Sunday, 20 April 2014

Rebel With a Cause -- The Magna Carta Story

     Here we are now it is nearly 800 years since the document was signed and what have we learned? The Rule of Law has been tried, tested and approved.  But are we better off than before?  The population is more or less divided among law breakers, law makers and law enforcers and avoiders.

     However, not all laws have human and civil rights at heart, and it could be said that rules are made by a few for the benefit of a few (and their close associates and friends).  I am not an anarchist -- as I can easily see that into the void left by the absence of rules and laws would step those who would see themselves as leading or head anarchists. (Not a pretty picture.)

     What then?  Let's travel in time to the beginning of the great Civil Rights Declaration (Magna Carta, 1215).  It may help to see where we've been as it has a direct bearing on the place we find ourselves in.

follow authority.  Then I become authority.  Then I realise others who would have authority over me do not have the full story -- their judgment is no longer valid.  Then I rebel.  Do I lead?  Or do I follow the will of the people and show them how they may succeed.  Against tyranny.  They just need to claim their authority.  To unite.  To make their voices heard.  There is a precedent.  We will follow it, and we will add to it as suits our present scenario. Together we are strong.  Expressed clearly, our vision cannot be denied.  We will not be underestimated.  My place is to guide, and to stand firm.  What happens to me personally is of no consequence -- as my abilities are not limited by outside circumstance.  The message will get through.

     So I rebelled, was banished, and then returned.  My oppressors cannot live forever.  It could be said that change happens one funeral at a time!  At least one can leave a legacy that is appreciated, welcomed and celebrated.  Why have it any other way?  We can forgive actions made in error, words of a careless nature.  But the feelings engendered from painful encounters are the hardest to forget.  Somehow we must continue in our work, time is very much on our side, and those to come look forward (and backward) to our bravery.

~ Our triumph shall be! ~

     In relation to rules and laws -- here is a thought for you.  I see contracts in a similar way.  It is my opinion (I have signed a few of these things) that contracts are not needed when all parties (aka both sides) are trustworthy, acting in good faith.  And with those who are not trustworthy, the contract is meaningless because it will be abused, bent or otherwise broken, perhaps twisted to suit ends not intended by one party in the original agreement.

     Rules may be a starting point, a signal of good intentions, or wish for others to conform to a certain mode of behaviour.  However, what one does with rules is always a matter of free choice, and where is the judgment on that?  The fruits of the actions are what we should measure.  We need to get better at assessing each other's intentions before actions occur, and thus realising who or what is trustworthy well in advance of any injurious (or otherwise) actions.

     There is more subtlety in this than judging adherence to statutes written in a time and place far removed from the current situation.  So I will advocate on the side (or lack of sides) in favour of shades of grey (or numerous beautiful colours!).

     This is complex I know, and certainly there are many issues to which I can only say I completely, utterly and thoroughly disagree.  And I continue on my beautifully coloured path as befits the occasion.  The actions of another person are not my responsibility nor are their choices.  An example is a powerful enough choice to make.  Leadership is not necessary if others choose freely to go in the same direction.

Note on text:
A comment here to explain an apparent paradox in the post.  I'm a fan of koans and paradoxes because they send us scurrying back to the evidence of our senses -- and intuition.  The last part about endorsing shades of grey while taking a firm stand I reconcile as follows.  It is ok to recognise and appreciate the myriad approaches (beautiful colours) of the people around us.  It is also ok to know your own mind and not be distracted in your work by the differences that exist.

Also, the book featured in the beginning of the post I have not read, so I cannot give a recommendation or otherwise.  (To be honest, I only chose that for the image.)  It seems a fairly intuitive choice..  The book according to reviews (long link here)

tells the story of the year 1215 in all its detailed glory.  The Magna Carta was just one thing occurring in medieval English society.  I did not quote from the book but wished to tell a first person account of one of the instigators -- to show you that we are not mere pawns of history but its makers and shapers.

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