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Archive for January, 2011

Is God the Mover and Shaker of History?

Considering the concept of God is so ingrained in people’s mind I shall address the question by using Einstein’s formula E =mc2 Energy as any schoolboy would know is neither created nor destroyed. A small mass of matter when converted releases tremendous amount of energy. All that energy mankind has ever possessed or shall, owe to what was released at the time of the Big Bang.
Let us look at the equation once again. The m must denote any matter that has a mass. This equation holds true anywhere in a material universe, including men.
Here I am concerned with men who have energy and those who make history.
Like the gold standard to which currency of nations are tied, is it possible to refer events and men who make history and tie to a single standard?
To answer let me cite a few examples.
No great monument like the Pyramids of Cheops could have been built on the levels of energy of the ruling class alone. So the powers-that-be hit upon an idea that would electrify the masses. A belief in afterlife and the pharaoh as a celestial symbol made it all possible.
So energy can be pooled and invested for the furtherance of a common idea. Great monuments Cathedrals and Civic buildings are testament to man’s ideals. But these are not living expression of man’s faith but curiosities and a milestone in the march of history. Energies of peoples who made these possible must have passed on to other areas.
Now the example of Napoleon Bonaparte comes to mind. He assumed the title of the emperor of France. His military genius ranks him among the immortals such as Alexander and Julius Caesar. His brilliant victories with such a powerful army battle hardened and disciplined so much so he could not have sat idle. He had to push his ambition further. Thus he was caught in the crest of a wave that took him to his Russian campaign. Disaster was the result. What went wrong? Do you not see his overweening ambition was a trap?
In terms of transactional energy Napoleon could marshal energy of all those who followed him to battle or who espoused his cause in the Chamber of Deputies. Bonapartism was a force to reckon with. For example at first there were 100 deputies in the French Chamber. But by 1898 there were none. Bonapartism was dead within 77 years after his death. If the glory of Bonaparte was gone with his death, energy that he could orchestrate must still be around. As I said at the outset it is neither created nor destroyed.
It is not men, and not ideas that keep the score but energy that fires up both. History shows clearly ideas and achievements of mankind keep circulating just as an oceanic conveyor belt providing certain push or pull to affect the nations, but how ideas have been put to use were never been the same. Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was an experiment for the world to sit up and note and how it fared in Russia and China were entirely different. How they refashion their future in adopting market economy also shows a truism: each nation draws lessons from history with emphases placed differently.
Oceanic conveyor belt beginning as cold current ends up as a warm current. The salubrious climate of North West Europe is the result. Thanks to the Big Thaw some 13000 years ago, the Gulf Stream made Lofoton a small town off the coast of Norway 10 degrees warmer than any town deep in Siberia though these lie in the same latitude. But these conditions shall surely change. Take the Minoan culture of the ancient world. A tsunami may have brought it down but consequently led the Greek mainland to advance and spread the Greek ideals all over Europe and much of Asia. According a Biblical account while Israel was in the grip of a great famine the Hebrew was sustained by the abundance of Egypt. If God’s ‘chosen people’ needed a helping hand it had to be from other ‘gentile’ nations. Advantages of any nation are built up by power wherewith energy of great many can be built up to some purpose. When the significance of the intent is lost all that energy garnered is scattered around. Villains,good, and fools all have had chance using these to shake or move the mankind ever so little. Such supremacy of man or nations is for a finite period.
Men and ideas pass on unable to control history for long. Buddhism with pacifism at the heart or Islam by the sword tilt at the windmills of history. The moral of such energy for anyone to make use seems a sound one. Nature does not put her eggs all in one basket. The idea is to leave both good and evil to be stored away in the collective consciousness of mankind. For ‘God’ a Jew , Moslem or Caucasian or Hindu are alike.This being the case any one imputing He favors any tribe or nation in particular is nonsense.
Each man with energy to spare is a player and has the power to make history. Only that how an individual and a nation behave in terms of energy are as distinct as quantum laws in the heart of an atom is different from the universe where gravity rules. An individual has to get his values and choices right and his judgment is only admissible in a very narrow sphere whereas makers of history are judged by their life’s work. Dictators like Pol Pot or Joseph Stalin may die in bed while Mussolini had a violent end. Think how relevant these are to the present day. Insignificant I dare say.
Benny

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Virtue of man, his integrity is only good as far as his individuality is on the line. But as a maker of history? He is more a liability than help. As a leader, it is aspirations of people that dictate his policy and not his scruples. Woodrow Wilson came to occupy the White House on a program to keep America out of a war that was in the offing. But what led him to take part in WWI will prove my point. A man at the highest office is not his own man. Another President, a man of great moral courage, Theodore Roosevelt got Nobel Prize for Peace( 1906) by brokering a deal between Japan and Russia a year before. Only that he had to sacrifice Korea to keep Japan from interfering with the Philippines, that the USA considered their private preserve. What atrocities Japan committed there must owe to this secret deal?

