Horrors! People! No more pooping!! In a single day, a person may destroy 10**11 epithelial cells from the intestines! I’m talking about living human cells! This dwarfs the abortion epidemic by many many orders of magnitude! Just to understand the scope of this crime, remember that there are fewer than 10 billion people on earth. Ten billion is only 10**10th. So every day, you are murdering TEN TIMES the population of the entire earth!
Now, some people will argue that these cells are not really human beings, or that such cells cannot viably exist on their own and that there is a medical benefit to shedding these cells. To which I reply: “So what!!?” Each has the *potential* to become a fully functioning human being!”
From now on, each of these cells must be rescued from your poop. Then, from each cell, the nucleus must be extracted. This nucleus shall then be put into a human egg cell and implanted in a baby incubator device (sometimes jokingly referred to as a “woman”). Wait nine months and *voila!* a new and precious human baby will be born. Best of all, during that time, most rich, old, white, males won’t be the least bit inconvenienced.
I realize that some people will argue that such a procedure would be absurdly expensive and inconvenient. So what?! We cannot allow abortions simply because having a baby might be beyond the economic capabilities of a family or that it would disrupt their lives or reduce their ability to care for their other children or endanger the life of the mother. It certainly doesn’t matter that saving these babies lives would hasten the destruction of the ecosystem all humanity needs in order to survive. Well, it’s the same thing with all those babies-that-could-be in your bowel. Who knows? One of them could be the next Einstein or Saint Teresa.
Please save these unborn babies out of your poop! Don’t let them be wantonly destroyed!! Write your Senators and Representatives today! And whatever you do, stop pooping until the proper procedures and mechanisms can be set up to save all these potential babies! Until then, simply hold it. Of course, it isn’t merely your own poop that you must be concerned with. You must do your part to make sure your neighbors also hold it till we’re ready to save the babies. Needless to say, what applies to your right to control your neighbors bodily functions goes doubly for your own family. So make sure your kids don’t poop either. No-one’s ever too young to avoid becoming a parent.
Oh, and you’ll be happy to know that the Bible agrees with me 100%. Well, not really the Bible, per se, of course, but the Bible as interpreted by a small number of people. You’ll also be happy to know that the US Constitution also agrees with me. Well, not really the Constitution, per se, but what the founders meant by what’s in Constitution as magically divined by the Extreme Court.
By the way, you may want to lay off the grains & greens until everything’s set to make sure we save the babies!
The Self-Made Man awoke. That is to say, his eyes snapped open, as they typically did, one minute before his alarm setting. He quickly turned the alarm off. After all, it was only a back-up system. His superior brain constituted alarm one.
The Self-Made Man swung his legs (legs that evolved courtesy of the four-billion year old evolutionary struggles of his ancestors) over the edge of his memory foam bed. (Memory Foam had been invented in 1966 by NASA. NASA was America’s space agency. The tax dollars of US citizens paid for that, and for many other inventions).
The Self-Made Man didn’t believe in paying taxes. Taxes, he thought, were for suckers. The Self-Made Man, according to his judgment, spent his money on things he found worthwhile such as making more people like himself. Why should he send his hard-earned money to Washington DC and let the government of the people decide where his money should be spent? That made no sense; after all, it was his money! (Money, by the by, was invented about 2000 BC, approximately 4000 years before the Self-Made Man was born.)
The Self-Made Man slipped his feet into his slippers. Slippers, of course, provide an easy way to add protection to your feet. Slippers are not unlike the moccasins that many Native Americans used for over ten thousand years before Europeans came to destroy most of them with germs and guns. The moccasins of The Self-Made Man were not made of deer skin or moose skin, but of synthetic fabrics which had been developed over the preceding century by thousands of scientists working for “rubber” companies and chemical companies. Some of this research was funded by US taxpayers but the money spent on tires for their cars paid for most of the research.
As The Self-Made Man slid his feet into his slippers, he did not think about these things. He was thinking about a speech he would be giving later that day encouraging people to fight for lower taxes, especially for the wealthy. Somewhere in the back of his mind, The Self-Made Man, was vaguely aware that poor people tended to waste their money on such mundane things as clothing, shelter, food, healthcare, etc. How tedious! Rich people were far more imaginative and spent money on important things like golden toilet seats, yachts that were so large they couldn’t enter harbors, cryptocurrencies, and politicians.
