The following is a pure opinion piece.
You have been warned.
Yesterday was the last day for complaints.
Of all things that our Founders have given us, the greatest of their gifts is a recognition of the place of mankind in the order of things. In the Declaration of Independence the basis for the reasoning is given the terms 'self-evident' because they are, upon any spare moment of reflection, just that. A self-evident truth is one that is available to anyone who is dealing with a full mental deck, and even many of those who don't have that can recognize the very most basic of all self-evident truths. This truth is available no matter what your belief status is in regards to religion and requires only that you have some humility in its recognition. That state of having a lack of such humility is a derangement and hubris as it is very simple to recognize.
What is this truth?
We live in a natural world.
The howls of protest begin, no doubt, with the protestations of what mankind does with nature, how we pollute, destroy and all sorts of other bad things. Yet the bulk of mass of life on this planet is not human life, nor even insect life, but bacterial life. Earth is a planet of, by and for bacteria. If any life form rules this planet it is bacterial life, and they don't give a good hot damn about you. Consider that there are but a few thousand, at best and I know it is a much, much, much smaller number, of bacteria species that can infest your human body. You actually require a large number of them to get things done inside your body and most of them are benign to you. A good fraction of your biomass as an individual is bacterial in nature. Thusly you are part and parcel of the natural world, you are part of nature, suffused with nature and must abide by the activity of nature and how nature runs everything.
If you are a believer of some sort, and I don't care which religion, then nature is recognized as the process that runs everything on a daily basis. It is the mechanism for higher powers to not have to be involved in everything, all the time, everywhere and gets to run on its own. If that higher power does, indeed, spend equal time about each sparrow that falls from the sky, then it most assuredly will also do so with each and every single bacteria as they are the bulk of what makes things run. You do, indeed, get equal time in this view of things. Recognize that the Planck second or two you get is about all that can be afforded to you and that the entire amount of bacteria in you will get more consideration than you as it lives and dies at a far faster rate than you do. And there are 10^42, that is a 1 with 42 zeros after it, Planck seconds in every single second we experience. Because of the mass of life on this world and, assuredly, elsewhere in this universe, any being giving you more than a couple of those is spending way too much time on you and not on taking care of business. Thus nature and the laws of nature are set in place so that any higher power can spend some time doing more important things.
If you don't believe in the great power mover of deific process and take just the more prosaic view that we are, indeed, creatures of nature, then the self-evident is true, also: we don't matter all that much in the process. Even better is that by stepping outside, taking up a couple of tablespoons of dirt and getting all the bacteria in that amount will yield more diversity of bacterial organisms than are housed within you, and possibly come up with one or two 'undiscovered' ones that you can then name. The scary part isn't that you can do that. The scary part is that this can be done by every single human on this planet, name billions of new species of bacteria and we would not even have begun to scratch the diversity of bacterial life on this planet. They outnumber us in mass, diversity, and habitat with bacteria being found in places that we cannot live in: hot springs, oil wells, and all the way out to motes of dust at the edge of our atmosphere. The single, inescapable conclusion is self-evident that we aren't all that powerful compared to bacteria.
Both of these general paths lead to one conclusion and it is exactly the same no matter which general way you go: the unimportance of man, no matter what 'plan' it is we are supposed to be on, is self-evident and we must gain humility in order to survive as when we lack same and attempt to command the world around us we will find it unresponsive to our desires. Even worse is that like all good laws, the Laws of Nature are applied equally in all circumstances. Even if you are a believer and the deific can intercede, those intercessions have been more in the 'hey, wise up!' category than the grand gestures that every civilization can feel business. Even after such intercessions then nature takes over to run things, so no matter how great and grand the gesture, nature takes care of the daily business. If you aren't dealing with nature, you aren't dealing with the actual, physical reality around you.
Believe me, we have quite a few of those running around the planet, those folks elevating man all out of proportion to our actual position in things. Millions of them.
