“They Have No Shame”

“They Have No Shame”

They have no shame, no tracks are hidden
The reds, the blues, the right and left;
The balances of power, laws bereft
Of common sense are disobeyed
before they’re written.
It is as if the litany of litanies of the whole
Demands intimidation of the sum,
not so much in matter–
Brains and beard, heel on up the ladder
Through the aurora to the poles, glacial melting for show
And tell; plumbing in seas with no drain, drilling stalled
But not for long– equities defined as winners in the chat box, scattered,
Anointed virtues virtual with no defense as charity declines
and as our beloved Scrooge resigns,
His slogans braying: “Are there no border guards, is there no bottom line;
In the event of volcanic ash and oil spills, the market’s doomed to fall?”
Ignorance is bliss as blogs and blarney multiply;
the tallies shake and confidence is shattered.

“We are encouraged to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that don’t last, on people we don’t care about.”

Professor Jackson, a member of the Sustainable Development Commission of the United Kingdom, made his comments at a panel discussion held this week in conjunction with the current session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

The Baha’i International Community cosponsored the discussion, titled “Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism.”

Countries are being driven further into debt–not to mention potential environmental catastrophe–by levels of consumerism that do not contribute to sustainability, Professor Jackson said.

10 responses to ““They Have No Shame”

  1. Fav line: “laws bereft
    Of common sense are disobeyed
    before they’re written.”

    That second image is awesome!!!

  2. Odd, but that line concerning that line concerning “common sense” stems in part due to where I have been living for the last forty-some years. I happen to live in Montréal, the second greatest French-speaking city in the world by population after Paris and in the province of Québec whose official language and laws are French and Napoléonic. To make a very long and would be interesting story short, there were many adjustments when I came to this part of the world, not the least of which was attitudes concerning the law and obedience and/or disobedience of the law.

    The other Canadian provinces use the British system of law while here in Québec, the Napoléonic Code is used. One of the differences between the two or even between the Napoléonic Code and what dominates American jurisprudence is both the method of arriving at a law and, equally, the method of enforcing whatever laws are passed. The British system of precedence as it pertains to the law admits to years of debate possibly ad nauseum or, whatever the subject matter, beating it to death in endless contention in the press and finally in Parliament. Once, however, a law is passed, it tends to come down hard on offenders and, generally speaking, once a law is passed, it isn’t revisited unless something of the magnitude of an earthquake hits this country; the reason for this [again in general] is that when precedence is so assiduously applied, one thinks twice about upsetting that precedence and starting the processes of debate and contention all over again.

    The French Napoléonic Code, however, takes almost the inverse in practice. Laws seem to pop up out of nowhere and then the fireworks begin so that while the law is passed, breaking that law appears to be a legitimate pastime and if in time it appears that no one is obeying this or that law, the law is struck down and removed by the government almost as suddenly as it was passed in the first place after having been violated for what amounts to years on end.

    In America, one takes for granted that a man is innocent until proven guilty and it is the government’s burden to prove the guilt; in French law, a man accused is guilty until proven innocent and it is up to the accused to prove he didn’t break the law.

    Another bizarre aspect of all this hit home when I missed a question on a test while applying for a driver’s license here. The question asked, “If the speed limit is 60 miles an hour and you are driving at that speed on the highway and notice that everyone else is speeding at 80 miles per hour, should you speed up to 80 miles per hour or continue on at the “legal” limit?” I thought, naturally, that it would be absurd to break a law simply because everyone else is breaking that law, but I found out that in this province it is actually obstructing traffic not to speed up and one can be fined for doing so. I haven’t driven for years, but even now, after all this time, it seems to me that there is a mentality here that furthers the idea that laws are there to be broken, and at least in this province, breaking laws right and left, or at least at every available opportunity could be called a major sport. Not all that wiggles is jello, granted, but then it seems to me that this saying in this province could be altered to read, “Nothing that wiggles is jello!” In the world at large, as it appears to me, the greater majority would subscribe to the French rather than the English view of law and its needs, and there’s the rub! Nothing, not even the law seems to be all that grave a matter. Here in Québec, the phrase or motto on the license plates is: “Je me souviens” or “I Remember”; it has always seemed to me since arriving here that what it should read is: “C’est pas grave!” or “It’s no big deal!”

  3. Fascinating…

    Even with the very basic difference between American and Napoléonic law, I still could apply, “laws bereft
    Of common sense are disobeyed
    before they’re written.”, to my experience of America…

    Must go ponder……………………………

  4. ……………..…yes, as do I continue to ponder. In the whole of the four decades of having been exposed to what appears to be the “difference” in approaches, the fine points or edges of either direction have been blurred to the point that it seems to me that what differences remain are merely academic or possibly food for fools to debate. At the present moment, I do not see an appreciable difference between the majority of people of faith and those without insofar as neither can be truly tested so long as the definition of “success” and accomplishment, engagement and interaction is defined not at all by one’s character, nor the colour of one’s skin [ as Dr. King would have hoped! ] nor any other factor aside from the means and freedom from responsibility represented by the possession of a piece of plastic in one’s wallet, if an individual, and if a people, the facility with which to merely print currency without so much as a “Bye your leave!” when it comes to backing that same currency. In such an atmosphere and within such societies, many are called, but few are chosen, and if they are chosen, they don’t last long.

