The axiom, on which what I am to say rests, is a presupposition of a Divine law that allows the consequences of the actions of people to follow on in the natural world. Not to say such law causes consequences; not to say it directs consequences; only it allows these consequences to follow on, as Polonius says, ‘as night follows day’. And that we are able to perceive and determine these consequences to be arisen from natural causes.
The Psalmist of Psalm 81 at verse 12 carefully tells us that God said:
“So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas”.
But this is not going to be a treatise on religious matters, even though there are books and books to be written about how religious matters like the one Psalm 81 talks about are wholly relevant and truly salutary for us to know and to heed as 21st century citizens.
I want to demonstrate to you, by taking you step by step through the logic of the necessity, how personal social interactions in general will arrive at hard factual outcomes generally according to the intentional goodwill that accompanies them.
As a people we are very happy to accept the generally stated belief that ‘when a wildebeest on the equator sneezes; a polar bear at the pole catches a cold’.
We are happy to reason that when heavy rains fall in the mountains; then downstream their rivers will be in flood: and not at the same time, but a day or two after the rainfall.
These are two pretty happily acceptable prognostications on the way disease epidemics spread and on how weather has knock-on effects.
We transfer them to the field of human action when we make observations like say, our insurance premiums rise unacceptably when customers claim in large numbers; say after a widespread flood of their homes; or after a commonplace financial mistake or misdemeanour; or when a general consensus arises in people that one should claim for items and on occasions which might not be justified or justifiable for us to claim.
When we cannot justify our claim in honestly to ourselves; we are being dishonest to ourselves; and to the insurance company; and to the persons who also insure to enjoy protection in event of a crisis
No-one disputes this, or doubts these are the consequences. The difficulty is not in understanding the reasoning or acknowledging the dishonesty; the difficulty is establishing the lack of honesty as wrongful, blinded, unfair and importantly, harmful to the dishonest persons themselves.
But let us leave this part of the discussion, and go on to the people who suffered flooding and whom in turn actioned a spate of insurance claims. These persons are not dishonest; they need a payout to make their losses good. The weather is indeterminate and not subject to control or even to prediction with any degree of certainty.
Yet the afforested hillsides further up the mountainsides which had been strong and effective preventatives to sudden drainages of water into the rivers, and so preventative of flooding; these have in the course of the years been cleared away so that commercial growers can grow crops in their place.
This, you might argue, was done because of just lack of appropriate knowledge and general misunderstanding of consequences; and that no ill will or negligence lies behind it. That the commercial growers were in need of income and subsistence, and that they too have a right to reasonable lives and security.
Of course, this is correct. Although such knowledge of how rain water behaves is not restricted to any extent; and many indigenous peoples of the world and all advanced societies understand these things pretty well. Had the will been there, there is a case for saying the flooding could have been avoided. But let this pass.
The commercial growers are supplying the larger cities; supplying persons with generally more affluent lives; persons expectant of greater comforts and provision as ‘necessary to life’ than those levels of comfort expected by the run-of-the-mill commercial grower and his labourers.
There is then an inequality here; but didn’t Jesus say: “The poor you will always have with you”? I guess you are right, there is the authority of the Lord himself for saying that these things will happen.
Nonetheless, let the inequality pass as per how it affects the bread and butter on the tables of the persons in the houses in cities and on the hill slopes.
This inequality remains to be deal with though. It is, at the least indirectly, a major motivation for the persons on the hill slopes to grow what they grow; and for them to have cleared the forests so as to have been able to grow crops. This is not an ethical problem; but it has come about because of an imbalance of distribution of resources in the city as against the hill sides.
You might be a person who says: “Yes, an imbalance, but there are in fact imbalances. They occur, and they occur naturally. One country or people just happens to live in a place which is not as fertile or as rich in minerals as is another place. What should, what can, we, I, do?”’
The impartial observer says in reply to this point of view, ‘be careful; do not make your happy acceptance of such things your excuse for inaction, for uncaring, and for turning a blind eye.”
I work in the protection of copyrights. Lawful owners of property like creative writing or photo images find that another person has taken their work and used it to her/his benefit and I am asked to notify the offender and ask the offender to stop doing this.
When an offender refuses to stop, I write to the organisation which provides the virtual space to the offender for him to continue offending.
The interesting thing about this work is that once the provider of space has heard that the offender is offending, then in law, in criminal law, the provider of space is obliged to act to stop the offender; or else to become implicated in the offences of the offender.
Our laws then, recognise that when we become aware of a crime, we are obliged to do something to help prevent it; or else to be classed as an accomplice of the criminal.
In murder cases it is know as becoming an ‘accessory after the fact’. The person who brushes off the problems of imbalance of resources: is he/she in danger of being considered, because of a lack of concern to act ‘an accessory after the fact’?
But this looks like a veiled threat that is calling down some uncertain wrath that is to come on the clouds of heaven with legions of angels in train; but it is not that at all; because the melodrama is not needed for the upshot of this situation to be made apparent for persons merely brushing away the case of the needy.
Even were there no cataclysm; no apocalypse come raining down fire and brimstone from the heavens on persons who just live with the world and go with the flow; there is nonetheless loss and injury and danger and peril to them in their deciding to turn a blind eye; to live well and forget suffering.
Now, this is not a threat; nor is it wishful thinking; it’s not me putting my sense of outrage, my load on you, and fathering thoughts of vengeance on you; it’s not the moral high ground; it’s not the just desserts nor the impotent anger of an ineffectual Christian, who can’t stand up fight his corner, or cope with life ‘as it is’.
Truly, the person who acquiesces in the world as he finds it does disservice greatly to him/herself; there is no condemnation by anyone except the condemnation s/he has herself served upon herself
Sir Andrew Aguecheek tells us that he thinks that ‘life is about eating and drinking’, and we feel sorry for him, because that is the scope of his horizons. He is one of those persons, of Shakespeare’s creation, of whom Shakespeare had another of his characters say; ‘I could find it in my heart to beat him”.
So no condescension here: but no malicious joy in harming either I hope. Who is the victim? Whom the oppressor? “Is it I, Lord?”
If it is you, it is your acquiescence, your turning a blind eye, has left you with only one eye to see out of, has entrapped you in a thick jungle of further confrontation and compromise for the course of your life, which never would have arisen in the same difficult manifestations had you not just been casually honest and recognised the iniquity of the world ‘as it is”, and then disastrously for yourself, had decided not to allow that pain into your heart, so as to be able to feel.
Once you have recognised iniquity, and then have chosen as policy to pass it by on the other side of the road, then follows the opening of Pandora’s Box of woes on you. You are then dealing with duplicity in everyone you meet, in every transaction you make, in every breath you breathe and word you speak: you cannot escape from it.
Kurt Vonnegut said astonishingly wisely: “Don’t pretend with people, because you become the person you pretend to be”
And all this lives on you; lives in you; for good and for ill; and old age is the receptacle which collects and weighs it all, and is the burden on your shoulders. Many things we do and think when we are young because we do not think we will be old. And what is left then but despair and a person has no good he/she can approve in their lives?
It’s not fear of judgement or of punishment in a life to come; the despair is in the senselessness, the waste, the irredeemable passage of time, and the prospect of being able to cling to no shape, no meaning, no structure, in a life of confused futility almost ended.
One poet said: “After such knowledge: what forgiveness?”
Did someone say of me? “He knew; but he did nothing”