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Monday September 18th 2017Tim Candler9

 

      When Charlton Heston came down from his break on the mountain he had with him a few basic yet central notes on how his people might effectively organize themselves. Naturally, in a perfectly normal way the boys and girls were enjoying their freedom from servitude to the whips of Pharaoh, for whom they'd made vast quantities of bricks and were probably looking around for an easier and less arduous lifestyle. And some of them might even have been experimenting with new ways of doing things, might even have been thinking about the two day work week, instead of this 24/7 nonsense. Charlton Heston, for his part, had had a more interesting origin, by some extraordinary fluke he'd been raised in such a way that instead of learning how to make bricks he'd spent his young adulthood doing things like learning how to be a Prince and at the same time wondering about the extent to which he had a genetic claim to the title of Prince. Then when the waters parted and he found himself the leader of a rabble, it must have been stressful especially because he had no paramilitary police force. Fortunately the Sinai is a fairly barren and unpopulated part of the world and without some sort of cooperating set of principles even the most libertarian minded realize that survival is almost impossible, and this particularly so for a people who where accustomed to the conveniences and dubious benefits of regular work that required them to not think too hard, or concern themselves with whether the work they were doing made any sense.

 

Past

     One of the things on Charlton Heston's list was the idea that stability did depend upon not coveting your neighbors stuff, whether it be his Ox, his bank account, his manservant or his fashionable tennis shoes. And amongst the other probably less important Shalt Not's there was an injunction against stealing, manna was fair game I guess, killing each other was quite wrong and so on. The point about coveting was that it meant, according to Charlton Heston, the emotions of envy were an error, they had nothing to do with ensuring harmony, they were divisive and not conducive to progress in the search for a Promised Land. It was a transformational moment in social organization, a group was directed to set aside a passion innate in our species, the punishment for which was eternal damnation, much worse than Latin Detention, and they were directed to praise, even worship, rather than denigrate the successful hunter. Jealousy was not only self-destructive it was socially destructive, it was a waste of energy, it served no purpose, and the One God heartily disapproved of it, so none of this worshipping Golden Calves. By the time Thomas Aquinas put his mind to envy, he was thinking in terms of it as destructive to hierarchies, to the division of labor, to the order of things, and he went so far as to claim that even the Angels who had want of nothing took great delight in their own perfect and shinning hierarchies. In Dante's time the emotion of envy was defined as hoping something horrible would happen to anyone who owned a better tunic than his. These days we have the Billionaires of Silicon Valley and the avarice of Corporations plotting our future experiences of servitude. So if ever it comes time to again seek out The Promised Land, part the waters, it might make sense to have another look at the "sin" of envy. Treat it with a little more respect, give it a more useful definition within the tapestry of our emotions. Do to it, what we did to the "sin" of Greed.

 

 

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