The Great Correction :
Down on the corner of ruin and grace
I’m growin weary of the human race
hold my lamp up in everyone’s face
lookin for an honest man
people round here don’t know what it means
to suffer at the hands of our american dreams
they turn their backs on the grisly scenes
traced to the privileged sons
they got their god they got their guns
got their armies and the chosen ones
but we’ll all be burnin in the same big sun
when the great correction comes
down through the ages lovers of the mystery
been sayin people let your love light shine
poets and sages all throughout history
say the light burns brightest in the darkest times
it’s the bitter end we’ve come down to
the eye of the needle that we gotta get through
but the end could be the start of something new
when the great correction comes
down through the ages….
down to the wire runnin out of time
still got hope in this heart of mine
but the future waits on the horizon line
for our daughters and our sons
I don’t know where this train’s bound
whole lotta people tryin to turn it around
gonna shout til the walls come tumblin down
and the great correction comes
don’t let me down
when the great correction comes
You awake to the rhythm of walking. You are warm and comfortable with an overwhelming sense of well being. A feeling that all is right with the world. Then you realize that you are not the one doing the walking. You are being carried. You open your eyes to see a woman’s face. She is vaguely familiar, but not from this angle. You are gazing up at her. You search your memory as your mind clears from the process of coming to this body and this time. She is Araceli; Callum’s woman. You sink deeper into this body, and realize that this is the woman this body will some day call “Mother”, but for now he is too young.
You are cradled in Araceli/Mother’s arms and she is entering a building. You recognize this place too. It is Fort Jenna. The residence of the Family; the place that Jack was tortured to death. For a moment you want to shout “No!”, to warn her but then you realize that if Araceli is entering this building with you, and she is unbound, that must mean the Jaguars have won the war. That is good. You notice debris on the ground. It has not been long since they finished fighting.
Araceli/Mother is walking with direction and purpose. She knows where she is going. She has been here before. She walks into what appears to be a kitchen. You are surprised to see modern conveniences which are dependant on electricity. There are others in the room; mostly women. Araceli speaks to many of them. You strain to understand her, but this body does not speak yet, and the brain does not translate the Guarani. She speaks to a woman sitting at a table and suddenly you are out of Araceli’s arms and into the arms of another. You look up to another face and recognize, Cece. She holds you not cradled in her arms, as Araceli/Mother did, but up over her shoulder while patting your back gently. The sensation is sublime and you relax into her. You lean your head on her shoulder and over her shoulder you can see Araceli/Mother walking into a small chamber that is in an advanced state of disarray. Being a student of ancient culture you realize that this is an area to cache a family’s food. A “pantry”.
She begins to search the small chamber that has obviously been raided before these women took over. She is straightening things; pulling usable items out for later organization and storage; placing ruined items in another pile for disposal.
She works at the chore rapidly and you watch as she grabs a small box on one of the shelves. There is a click and the wall of the shelf seems to move slightly. Araceli pauses and releases the box she has disturbed. For a moment she seems frozen and then she grasps the edge of the shelves and pulls. The shelves and all their disheveled contents swing on a hinge to reveal a doorway. You see artificial light and equipment in the hidden room before Araceli screams and slams the shelves/door shut. She shouts excitedly at one of the younger women in the group who runs from the room. Araceli runs into the kitchen proper shouting orders. Cece stands and turns so that she can look at the pantry. Now you are watching the women in the kitchen and it soon becomes clear to you what they are doing. They are finding knives and brooms. They are arming themselves.
Several men armed with guns run into the room. Callum goes to Araceli and places a hand on her cheek. He asks her a question and she nods. Then she indicates the pantry with more excited hand gestures. Callum and the men approach the pantry cautiously with their guns raised. Araceli comes to Cece and again you are cradled in Araceli/Mother’s arms. She moves so that she can watch Callum and the men in the pantry and by turning your head so can you.
Callum softly whispers orders to his men. One of the younger men pulls the box Araceli had touched and there is the click. Several of the men tense at the sound. Then the young man swings the door wide and four of the men, led by Callum, charge the room. There is a brief scuffling sound and a shout from one of the men. Then they reappear with an Anglo-European man between them. He is small and thin, dwarfed by the large size of Callum. He has a shadow of hair growth on his face and he smells of sweat and fear. They set him roughly in a chair and two of the men place a hand on each of his shoulders. He submits to them entirely and stares at the floor with a dejected look.
