The ancient Greek legends surrounding Prince Theseus have lessons for today. Periodically, the king of Athens had agreed to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete to be fed to the Minotaur to appease King Minos. The Athenian king’s son Theseus volunteered to be one of them, but said he would slay the creature to end the sacrifices. The Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete, fell in love with Theseus and betrayed to him the secret of killing the Minotaur, a fearsome monster, which was half man with the head of a bull. She smuggled Theseus a sword and a ball of twisted threads. The Minotaur lived deep in an impossible labyrinth; the challenge for Theseus was to find his way out should he prevail over the monster. He needed both a sword and then the twine to leave a trail back.
We have labyrinths today and seem to be losing the thread to find our way back. A few anecdotes portray some of the twists in the maze. Some of these seem trivial, but illustrate that we are becoming lost in some fundamental way and are confused about our priorities. These are mostly unrelated, but seem somehow of a piece.
In Belmont, Massachusetts recently, the animal control officer found a badly injured coyote. Coyotes have become increasing vexing to suburban Boston communities, and Belmont is among the most affluent. Twice in the last year, they have attacked children in Massachusetts, and routinely pet cats and small dogs disappear to coyote packs. The town official didn’t dispatch the coyote to end its suffering. No, she brought it to an animal rescue hospital in Grafton, MA, which at a cost to the taxpayers in excess of $2,000 nursed it back to health over three months. The coyote was a fertile, young female, which they did not spay. Then, of course, they brought it out to release in a remote part of Western Massachusetts, right? No, it was released with great celebration to the “wilds” of Belmont to reunite with its pack mates. Does this seem misguided to anyone else?
The Federal government has initiated a suit to set prices on e books because they are too high. The Federal government apparently has solved all the problems of deficit spending, foreign wars, health care, poverty, education, religious freedom, Social Security and contraception, and has the time to turn their eye and insinuate their considerable power into the market place to “correct” the alleged malfeasance of publishers and book sellers. What happened to a consumer shopping for a book, whether print or electronic, and if they could afford the price, buying it?
The Federal government subsidizes with tax credits the manufacture, construction and operating costs of windmill power. Recently, the Bonneville Power Authority in the Pacific Northwest, another Federal agency, asked the local wind power producers to shut down their windmills seasonally. Since the existing hydroelectric plants on the rivers produce all the power needed when the rivers are flowing strongly, the windmills were redundant, and their power had no place to flow. The rivers flowing and the wind blowing tend to peak at the same time of the year. The dams, which are far less expensive per kilowatt hour to run, don’t kill birds and are equally renewable. Dam generators need to run when the rivers are high because, if they don’t, the salmon run to spawn will be endangered. The windmills have to stop and lie fallow, not unlike farm subsidies. The BPA will pay the windmill owners up to $50 million per year to do nothing, and the wind will only howl.
The Justice Department has embarked on yet another crusade, most recently in Texas and South Carolina, to stop states from requiring identification of voters. According to the department filing, voter photo IDs, even if provided free by the state to all who don’t have driver’s licenses, will have a disparate impact on the poor and minorities. Voter fraud is a problem in many of the large cities where the dead cast their ballots early and often. Since inner city votes favor almost entirely Democrat candidates, one might suspect an ulterior motive from Eric Holder, the current Attorney General. Not so, says he. His enthusiasm even with Fast and Furious, Supreme Court challenges to the health care mandate and myriad other pressing issues extends well above and beyond duty. He has the time to decide how each state should determine who votes and how voter’s citizenship, right to vote and even their existence above the ground are verified. Such dedication should not go unrecognized.
Finally, we drop all the way through the looking glass into Wonderland. And the looking glass is a wavy fun mirror that distorts all reality. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) petitioned the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to stop the same voter photo ID laws in the U.S., even though Indiana’s ID laws were upheld by our Supreme Court in 2008. It seems that the U.N. should have more authority over U.S. laws than our courts. Among the member nations on the U.N. Human Rights Council are such human rights luminaries as Cuba, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, where women can’t vote at all.
We wander through the labyrinth running the thread through sweaty palms, just hoping to find our way back to the light. Just a few of these cited twists and turns expose how tricky the journey is.
Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie, and one to listen. Homer Simpson