It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
A Poem by Denise Levertov shared by John O’Brien
After two weeks writing about the Holocaust I was grateful to get John O’Brien’s reminder about this poem. The horror of what we have done to each other, and the sure knowledge that nothing has changed and we are still quite capable of every act of evil and more, is hard to accept.
We are not worthy, that is sure, and yet we live in hope that the incarnation was a sign that, despite this, we can still be redeemed.
…the Helots were tied to the lands as serfs of the Spartan community, paying for their right to live by a contribution of half the product of their labours on the soil.
E B Castle from Ancient Education and Today
Hence we might observe that the Spartan tax rate, placed upon their slaves was at 50%, just a little more than the size of the UK’s tax rate (once we aggregate the many different taxes we pay).
However it may be too strong to conclude that we are slaves like the Helots. After all the political elite have to pay the same tax rates as we do, whereas the Spartan elite were supposed to own no private property. Moreover we have effectively agreed to pay our 50% tax through the electoral and democratic process.
But do we really feel that these resources which we hand over to the state and to politicians to spend on our behalf are well spent? Do not growing rates of inequality suggest that we have failed to grasp the real causes of injustice?