Kings and villagers
02 February, 2012
Kings and villagers

Excerpt from E.A. Robinson’ s ‘Miniver Cheevy’:
'...Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.


Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the medieval grace
Of iron clothing.
Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it...'
I am glad I live in this day and age. Miniver

Chevy I am not, for I do not wilt away dreaming of being born in another century. For one, I appreciate the indoor plumbing.  For another, I enjoy my middle class status, such as it is, for not too long ago, a few centuries back, there were only two positions a person would find himself in. Either he was King, or he wasn’t. Either way, the King and not the King had the same problems- both had to fight off the vultures. The King had to constantly watch his back for fear of mutiny or worse, familial betrayal. Little known fact, but Cleopatra VII who was originally from Greece, had a family history of murdering siblings for the throne. Caesar, yet another tragic powerful figure met with a gruesome death at the hand of his supposed supporters. “Et tu Brutus?” If there were kings or Queens who were able to rule without getting stabbed or beheaded by their closest allies or relatives such as Queen Tamar, they died of disease. Today most diseases are not as deadly as they used to be, the Black Plague does not haunt us, and most diseases are if not curable, at least manageable. Back then most rulers did not die of disease, as they simply did not live long enough to acquire one. But for all that pity that monarchs could ascribe to their demanding lives, it was still better to be one of them, then not. Those people who were not at the top of the human pyramid, were the farmers and villagers who were trying to live normal peaceful lives while being taxed to death by their Kings and Queens. Not only were they thought of as insignificant, they had absolutely no power to stop an invading army, their choices were to stay an fight and be killed, or pick up and run somewhere else. They had no choice in saying which war they wanted to be involved in, they had no power to let the King know, they did not agree with him. Their own King could ransack their villages and they couldn’t do anything about it. But things have changed somewhat. True, we still get caught up in wars we didn’t ask for, but now we wage them on other people’s land and for a short while we are under an illusion that our voices mattered. We still have to go along with what our government does, no matter how low, but now we can sit in protest and not get our heads chopped off for insubordination. Andrew Adler, the publisher of Atlanta Jewish Times, can suggest that Israeli agents “give the go-ahead for U.S. based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.” Mr. Adler since then as taken to apologizing profusely for what he has written, but the words are already out there. A suggestion to assassinate one of the most powerful men in the world, and the party suggesting this in broad daylight, doesn’t get arrested for treason. These are strange times we are living in. Still, I wonder, in this day and age of Secret Service and government paid computer hackers, is it better to be King open to attack on every level, or is it better to be a villager, someone who can stay as far away from the world of action as possible? Who’s to say? But let us not kid ourselves, either way we are in for one hell of a fight.

 

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