We’ve always had them. All through history. Pharaoh & slave, patrician & plebeian, lord & serf, aristocracy & bourgeoisie. Whether you’re studying the Bible, Shakespeare, or Darwin, you eventually come to understand the enduring (often bloody) distinctions between the powerful and the powerless.
Which brings us to today’s headlines. Be it Wall Street or Main Street, Congress or the community, the Fortune 500 boardrooms or the local bowling lanes, the big studios & networks or those of us who sit in front of their screens — America is like every other culture in history. A few lead, the rest follow.
Which is why we love the classic stories of the followers finally getting the best of the leaders. Snow White in which the dwarfs prevail over the evil queen….Les Miserables in which the hunted survives the hunter….Mr Smith Goes To Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life in which Jimmy Stewart stares down the power of senators and bankers. These are the sort of endings we little guys thrill to.
Funny thing, it’s the big guys who usually bring these stories to us. Keeps us happy while they keep getting bigger. Eventually, though, there are those occasional epic moments when the the little guys have had enough. Spartacus! The French revolutionaries! The American revolutionaries! The Marxist revolutionaries! The Cairo streets!
After the dust settles, some changes are made. Still — much remains the same. There are always chieftains and spear carriers…generals and privates…monarchs and jesters…those of us who walk the malls and those who own the malls. Darwin explains this as the eternal survival-of-the-fittest. Shakespeare, as the eternal struggle between good and evil. The Bible, as the eternity of a final reward.
I suppose the best way to test these is not so much in a laboratory, as in your own heart. Humanity doesn’t live in a closed lab, but in the farthest reaches of its own heartfelt beliefs. Which just may mean that the littlest of us get the biggest laugh of all at the end. At the end when the players-with-the-most-toys don’t get to keep them…!
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