Callum draws a chair up to face him but cradles his weapon in his lap as he sits before this man. Araceli moves so she can watch this exchange and by default so do you. You see Callum well for the first time and it surprises you. He looks much older than the scene around you would indicate. His hair is now gray at the temples. His face is drawn and there are deep wrinkles at the forehead and around the mouth. The area under his eyes is dark with an accumulation of sleepless nights and stress filled days.
Callum says something to the man in Guarani. The man looks up with defiance in his face but his expression is otherwise blank. Callum says something in another language, Spanish perhaps. Still the man’s expression is blank.
“I know you understand English.”
Whether the man can or not, you can. It is Old English and heavily accented but seeing as it is your birth language in your own time, you do understand what Callum has said.
The man looks at Callum and says nothing but there is a light behind his eyes which tells Callum that he has indeed understood.
“Would you like some water?”
The man looks uncomfortable. He shifts in his chair. He is indeed thirsty but he does not wish to speak to Callum.
Callum eyes him for a moment then makes a decision. He speaks in Guarani to one of the men who grunts. The man returns with a bucket of water and a cup. He sets them on the table near Callum with some force and utters what can only be a curse in Guarani. Callum ignores him and ladles water into the cup and sets it down on the table within his prisoner’s reach. The man eyes the water and then with trembling hand he takes the cup and drinks the water down.
“Another?” Callum asks.
The man nods without meeting Callum’s eyes. Callum gives him another cup and a third. By the forth he drinks less greedily and Callum does not offer to fill his cup again.
The man finally raises his head to look at Callum. He sizes Callum up. Then he says, “There is a boy. About 7 years. He has red hair and green eyes. He was wearing a white shirt and gray pants of hemp. He answers to the name of Terrance or Terry. Have you seen him?”
“Your son?” Callum inquires.
The man pauses and frowns, but then nods once and returns his gaze to the ground.
Callum speaks in Guarani to the small crowd around him. One of the women in the crowd answers. She holds a brief conversation with Callum. Then Callum turns back to their captive.
“He is alive and he is unharmed. He is with the other children who have been taken as refugees.”
The man’s frown deepened and he continues to stare at the ground with what appears to be despair.
“We will not harm them. He will be treated well. As we would care for one of our own.” Callum reassures him.
“It would be better if he had died.” The prisoner says glumly.
“I assure you, he will not be harmed. We will treat him well.” Callum reasserts with all due sincerity.
“He will be one of you. That is harm enough. You will raise him to serve the Beast.” The man raises his head to look at Callum with seething hatred. “It would be better if he had died.” His gaze falls once more to the floor and he closes his eyes.
Callum sits back in the chair and stares at the man. “We are not beasts. It is your people who came here to steal from us and kill our people. Did you think we would not fight back? Fight for our land? For our lives? For our own children?”
The prisoner opens his eyes and regards Callum with new interest. “You’ll never make it, you know. You have doomed your people to death as well as mine.” his eyes focus past Callum into space, “You serve the Beast, but God forsook us. We are both damned.”
“I have damned no one. Those of you who survived will be treated well. We only killed because we had to. You forced us to do that.”
“That is so. We planned for you and yours to die. That was the only way, you see?”
“The only way to what…to take what was not yours?”
The man snorts. “Yes. We took what was not ours. But you would have assured the death of all man. We at least had a plan. We would have made sure that mankind survived. That made the water ours by right. Because we would have used it better than you.”
“You mean you would have used it to make your people survive better. What makes you think we care about whether the white man lives or dies?”
“No. You misunderstand me. Not just white men. All men. You see, we did the studies. We did the calculations. That’s what I did in fact. That’s why I was in there.” He nods to the still open hidden doorway, “It was my job. I was using the computers to make those calculations.”
“Computers. I have heard of those. They are thinking machines, no?”
The man considers this briefly and then nods once. “Those before us pushed too hard, too far. You think this is the worst of it, but its not. This is just the start. Its going to get worse.”
“What’s going to get worse?”
“The weather. The heat. The diseases. The desert. All of it.” He waves his arm in an exaggerated circle. “We started something. Something we couldn’t control; and now its going to get worse. Its going to kill more people. In fact what we did was a mercy. We killed many, but their children could not possibly have survived. They would have starved. There won’t be enough. Enough food. The water is running out. In a way they were already dead. You see?”
“Don’t take me for a fool. The aquifer you stole from is huge. It is no where near running out.”
“The aquifer is giant but not infinite.”
Now it was Callum’s turn to snort in disbelief. “It is not infinite but it is close. It could feed the world it is so big!”
“Yes it could feed the world…for two, maybe three generations. But then what? Then it would be gone and the world would die.”
