Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Progressive Slavery … part 2

… continued from progressive Slavery … part 1

… One way of looking at all “work” is that we sell ourselves, our energy, time, and talent, on a monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly basis for some kind of return, either simply for a place to live and bread to eat or for more if our value added is somewhat higher.

Even as in ancient slave societies the higher the skill and talent of the slave the higher the position and reward. The lower the skill  and talent the lower the position and the less value attached to that person. At the lower end, whether one is a cube serf or a street peddler or hooker or drug pusher, you find the disposable people, the throw-aways and outcasts, our western society’s “Untouchables” or “Barukamin”.


The highest position slaves ever attained was that of slave minister… A few slaves even rose to be monarchs, such as the slaves who became sultans and founded dynasties in Islām. At a level lower than that of slave ministers were other slaves, such as those in the Roman Empire, the Central Asian Samanid domains, Ch’ing China, and elsewhere, who worked in government offices and administered provinces.The stereotype that slaves were careless and could only be trusted to do the crudest forms of manual labor was disproved countless times in societies that had different expectations and proper incentives.
“The sociology of slavery: Slave occupations”  Encyclopaedia Britannica


So even today we see that as high as one may have risen in today’s society, up to and even including ministers and deputy ministers and directors of all shades and quality, all have become slaves to something, we all have our masters because we value the things of this world. The more one has, the higher one has risen, the more they have to loose and they more they become slaves, out of fear of that loss.

Up close and personal as an example, we see our new Premier slavishly following through on promises to her “Masters and Mistresses”, who granted her office and the keys to the treasury with the expressed desire of being duly rewarded  for such favours.

We are become as slaves to our possessions, our passions, our bad habits, our addictions, drugs, alcohol, sex, our desires both open and secret. We are slaves to our fears, fears of loss of possessions, status, influence, beauty, friends, respect, health, power, and so on endlessly.

Anything, or any person, that has the power to influence our life and our actions, what we say and what we do, that can force us to do and say that which we would rather not,  is just one more slave chain.

The Return Of The King, Howard Shore

The only freedom lies with having nothing to loose. Freedom lies only in understanding that this whole mad rat race is just one more training mission, one more drill, on the way to real life. We find it impossible to be our authentic selves as long as we hang on to “this world”.



Aragorn: Stand your ground, stand your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves, and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! For all that you hold dear, on this good earth, I bid you stand, men of the west!


The Inner Struggle

Looking in the Mirror …

Today is +5 and raining … is this a weird winter or what?  A couple of days ago it was -20 and howling a gale and now it’s almost swimsuit weather … well maybe that’s over the top, but it rather does focus the mind on the fact that we have very little control over all the things that matter and any control we think we have is only one crisis away from being lost.

So the last several posts have been mostly about things that are perceived to be wrong with the world and our culture. What can we do about it? Frankly, very little. This is obvious at an instinctual level but was articulated by Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his analysis of our circle of control vs our circle of concern. In short, he posits that normally we have a much larger circle of concern than circle of control and hence are worried about things in the larger sphere over which we have no control and this lack of control and the anxiety thus created causes all kinds of problems for us.

To find balance and peace we have to discover that place (head space) where our circle of concern matches our circle of control. So we can’t fix the world. So what?  We can fix ourselves. Lets start with fixing ourselves.

As mentioned in a previous post, we venture into perilous waters when we fail to master ourselves.  Being ruled by our passions results in all kinds of trouble and difficulty. So that path which falls within our circle of control and which should fall within our circle of concern is to conquer oneself and regulate one’s life without determining or directing oneself  through any tendency that is disordered or perverted.

We have been created. Notwithstanding all the fairy tales about primordial slime and chance conjunction of amino acids and so one and so forth there has never been one wit of actual evidence to and for that story and it stems entirely within man’s desire to be the supreme being and answerable to no one, to remove that highest authority standing in his way of doing and thinking whatever he wants.

We have been created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save our immortal soul. And all the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use them in as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them in so far as they hinder him from achieving it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we do not seek health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest. We should constrain ourselves in desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created. We strive to become inured to the desires for material goods and pleasures such that they do not obscure or interfere with the path to self control.

So in examining the ways in which one can go wrong, misbehave or actively do evil it is convenient to appreciate the concept of mortal and venial sin (Big sins and Little sins). As in the physical world where there are mortal dangers which can and will kill us, and lesser or venial dangers which can injure us and make us sick, so too in the spiritual and personal world of sin there are mortal sins and venial.

A serious, grave or mortal sin is the knowing and willful violation of God’s law in a serious matter, for example, idolatry, adultery, murder, slander. These are all things gravely contrary to the love we owe God and, because of Him, our neighbor. We know these are wrong and serious and we know they are a violation of both God’s law and of the natural law which stems from God and is know by all beings.  it is also obvious that we can sin by thought, word and deed.

