Getting Past Covid-19
Looking back over the decades as I approach my 78th birthday, I marvel at the recurring and evolving attempts to address the issues that affect us all. It’s the pace of change that’s unclear. Given the surprising sense of community actions in the face of the global pandemic, it’s still a puzzle why the world has taken so long to unite against a brand-new viral killer.
Eventually it will resolve. Eventually there will be an effective vaccine. Eventually national policy makers will re-learn the concept of community without denigrating it as something to be feared. The effects may linger for years, even decades. Some will mutate into draconian central control; others may cause a re-evaluation of the essence of humanity.
Leadership itself is called into question, as is the quintessential measure of what government implies for those given so little choice about policy. Today’s rant focusses on the exercise of power, and its assistant, choice, especially as a justification of action which affects others’ intentional or not.
The Shape of Power
Such complexity. I have no answers. But there’s not been a better time to ask some bigger picture questions about what it means to be us. I realise that homosexual relations offer their own dynamics, but I’m too ignorant to ask intelligent questions of them, so forgive me if this article concentrates of the heterosexuals.
Recent struggles for identity now involve the legal profession, entertainment and celebrity, social media, and a spate of public confessionals that rival the Catholic Church or a session on Doctor Freud’s couch. Ouch!
The kinds of power that capture our attention today are dressed in sexual robes. But they’re really not about sex at all. I start from a genuine sympathy for the male of the species. For centuries it’s been such a time of confusion, trying to apply cultural messages passed down from generation to generation.
The historical record, confusing as it may be, is even more so from the archeological evidence of gender identity. It’s tempting, but totally misleading, to rely on anecdotal tales of the kind of sexual dynamic that we experience ourselves and observe in others. The conclusion usually appears to be that whatever is now, has always been. Which it hasn’t.
We don’t have to look back more than two or three generations in our own to society to understand the folly of such analysis. It’s even more absurd when we look further afield on other continents. But the real anomalies are most stark when we search for consistency in behaviour that pre-dates any written record.
Over millennia, some societies developed pretty equal gender roles, others became more patriarchal, and some allowed women to take the lead. When our ancestors could roam freely over territories claimed by virtue of habitual visits, the group – usually no more than about sixty or so – could easily maintain its integrity in terms of structure.
But as the centuries introduced different social models which began to compete in all aspects of solving life’s challenges, both men and women were forced to question why they behaved in different ways. And since these changes pre-dated language, it was impossible to share the nuances of ideas. We can only guess at the means used by these societies to define what was becoming acceptable.
What a mÃ©lange! Into the pot go the geographical consequences of dwindling territory – perhaps as the result of a mini-ice age, or a decade of volcanic ash cloud. That’s followed by group treks over hundreds of miles or brave sea voyages, all to discover new lands to settle. But what’s this? Another band of desperate settlers. Only one thing for it – join forces or duke it out to claim victory.
But it’s not finished yet, not by a long chalk. Settlement itself throws up danger around every corner, primarily from ignorance of the wild larder. These berries look tasty. Oh, no! all the berry munchers are dead! There must be a way of picking the good leaves and roots from those which brought the baby out in a rash. Or a way of grabbing the sweet honey without everyone’s eyes blooming into blisters. Fish bones catch in your throat, who knew?! And gosh, those wart hog tusks are sharper than they look!
At some point, in those tribes mostly reliant on men, a social assumption arose of their invincibility. Imagine the disappointment of the women when, despite all their courage, the men failed to defeat and tame nature’s challenges. Imagine the deflation of the men’s sense of self-worth. Ironically, the same dynamic resulted within those societies led by women. No one comes out of failure with a gold star.
On the evolutionary journey, the path from empathy to blame doesn’t take long. Even though the evidence is all around of the equality of heterosexual gender prowess, the threat to the collective ego in this pre-Freudian era, is so strong it invades the very act of sexual intercourse. The polarity between ego and id.
Here Come The Tigers
Time for a tiger tale, even a tiger tail. Look away now if you can’t bear the truth of trade. Former Royal Marines Commando Aldo Kane, in a concerted effort of courage and dedication recently, fronted a programme broadcast on BBC2, exposing the covert and shocking trade in tigers, dead and alive.
The details are necessarily uncompromising, but it’s important to understand why such devastation to one of the most iconic big cat species has been thriving. Throughout South East Asia and in many regions of China and Mongolia, tiger parts are consumed in various forms as a guarantee of male potency.
The justification appears to be linked, not with the pleasure of sexual intercourse, but rather as a means of control by men over women. Testimony by females confirms the longer an erection lasts is not an indication of their sexual satisfaction, but rather a demonstration of their subordination.
Kane’s own pursuit of tiger traders began in the military when he got involved in several anti-poaching units. As he explains, “I have spent years in the fight against wildlife poachers and this has given me an unique insight into a criminal underworld, where wild animals are worth more dead than alive. Nothing could have prepared me for what I uncovered about the illegal tiger trade in South East Asia. Here tiger trafficking is big business, often controlled by organised crime units, and yields huge profits.”
The trade can only thrive with the complicity of governments, border officials, and exporters, including people based in the UK. When Kane cites ‘profits,’ he means billions of dollars. Keen to help him raise awareness, programme producers Grain Media estimate there are fewer than 4000 tigers left in the wild, whereas some 8,000 tigers are currently held in captive facilities across China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Graphic, undeniable evidence includes footage of frozen tiger cubs in freezers at a breeding facility in Laos; tigers held in high security holding pens in Thai zoos; a trader openly selling tiger products in Laos with a street value higher than cocaine; and caged tigers fattened in a dark basement in Vietnam to be killed and cooked to order. Cooking flays the flesh, so that tiger bones can be used for glue.
But even when Kane and his colleagues obtain promises from CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in Geneva to legislate to stop it, this brutal trade continues.
Apart from Kane and his brave colleagues, no one seems to be asking why men feel so powerless they must pursue the decimation of such a beautiful species, all to debase and humiliate their women.
My biggest questions all come back to the irrationality of the capitalist systems, dominant for so many centuries, which have deprived both genders of their usefulness. Their choices have been reduced to the economic niches most helpful to the ruling elite. Both genders, but most especially men, are less and less likely to find fulfilment in their family life and their occupations.
I have little statistical data to back up my theories of social cohesion, but creative artists who usually work alone, painters, writers, composers, et al, probably have a greater sense of worth and are unlikely to need to wield sexual power over others.
But these days so many revelations connected with the MeToo movement confuse me more than ever. I admire Aldo Kane in his mission, but I’m forced to conclude that our wonderful wild tigers are probably doomed.
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This post was written by outRageous!