"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" - Proverbs 27:17
If one were to make a story of humanity, one would imagine that the beginning is a good place to start. Unfortunately for all of us, an overwhelming amount of the story is lost to the sands of time. Fire, erosion, and the designs of proud men have destroyed what should have been left for us to ruminate over. It is hard to fathom the magnitude of what has been lost, because there are things we don't know that we don't know. A few events stand out - The burning of the Library of Alexandria, the repository for ancient knowledge of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Mongol sacking of Baghdad, when blood and ink made the Tigris and Euphrates swell with the indignity of lives long past. The Second World War, where the German government seized countless artifacts to further glorify their Thousand Year Reich, which were obliterated under the reticle of the Bomber Command.
Furthermore, the history that we do have is tainted by the personal loyalties, bigotries, and experiences of those who lived in an era where the idea of "truth" was even less certain than now. A lack of accumulated knowledge - the kind you would get in an ancient library, or nowadays, Google - made individuals only have memories as long as their lifetimes. This lead to the same errors that we see throughout history - the Chinese concept of the Mandate of Heaven is related to this. The cycle of dynastic rise, entrenchment, bloating, corruption and collapse happened so many times over China's long history that they made a spiritual concept out of it, and yet it kept happening. Why?
I believe it is because of syndicates.
Syndicates are an organization of individuals or groups that have a common interest. The Democratic Party is a syndicate. The Boy Scouts of America are a syndicate. A nurse's union is a syndicate. A fraternity is a syndicate. Syndicates all, they focus the will and ability of the collective to achieve a lofty goal. There is nothing inherently evil with syndicates - the first syndicate was the family. Syndicates are inherently based upon personal interaction, and humans as social creatures find them necessary. The problem that can arise with syndicates is that a syndicate can focus so much on its goal that it doesn't realize the world is falling apart around it. Examples can include -
- A syndicate that promotes an obsolete source of fuel that can displace hundreds of millions of people, making the Syrian refugee crisis look like a field trip
- A syndicate that lobbies to structure laws to put people in jail for needless reasons, at the expense of public funding for courts and the family structure
- A syndicate that has a vested interest in keeping people addicted to prescription drugs and uses every dollar they can to prevent an alternative
- A syndicate that de facto controls all political action in this country, keeping out adaptive solutions and suppressing calls for reform
The singular focus of a syndicate can entail desecrating the rights that Americans assume that they have in the interest of the syndicate. More pressing is that syndicates can cause irreparable damage to a government or society, leaving it open to invasion, subversion, or disintegration.
How do you fight against syndicates? By making one of your own. By having a clear, concise message that cuts to the heart of the opposition. By having transparency in place to leave as few dark corners to hide in as possible. And by having a coherent alternative to the status quo. Occupy Wall Street is probably the best example of how not to do this - what should have been a simple, clear message against the influence that money has in politics came to involve ending foreign wars, stopping police brutality and ending misogyny. This created enough noise for the media (totally independent and free of corruption) to paint the movement as directionless and hopeless. If one look at our current political situation, it can only be said that Occupy Wall Street was a resounding failure.
This is a daunting task, to be sure. It is difficult to confront the most powerful of syndicates, as they have politicized themselves and attacking one is attacking half the country. But if you look through time, you can see that syndicates like these have been defeated before. It is possible to make a better world.
Otherwise, how do you reconcile the life you live with the world you live in?