Philip J. Rappa: Storm and Strife
Storm and Strife
By Philip J. Rappa
I had an epiphany last night.
What began as a nightmare transformed itself into a vision of hope. I dreamt I was plodding my way through a horrific sandstorm. This ill wind was so dense I was incapable of seeing my own hand before my face. Yet farther into the distance I could discern an incessant incandescent glimmering of light; a solitary beacon in this all-encompassing velvet darkness.
A rivalry existed between every breath and step I took both possessing the inherent uncertainty of its predecessor and its sequel. Finally, after what seemed an endless journey there before me at my feet, tempest tossed, was a flame whose life force could not be denied.
I dropped to my knees, the blanket that served to give me shelter in this perilous storm, now as I hovered above and slowly descended upon the flame it availed itself as a tent. Using my hands and feet I anchored the blanket into the sand. Shrouded below it, I and this magnificent flame, both of us existing amidst nature's will and storm.
I placed my cheek against the sand next to the flame. There was no wick. I could detect it making a sound that was a cross between a quickly burning fuse and that of filling a car tire with air from a compressor hose. But what was its source, what sustained this flame?
Slowly and deliberately I began to palm the sand away from its base making a circle six inches in diameter. With this to my amazement the flame grew stronger.
But what was its source? What sustained this flame? My curiosity got the best of me. In a short while I had dug myself almost below it. A flame with nothing above and nothing below - an illumination in and of itself breathing the air we shared.
Caught up in the moment, unable to explain or decipher its existence, unsure of its beginning or end, a smirk washed across my lips as something ominous occurred. I was uncertain if this brief state of mind was primal or instinctual - but nevertheless, I had this overwhelming desire to snuff this flame although knowing full well my participation in this endgame would only result in my returning to total darkness.
Once that desire had passed wonder took its place. While I observed the whole spectrum of light, all of human history, all the aspects of life's dilemmas seemed encompassed within the flame. It was as if I had happened upon a flame eternal, time immortal, and "the soul of the world", not in a mythical or theological sense. But I felt, here before me was the flame we philosophically speak about, what we call the human spirit. The human spirit, the ultimate survivor of centuries of epic violence endowed with self-determination, sovereignty, the virility and proclivity to be enthralled, unfettered and emancipated from the paradigm of brute force, perverted theocracy and blood lust.
The human spirit clawing its way up from the bowels of the dark ages, gasping the breath of the renaissance, seeking the knowledge of the age of enlightenment; the human spirit rebellious, seditious, willing to give its life for liberation and deliverance from unfathomable odds. The human spirit gives its allegiance, fidelity and veracity to the genesis of an idea manifesting itself into the reality of freedom and liberty.
This eternal flame, the human spirit is the final arbiter of its fate; its inextinguishable burning desire to seek a peaceful existence; "a vision of the world with a commonality of purpose, a plan with a conviction for a future. A world with a universal standard of human rights, freedom of speech, religion, freedom from fear and want; a foundation built on right not might knowing full well that the world cannot be right until all its people live free from hunger, censorship and the dread of bombs."
The human spirit is scorching the globe, inciting a worldwide revolution with conscience contemplation "as to the natural dignity of man, the honor and happiness of its character. A contemplation of our inherent natural rights, the right to existence, intellectual rights, rights of the mind, the right to judge ones own cause, the right as an individual to comfort and happiness and a common understanding that we do not possess the right to be injurious of others."
The human spirit the world over is re-examining its social compact. As a member of society we speak of our civil rights built upon the bedrock foundation of our natural rights - we join together as a common stock to provide security and protection.
The human spirit finds itself vulnerable - anew; awaiting the next cataclysm at the hands of those that rule by the age old principles of fear and terror. The human spirit recognizes its adversary, its nemesis, those who rule with promises of order and law.
The Lords of Creation command the charge towards the latest crusade snorting with missionary zeal with arrogance and a swagger that cannot be denied. The human spirit has a familiarity with the ways of the world, with wars of conquest, barbarism, genocide, the devaluation of human life, its own mortality and the horrendous extent of human misery.