Every ideal must break against aspirations of others. The Pilgrim Fathers sailed to the New Continent looking it as a fresh beginning, a great Experiment. What made them leave Europe in the first place? Was it not for religious intolerance they experienced back home. Quakers, Non-conformists and believers of all hues who had seen America as the New Canaan underwent great many privations to sail for the new continent and establish their Zion. Instead of their ideal to usher in the Millennium rule recorded in Isaiah, we know their history was far from perfect. Their two centuries of history was a written in blood. History of modern America is deeply set into a pattern: there is no escaping from it. The fate of Native Americans and minorities make a mockery of their ideals even if they try hard. What went wrong? Ideals of the Pilgrim Fathers could not have accounted for contrary movements that were already at play. These movements are like the inflation theory in astrophysics, the burst of energy that came into play in seconds after the Big Bang. Cluster principle allows such prodigious minor events that were scattered about coalesce into potent causes. In recent times we see this principle well illustrated in the Iraq War. The USA went in to topple the Saddam regime. It merely made the age-old animosities between sects, tribes more into the open not to mention Kurds and Iran who have their own agenda.

History also shows any breakthrough achieved by individual shall not strictly remain for long within the immediate necessity that warranted it. It shall certainly spread all over and its scope enlarging ever and in the end it will appear in a manner no one would be comfortable with. Nuclear age was ushered in with the surrender of Japan. Did it not over shoot the original intent to become a deterrent? After the fall of Soviet Russia we have many more players who have access to nuclear arsenal. Cupidity,envy, hatred fame and power are all individual traits that convulse mankind. Beneath great movement lurk these like leaven. John Calvin wanted to found a state where God was to be the real power. Only that he wanted to rule for Him. Consider how did it fare. Any man who wields power using God as the front will please neither God nor man. It may be some mullahs or some monks to cite from the present trends. The end result will be a disastrous hotch-potch of ideals and rank villainy.
benny

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The reading of Cromwell didn’t please any. The new Sophocles in the Balzac family was a mirage. Balzac was more determined than ever to cut himself adrift from parental control. The two trial years stipulated in the contract with his father were not yet up and he insisted on his bond. On the 15th November his parents gave notice that the room in the rue Les diguières would be vacated. It was at such moments of extreme hopelessness that the tempter approaches his victim with a view to purchase his soul. It was at that time Le Poitevin a young man with well cut dress and ideas approached him with an offer. He already had a team set in place and with their close links with the theater and Publishing world their venture was bound t be a success. It was easy enough to make a potboiler and a fast buck. He was sure Balzac’s misfortune as owing to an excess of literary ambition. All that he wanted was a partnership in the novel production. The price demanded thus was his very soul, his artistic conscience. Balzac begun thus apprenticeship in Parisian literary pig-swill where no type of literary production ,no commission, no association was beneath his dignity between his twenty second and thirtieth years. His swift pen could churn out thirty or forty pages a day and was to be had cheaply and anonymously by whoever was prepared to pay for it. As in the tales of Baron Munchausen who on one occasion drew himself from the swamp by his own pigtail he did raise himself from hackwork. The lack of scruple demanded by literary prostitution- in accepting excesses of sentimental insincerities, improbable plots that lay concealed in verbiage of purple prose did clung to the greatest novelist of the age. Later Balzac had to admit his years of careless writing had made him slovenly. Even after five years despite the care he took in polishing his style he knew his error. While sending a copy of ‘Le Dernier Chouan’ he wrote to Baron Gerard thus: ‘Do what I will, I am afraid the hand of the novice will always be recognizable.’
benny

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Capsule History ©

History of our universe falls into two periods. Unwritten Period is that period leading to the Big Bang and second is the recorded history of what follows it.

Origin of history: Whatever made History (and left it unrecorded) before the Big Bang must have known history will be repeated and understood in same manner as history has always been treated. Skepticism in history is a blind spot in man just as there is a prejudice to see what one wants to see as a predetermined Cause.