    As it is, the entire world with its magnified focus on the sovereignty of the individual and/or one’s particular nation or religion, tribe or family, corporate entity or regional shtick, has effectively removed whatever the benefits were erstwhile the result of the formal “love” or “unity” or conventions of no matter what the stripe through the effects of excess and total disregard for moderation until at present, even the best recipe is rendered moot when it comes to lasting results by the effects of fanaticism and/or lack of balance:

    In all matters moderation is desirable. If a thing is carried to excess, it will prove a source of evil. Consider the civilization of the West, how it hath agitated and alarmed the peoples of the world. An infernal engine hath been devised, and hath proved so cruel a weapon of destruction that its like none hath ever witnessed or heard. The purging of such deeply-rooted and overwhelming corruptions cannot be effected unless the peoples of the world unite in pursuit of one common aim and embrace one universal faith. Incline your ears unto the Call of this Wronged One and adhere firmly to the Lesser Peace.

    Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal. Great God! We have observed an amazing thing. Lightning or a force similar to it is controlled by an operator and moveth at his command. Immeasurably exalted is the Lord of Power Who hath laid bare that which He purposed through the potency of His weighty and invincible command.

    O people of Bahá! Each one of the ordinances We have revealed is a mighty stronghold for the preservation of the world of being. Verily, this Wronged One desireth naught but your security and elevation.

    ―Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 68

  5. I’m feeling quite “lost” today……………………………………………….

  6. Alexander: Alláh-u-Abhá!
    That last message you sent might well have been sent from me to you this evening. I seem to be in the grips whatever it takes to cope with so great a loss of hearing. With my eyes being what they are and now with so much of my hearing gone at least temporarily, I feel just a slight feeling of claustrophobia as if I were somehow buried alive. I do, indeed, feel a little lost myself. With the news being so immediately bleak with the addition of Syria and to some extent Saudi Arabia to the parade of social unrest and possible revolution, on the one hand, and aside from the unfathomable shock and destruction from the earthquakes in Japan on a daily basis and of course the tsunami, and, added to this the daily leaning toward a nuclear disaster in that country, I feel somewhat hemmed in by the weight of it all, and certainly at a loss, even if my own losses are an illusion and the world’s losses are the result of delusion.

    I have prayed for you, Alexander, and for myself almost in the same breath and will continue to do so….for the moment, it suffices my heart that I know He will never abandon either of us no matter what the neighbours say….

  7. “…no matter what the neighbors say…”

    Whoot 🙂

    Made my day!!!

  8. …this last message from you made mine! The weight of the oppression of this world at times is so great that it is altogether too easy to feel completely overwhelmed by it and possibly more than merely alone. I have the feeling that it comes with the territory. At this stage of the world’s evolution, the critical mass of souls who turn their mirrors upward seems at times to be almost nil. I often I stand on my balcony looking south over the St. Lawrence River in the direction of the States and wonder if at that particular moment there is anyone else out there wondering if he’s the only one left alive. It is perhaps an illusion, but then, these days, perhaps it’s not. Being alive is one thing; remaining that way for twenty-four hours a day without distraction is quite another. Your last message had an uplifting effect on me, and I thank you for replying in that way, and, never mind the neighbours…

  9. Is it possible, because we both live in “developed” countries that we’re overlooking the possibly “vast” numbers of souls’ mirrors upturned in “undeveloped” countries, where religion has traditionally been more respected???

    • I have no doubt of this. Of course my knowledge of the situation outside our own sphere is existence here in North America is purely vicarious, but it stands to reason that for souls who are in poverty and face what any of us would call compltely untenable, logically have a greater sustained effort to rely upon God and turn their eyes upward to catch the accents of the Sun of Reality because for them, it is a major factor in coping with this world.

      What could be better before God than thinking of the poor? For the poor are beloved by our heavenly Father. When His Holiness Christ came upon the earth those who believed in him and followed him were the poor and lowly, showing the poor were near to God. When a rich man believes and follows the Manifestation of God it is a proof that his wealth is not an obstacle and does not prevent him from attaining the pathway of salvation. After he has been tested and tried it will be seen whether his possessions are a hindrance in his religious life. But the poor are especially beloved of God. Their lives are full of difficulties, their trials continual, their hopes are in God alone. Therefore you must assist the poor as much as possible, even by sacrifice of yourself. No deed of man is greater before God than helping the poor. Spiritual conditions are not dependent upon the possession of worldly treasures or the absence of them. When physically destitute, spiritual thoughts are more likely. Poverty is stimulus toward God. Each one of you must have great consideration for the poor and render them assistance. Organize in an effort to help them and prevent increase of poverty. The greatest means for prevention is that whereby the laws of the community will be so framed and enacted that it will not be possible for a few to be millionaires and many destitute. One of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings is the adjustment of means of livelihood in human society. Under this adjustment there can be no extremes in human conditions as regards wealth and sustenance. For the community needs financier, farmer merchant and laborer just as an army must be composed of commander, officers and privates. All cannot be commanders; all cannot be officers or privates. Each in his station in the social fabric must be competent; each in his function according to ability; but justness of opportunity for all.

      –Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 35

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