“The water comes from the mountains. The water travels under the ground and the aquifer is renewed every year by the rains.”
The prisoner holds up his hand in impatience. “Yes but that is slow. If you feed the world, you use up more than the rains can recharge. Then there is the problem that the desertification. That is just getting started. The water shortage will get worse every year and the recharge will be less and less every year. It is all very complex. We were using the computers to figure out just how much water we could take a year. How many people could it feed safely. They were very careful calculations. The crops, the feed animals. All of it had to be factored in. And we were doing it. We would have been successful. If you had not come along, we would have made it. We would have saved mankind.”
“By killing my people?”
“Your people would squander the water.” The prisoner jumps from his chair to yell in Callum’s face. The two men guarding him swing their weapons around but Callum holds up a hand. The man turns his head slowly to see the guards pointing their weapons at him and he rapidly regains his composer. He eases himself back into his chair. “You are a fool. You would try to feed everyone. You said so yourself. We were smart. We knew just how many we could feed, and for how long we would have to do it for mankind to survive. Now, three or four generations down the road you will have killed my people and yours. You have done nothing but be an ignorant servant of the Beast!”
“This was such a waste. You murdered so many. And for what? Why not let both our people live here? Ration the water for both peoples.”
“We did the calculations. How many it would take to defend the land from invaders as things got desperate…Defense…I miscalculated that one.” he gave a rueful little laugh, “We calculated how many children we would be allowed, just 2 a couple. No more. The numbers were so tight. Only a few of us could survive. Squeak by really. The few of us who were left, would live, and wait, and use the water, and grow food until the world turned again.”
“And how many would that be? How many were supposed to continue?”
“Five hundred! You and your friends are mad. There is enough water for 5 billion under the soil. You killed all of these people and yourselves out of sheer greed.”
“Can’t you get it? The world is drying out! There will be less and less water as our sons become men. Not enough to support those who are on the Earth even now.” he was shouting again but remaining in his seat. “We did the numbers again and again. The storms on the coasts will get worse. Bad enough that homes and building will not stand. The flooding there will become worse and worse and no one will be able to live there. But if you move inward then the land dries out. The only way was to make the land stay productive by watering it. To find a place where there was enough water for centuries and then keep the land moist. Keep it from becoming desert. Live there until the world turned again. Until it healed. Then we could expand from that place again and repopulate the world, like Noah once did.”
“How long did you think you would be able to get by with this? Deciding who would live and who would die? Didn’t you think it would be a fight after fight for the land and the water if what you say is true?”
“Yes for a while we knew we would have to fight. That is why we kept the Blackwaters. But even they were in the calculation. We couldn’t afford to keep them after all the threats died off. They were to be…disposed of. Humanely of course. And they would of course be remembered for their service.”
Callum stares at the man. He had harbored no love for the Blackwaters to be sure, but his face shows his disdain. He can not comprehend such a betrayal. After a long silence Callum says, “‘All the threats died off’? Were you going to have the Blackwaters kill everyone on Earth?”
“No need. They would die anyway of starvation and lack of water. It would take several generations but eventually the Blackwaters would be unnecessary.”
Callum is thoughtful for a moment. And then he asks, “How many? How many generations did you plan for? How long until the land recovered and you could tell people it was time to populate the Earth?”
“We were to be five hundred for 8000 generations. Roughly 200,000 years until the land would be fruitful again.”
Callum stares at the man with a slack jaw, unable to take in the breadth of this. Two hundred thousand years until the world is healed. Until the gentle rains of his father’s youth return. Until they could live well again. It could not be right. And even if it was right what these men had planned was not.
“What gave you and your men the right to take what was not yours and kill all of us. What made you think that you should be the ones that survived?”
The man stares past Callum’s shoulder. Callum turns to follow the man’s eyes. The prisoners eyes slide to Araceli/Mother. No, not Araceli. You. The man is looking directly at you with a calculating stare. You feel Araceli/Mother clutch you closer to her breast. Araceli could not understand this man’s words, but she now recoils from his icy gaze. She takes a half step closer to her man, allowing his body to partially shield hers.
“Because there is nothing, no favor, no task…no atrocity a man will not do for his son.” The man’s eyes slide back to Callum, “Is there?”
The Concepts Behind the Fiction:
1. Jena and the Jaguars
If you asked me who the Jaguars and the men of Fort Jena were, I would tell you they are the two groups of people that have been at odds with each other since the dawn of time. They are the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Anglo-American and the Native American. Thomas Paine and Alexander Hamilton. Freedman and Keynes. The environmentalist and the capitalist.
