Hammurabi, the sixth king of Babylon, must have thought that he was doing the right thing. People, particularly those in power, praised him ever since. Yet, until the ancient lawmaker ordered his scribes to engrave his laws on eight-foot tall stone tablets, perhaps slabs is a better word, people’s conscience was the only guide in their behaviour. As of now, however, now being around 1750 BC, people were guided by a set of laws that carried penalties for misdeeds.
It’s been downhill ever since.
No longer conscience but fear of being caught became their, as well as our, guardian angel. This destructive method is used to this day. We, those in power, control people’s behaviour by fear, not by persuasion. Not even the ecclesiastic method of “carrot and the stick” holds sway any more—that of heaven and hell. And most certainly not by any inspired code of ethics, let alone by teaching love and compassion. The carrot is gone. All governments of the world control their people by instilling fear.
However, as we know, action is equal by equal though opposite reaction.
This insidious bug is now infecting billions of people, who, together with their corrupt governments, instill fear in each other, by relegating those who oppose them to the status of terrorists. Ultimately this method will fail, even as our governments are failing. People will see through the invalid warmongering platitudes. After all, governments are no longer elected by people only by money of the few.
And there is more.
Perhaps thanks to Hammurabi, the world of today has become the most legislative and/or litigious civilization in the history of mankind. Had that been Hammurabi’s intent?
There are some benefits… to some of us. The lawyers have become rich beyond all measure. We make them rich. And as Hammurabi carries the reputation of being the father of all lawgivers, his portrait adorns great-many government buildings throughout the world.
Furthermore, the activities of the lawgivers are guided not by their conscience but by what they can get away with. Surely, the most pernicious prescription for corruption.
I once wrote some essays, which I collected into three volumes entitled “Beyond Religion”. The subtitle of the collections is “An Inquiry into the Nature of Being”. In Beyond Religion I, in the essay “Cycles”, I discuss the problem of Hammurabi. I also discuss the seeming human predisposition to walk in circles.
I’d used the word Cycles and not Circle only because I’m an incurable optimist. Even as I am deeply convinced that now, during the present Age of Aquarius, we shall turn over a new leaf. Good luck to all of us.
Those who would enjoy my essay will be pleased to hear that there are 156 of them, on subjects as varied as “Birds of Paradise”, “Phenomenology”, “Recumbent Evolution”, and pretty much everything in-between. At one essay per week, the collections might amuse you for 3 years. Let me know…
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