The Self-Made Man didn’t waste much time thinking about poor people at all. They were fools anyway and actually worked for their money. How stupid is that, when you can be rich enough to own things and make more money from owning things that other people needed in order to make their money than anyone could possibly make from simply doing things that provided value to others.
The Self-Made Man picked up his smart phone and “dialed” his head speech writer. The “smart phone” of The Self-Made Man had grown from technology that was largely, though not entirely paid for, by the taxes of US citizens. No matter. Of course, the very smart people who developed that technology had been able to do so largely because of their education. Most of that was paid for by taxes of US citizens. But that education itself depended upon thousands of years of development of language, mathematics, science, etc.
The Self-Made Man showered in hot water and cleansed himself with soap. Having hot water at his fingertips grew from the magic of yet other inventions. Without thinking much about it, he not only cleansed himself of dirt and dead skin but also benefited from the action of soap to kill some of the germs that lived on him. Indoor plumbing itself had been invented about 6000 to 7000 years earlier in India. Sometimes, the Self-Made Made let the shower water trickle into his mouth. Luckily, government agencies had ensured that this was safe to do. Those agencies had been paid for by the tax dollars of ordinary US citizens who were too stupid not to pay taxes.
The Self-Made Man dressed and went to his home office to take a last look at his speech. He quickly accessed all his needed information using protocols that had originally been developed by DARPA using the tax dollars of ordinary US citizens who had paid their taxes. He scanned through the speech. The Self-Made Man thought it merely adequate. He reckoned it did a nice enough job of arguing as to why The Self-Made Man was the most important kind of man in the world. But something was missing. The speech, in a way, was the heaven part. It explained why The Self-Made Man and others of his ilk were bringing about a veritable heaven on earth. That was fine. So far as it went. But where was the “Fire and Brimstone” part? Where was the part that aroused the hatred of unions and workers who supported them? Where was the part that would make the audience be willing to do anything to keep the rich and powerful in control? Missing. The Self-Made Made shook his head sadly. Using the Internet protocols and hardware inventions of generations of scientists and engineers, he fired his main speech writer and alerted his second violin speech writer to add the “Fire and Brimstone” part. “Demonize these people the way they deserve to be!”
Firing people always gave a little thrill to The Self-Made Man. Firing was always a “Triple Play.” First, it made “The Self-Made Man” feel good immediately. Second, it taught the person fired a valuable lesson. Third, it rekindled the fear in his other employees that they too could be fired at a moment’s notice if their work wasn’t up to snuff. And, it worked. As it almost always did. The “Second string” speech writer added some nice demonizing text and even included a Bible verse about the value of hard work.
Soon, The Self-Made Man’s chauffeur zoomed them along an Interstate highway system (paid for by US taxpayers) toward the airport (which had largely been paid for by tax dollars). The Self-Made Man’s limo was a marvelous example of pollution whose external costs were almost all borne by others. The land beneath which the oil lay had mainly been stolen without compensation from the Native Americans (and other indigenous people throughout the world) who had lived there for tens of thousands of years. The extraction of the oil and its refinement to gasoline polluted air and water and required the dangerous labor of many. The combustion of the gasoline poured still more pollution into the air including carbon dioxide which was warming the planet so quickly and so radically that every year, people died from various climate catastrophes.
The Self-Made Man soon arrived at the Conference Center (paid for largely by tax dollars, because, after all, conventions brought business to the downtown). His speech was well-received and several Self-Made Men walked up afterwards and congratulated him on his brilliant speech. Three from The Self-Made Man’s social media team tweeted and instagrammed excerpts from his brilliant words. These were soon echoed by several of the politicians he owned.
The Self-Made Man was too busy to stay and chat long. One of his assistants handed The Self-Made Man a cup of coffee as they rushed out to the waiting limo. As he began to take a sip of the beverage which had been invented far away and long ago, the top came off and burned the thumb and index finger of The Self-Made Man. He noisily fired his assistant on the spot. He shook his head sadly as he slid into the rear seat. The Self-Made Man began feeling the scaled in earnest and therefore began screaming at his chauffeur. “Where the hell is the damned ice! Can’t you see I burned myself?!”