The human spirit understands that fear breeds repression and repression breeds hate. And the around the world the human spirit recognizes the corruption of their governments, the pillaging of their heritage and the mocking travesty of its nation's ideals. There is a complete loss of trust of government and government officials.
Those who govern speak empty noble words of liberation, freedom and democracy. Yet the human spirit is unwavering in its determination to rid itself from the chains of oppression. With courage, honor, sacrifice and the nobility of purpose once again, the human spirit believes that "mankind did not enter into society to become worse then he was before nor to have fewer rights then he had before, but to have those rights better secured."
The human spirit no longer agrees to be governed by force or fraud, nor by its partnership in the twisted idol of church and state, nor will it agree to turn its future, its life, liberty and pursuit of happiness over to just any madman who affects to be master to both temporal and spiritual realities, nor to one who speaks of ruling by divine right.
No, it is only willing to work towards the common interest of society and the common right of man. The 21st century has become a portal to a house of mirrors beginning in the western hemisphere of the Americas and refracting around the globe.
The human spirit has no choice but to re-evaluate and reflect on what is said compared to what is meant. In this carney atmosphere our heritage is no longer a given, no longer gratis upon birth. Trust is no longer the whole truth and nothing but the truth; no longer absolute, no longer indisputable or undeniable or for that matter, demonstrable.
What we are left with is a truth that is inferred, and assumption that is different shades of revealed truth. A cross my heart hope to die kind of truth. Those who govern offer truth with a catch contingent on whatever is expedient for the moment.
The human spirit has a memory that does not become lapsed due to injustices. "It recognizes that government must have arisen either out of the people or over them. It recognizes that governments which arise out of society is in contradistinction to those which arose out of superstition and conquest." If the human spirit were to examine the pathology of democracy the facts would show that 'individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have the right to arise, and the only principle on which they have the right to exist." 
If the human spirit were to define what is meant by a Constitution "it is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard significance to it. A Constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It is not an ideal, but a real existence, and whenever it cannot be produced in visible form, there is none. A constitution is an antecedent to a government, and a government is only a creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting a government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article, and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established, the manner in which it shall be organized, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, duration of congresspersons; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and define, everything that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound.
"A constitution, therefore, is to a government, what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is like manner governed by the Constitution. The authority of future congresses will be to legislate according to the principles and forms prescribed in that constitution.
"Alterations, amendments, or additions that are necessary, the Constitution will point out the mode by which such things shall be done, and not leave it to the discretionary power of a future government. A government on the principles on which constitutional governments arising out of society are established, cannot have the right of altering itself. If it had, it would be arbitrary. It might make itself what it pleased; and whenever such a right is setup, it shows there is no Constitution."
The human spirit is as sure of this as it is tomorrow's sunrise and will accept and expect nothing less in its compact to be governed. James Madison said, "All governments rest on opinion."
The human spirit has learned well the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
If society, if governments no longer represent the people, no longer appreciates diversity; no longer has religious and ethnic tolerance, if democracy no longer has constitutional limits, checks and balances accountability, access to information, due process, the right to criticize, tolerance of dissent, speech and association, if it does not abhor censorship - then it is not what it says it is.
In the final analysis, the human spirit knows that the foundation of dictatorship, as well as a democratic government rests on its choice of consent, its willing cooperation, its acquiescence and support. But the true test for the human spirit is whether the concept of freedom and liberty are more powerful than originally thought.
'Tis the set of the soul that decides our goal, and not the storm and strife.
 - FDR Speech: "Enduring Peace"
[2 – 6]. Thomas Paine, "The Rights of Man"
Philip J. Rappa 2003 Bio:
Philip J. Rappa is President of Together Forever Changing,
Inc.; a national non-profit organization whose mission is to
educate, stimulate, and invigorate the citizenry to the
dangers inherent in the US Patriot Acts. He is also an
award-winning writer, filmmaker, documentarian, lecturer,
© Philip J. Rappa 2003
Bio: Philip J. Rappa is President of Together Forever Changing, Inc.; a national non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, stimulate, and invigorate the citizenry to the dangers inherent in the US Patriot Acts. He is also an award-winning writer, filmmaker, documentarian, lecturer, and humanitarian.