Equality is the foundation stone of compassion and intuition, while superiority appears to be the motivating force behind the colosseum of sport - a formal showground in which we can say ‘I beat you’. But conversely superiority in sport has formal rules that turn the arm wrestle of combat into an arena for developing virtues of equality:

 

‘To teach our youth about virtuous concepts such as humility, faith, hope, love, courage, discipline, leadership, work ethic, empathy, thankfulness, and more.’ 


 

In real war the spoils go to the victor and they get to write the story. This all or nothing approach seems to be the mentality behind 21st Century sporting success, with the entrepreneur selling his brand through a total focus on the winner and their supposed preference in sports equipment. In 2013 Tiger Woods got $78 million for playing golf, Roger Federer got $71 million for playing tennis and Michael Jordon got $80 million for playing nothing.

 

These amounts of money equate to a lot whole lot of golf clubs, tennis racquets and paraphernalia. If the taxes from sport incomes were directed to the grass root organisations that grew the sports then more people would be encouraged to play, watch and promote sport, while reaping the rewards of fitness and sportsmanship.


 

The facts of drug addiction point towards it being a human condition generated by loneliness and despair - more so than it being the result of the addictive elements in the drug. The economic machine thrives on the destabilisation of community supports that accompanies urban growth; but in the ‘big smoke’ sport has the value of being a place for civic communion, and as such is a vehicle for connection and mateship.

 

‘But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live, constantly directing our gaze toward the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.’

Sport energises the masses whether it’s the social focus of a country town or the bonding experience of a big city. When the yellow brick road of economic growth turns into a tattered track we may realise that local productions of sport and entertainment are just as enjoyable as the ‘block buster’ of professional excellence.  

 

Sport should be an important source of employment and the huge sums of spectator and merchandise money should be recycled amongst the players and their legions of committee members and organisers.

As with sport, entertainment income is top heavy. In 2013 actor, director, playwright, producer Tyler Perry got paid $130 million; Jerry Bruckheimer made $113 mill, Steven Spielberg $107 mill, Elton John $100 mill, Simon Cowell $90 mill, James Patterson $84 mill, Phil McGraw $80 mill, Leonardo DiCaprio $77 mill, and Howard Stern $76 mill. Meanwhile under the heading of musicians Madonna made $125 mill, Lady Gaga $80 mill, and Bon Jovi $79 mill.

 

I can remember a number of live concerts and great films that I’ve seen, but at the same time I can fondly remember pub bands, sidewalk entertainers and comedy nights; with the world of entertainment including much more in plays, ballet, opera, art, etcetera – all of which have the capacity to enrich society and make life more enjoyable.


 

Michael Jackson’s not with us anymore but in 2013 he earned $160 million last year, enough to provide 10,000 entertainers with the minimum wage.

 

In the days of hunter/gatherer a tribe that triumphed over the necessities of food, clothing and shelter spent the rest of the day in communal activities and the culture of the day. In our sophisticated modern era the striving seems never to end, while the glories of wealth and fame seem never to deliver the happiness of their media hype.

 

So why can’t we spread the wealth so that those starting out, or those wishing to perform locally, can make a living? Safety net wages are recycled and would enable artists to pursue their craft while entertaining the rest of us.


 

The Law
‘Knowledge is a deadly friend if no one sets the rules’

 

In a previous essay on ‘reality’ I concluded that every living organism has its own reality and hence the only imperative for reality was life itself; with right or wrong action being defined by the sum total of consequences upon other life forms. This view was originally championed by 18th Century British philosopher, social reformer and founder of ‘Utilitarianism’,  Jeremy Bentham, (a friend of David Ricardo) who wrote in his preface to ‘A Fragment on Government’:

 

 ‘... it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong...’

 

Bentham’s Utilitarianism was later refined by John Stuart Mill and is playfully explained in this three minute YouTube clip. Mill asserts that happiness is relative to a person’s experience and that a person cannot truly know what they have not experienced. In this sense inequality is more keenly felt by those with the greatest experience; and over time that experience adds up and is incorporated as wisdom.

 

Should a man guilty of stealing a loaf of bread be sent to jail when the means to feed his family has been taken away by downsizing for corporate profit; or should the court address the inequality that prefaced the crime? In the tribal communities of old, law was dispensed by ‘elders’ who had garnered the respect of their communities over a life time of experiences. In more recent times Nelson Mandela founded a group called The Elders based on the principle of acquired wisdom; its charter being to ‘work together for peace and human rights’.


 

Fortunately most developed countries provide ‘welfare safety nets’ along with minimum wages; although the promoters of inequality, like the ‘Americans for Prosperity’ party (AFP) believe safety nets encourage laziness. The AFP policy centrepiece is: Cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens...’

 

The AFP is run by Koch Industries who spent $400 million on the 2012 US election campaign and has set a goal of raising $889 million for the 2016 elections. Koch Industries are presently in the process of developing their own schools with their own slant on curriculum. Political commentator Thom Hartmann makes the observation:

 

‘And the oligarchs are plotting their final takeover by using their economic dominance to capture governmental power - specifically, the governmental power which sets the rules for the very marketplace that provides the oligarchs with such massive wealth. Once the American corporate barons own the institutions that are meant to regulate them, it’s game-over for both rational capitalism (including competition) and for democracy.’ 


 

 

To trace the origins of law we have to go back to the beginnings and assume a process of cause and effect - but no formal law. Homo sapiens appear around 200,000 years ago, started wearing clothes around 170,000 years ago, and by 100,000 years ago are displaying ‘modern behaviour’ - as evidenced by the archaeological ‘B’s - blades, beads, burials, bone tool-making, and beauty’. One would expect that along with these facets of ‘modern behaviour’ there were social rules centered on group needs.


 

The next big step in rule making would plausibly have come with sedentism which appears in the Levant at the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago. The first evidence of rules coming from the early Egyptian culture of the 4th millennium BC where legal codes were based on: 

 

‘...common-sense views of right and wrong that emphasized reaching agreements and resolving conflicts...’

 

In the 2nd millennium BC evidence of chiselled legal codes start to appear with the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1750 BC) being one of the first. It contained 282 laws, half of which dealt with matters of contract, a third with household and family matters, some to do with military service, and one requiring a judge be removed if he gets it wrong.


 

Around the middle of the 2nd millennium Moses was given the Ten Commandments and it’s fair to assume that the legal codes adopted by the cultures settled in the vicinity were based on these core elements of human decency: look after your parents, don’t kill anyone, don’t be unfaithful, don’t steal, don’t lie and don’t bear false witness (since ancient Hebrew law required two or three witnesses to establish a claim of wrong doing).


 

Most ancient systems of law were made by rulers for their subjects with the modern comprehensive ‘rule of law’ deriving (mainly) from the Magna Carta (1215) drawn up by feudal barons to curb King John’s power; and later becoming the forerunner of England’s constitutional law, a model for the United States Constitution and an influence throughout the colony’s of the British Empire.

 

The ‘rule of law’ places no one above the law and is therefore an essential underpinning to the framework of equality. When power, status and wealth are unequally distributed, a criminal system that dispenses law without addressing these underlying divisions has the effect of furthering inequality and rubber stamping hierarchy. In these situations ‘white collar’ crime gets lost in the complexity and detail relished by its well paid legal servants.


 

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The Virtues of Sport

Origins of Law
The Virtues of Sport
The Enrichment of Entertainment
The Law

The Enrichment of Entertainment

Origins of Law