The limo was a marvel of sound isolation, and in fact, the chauffeur had not known anything about the spilled coffee. “There’s ice right beside you in the champaign bucket,” the driver said matter-of-factly.
The Self-Made Man wasn’t about to reach all the way across the back of the limo to get his own damned ice! He screamed: “Pull over and get me the damned ice!”
The limo driver sighed. “Sir, there’s no place safe to pull over right here. I can pull over … “
The Self-Made Man screamed even more loudly. “What the hell’s wrong with you?! Pull over NOW!”
The chauffeur complied.
Meanwhile, the bus driver behind them had his own issues. Of course, it wasn’t really the bus driver’s fault that the airline schedules were all bolloxed up. And, somewhere in the back of his mind, the disgruntled passenger must have known that too. But it didn’t keep him from screaming at the bus driver just long enough to prevent the bus driver from noticing the oddly parked limo.
Before the crash rendered everything in the limo burned beyond legibility, there had been a prominent sign in its passenger compartment which read:
“Please buckle up! It’s the law.”
The Self-Made Man, of course, felt himself much too important to follow laws of any kind.
Although The Self-Made Man was rushed to a hospital (mainly paid for by tax dollars — but not his) and once there, received trauma treatments developed by thousands at a cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives, his particular and largely insignificant leaf detached and fell from the Great Tree of Life and was no more.
Matt the Pig, who called himself “Matt the Magnificent,” strolled along the hill when he heard a curious sound. It sounded a little like the roar of a lion but very distant. He turned to his companion, Marjory the Muskrat and asked, “What could be making that sound?”
Marjory Muskrat, who secretly called herself, “Marjory the Magnificent” flung her backpack off her shoulder and searched for an idea hiding among the many assault weapons, but she couldn’t find an idea anywhere. That was not surprising because she had not really had an idea for many years. Nonetheless, she smiled at Matt the Pig and said, “I know exactly what that is!”
Matt tilted his snout and stared at Marjory with his beady pig eyes and wiggled his pig ears and said, “Really? What?”
Marjory Muskrat wriggled her muskrat nose and said, “What what? What are you talking about?”
Matt sighed in a porcine manner and said, “You said you knew what made that roaring sound. What is it?”
Marjory Muskrat never felt obligated to answer a question, especially when she didn’t know the answer (which was usually) and would be caught in a lie (which was always) so instead she said, “Follow me and I’ll show you!” With that, she scurried up the side of a nearby dune.
Matt the Pig came snuffling after her. His cloven hooves spiked deep into the soft sand. Marjory, on the other hand, found that her feet allowed her to climb up the dune quite easily. She waited at the top for her more cumbersome companion to join her. Finally, he clumsily clambered up beside her. He huffed and he puffed. He wanted to ask her again, but he never got the chance. Marjory Muskrat was skittering down the other side of the dune toward the seashore.
Matt the Pig ran a few more steps before he tripped himself up with one of his own lies and somersaulted head over hooves down the far side ending up in some wet sand. It felt good. For awhile, he forgot what he had wanted to ask Marjory.
The roaring noise returned, much louder than before. “What is that? What’s making that noise, Marjory? You said you knew?”
“That” began Marjory, “is the sound of a million billion trillion migrants swimming ashore on our borders!”
Just then, a Teacher walked by. Having overheard the Misguided Muskrat, he said, “Nonsense. It’s just the roar of the ocean waves.”
Matt the Pig oinked with delight. “At least, it’s not a lion! I like the sand. I’m going to build a house here! Do you want to help, Marjory?”
Marjory Muskrat grinned so broadly that all fifty of her little white needle teeth showed. “No, you go ahead. Since you’ll be working hard building a house with your oh-so-powerful snout and hooves, I’d better go find us something to eat. I’ll be back in a jiffy!”
Matt muttered, “Typical. I’m left to do all the work. It’s okay. It’s easy to dig here in the soft sand. I should have a house in no time at all. Matt the Pig began shoveling with his powerful long snout.”
No sooner had he begun, however, than the Teacher said, “Excuse me. My name is Teacher. If you build your house here, the ocean will wash it away.”