I abbreviate the entire prior coding of the Laws of Nature as they are properly stated as: The Laws of Nature and Nature's God. I will leave the arguing about the nature of Nature's God, or lack of same, to others better suited to think such deep thoughts and not look both ways before crossing the street. No matter the origin of all this stuff, he said waving his hands around generally in the direction of the natural universe which is everywhere around him and within him, I , as an individual, have to deal with the self-evident fact it is here and can impact me. Forget this 'I think, therefore, I am' business... I got a lot of other problems beyond that to deal with, like the state of my sinuses waking up in the morning. That is my part of dealing with bacterial world and it begins each and every time I get up and it takes up some of my non-thinking moments if I'm not damned careful about it. You, too, probably have similar things going on with you as, unfortunately, bacteria do get to vote. They set the agenda. You must deal with that so as to carve out a niche so that you can actually do other things than deal with, or die from, bacteria.
How do I know that mankind will not destroy nature via nuclear war/pollution/'global warming'/politically backed slogan of the day? My sinuses make it abundantly and perfectly clear to me that we do not rule this place. But if I can keep my mucus clear, then I'm doing a good job dealing with the bacteria.
The bacteria can do this wonderful stuff to us because the Laws of Nature are impartial in their application. We cannot repeal them nor require that the circumference and radius of a circle be moderated by a number that is exactly 3. Thus we must take the Laws of Nature which is all of physics, astrophysics, chemistry, biology and then the fall-out sciences dealing with relativity, quantum mechanics, universal structure, biochemistry, differential survival, and geology as they are. We still have a lot to figure out and unlike one or two or more famous scientists, I don't see an end to what we can find out any time soon. Folks back in the 19th century thought they did and in a decade got disabused of that quaint, Marxist, notion. I'm pretty sure that on the Natural side we've overlooked something and much of what we consider 'great ideas' will demonstrate themselves to be transitional in nature. That is the nature of inquiry in the natural sciences which deal with the Laws of Nature as they manifest themselves. And so far we haven't found one, single, instantiated exception to those laws dealing with us as individuals, a species, a planet, a solar system or a galaxy. Thus we can bask in the radiance of equality under the law, and deal with all the bacteria that have the same equality under the law as we have. They get the great and good benefit of numbers. I'm stuck with the minor things we can do to help me get a say in the issue, but I do not doubt, for one second, that my say is in any way absolute against such numbers.
Neither is yours.
You either come to terms with this conception, or you find yourself in a padded room at some point in your life. Or get elected to some high political office, which seems to be the other repository for this way of non-thinking.
Thus the first part of dealing with the Laws of Nature and the fact that we are creatures of Nature and that we are neither the rulers nor controllers of this planet is: Humility.
If you aren't humble in the minor and quite frivolous aspect mankind plays in the Natural Universe then you get the bifurcated path of padded cell or politician ahead of you. Of the two I hold those in padded cells in higher regard as they are having to deal with their skewed outlooks, not subject others to them.
But that is just me, feel free to ignore me, but do realize the bacteria cannot and generally will not ignore you. That latter is important.
A point on viruses: they are not living things, but hijackers of bacteria. They are very particular and nearly every single bacteria has a virus that utilizes it for reproduction. Viruses of a very specialized sort can also invade your cells. To such viruses you are a specialized colony of bacteria, not a human being. That is how your cells function, how they live and die, and viruses get specialized to specialized bacteria and environments. Thusly our bodies are specialized bacteria colonies that have their own environments to which viruses can adapt to or otherwise become amenable to finding. After bacteria, I would guess that the next largest chunk of semi-living matter that can impact life on this planet is viruses. You are outnumbered. Deal with it. It isn't changing any time soon.
Lets step up from this most humiliating of venues, shall we? That is to say it is a venue that induces humility, and if you are humiliated by it then you are, actually, dealing with it properly. You are learning your place in the Natural world and it isn't a pretty place.