History is a chronicle of violence: This owes to the violence associated with the birth of universe. Man’s progress leaves a trail of violence from the time he separated from his arboreal existence. History is littered with such separations and man as part of his tribe or nation showed a propensity for violence. Great civilizations bear both excellence and crass materialism notwithstanding violence implied in their consolidation. Even so these are temporary in duration.
The secret of universe is that energy released by the Big Bang is ever seeking a way outward. This background radiation is a lesson for history that change is at its heart. Is there any civilization, which has remained unchanged? No. The debris from each are thrown pell-mell and the takers refashion lessons of history of Rome or Greece after their fashion and time.
The petty kingdoms and hordes of tribes expanding as Mongols going West or Hitler to the East are as sure as the Cosmic Background Radiation. These invasions create stresses. The stresses exerted from outside and impulses combined with stresses developing as a result cannot be escaped. Matter at the point of singularity didn’t. So will not an Imperial Power as formidable as Rome. Where Rome fell and in the void came in Moslems. But they were surpassed by other powers.
History is play off between want and luxury. It is made by man singly and as a whole. Every achievement is a deficiency felt and corrected. Progress of man brings with each advance a shortfall or want. How can one identify a want unless it is broken up into a series of ideas? Ideas are like flashes of light lighting up the state of being. It is a march of angels against their cloven feet. The solidity of concrete matter struggling against its abstract nature: if such inner conflict should lead to the Big Bang every progress in conquering inherent flaw will also draw an ideological struggle in its wake. Capitalism and socialism are manifestations of such conflict as iron age was with bronze age. American capitalism shall prove as Soviet empire a flash in the pan of time. China or India cannot escape the similar fate.

Lessons in history will be learned, but not prevent history from being made. But causes that make it change their appearance a little here and there. It shall never be the same. Like lightening will never strike twice on the same spot. What exactly led to WWI is not what caused WWII. There have been many causes, which were long on the boil and in the pan all these had to work with several others till a point of collapse reached. Thus learning history and avoiding the wrong lessons is as much crucial in creating new methods by when a collapse is inevitable those who are in positions to make history survive it with more vigor and knowledge. The lives they save will be those who have placed their trust in them.

benny

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Constantine I (c.280-337AD)
Emperor

His contribution to the burgeoning Christianity in the difficult days of persecution under the Roman aegis he is called the Great and among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Christians by the appellation of a saint. Saint Constantine or Constantine the Great he reversed the persecutions of his predecessor, Diocletian, and issued (with his co-emperor Licinius) the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance throughout the empire.
Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus was Roman emperor from 306, and the sole holder of that office from 324 until his death in 337.
Constantine also transformed in a matter of six years the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium into a new imperial residence, Constantinople, which would remain the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over one thousand years. When he died the empire was divided among his three sons which was a harbinger of things to come.
The Byzantine Empire considered Constantine its founder and the Holy Roman Empire reckoned him among the venerable figures of its tradition. In the later Byzantine state, it had become a great honor for an emperor to be hailed as a “new Constantine”. Ten emperors, including the last emperor of Byzantium, carried the name. At the court of Charlemagne the name Constantine acquired a mythic role as a warrior against heathens and his identifying with his reign was to prove his legitimacy as his successor. Perhaps this foreshadows the manner Stalin made himself as legitimate successor to the mantle of Lenin.