Matt the Pig scoffed at the teacher. “What do you know? It’s easy to dig here. I’ll make the quickest house ever. I shall name it, The Sty at Seaside.
Teacher cocked his head to one side and said, “You’ll want to rename it Bye Bye Sty, because, as I said, within a few hours, the ocean will come and wash it away.”
Matt the Pig didn’t see any reason to believe a teacher of all people. “Nonsense! You’re just jealous you didn’t think to build a house here first! What do you know, anyway?”
“I walk this beach nearly every day. Also, I look at the tide charts. Every high tide, the ocean comes in much further than where you are digging and … “
Matt the Pig grunted. “Hah! I see where the ocean is. I see where the house is. Foolish man!”
Teacher shook his head and walked off. He muttered, “Suit yourself. You’ll see.”
Matt the Pig continued to wallow and snuffle and snuggle into the sand. He began to grow hungry and he looked up to see whether Marjory Muskrat had returned with their lunch. No sign of her. As hungry as Matt the Pig was, he realized that all the hard rooting around had made him very thirsty. He wobbled over to the ocean and began lapping up the water.
A Doctor who was out for his morning constitutional noticed that the swine was swizzling seawater. “Hey!” Said Doctor. “That’s salt water! You can’t drink that!”
Matt snorted. “Hah! That shows how much you know. I just did drink some. Though not enough because I am still thirsty.”
Doctor sighed. “Yes, I mean you can drink it, but it’s bad for you. It will only make you thirstier! It’s salt water. I’m a Doctor. Believe me when I tell you that it’s bad to drink it!”
Matt snorted. “Hah! Who cares what a Doctor thinks. Water is water! Everyone knows that! I’m plenty thirsty so I need some more so I can finish the work.”
Doctor shook his head and walked off. He muttered, “Suit yourself. You’ll see.”
Matt realized that despite having drunk quite a bit, he was thirstier than ever. He decided he would see whether the Doctor was telling the truth so he pulled out his smart phone and googled, “Do Doctors Lie?”
Matt looked at the results page. Over 8000 results! Matt snorted. “I guess that proves it! Eight thousand results! Of course, Doctors lie!”
Matt the Pig was getting seriously hungry as well as thirsty. He glanced at the dunes, but didn’t see any sign of Marjory Muskrat. He wondered out loud to himself, “Surely, there must be something to eat along this beach. Clams? Oysters?”
Matt began rooting for shellfish. It wasn’t long before he dug one up. He was about to smash it on some nearby rocks, when a Wild Boar came crashing up beside him, “Whoa there, fellow! Can’t you see the Red Tide? Don’t eat shellfish now! You’ll get deathly ill!”
Matt snorted, “And who are you, pray tell, that you should interfere with my dinner?”
“I’m a Wild Boar. My friends call me Crashing Boar, but you can call me Mister Boar. Everyone knows that you don’t eat shellfish during the Red Tide. Why are you digging up such a large part of the beach anyway?”
Matt snorted. Again. “I’m making a new home here. I’m naming it The Sty at Seaside.”
The Wild Boar frowned. “This is not a good place for a home. You’re right near the ocean!”
Matt snorted. He seemed to be snorting a lot these days. He didn’t care. He said, “That shows how much you know! This happens to be a perfect location! It’s easy to dig. There’s plenty of water and food within easy reach!”
Wild Boar nearly gored himself with his own tusks. “What?! Listen, Pig. The tide will come in and wash away your home. And the water is not potable. The shellfish can sometimes be eaten, but not now. You best find another place for your home.”
Matt snorted yet again. “Hah! You just want this excellent location for yourself. Leave me alone. And, no, I am not sharing my clams with you. Nor can you have any of that water which I claim for myself.”
“That’s the ocean! You can’t “claim it” for yourself! It belongs to everyone! But anyway, you can’t drink it.”
Matt snorted until his nostrils bled. “Don’t tell me what I can and cannot do! I’m perfectly capable of making my own decisions! Be on your way. And let your more civilized cousin finish his house.”
The Wild Boar galloped up a nearby hill and began crashing through some underbrush. He looked one last time back at Matt the Pig, shook his head, and sauntered off.