To purify oneself I presuppose that there are three kinds of thoughts in me: that is, one my own, which springs from my mere liberty and will; and two others, which come from without, one from the good spirit, and the other from the bad.  Now it appears that there are two ways to obtain merit in the bad thought(s) which comes from without, namely:

Firstly, a thought of committing a mortal sin, which thought I resist immediately and it remains conquered. Secondly, when that same bad thought comes to me and I resist it, and it returns to me again and again, and I always resist, until it is conquered.This second way is more meritorious than the first.

A venial sin is committed when the same thought comes of sinning mortally and one gives ear to it, making some little delay, or receiving some sensual pleasure, or when there is some negligence in rejecting such thought.

There are two ways of sinning mortally. Firstly, when one gives consent to the bad thought, to act afterwards as he has consented, or to put it in act if he could, and secondly, when that sin is put into act. This is a greater sin for three reasons: first, because of the greater time;second, because of the greater intensity; third, because of the greater harm to the two persons.

But what about sinning in word? Obviously, there are many, many ways to sin by word. One must not swear, either by Creator or creature (that is to misuse an oath when overwrought or angry), if it be not with truth,necessity and reverence. By necessity I mean, not when any truth whatever is affirmed with oath, but when it is of some importance for the good of the soul, or the body, or for temporal goods. By reverence I mean when, in naming the Creator and Lord, one acts with consideration, so as to render Him the honor and reverence due.

It is to be noted that, though in an idle oath one sins more when he swears by the Creator (as in anything created on earth – that is animals, people, or material phenomena) than by the creature, it is more difficult to swear in the right way with truth, necessity and reverence by the creature than by the Creator, for the following reasons.

Firstly, when we want to swear by some creature, wanting to name the creature does not make us so attentive or circumspect as to telling the truth, or as to affirming it with necessity, as would wanting to name the Lord and Creator of all things.  Secondly, in swearing by the creature it is not so easy to show reverence and respect to the Creator, as in swearing and naming the same Creator and Lord, because wanting to name God our Lord brings with it more respect and reverence than wanting to name the created thing.

Therefore swearing by the creature is more allowable to the perfect (the well developed and disciplined mind) than to the imperfect (the passionate and undisciplined mind) , because the perfect, through continued contemplation and enlightenment of intellect, consider,meditate and contemplate more that God our Lord is in every creature, according to His own essence, presence and power, and so in swearing by the creature they are more apt and prepared than the imperfect to show respect and reverence to their Creator and Lord. Thirdly, in continually swearing by the creature, idolatry is to be more feared in the imperfect than in the perfect.

What about habits and patterns of speech?  Consider how one must not speak an idle word. By idle word I mean one which does not benefit either me or another, and is not directed to that intention. Hence words spoken for any useful purpose, or meant to profit one’s own or another person’s  soul, the body or temporal goods, are never idle, not even if one were to speak of something foreign to one’s state of life, as, for instance, if a religious speaks of wars or articles of trade. But  in all that is said there is merit in directing well, and sin in directing badly, or in speaking idly. Nothing must be said to injure another person’s character or to find fault, because if I reveal a mortal sin that is not public, I sin mortally; if a venial sin, venially; and if a defect, I show a defect of my own.

But if the intention is right, in two ways one can speak of the sin or fault of another. Firstly: When the sin is public, as in the case of a public prostitute, and of a sentence given in judgment, or of a public error which is infecting the souls with whom one comes in contact. Secondly: When the hidden sin is revealed to some person that he may help to raise him who is in sin — supposing, however, that he has some probable conjectures or grounds for thinking that he will be able to help him.

So we come to sinning by act or deed. Taking together the Ten Commandments, natural law, the precepts of the Church and the recommendations of superiors, every act done against any of these authorities is, according to its greater or less nature, a greater or a lesser sin.  Our acts are an example. One commits no little sin in being the cause of others acting contrary to the authorities.

So what is a method for “looking into the mirror” and making a general examination of our conduct, words and thoughts? It is contained  in five points.

  • First,  to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits we have received.
  • Secondly, to ask for the grace to know our sins and cast them out.
  • Thirdly, to ask an account of our soul (to remember our conduct) from the hour that we rose up to the present, examining hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts, in the same order mentioned above.
  • Fourthly, to ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.
  • Fifthly and finally, to firmly resolve to amend one’s ways with God’s help.

Look into the mirror and consider the five steps as many times a day as seems necessary to facilitate remembering one’s conduct, perhaps at every meal and break at first when getting used to this pattern. Thus do we examine our life.

I’ve always been fascinated by Socrates’ bold statement that “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  He doesn’t fool around, no “nuances” for Socrates. He doesn’t say that the unexamined life is “less meaningful than it could be” or “one of many possible responses to human existence.” He simply and clearly says it’s not even worth living.  Why does he make such strong, unequivocal statement?  Socrates believed that the purpose of human life was personal and spiritual growth. We are unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature unless we take the time to examine and reflect upon our life. As another philosopher, Santayana, observed, “He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it.”







Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately


Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Everywhere in Chains … part 1 …

It’s snowing again. At least it is warm, only about -12 degrees Celsius. It snowed lightly all night but only about an inch of accumulation. Not worth shoveling.

Disclaimer: This article will probably end up long. It is not a direct product of my own original thought, springing full formed from that well spring I like to think of  as my intelligence. Rather, it is the result of reading and cogitating on the work of others and of thinker’s teachings and writer’s integration of these thoughts in their own work in an attempt to understand what I have observed in life to date. This is merely another interpretation, a presentation of ideas and observations freely available  to all who seek, my understanding of the congruity of some thought to my observed reality.  If I don’t write it out I’ll go nuts with it swirling around in my head. Quite possibly  I will change my mind about some of this while I write. Anyway, here goes …


Setting the stage: What do we see around us? Or rather, because I don’t want to assume others see what I do, (see projection further down in this article) what do I see?  Over 50 years of observation and questioning clearly show me that without successful effort towards self control and self discipline we are chained by our indulgence in our passions. In the short term these passions blind us to anything outside ourselves. This blindness is encouraged by our culture because the passions keep us enthralled and unable to accomplish anything meaningful outside our own narrow self interest. Nor do we make any kind of a coherent effort to critique or upset the status quo. We “need to be controlled” by our betters “for our own good”.  Our “betters” decide what that good is and how we will be subjected to it.

At some level we all know this and we know that we are limited by our passions.  But we don’t want to make the effort to change, because we enjoy our sins.   So we spend untold effort finding someone else or something else to blame because we know we are culpable but cannot bring ourselves to admit it and accept responsibility for our actions.  We suffer from pathological “Poppins Syndrome”. We “know” we are “practically perfect in every way”.  In this society we are raised from an early age to believe in our self value with no concomitant requirement to earn “self esteem” by demonstrating self discipline and self control” and positive achievement. In our own mind, we are “born worthy” and are simply here awaiting the worship we “deserve”.

So, we “know” that we are practically perfect and we also “know” that our behaviour is often not good and this results in painful internal conflict. Absent self control, responsibility, and disciplined correction, the only course is denial, and blame of people and factors outside our “self”. We are not guilty … If we are not guilty we don’t have to change because it’s not our fault because we are not guilty …


Culpability (are we truly guilty?): …  or being culpable, is a measure of the degree to which an agent, such as a person, can be held morally or legally responsible for action and inaction. Culpability marks the dividing line between moral evil, like murder, for which someone may be held responsible and natural evil, like earthquakes, for which no one can be held responsible.

One formulation of the concept is as follows:
A person is culpable if they cause a negative event and
(1) the act was intentional;
(2) the act and its consequences could have been controlled (i.e., the agent knew the likely consequences, the agent was not coerced, and the agent overcame hurdles to make the event happen); and
(3) the person provided no excuse or justification for the actions.
Culpability descends from the Latin concept of fault (culpa). The concept of culpability is intimately tied up with notions of agency, freedom, and free will. All are commonly held to be necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for culpability.
In short:

A person causes a result purposely if the result is his/her goal in doing the action that causes it,
A person causes a result knowingly if he/she knows that the result is virtually certain to occur from the action he/she undertakes,
A person causes a result recklessly if he/she is aware of and disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk of the result occurring from the action, and
A person causes a result negligently if there is a substantial and unjustifiable risk he/she is unaware of but should be aware of.

The first two types of culpability are each a subset of the following. Thus if someone acts purposely, they also act knowingly. If someone acts knowingly, they also act recklessly.

The definitions of specific crimes refer to these degrees to establish the mens rea (mental state) necessary for a person to be guilty of a crime. The stricter the culpability requirements, the harder it is for the prosecution to prove its case.

For instance, the common definition of first degree murder is “A criminal homicide constitutes murder of the first degree when it is committed by an intentional killing.” Thus to be guilty of murder in the first degree, one must have an explicit goal in one’s mind to cause the death of another. On the other hand, reckless endangerment has a much broader requirement: “A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he recklessly engages in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury.” Thus to be guilty of this one only needs to be aware of a substantial risk he is putting others in danger of; it does not have to be one’s explicit goal to put people in risk. (But, if one’s goal is to put others in substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, this is, of course, sufficient.)

There is one more type of culpability, and that is strict liability. In strict liability crimes, the actor is responsible no matter what his mental state; if the result occurs, the actor is liable. An example is the felony murder rule: if the prosecution proves beyond reasonable doubt that one commits a qualifying felony during which death results, one is held strictly liable for murder and the prosecution does not have to prove any of the normal culpability requirements for murder.



Guilty as “sin”.