Lands of the Lesser Gods

Harry Drabik

I’ve surely said before that the further areas up the North Shore are a Minnesotan equivalent to Alaska. It’s so, and with a nice range of variety to make it interesting, sometimes to the point of mind numbed frustration. There are the devoutly non-government who have pronounced for all the years I’ve been here that there IS a plan to drive all the residents out and turn the entire North Shore into a park. Many times the fearful predictor means the Boundary Waters, that old bone of hardened contention. But when it comes to delusional prognostication geographical limits are of no consequence so we could easily add in Duluth, Superior, and the Iron Range as emptied out museum cities and the Range as a historical park covering the evils of mining and ecological disasters that could manufactured to order according to whatever theme of ill is needed. (And please, just don’t even try to think why people who so strongly distrust government intentions imagine something benign as a Park and not labor camps for former residents.)

Another group forms a “Don’t Tread Here” faction of private property and gun rights. This group sort of connects with the first based on the firm belief that the government has to take your guns before they can then more easily strip you of property. For them the NRA is wishy washy for not upholding the right to own a “reasonable” Number of cannon and machine guns. My uncle was a great supporter of gun ownership but at age 82 not very quick on the draw. By the time he found his gun he’d be robbed or dead, so it’s just as well he passed away quietly n a home where the loudest noise was a dropped slipper.

The other side of irrational prejudice and conclusion is adequately represented as well. Just the other day I had someone tell me most emphatically that Christians were just as dangerous as other “faiths” in the news. Keeping churches away won’t save a person any more than having guns will. But for those with their concrete set in that mode there’s no point explaining the distinction of theocracy drawn between major faith groups. One faith is intensely theocratic and has dozens of nation-states with few to no other beliefs tolerated as proof. But it is easier for the lax minded to live with baseless prejudice. It feels good and most people won’t bother to argue an irrational point. When a prejudiced view is touted its defense is unassailable faith more rigid and dogmatic than most religion. To those believers it is revealed truth that Baptists and Quakers are dangerous as those we see getting headlines they supposedly don’t deserve.

Another component, very likely the youngest additive on the scene, wants government to do more for them, but only for jobs, housing, health care, education, and communication. Otherwise they are entirely self-sufficient raising organic victuals on small plots using raised beds as Gaia intended. I say this component is youngest because earlier residents strove for self-sufficiency and found it difficult. It’s an fine conclusion to realize sufficiency will be much easier if others pitch in to do the hard stuff so the fruits can be enjoyed with less toil. Efficient small houses and an organic lifestyle represent the natural way of life, which as everyone knows is a lot better with high speed internet and full services in a small scale setting supported and maintained by forces too big and unnatural to bear mention anywhere in the idyll. Sweetest of all is the song of dreams held long in the realm of the virtually real.

Any one of the fantastic grapes is capable of turning out fine wine all by itself, but when all four (there are more, but these are quite enough) mix in a juicy blend even a little imbibing gives a big drunk and memorable hangover. I’ll take a sip here and there of any of these vintages, but as with all good things and fine ideas caution is not the worst ally to have with you. The devout of any persuasion are able to get carried away with whatever Holy Grail they glom onto. The simple fact is most if not all of us have gone down some perfect path only to fall into its potholes and pitfalls. I was long committed to self-reliance and basics. I found dentistry more  a challenge than I was ready for and basics are fine if you’re able to handle the rigors of providing your own wood supply; only one of many areas needing cover.

On an individual level none of it is clear or easy. We make false starts, detours, and reversals. So what? Life is a process of working things out. This is a trickier gamble in a free society where each and every individual mind and passion is their own lesser god. By that I mean free society is less ruled over than in one run by a political, social, or religious order. Order is uniformity; the more uniform the more ordered. It is a condition free people need to constantly consider without feeling bad if they don’t get or understand all of it. Who can?

Take the recent example of Turkey. The players in that game are tough for any outsider to fathom and more difficult yet for either of its internal sides. None, I think, is honest or capable of being so. Since Ataturk that nation managed a degree of change. Lately, using democracy as a guise it moved back toward its earlier more theocratic past. A presumably “democratic” voice would justify a very non-democratic wielding of power based on religious dogma. The coup side, presumably inspired by the Gullen movement, aimed at an Ataturk type return with arguably greater democratic potential than the current. It is not a simple picture on any level. Guns in a coup are bad but used to stop the coup they are good, and then you throw in some torture and beheading to show guns aren’t entirely needed anyway. In the lands of lesser gods there is nothing clear or simple. That is freedom’s cost.