Matt the Pig, meanwhile, realized that all his work and arguing had made him uncommonly thirsty so he went back to the ocean and took a few more tremendous gulps of brine. It didn’t help. “I must be very hungry. That’s the problem,” Matt muttered. So, he dug up a few more clams and smashed all of them on nearby rocks and ate them all. That satisfied his hunger but he still found himself to be extremely thirsty. He decided to take a short nap in his new seaside sty. He lay down in the nice soft sand.
Matt lay basking in the hot sun. Matt lay in his new home and enjoyed the sound of the name of his new home, The Sty at the Seaside. The many clams he had eaten satisfied his hunger, but he still felt terribly thirsty. He closed his eyes and thought back to the sty where he used to live. He remembered the girl in the gingham dress who filled his water trough with cold clear water. He wished Marjory Muskrat could be more like the little girl. It felt to Matt as though the world was spinning around. Or, that he was spinning around. Or that everything was spinning around. Suddenly, he felt very sick. He wanted to go somewhere else. But the roar of the water. Confusion. Where was that Muskrat, he thought to himself. Why is my home so wet? I’m so smart I know everything. But I don’t know why my sand home is so muddy now. And I’m so thirsty.
No-one knows even to this very day whether Matt died of food poisoning, or dehydration, or drowned. Marjory didn’t care. She knew he was still fresh enough to eat and that’s all that mattered to her. He went very well with the Russian dressing she had gotten at the market. He tasted okay — but way too salty. She felt oddly tired and distant as she finished off the last morsel and stared at his well gnawed bones. I’m too tired to move, she thought to herself and then mumbled, “Best to just let the waves wash over me. They make a nice wet blanket. Later, I’ll turn him over and eat the other half. Right now, I just need a long, long nap.”
Indeed, Matt had been right about one thing. The Sty at Seaside did make a nice home.
A talking worm develops an extremely loud screaming sound. He’s wrinkled and ugly and orange. But neither his physical ugliness nor his rancorous sound is his worst feature. He has evolved an extremely toxic poison.
How is it so toxic?
It is really three separate toxins: Fear and Hate and Greed. Together they are much more toxic than any one of them is alone.
He blackmails everyone around him, from sea to shining sea. He threatens to release the poison into the air if he doesn’t always get his way.
His way is to take all the money. His way is to take all the power.
His way is to use the money and power to make more toxin.
He uses the extra toxin to threaten even more people that he will release the poison into the air if he doesn’t get his way.
His way is to take all the money. His way is to take all the power.
His way is to use the money and power to make more toxin.
Eventually, he tries to blackmail everyone on earth.
He explains that he is a “self-made worm” — that it is his right to take over the world because he and he alone made the world.
That is, of course, a lie.
Life evolved for 4 billion years. All his ancestors, and the life his ancestors interacted with created the conditions for him to make the toxins. He doesn’t mind that he lies. Lying is fun!
He gets his way. To him, that’s all that matters.
He gets all the money.
He gets all the power.
For fun, he releases the poison any way.
But now, it’s enough to destroy every living thing on earth.
Many Paths rose. Shadow Walker enfolded her in his strong arms and she returned the gesture. He stepped back, still holding both her hands in his and smiled as he spoke. “Come with me! I’ve got something to show you!”
Many Paths tilted her head to the side and frowned. “Can it wait? I’ve just been talking with She Who Saved Many Lives. I’ve got the work on setting up our meeting with the other tribes. So much needs to be done.” She sighed and bit her lip. “So much to do, but I’m not sure what comes next.”
Shadow Walker could see that she was concerned. He frowned sympathetically. Suddenly, Shadow Walker chuckled.
“What joke is this that brings laughter to your heart?” Asked Many Paths. “I’m serious. There’s much work to be done.”
“I never thought of this before, but — Many Tribes. Many Paths. You see? Just as you yourself think of many ways to do things — many more than most of us have patience for — so too do the various tribes try many paths of how to live.”
The eyes of Many Paths grew wide. “Yes! Of course! I never saw it before either! It’s just the same, in a way. Maybe that is a good way to explain it to the many tribes I hope to convene. It is in keeping with the wisdom of the tale of the Forgotten Field. We don’t necessarily have to agree on every path we take; we just have to be sure that we work together when we must.”