The difference in these two groups is not about what they believe about the world, but what they believe about themselves. The story they tell themselves about who we are. A story that was best characterized by two men who wrote about the nature of man in the 16th and 17th centuries: John Calvin and John Locke.
2. Calvin’s Story
We are born bad. That is where evil comes from–original sin. We need guidance and strict rules for us to even function in society. Intelligence and consciousness are present in man only so he can tell which rules to follow. We know which rules to follow because the right actions result in good things and the wrong actions lead to unpleasantness.
Most of us need strong leadership to help us follow the rules. We need this leadership starting when we are very young. We are blessed if we have a strong father who Dares to Discipline us when we make mistakes. Without this punishment we will continue to be bad. In fact, the only road to being good is internalization of the rules via punishment. Like the children in The Lord of the Flies without rules we would all run savage and commit the worst offenses.
We should bend to the strong father’s will as he is a moral teacher/enforcer. Later we should bend to the will of others with power: Police, government, teachers, etc. Doing so is moral. In fact there is a whole hierarchy that people need to be aware of and pay attention to. God is above all including all humans. Men are above women and adults are above children. Humans are above all of nature. America is above all cultures and Western culture is above all other cultures but especially nonwhite cultures. Christianity is above other religions and all religions are above not having any religion what so ever. Heterosexuality is above homosexuality. Wealth is of course above poverty. How “good” or moral you are determines where you are in this hierarchy.
People who internalize the rules very well are rewarded by becoming more prosperous and powerful. This is their reward for following the rules so well. It is the natural order of things. The moral people are winners and the immoral people become losers. Immoral people are that way because they did not have a strong father figures disciplining them when they grew up. Therefore the world must discipline them, until they start to get the rules right. Interfering with this process harms the person in question and society as a whole. People who do this are called “do-gooders” and are to be avoided or disciplined themselves. Social programs or safety nets are also bad, because they decrease the discipline that the errant person needs and increase their dependence on the government so they will never get the discipline they need.
As long as you obey the rules, it is good to be greedy and in fact it is expected. Being greedy forces you to seek out your maximal profit. If we all followed the rules and all sought our maximal profit then the maximal good for everyone would result. Interference in this process is also bad and comes in many forms including taxation, and government regulation.
Because the natural tendency of people is to be bad, and only people properly disciplined are good, the world is a dangerous place. We need strong leaders to keep us safe. Keeping us safe in a dangerous world is the primary role of government. Governments must use secrets to keep us safe because if they let the bad people know how they were going to punish them, the good people would not be safe.
Democracy, or mob rule, takes a back seat to the protection and guidance that we all need. After all, democracy is the sum total of all peoples opinion, and since most of us are bad, democracy has its limits.
3. Locke’s Story
All creatures are created by a benevolent God/Creator/Universe. No creature is born bad or with original sin, including human children. However, children do need nurturing guidance as they grow.
The world does have its perils, say bear attacks, and so adults need to protect children from dangers even if the danger is not inherently evil. The bear is only looking for food or protecting itself. This may not require physical protection from an attack. It may mean imparting simple advice. “Make lots of noise when walking in the forest. Always carry bear spray. Stay away from the valley by the river with the large berry patch.” Any reasonable adult/s can do this. Gender and number of adults is not an issue. An adult who has taken on this responsibility needs to teach the child to be a nurturing adult for the next generation. In order to be nurturing you must empathize with the child so teaching empathy is an important part of parenting a child.
Children need to learn to treat each other fairly for a community to flourish. Humans are social creatures and need community. Communities largely works on the Golden Rule. Children need to learn empathy and responsibility so they can be good community members and obey the Golden Rule by internalizing it. This is really the only rule that one needs to remember. You need to figure out what to do in any situation based on that rule. We are all completely rational beings and so, once the facts are explained to us, we make rational decisions that are good for the community as a whole. We do not need strong leaders but we do need someone who takes on the responsibility of running the community as a whole. We choose that person democratically because we are, after all, equally rational and benevolent.
Leaders lead their community so that the maximum number of its members feel happy and fulfilled. Members in the community must be free to pursue their happiness in individual ways. No interference with this pursuit can be tolerated unless the pursuit interferes with another member of the community or the community as a whole.
