There are few things more threatening to wealth, and civilization itself, than mandatory ritual mourning.
On 19 April 1995 I was standing near a large plate glass window on the second floor of a college classroom building, high atop a hill in Edmond, Oklahoma. In a few minutes class would begin and I was just finishing a conversation with a friend. It was around 9AM. The glass in front of me rattled, the floor jolted and there was a loud, sharp thump which sounded to my military-trained ears as a large mortar impact — CRUMP! (Homemade explosives simply cannot do that.)
After all the hideous lies from the federal government over what that was all about, there was an even bigger threat to those of us who live in Central Oklahoma: Mandatory sorrow over the loss of life. That is, the sudden imposition of political power into the hands of widows, widowers and other grieving relatives was a far more dangerous weapon than the bombs which brought down the building on those inside. To this day we are all made to feel false guilt into eternity if we don’t pickle ourselves in the unforgiving sorrow of the Victims. I don’t complain so much about the memorial, a hideous and utterly artless boondoggle, because that’s what most monuments are like. It’s the eternal imposition of very real limitations of everyday life which will make everything downtown more expensive than it has to be.
I’ve lost relatives to hideous injustice, too. We didn’t see the need of imposing our loss on the whole world. Rather, we honor them by avoiding just that very thing. If we do not live to make things better, our deaths are merely a relief.
How many mourned the loss of military life yesterday? How many mourned the walking wounded still among us? Instead, we simply allow banks to confiscate their homes while they recover what little is left of their flesh in the hospital. Sure, it’s technically illegal, but we are too busy with other things to raise much hue and cry. How about a little justice while they live, so we don’t have so much sorrow when they die?
People do awful things because humanity is broken. There will always be the imbalance of power handed to predators who don’t play by the rules. All that does is prove the rules were a pretty good idea, if only poorly implemented. But we don’t honor that notion very well. It’s rather like that perverse romantic silliness sweeping places like Vietnam, where having a broken heart over lost love is far more important than being in love.
It’s also the primary reason for initiation rituals, and why they tend to get worse with each passing generation of initiates. Everyone has to add to the mandatory suffering of others until people start dying. What began as legitimate training becomes hateful hazing, a bizarre ritual of having to lick the feet of Satan for the privilege of burning in Hell.
So here we go again. Joe Paterno did what the law requires. He went to the police. What everyone wants to ignore is the crime was under the jurisdiction of the Campus Police at Penn State. Telling the administration is telling the police. It was the entire upper staff which committed the crime of coverup. It was no longer on his shoulders, but theirs. Call it “Pedo State” and close the stinking school, but firing Paterno is nothing more than pickling the world in the personal sorrow of a few victims. I’m not even sure it’s what they wanted, but it’s done in their names, and whatever protest they might have about the outcome is missing.
We have come to the place when the greater injustices in our world will be committed by the victims who can’t stand the idea other folks aren’t hurt. A few men have raw and painful memories that will trouble them for life. I have enough of my own, thank you. Today’s political Victim Class project their sorrow on the rest of the world and demand, demand, demand, without end.