I'm going to skip over all the other fun stuff like fungi, colonies of single organisms like coral reefs and algal mats, and get into the multi-cellular and differentiated cell world. At all other levels we are outnumbered by their masses on this planet and their diversity, and you have some large amount of fungus living on you and inside of you, so don't get cocky. They get a say in things, too. I'm going to skip over the rulers of the multi-cellular world, which are plants. Sucks but we are outnumbered there, too. In the actual self-motile multi-cellular agenda things like jellyfish get a say, but insects and their crustacean cousins outnumber us by billions and billions... Carl Saganesque amounts... to one, against. We can chop down forests, yes. We do not rule the plant world. Everything we make can be broken down by plants, if they had time to get to it which they do. We will never win the war against dandelions. And trees rip up sidewalks and roads at a phenomenal rate, given that they don't move around much. You can miss the forest, once its gone, but the trees stand ready to reinvent a new one if you let them get away with it. Old parts of the Amazon rainforest clear-cut for farming and cattle work in the 1950's to 1970's, that then lost its topsoil is now being re-covered, that is actually covered over again, by tropical rain forest after we have left it for barren land. Nature is on the move and the Laws of Nature trump our laws at every turn.
That is a bitter pill for many to swallow who think that mere man created laws can impose our will on Nature. Knowing that this is otherwise removes the solidity of our works and requires us to address what Nature does to our works. This is the concept we call: maintenance. We've been ignoring a lot of that for decades, and we shall pay for it.
Stepping past all of that to get to us (you, me, mankind in general), requires that we acknowledge that the things we get from Nature are bound upon us from Nature and that Nature imbues all things with such gifts as are bestowed upon us as being within Nature. The equality of availability is absolute as all things within Nature are ruled by Natural Law. The foundation of all our conceptions of everything we can do rests upon this self-evident truth: we are creatures of Nature.
Every creature of Nature has the exact, same set of Laws upon them. Within Nature those Laws are absolute and give all things within Nature the power to act in accordance with Natural Law. That power to act we call Liberty and the ability to exercise that Liberty manifests itself in Rights. We cannot create one, single Liberty or Right that is not already within us as individual creatures of Nature. We can, however, discover that we have such Liberty and Rights, which is one of the few things we have that most of the rest of Nature's creatures do not have. They can, and do, exercise such Liberty and their Rights to use them, but that is not the same thing as self-recognizing that one has them. Thus every bacteria has the exact, same, set of Liberties and Rights that I have. It can't utilize more than a few of them and can't truly be said to be cognizant of them as a matter of course. The concept is, however, humbling and fraught with humiliation. That nice lady Grace helps me out so that I can remember to recognize that these are self-evident Liberties and Rights and that I have the ability to plan so as to use them. Bacteria aren't so hot at that.
Notice where 'collective rights' come in?
That is correct: they don't.
They do not exist.
Let us take that most primal of all Rights, the one that manifests it so we refer to Nature as being 'in red of tooth and claw', and that is the Liberty of Warfare. If you are on the Left you try to espouse this as a 'collective right' that it does not exist outside of the State or Nation. Yet it is part of nature and we are imbued with it, thusly it cannot come from the State or Nation. Further, any attempt to posit the thesis that the State or Nation is the sole arbiter of force is refusing to recognize the Law of Nature and that we are creatures of the Natural world in which we are the arbiters of force. Now, to backtrack, we can examine the Law of Nature in regards to the Rights and Liberty of War.
War is a multi-part Liberty in that it has negative and positive aspects. Thus there are Negative Liberties of War and Positive Liberties of War. These Liberties are generally differentiated between that of Offensive War, that is externally directed war against others, and Defensive War, that is war in one's own defense. The Negative Liberty of War is harmful to others and harmful when inflicted upon us. The Positive Liberty of War is protective in nature and extent and gives the subsequent Right and Liberty of counter-attack so as to enjoin those intent on doing harm to oneself and dissuade them that this is a good idea in any way, shape or form. From that the Negative Liberty of War can be characterized as the Thrust, the Positive Liberty of War is the Parry which carries with it the absolute Right of the Ripost. In modern terminology this is the Offensive, the Blocking or Blunting, and the Counter-Attack or Counter-Offensive.
War, as an activity, is 'scale-free' in its dimensions for Liberties and Rights. That is to say it is the exact, same set of Liberties and Rights at all scales from the individual to the cosmic and it scales freely without adjustment.
The Laws of War are a fallout not of the Positive and Negative Liberties and Rights of War, however. The source of the Laws of War are not from War, at all, and are only a synthetic part of warfare added in on top of our supreme Liberty and Rights of War that we have as individuals. The exercise of War by larger groups, at all scales, is moderated by the affinity of those groups to recognize the Primary bond between individuals which we characterize as: marriage.
