate a mask in order to project an image which they believe will be more effective in gaining the confidence of the people, which means that they might have reason to believe that what they are trying to hide is not worthy of such confidence. Isn't such subterfuge also a form of theft?

One might over-value one's possessions, or what one produces, to sell, whenever deemed possible, to gain an extra profit. Or inversely, one might under-value one's property in order to avoid fiscal responsibilities. Surely such examples also qualify as theft.

Most modern day beggars try to portray an exaggerated state of misery and hopelessness to win the sympathy of passers-by, but in reality they are often well organised, and clothed well enough. None of them look as though they are seriously suffering from starvation or ill health.
And most of those who are seen accepting free meals supplied by the Red Cross, or the Restaurants de Cœur hardly look as though they have no other choice. If this is indeed the case, would it not be an even worse form of theft? Certainly, when those who are truly in need of help, are often too proud to demean what they still value as their self-esteem, by accepting such charity.

There are of course the big time, professional robbers, but more often the petty thieves, who organise themselves during the hot summer months to rob tourists. One ploy used is by first puncturing the wall of a tyre with a knife (always the back wheel, driver's side) and then as the tourist is jacking up his car to change the wheel, one distracts the passenger, whilst the other leans through the open window (passenger side) to grab the bag. And they know exactly where to find it. (This alludes to a particular, personal experience in Milan..).   

Or one might be tempted to use false charm and flattery in order to seduce and finally gain someone's favour. To steal a kiss, and more. But perhaps in general this is a less harmful form of theft. Although certainly there are times when it can be extremely harmful indeed.

Most of us are inundated each day with unasked for email messages informing us that we have won an Ipad or Ipod. Or we have been selected to win a new car (we are even invited to choose which colour we would like), or a fabulous voyage, or a million euros or dollars. We are solicited to go through certain motions that are bound to turn such dreams into disillusions. False labyrinths to ensnare the naive, would-be-clients. This is yet another, more insidious form of theft.

Perhaps one could argue that nature's laws decree 'controlled theft' to be a necessary means of survival for all life forms, from ants to antelopes, sharks, snakes, rats, raccoons, magpies, mockingbirds, vultures and hyenas, Cheetahs and gazelles, bees or badgers.
But should such laws necessarily apply to the human species as well; to paupers, prelates and presidents; knaves or kings, labourers or lawyers?
 Lawyers as vultures,
Had soared up and down;
Prelates, like magpies,
In the Air had flown. 
   
(Howel's letters: Lines to the knowing reader)

There are many names qualifying theft : forgery, cheating, soliciting, blackmail, abuse of confidence, duplicity, fraud, swindling, embezzlement, larceny, felony, extortion, appropriation, and even murder. They all come down to the same thing. And the worst examples are of those who claim to represent us, and the law itself, whether constitutional or even religious.

Those who use the Gods they claim to worship, to gain what they desire, thus abusing them to diabolical extremes in order to violate, subjugate, plunder and murder. Aren't these the worst cases of all? They never hesitate in selling their souls to the devil, insulting their Gods in the worst possible way. Surely they are unworthy as human beings, and even of life itself. 
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Doggerel, text and image © Mirino (PW). August, 2012

The Declaration



The Declaration of Arbroath, sent by the Scottish Council to Pope John XXII in 1320, and ratified by him, can never be dismissed, but nevertheless this seems to have been the case throughout the centuries since it was first drawn up. And the majority of treacherous acts, crimes, intrigues, and massacres, such as that of Glencoe in 1692, (murder under trust, signed by the king) have never been satisfactorily settled.
                                                                                                            
There was an inquiry regarding the Glencoe massacre. The results were reviewed by the Scottish Parliament. The slaughtering of the MacDonalds was judged to be heinous murder, and recommendations that those responsible be punished, and that compensation be paid to the survivors of the Macdonald clan were sent to King William.

There's no record that the recommendations were ever even considered. The only recorded result was that John Cambell, Earl of Breadalbane, was imprisoned for a few days in Edinburgh Castle.
Consequently the Glencoe Massacre, amongst other shameful episodes of Anglo-Scottish history, can never be, and will never be forgotten. Thus this page, with many other pages of such history, has never really been turned.


Here is an excerpt from a translation of the famous Declaration of Arbroath (translated from the Latin by Douglas A. Kidd).

'(…)
So under the protection of these (your predecessors) our nation lived in freedom and peace until the Mighty Prince Edward, King of England, the father of the present king, aggressively attacked our kingdom, while it was without a head, and our people, who were both guiltless of any wrong doing or perfidy and at the time unaccustomed to wars or invasions. No one who did not know them from experience could describe or fully appreciate all his outrages, massacres, violence, plunder and burning, the imprisoning of prelates, the firing of monasteries, the robbing and murdering of religious persons, and other atrocities as well which he perpetrated against the said people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor order.

But with the help of Him who after injuries gives healing and health we have been liberated from these countless evils by our valiant Prince and Sovereign Lord, Robert, who, like a second Maccabæus or Joshua, has cheerfully endured exertion and fatigue, hunger and danger, in order to deliver his people and his inheritance out of the hands of their enemies. Now the will of God, and the right of succession in accordance with our laws and traditions, which we mean to uphold to the death, and the due agreement and consent of all of us have appointed him our Prince and King. To him, as the author of our people's deliverance, we are bound both by law and by his own gallantry for the defence of our freedom, and we are determined to be loyal to him in everything. But if he were to abandon the cause by being ready to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or to the English, we should at once do our utmost to expel him as our enemy and the betrayer of his own rights and ours, and should choose some other man to be our king, who would be ready to defend us. 

For so long as a hundred of us remain alive, we are resolved never to submit to the domination of the English. It is not for glory, wealth or honour that we are fighting, but for freedom, and freedom only, which no man ever surrenders except with his life….'


By this we are also reminded of present day struggles for freedom, and can only trust that those who fight for this basic human right, will eventually gain it, and in doing so, fully respect it, which naturally must include the respect of the freedom of others. Hopefully they will also obtain it with the support of nations who claim to defend the principle of democracy.
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Text © Mirino. Glencoe memorial photographs by Kim Traynor, Wikipedia Commons.
With thanks. August, 2012