Shadow Walker laughed again. “That’s what I was thinking. Just because of your name.” Many Paths and Shadow Walker gazed into each other’s eyes for a moment and he squeezed her hands. After a pause, he continued. “But that is not what I came to tell you. Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes have discovered a book that has many recipes for making the kind of meeting that you wish to convene with the many tribes. You should come see for yourself!”
Many Paths frowned again. “How can that be?”
Shadow Walker smiled and now Many Paths smiled as well. She sensed that the sunny mood of Shadow Walker would not be clouded by her worry. But she looked at her mate askance. “I still don’t see how a book from long ago can be so well-suited to my current task at hand.”
“Come with me, love, and judge for yourself. It appears that you may not be the first person to think about how best to cooperate, after all.”
Many Paths snorted. “You will not be deterred I see, so yes, let’s go see this book you claim will help.”
Shadow Walker smiled again. “Yes! And, if I am wrong, and the book is useless, you and I will have a pleasant walk on a beautiful day and we’ll have a chance to see your brother and his friend, Cat Eyes.
Shadow Walker and Many Paths soon arrived at the hidden entryway that Trunk of Tree had accidentally discovered while stalking a deer. This hidden path connected the Veritas and the two sides of the snowy mountain. They arrived in the Village of the Veritas on the other side of the mountain. They were greeted warmly. Their kin on this side of the mountain felt fully committed to having a meeting with all the tribes.
Many Paths happened to spy a group of elders chatting excitedly. As she guessed, this signaled that the presence of Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes. Many of the Veritas on this side of the snowy mountain had now learned how to read the strange markings arranged in books. In the center of the group, she smiled to see her young brother, Tu-Swift. She called out his name and he smiled broadly and waved for her to come join the group. She noticed that though the group included many elders, there were also people of every age, even children of no more than six or seven summers. Gradually, the people so gathered noticed Many Paths and Shadow Walker approaching. Tu-Swift & Cat Eyes came out to greet them. Tu-Swift smiled broadly as he greeted her. “I see Shadow Walker brought you already! Come! Look what we’ve begun to read!” He held out one of the hundreds of books that had been recently discovered. At first glance, the book looked just like the others, but then she noticed that it had an elaborate symmetrical drawing on the cover.
Tu-Swift & Cat Eyes had become proficient at reading. He could hardly constrain himself as Many Paths sounded out the markings on the cover as she read the title aloud, “A Pattern Language for Collaboration and Cooperation.” Tu-Swift could not wait any longer so he began showing her the various chapters. “Look! It’s a whole book to help you with your meeting with the other tribes! Here, look! It is a whole book of recipes or patterns for helping people to better collaborate! Here’s one called ‘Who Speaks for Wolf.’ Another one: ‘The Rule of Six’ and here. Look! Another: ‘Small Successes Early.’
He showed her the pages one after another. Many Paths barely had time to read the titles before Tu-Swift jumped to the next one. There were dozens! Tu-Swift laughed. “Can you believe our good fortune? This should help us with the meeting, right?”
Many Paths hugged her brother and then smiled broadly at Shadow Walker as she assented. “Yes. These — these Patterns — they seem that they would be a big help. But it will take me time to read these. I am not so swift at reading as you are brother. But thank you for finding these. Can I borrow this book until I have had time to read them all?”
Cat Eyes said, “Of course. But we have come up with another plan. See what you think. Tu-Swift and I will take turns reading them to you. You and Shadow Walker can listen and then we — and some number of interested Veritas should discuss each one before we go on to the next. We have to see which ones might best work for the meeting, but also for before the meeting and after the meeting. It’s clear from the book of Patterns that an effective meeting depends on what you do before the meeting begins and after as well, not just what happens during a meeting. What do you say?”
Many Paths let out a long slow breath. “I did not come prepared for such a thing. I thought we would go back this very day. That’s what Shadow Walker led me to believe.” She stared at her mate.
Shadow Walker’s good mood could not be dampened. He shook his head. “I had no inkling that Tu-Swift wanted us to stay for an extended discussion. I think it’s a good idea though. Here’s another. I will walk back and get whatever you need. We don’t both need to go.”
Tu-Swift interjected, “I have an even better idea. I’ve already read most of the book. Let Cat Eyes begin reading these Patterns to you and then you can discuss. Meanwhile, I’ll go back and get anything you really need although I can’t really imagine … we have everything you need right here, Many Paths.”