The primary role of government is to make the maximum number of people in the community the happiest. If the members of a community are not themselves happy, they will be unable to feel empathy to others and that would destroy the fabric of the community. Profit takes a back seat to happiness but some amount of general community prosperity is necessary so that everyone has opportunities and can be happy. Sharing that prosperity fairly is tantamount to community cohesiveness. People behave poorly when they have no good choices or when they are treated unfairly. Evil, therefore, results from communities who fail in there primary mission of creating fulfillment for its members.
Good leaders care about their community and its happiness. They nurture the community and protect it from harm, like chemicals in the environment that may be toxic, and dangerous or exploitative jobs. Good leaders provide for members of the community who have seen misfortune like sickness, death of a bread winner or simple old age. Good leaders nurture communities where the members cooperate with each other. Their communities are fair and their members trust each other. In these communities honesty and openness is prized and secrets are seldom kept.
All creatures are made by the same forces, God, Creator, Universe, Random combinations of DNA. No creature can claim that it is better, closer to God etc than any other creature. All creatures from man down to the tiniest microbe are necessary in the web of life and therefore all are valuable. Damage or destruction of something that is part of the web of life, belongs to the community or another member of the community, could be put to good use by someone else, or is considered beautiful by others is against “nature’s law” and is expressly forbidden. Those that transgress nature’s law do need to be punished but they are punished by the community as a whole in a calm and deliberate fashion after examining the facts.
4. Locke v Calvin: Why We Can’t Just All Get Along
What I have written above is a metaphor. Locke and Calvin obviously never said all of this. The stories are the current versions which have grown out of the roots of what these two philosophers said. No one actually believes all of either story. But I am sure you recognize elements of the story you believe as well as elements of the people on the news you just can’t understand. The reason you can’t understand them is their story starts different than yours. It starts with “we are good” or “we are bad”. The two stories run from there and are mutually exclusive.
|Nature of Man
||Punishment to internalize rules
||Nurturing guidance, empathy, and protection
||Disrespecting the rules or authority of those who make the rules because they are more moral than you.
||Harming others. (Failure to internalize Golden Rule.) Destroying something that others find pleasing or that someone could put to use. (Failure to internalize “Nature’s Law.)
||Strict Hierarchy–those above you are more moral and therefore deserve more
||Strict Egalitarianism–all people are equally rational and should have the same amount of power
||Strict Gender roles which are heterosexual in nature
||Gender and sexual orientation not important
|Nature of the World
||Dangerous due to poor discipline and overwhelming number of “bad” (undisciplined) people–Xenophobia
||Mostly safe. Danger exist in not understanding the world or in unequal distribution of what the world has to offer–Open cultures and seeking to understand cultural differences
|Role of Government
||Protect the good (disciplined) people from the bad (undisciplined) people and punish the bad people
||Happiness and fulfillment of the maximum number of people in the community
||Handed down from the most powerful (most good) people to the less good, also enforced by most powerful
||Golden Rule is the only important law and it is enforced by the community as a whole
|Role of Citizens
||Seek maximal profit within the rules.
||Seek maximal happiness and fulfill ment of all in the community.
|Most Prized Attribute
||Less important than rules or protection from evil
||Democracy is protection.
||Power, authority and wealth have nothing to do with being moral or following the rules.
||People are inherently irrational and make decisions based on culture, metaphor, emotions but very rarely facts or even self interest.
These two philosophers duked it out around a century apart and before the American Revolution. But even a cursory reading of the Bible and other religious documents, indicates the battle between these two views of the world has been waged for man’s soul for all of history. Perhaps that is even the bedrock on which such documents are written.
In America, John Locke’s writings clearly held Thomas Paine’s and Thomas Jefferson’s attention. Democracy is the invention of the Enlightenment Locke helped to create. But Calvinism is also obvious in our Constitution. These two forces were in a reasonable balance in this country for over 100 years.
Around the 1800’s there was a raging debate in this country about whether God was a strict disciplinarian or a benevolent nurturing God. Largely the Calvinist won that argument and have slowly started to run things in the US since then. Us Lockians have been relegated to the sidelines and I think it has been to the detriment of everyone.
Both philosophies have their benefits and flaws. For the Calvinist, it is the idea that power and wealth are somehow connected to moral behavior. Lockian’s point to Hitler, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il as examples of powerful men who showed a distinct lack of moral judgement. More recently, can the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and BP really be any better than the rest of us?
Calvinists, on the other hand, make light of the thought that man is in any way rational. And their understanding of man has lead to their dominance of our culture. They understand that man does not make rational decisions. We make decisions based on our culture, mood, upbringing, beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves. They understand the truth about leadership we Lockians can never quite grasp.
Change the stories and you change the future.