Marriage is the joining of two lives to sustain life and create an environment in which we moderate our Natural Rights and Liberties so as to bring forth and nurture young, and to provide safe haven for others that we know and abide by our rules within our marriage. The Law of Nations is built not at the highest level of interaction, but at the lowest level and this is, also, self-evident with even a moment of reflection. Our first place of succor, that place which is open to us because of who we are and because we are cherished is the family. That then places the basis for all society within the family and then how families and individuals within families interact between families.
This is a Universal Application of the Law of Nature and adapting to that Law and is seen in all humans from the most primitive of tribes to the greatest of Nation States, and is done without respect to geography or time. When we create the family we create the basis for Nations. Other animals likewise create families and, if they had the ability to apply reason to their state within Nature then they, too, could form Nations and would do so as this is a universal application of that knowledge so that we can be in accord with each other in the State of Nature. Every single custom, taboo, right of passage, socialization with others, morals, ethics, and law to govern these things comes not from government but from the family.
When the Liberty and Rights of War are taken into a family they are moderated by the family so that all members of that family agree to restrict their Negative Liberty of War, that is offensive and external war, so as to provide for common exercise of their Positive Liberty of War for defense of those they love. That is why stepping into the line of fire to save one's children is so primal an activity: it is the absolute manifestation of the Positive Liberty of War applied by the Law of Nations to protect those you care for in the most intimate of ways. If your throat chokes up upon consideration of this, then you know it to be true and that it is not only an emotional feeling but one backed fully, and completely, by reason. There is no stronger nor greater manifestation of what it means to be a member of a family than in sacrificing yourself by it so as to save them when they are threatened by ANYTHING. In doing that you have taken up the Natural Law to the defense of others and have become one of the most powerful persons on the planet, bar none.
You may not be successful, but that is War.
War is not fair.
There is nothing that man can do to make it so as it is an artifact of the Laws of Nature, not the Law of Nations or the petty laws of man. This is how the universe works and you, as an individual, must deal with it. When you ask others to do so, you seek tyranny for yourself and your loved ones, and have abdicated your responsibility to them in the rightful and lawful exercise of your Positive Liberty of War. If you fear this right, then you are a slave to your own misplaced fear and seek to enslave all around you with that fear. Thusly any espousal of a 'collective right' is one to enslave your fellow citizens to a tyrannical concept and subject them to tyranny based on fear OF the free exercise of the Positive Liberty of War and the outcome to that is always, without exception at any time for any human culture, negative and despotic in nature. When your fear over-rules your good sense, you are enslaved to your fears.
Patrick McGoohan summarized this in one acronym.
POP - Protect Other People.
You must do that, no one else can do that for you, and is the greatest and paramount responsibility you have to those you love and you cannot hand it to anyone else to do. We form up hunting bands, militia, vast armies so as to get strength in numbers, but the absolute strength comes from your will and determination to Protect Other People.
And when you stick your head outside the door, see the world going to hell with imminent threat and come back inside to warn those you love there is but one phrase to describe that: POP goes the weasel.
Better to be a cunning weasel than a voracious rat, at any rate.
Thus we can acknowledge these self-evident truths:
- We are within the bounds of Nature.
- We are imbued with the Laws of Nature.
- All things within Nature are imbued with these Laws.
- Those Laws create Liberty and Rights for all parts of Nature.
- All creatures have access to all Liberty and Rights of Nature, without exception.
- We recognize that we have such Liberty and Rights as Nature provides to us.
- Natural Liberty and Rights can be seen to have Positive and Negative attributes.
- Marriage, that is the joining of one person to another, is the basis of the family.
- By creating family we create the Law of Nations.
- In the creation of the Law of Nations we agree to not individually exercise our Negative Liberty of War.
- By being part of a family under the Law of Nations we agree to exercise our Positive Liberty of War to defend those we love.
One follows from the other, as day follows night.
You do not need to be a believer in any religion to understand these self-evident truths about where you are in Nature.
You are outnumbered. You are miniscule. You are feeble. So am I and all individual humans upon this planet even taken as a whole we don't amount to very much.
And it is self-evident that a number of people are not dealing with this very well.
No good shall come of that.