Many Paths shook her head. “Is your leg that well heeled already? Why not send someone … someone unhurt?”
Tu-Swift laughed. “You mean someone faster. There is no-one faster.”
Shadow Walker’s face finally managed its own frown. “That can’t be true. You surely can’t be the fastest runner here yet. You’re still on the mend.”
Tu-Swift smiled, “Ah, yes. I am still on the mend. But who said I would be running back?” His eyes twinkled.
Many Paths pursed her lips. “If you’re not running…. Ah! But you have continued to learn how to ride horses haven’t you?!”
Tu-Swift smiled at his sister and nodded vigorously. “Correct!”
Many Paths sighed. “You are amazing, dear brother. But you are right. I don’t really need anything. But the people should know.”
Cat Eyes said, “Some of the people here, including my parents, were going to visit later this afternoon for trade. They can take a message to your people.”
All agreed. Many Paths gave her message to and they all found comfortable places to sit. Tu-Swift began reading the first Pattern.
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The above is the text of the Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution. It is not my “distillation” or “summary” of the Ninth Amendment. It is the Ninth Amendment. You may recall that the first ten Amendments to the Constitution are known collectively as the “Bill of Rights.” To me, the Ninth Amendment could, in today’s terminology be titled, “Democracy for Dummies” Amendment. In the linked article in the Wikipedia, you can see that this ninth Amendment was added quite intentionally. In fact, some founders who argued against provisions of the Bill of Rights were worried that by enumerating some rights, such as the right to free speech, later generations might take it to mean that since those rights were enumerated, no other rights existed. So, just to make absolutely sure that no-one would make such a silly mistake, the founders added the Ninth Amendment. This says just about as clearly as it’s possible to say: “Look, just because we didn’t list a right should be not be used to argue that it doesn’t exist.”
Remember that the founders had just waged a war of independence against the tyranny of England. They had essentially bet their lives on winning a war against a much greater military power. They were quite serious about freedom! The passage is short and unambiguous.
The first thought that occurs to me when it comes to a Ninth Article in the “Bill of Obligations” is simply that each citizen should read the Ninth Article. Further, we should be vigilant that no politician, party, or demagogue tries to pooh-pooh it away or intentionally misinterpret it.
It honestly never occurred to me, as recently as a fortnight ago, that a Justice of the Supreme Court would be the one to pooh-pooh it as being meaningless, particularly a Justice who otherwise argues for a “strict reading” of the Constitution. But that’s where we are today.
Justice Alito is so hell-bent on destroying freedoms for Americans that he intentionally pretends he cannot comprehend this single, clear, short sentence in a foundational document for our country. Remember, Justices are sworn in. When they are sworn into office, they swear that they will uphold the Constitution of the United States. There is no “escape clause” in their oath. They do not say, “I swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States except for the parts I don’t like.” They do not say, “I swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States unless people who supported me to get on the court tell me to take a wrecking ball to it.”
Here is the text of the Oath of Office for Supreme Court Justices regarding the Constitution.
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
What do you suppose “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion” means? To me, it means just that. It’s not okay to take the oath of office with fingers crossed behind your back and think to yourself:
“Finally! The opportunity to foist off my ideas about how America should be run on an unsuspecting public. Screw the Bill of Rights! And totally screw all those Amendments and precedents since about having women vote and blacks being citizens and an implied right to privacy. Nope! What I want is an American Taliban. So, that’s what I’ll make happen!”
That’s not what taking the oath of office means.
There is another part of the oath of office for Supreme Court Justices:
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”
What do you suppose it means to swear that you will “administer justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the poor and to the rich”? Would you interpret that to mean that it’s okay to show preference to rich donors? Would you interpret that to mean that you’re going to use the power of your office to enhance white privilege or male privilege? Is it okay to mean that if you happen yourself to be a white male? Is it okay to subvert the oath of office if you happen to believe that things are just better if white males have more power? Is it okay to subvert your oath of office if you happen to believe that, actually, come to think of it, people of color and females really shouldn’t have any rights at all?
