Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Paying Homage to Power

It's always about power, isn't it?Power and the intrinsic value we place on it. We must retain some prehistoric strand of DNA that dictates our willingness to suspend judgment of those high above us in the pecking order, to willingly bow to their superiority in return for their protection. And, of course, since females and children are most often the weakest members in the human food chain, it is they who are most often offered up as sacrifices.

The word protector can have a multitude of connotations. In nature, it is elementary. The stallion is the literal protector of his band; the alpha wolf is the protector of his pack. In return for this protection, the stallion and the wolf demand, and receive, submission from their inferiors.

It appears people are not really very different. To us, protector can mean the protector of our souls, as in the case of a high religious figure - the protectors of our nation as in Kings and Queens - the economic protector of our family as in an abusive father or even the protector of an institution we hold in esteem that is near devout.

We know that too much power corrupts. The holders of the power come to believe they have a right to make immoral choices for what they convince themselves are moral ends.

And so, in a twisted perversion of the act of confession, a pontiff protects the Holy Church by giving up its most helpless members rather than rooting out the rot inside. And those who have invested their spiritual  faith in the man's infallibility refuse to condemn him , unable to bear the spiritual damage that undermining him and the church along with him, would cause them.

And a beloved coach, along with others, colludes to protect the Holy Football program (and by extension, the Holy University) by refusing to act in the face of a heinous crime against a child. The anal rape of a 10-year-old boy by a grown man, who, incidentally, also founded a program for disadvantaged youth in order to have easy access to his victims - all facts known by insiders. And yet, the majority of us reserve our protests for the firing of the coach! (In the ultimate irony, the man who failed to protect children is named Paterno and called, affectionately JoePa).

The various Royal families are not, so far as we know, engaged in such horrific behavior. The perversity lies more in the homage bestowed upon them as if they were inherently more worthy to be approached with bows and curtseys than their subjects. In the face of their own economic difficulties, their supporters willingly tithe to uphold the Holy Family and allow the royals to retain  their lavish, unearned lifestyles.

We cannot seem to get beyond our anachronistic legacy of siding with power. If you look at the judicial make up of counties, you will find that they all have one or more courts devoted to financial claims (because merchants, doctors, lawyers and landlords must have access to recompense, don't you know?) while many fewer of them have courts expressly designated for crimes against children. That's not to say there shouldn't be small claims courts, only that we place a heavier weight on one side of scale of justice based on the status of  those affected.

It has ever been so, this freely offered reverence to those on the pedestal above us, and it doesn't appear that it's going to change any time soon.