benny

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The Steadfast Soldier©

The emperor of Magnanima wanted his only child to stop playing with dolls. ‘Dolls are for girls and toys are for boys.’ so his old nurse had dinned into his ears. The emperor tried to get him interested in toys that were miniature army that the emperor had garrisoned in the palace grounds. But the Most Exalted Prince Enigma loved dressing up his dolls himself. He had an album of designs that he had collected himself. How lovingly he cut fabrics out of velvet,muslin and chintz and his collection with time could not be kept in his leather box. So he set them all on a large table. Every morning the first thing he did was to inspect them. Before he went to sleep he looked at each doll,- shepherds,milkmaids, dwarfs, pages duchesses, gentlewomen to bid adieu for the night. In between he would have dressed them up from a shelf full of accessories. Watching all this his sire was a little concerned. ‘Dolls are for girl; soldiers are for boys.’the emperor would whisper into his ears. Prince Enigma could not believe it. ‘Some get their fun out of soldiers and I am content in creating a make-believe world.’ In his childish imagination every shepherd girl was as winsome as a duchess.
The little emperor continued with his pastime even as years went by.
The emperor consulted with a troll, his First Minister who said that it would be prudent not to interfere too much with childhood that was fleeting. But before the emperor could find more about it he died. And the little emperor took charge of the empire.
On the first day after the mourning period was over Emperor Enigma consulted the troll who said,’You departed sire didn’t get a chance to see you play with soldiers. We need to do something about it’.
The little emperor thought over it. With a little prodding from Troll Bergensen the emperor hit upon a plan. He would fill his entire empire with his toys. ‘A living doll house!’ he exclaimed.
He passed an order declaring his wish. Each subject was commanded to dress in a particular style. Soldiers were fitted out like chocolate soldiers more for parade ground than for actual fighting. The troll accompanied the emperor throughout the empire
and parades were pure spectacle that took everyone’s breath away.
Thus the little emperor arrived at one lonely outpost of his empire. He set a date for reviewing his army quartered in that part. The locals in their finery converged into the parade ground. The emperor was present with his ministers and generals to watch the parade of soldiers from the barracks. While the soldiers marched past the grandstand the emperor noted all were dressed in regulation outfit except one. He called the troll and asked him to find out why such insubordination was tolerated. The first Minister called the commandant who in turn called for the soldier who came in civvies. The man said he was no soldier but a stand in. ‘Sigmund is my friend.’ He explained that he obliged his friend since he could not be present. He said that the soldier would not however let him wear his uniform.
‘Why?’ the commandant asked. The man could not answer. The commandant took down his particulars and gave to the troll. Troll Bergensen ordered to take him to the soldier who was named Sigmund.
They tracked Sigmund down and they found he had spent the night in a house of ill repute. It was noon. Quietly they climbed up the stairs and into the house that was silent. It was obvious the inmates worked only at night. Various women slept in their booths and the madam of the establishment slept in another part. The troll and the commandant knocked at the door of her room and she came to the door. She was surprised to see strangers at that time of day.
Troll Bergensen asked her not to make a sound but show where Sigmund slept.
‘He is not to be disturbed.’
The troll told who his companion was. She shivered in fright and pointed to the booth at the end of the hall. The two strode directly and found Sigmund the soldier in the arms of a woman. They were asleep.
The troll watched the commandant draw the soldier by his scruff and shout,’How dare you disobey my command?’
Sigmund said,’Love made me lose count of time.’
Commandant was about to explode in anger but the troll quietly nudged him to stop.
The troll woke up his companion. He picked bed linen from the floor and asked the girl to cover herself. Then he addressed the soldier,’What is love?’
‘Love for woman?’
The troll nodded. “Love is such that I do not feel regret to lay aside this gorgeous uniform.’
The troll was beginning to understand, He queried,’Is that why your stand-in didn’t get your uniform?’
The soldier was sure, ‘ I would not lend it to another. Because it is a mark of love of the little emperor. He did give to me. Didn’t he?’
‘But the little emperor has issued it to all soldiers?’
‘It may be.’ the soldier answered,’ but when I put it on I can only think he has personally thought of me.’
The troll nodded and called the commandant aside to say the love of such a soldier was exceptional. The troll went back and asked the woman why she didn’t wear the gorgeous dress the little emperor had designed for her.
She retorted in ill temper that the little emperor himself could have given it .’It would have made me think it was something special.’
The troll controlling himself asked what love meant to her.
‘A little fire to warm myself, a loaf of bread and some lard to dip it in. Of course a bed and the money I can make.’
The troll commanded her to shut up and called the soldier to report at his hunting lodge that night . Giving the address he called the commandant to wait till late in the evening.
‘You shall hear from me.; Saying this the troll left.
That night the troll brought Sigmund before the little emperor and narrated the incident in the house of shame. He also whispered,’He is so devoted to you,sire.’ . The eye of the little emperor glistened. He said,’ Such steadfastness must be properly rewarded’. Emperor Enigma turned to Sigmund to say,’I shall decorate you with medals of honor I have designed myself if you prove yourself worthy.’
Thus Sigmund was shipped out with battalions of soldiers overseas. They were to fight wars. They went through high water and hell. Once he was captured by pirates the dreaded members of Water rats of Green Gate and another time he took a direct hit. His foot developed gangrene and had to be amputated.
After peace was declared Sigmund came home on a wheel chair. He found Troll Bergensen at the harbor and he took him directly to his house. After a week’s rest he was presented to the emperor.
On the way to the palace the troll asked if he still loved the little emperor as before.
He nodded and hesitated. The troll probed him further and he said he regretted that the uniform didn’t fit him anymore.’War made me hate it in fact.’
He advised the soldier to be cautious how he talked with the little emperor.
The little emperor received Sigmund fondly. He addressed him as his steadfast soldier,’What is your fondest dream?’
‘Go on serving you,sire’, replied the soldier who had become worldly wise. He said things to please the little emperor him and as a result the he came away a rich man.
At the end of the interview the troll wanted to know what he was going to do. ‘Stay in Imperial court and serve?’
‘Devil take it!’ he answered. He added quietly,’Go back to the same girl in whose arms you first found me’.
‘Is that wise?’ the troll asked.
‘Was that wise to ask such things I do not know myself?’ With a laugh he took leave of the troll.

benny

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Woodie Guthrie (1912-1967)
Woodie Guthrie had been on the road most of his life , a drifter with a guitar and singing folk songs. Alan Lomax, who was collecting folk songs for the Library of Congress persuaded him to record them for posterity. Woody lived with Lomaxes while he recorded three hours of songs and conversations for the Library. During this period he slept on the floor wrapped in his lumber jacket, and had his dinner standing by the sink. ‘I don’t want to get softened up,’ said he to his host, ‘I’m a road man.’
benny

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