If a Justice of the Supreme Court decides to “strike down” part of the Bill of Rights because they don’t find it personally to their taste, what is the appropriate action? How about if they are sworn in while saying one thing but meaning something much different and more self-serving? How about if they lie under oath during their confirmation hearing? How about if they intentionally mislead under oath? Is that acceptable?
Let’s consider what constitutes a lie. Suppose we are playing tennis and you hit a ball that lands near the line on my side. I see it as in, but close. I call it out anyway. You ask, “Really? It’s your call, but it really looked in to me.” I answer, “Well, it was close all right, but I had a really clear look at it. I’d call that ball out every time.” That could be the literal truth. It was close. I did have a clear look. And, since I cheat, I’d call it out every time. But the implication of my statements, in context, is that I am re-affirming that I saw it as out.
Or, suppose you and I are throwing a surprise party for a mutual friend. I tell you, “You know, it’s going to cost some money for the food and drinks for everyone. I’ll go pick up the stuff, but can you afford to pay for half?” You say, “Oh, I can afford to pay my half. That’s the fair thing to do.” Note that you didn’t say you would pay for your half. You just said you can afford to pay half and that it’s the fair thing to do. If I interpret that to mean you will pay half, is there lying involved?
Here’s another example. You apply for a consulting job on a large new construction job. You give them a lot of good ideas about how to go about solving the problems they presented to you. Instead of hiring you, they decide to use your ideas but have the boss’s brother-in-law implement it on the cheap. In fact, that was their intention all along. You ask about it and the boss says, “We looked at your proposal. Many of the elements of it were exactly what we were planning to do anyway, so we figured, we didn’t really need an outside consultant after all.” Sure. They were going to file a plan with the city, just as you proposed. They were going to file an environmental impact statement, just as you proposed. They were going to hire a crew to do the work, just as you proposed. So, yes, many (three, to be exact) of the elements in your proposal were indeed something that they were going to do even before they read the proposal, but there were also many other elements of your proposal that they had not thought about until they heard your proposal. They had not previously considered passive solar heating, gray water irrigation, or battery back-up. In context, they were intentionally misleading you, perhaps to avoid your suing them.
Suppose you go to a doctor to see about allergies. The doctor has just gotten back from a conference where a paper was presented about an expensive new drug (Damitol) that might work for allergies; unfortunately, some patients lose their sense of smell and others break tendons. The drug company mentioned that doctors who publish papers about good results with Damitol will get free tickets to a conference in Hawaii. The doctor engages in the following dialog with you.
Doctor: “There’s a new treatment for allergies,Damitol. I’m recommending it for you. It’s expensive though.”
You: “Oh, well… aren’t there cheaper drugs?”
Doctor: “Yes, but they don’t always work.”
You: “Does the new drug, Damitol, have side-effects?”
Doctor: “Every drug can have some side-effects, but personally I’ve never seen a single patient with bad side effects from Damitol.
You spend a lot of money on Damitol and lose your sense of smell. Worse, you snap your Achilles tendon.
Did your doctor lie to you? Did he intentionally mislead you?
Are those mealy-mouthed misleaders the kind of characters you really want on the Supreme Court? I certainly do not. It may be tempting to think: “Well, it’s okay to cheat because they are on my side.”
That is precisely the flaw that dictators and would-be dictators have used to gain power since the beginning of time. “Look here,” they say, “I’m on your side. And once I get in power, I’m going to favor you by cheating for you.” It never turns out that way. They lie, and cheat, and appear to favor you in order to gain power. Once they gain power, they will wield it to steal from everyone including you. Putin, e.g., kills generals and oligarchs who support him when it suits him. Killing “the faithful” is an important tool to keep everyone in line. The message is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe or what you’ve done for the dictator in the past. The only thing that matters is what they feel like doing at that moment.
It’s no “accident” that Justice Alito cited an English judge who condemned women to death for witchcraft! It’s a signal to every guy who never learned how to partner or be successful in consensual relationships: “Hey! I’m going to help create a world in which you never have to ask for sex again! Women should be chattel. You’ll be happier that way. And so will they. And if they don’t do what you want, we’ll burn them at the stake. I’ll help you get revenge on all those women who turned you down! And once we begin to burn them at the stake for ‘witchcraft’ (another word for ‘disobedience’), you’ll be surprised how docile they become.”