by Ray Jason
At the time, it was just an eccentric, utopian game. But now, a couple of decades later, I realize that it was a perfect metaphor for my deepest aspirations. I would find some nicely rounded, sea-worn rocks along the shore. My favorites were about the size of a mango and slightly flattened. On each one I would paint a short quotation from a wise thinker.
Here are some examples that swiftly rise from my memory vault. Whitman’s “Question much and obey little.” Thoreau’s “Simplify, simplify, simplify…” And Plato’s “The unconsidered Life is not worth living.” I would then anonymously place these at well-known snorkeling sites, so that unsuspecting divers would suddenly be jolted by these pearls of wisdom. I always thought of them as my “Ponder Stones.”
After doing this for a couple of months, I gradually closed my underwater library. I can’t recall exactly why, but I suspect that it had something to do with a sea gypsy romance. And now, with the perspective of a quarter of a century, I realize that this intellectual lark was actually symptomatic of a much deeper yearning. For some inexplicable reason, I have always been lured by the Sirens’ call of Idealism. My desire has long been to try to help make the world a slightly better place as a result of my time here.
In a way, these Ponder Stones were the seeds from which my own individual worldview would sprout. My belief is that anyone who grapples with the mystery of human existence is building upon the accumulated wisdom of those who came, thought and shared before. Those Wise Ones, who spanned the globe and the centuries, never COERCED – instead they CONVINCED. They spurned the SWORD and revered the PEN. Their goal was to INSPIRE and not to IMPOSE. I share that quest.
I had not thought about those Ponder Stones for years - but a few days ago they leapt to mind as I was about to place an empty bottle in the recycling bin. Holding it in my hand, I realized that it was the perfect size and shape for leaving a message in a bottle. So I discarded the rest of my glass and plastic, and took it back to AVENTURA.
Normally, a note in a bottle is a desperate method that castaways use in the hopes of being rescued. It is a cry for help. But my message would be a cry for clarity. Here is what I have in mind. If AVENTURA and I are ever in a tempest so dangerous that it looks like I am about to be harvested by The Stormy Reaper, I will toss this bottle overboard. Inside will be my final message to the world. My initial title was Sinner Ray’s Last Epistle to the Earthonians, but I decided to temper that impulse with the version that you will find below. Hopefully, the Reaper will not discover my Lat/Long for many years, and I will frequently update this document as my knowledge increases. But here is the first rendering.
AN EPISTLE TO THE EARTHONIANS
By the time you find this message in its little bottle on some distant shore, I will no longer be a laughing, dreaming, wondering human being. I will have merged with The Sea. But sometimes a man’s deeds or words can slip through Death’s grasp. This is my final attempt to contribute something of value to The Human Voyage.
I needed almost a half a century to escape the programming that invisibly cocoons so many of us. Even though I have a college education and was endowed with an above average skepticism, it still took me 50 years to perceive just how different the world is from what we think it is. Because of my good fortune in making a small breakthrough in this regard, I feel called to share some of that awakening with you, dear stranger.
Start with this question. When was the last time that you heard someone marveling at the utter miracle of our little planet? Gaze in wonder at all of these astonishing life forms roaming our continents and oceans. And then look elsewhere in the heavens and you see only lifeless celestial bodies. And given how blessed we are to inhabit this plush sphere, why do we not dedicate ourselves to the flourishing of all of Earth’s creatures and ecosystems? How have we gotten into a position where human conduct is so destructive to other humans and non-humans and to the natural systems that sustain us? Why are we staring into the abyss - instead of rejoicing in happiness and plenty?
I believe that it is because the meta-systems that dominate our world are all organized in a hierarchal manner that allow the very few at the top to make almost all of the important decisions. And those with the authority gain it because they are addicted to having power over others. Most of humanity has no desire to control others. We only seek a basic decent life for ourselves and our families.
And so the system is structured to attract the least desirable people to positions of power. The most predatory, ruthless and soul-less types - who do not mind trampling others to get to the top - are the most likely to succeed. My term for these control freaks is The Malignant Overlords. They dominate the worlds of government, religion, commerce, and media. And these are the institutions that shape our society. So in a very real sense, they DO rule the world.
One of their weapons is their divide-and-conquer strategy. By fomenting strife between us, they distract us from the fact that we are under their thumbs. By incessantly praising competition and denigrating co-operation, they keep us struggling against each other. Their skill at manipulation is so extraordinary that they convince us to go forth and slaughter supposed enemies who have never actually done us any harm.
They are Svengalis, who have billions of people sleepwalking through life in a trance. They hypnotize us with mega-consumerism and endless televised spectacles. They throw us crumbs while dining on caviar.
Since this is my final summing up, let me sketch out as concisely as possible my assessment of how the Malignant Overlords want to sculpt the future. They are seeking rule by elite oligarchs, with a one world digital currency. This shift to electronic money will be mass marketed as something that is great for everybody and that will end drug trafficking and money laundering. This is a sick joke since the Elites are neck deep in these activities.
The bad news is that they want a society of Masters and Serfs – a modern feudalism. But the really bad news is that they are willing to replace as many serfs as possible with robots. They intend to continue dumbing-down the population until they are smart enough to do the work, but not smart enough to look behind the curtain. And those who do try to reveal the true depth of the oppression will be easily detected as the Malignant Overlords continue to perfect their surveillance grid. Their vision of Plantation Earth is so horrible that it makes the dystopia in 1984 seem like a Montessori School.
Now that I have finished summing up my thoughts about THE world, please allow me to speak a little about MY world. I dedicated my final years to the writing of philosophical essays in the hopes that they might add something of value to the Human Conversation. I strove to be more understandable to a wide audience than the academic or “heavy” philosophers. But I also avoided being a “pop” philosopher who was sweet and folksy, but who never dealt with the serious and dark parts of the human condition. My quest was a middle path that was daring but decipherable. And I would always strive for a poetic tone that might help the little essays SING.
Investigating so deeply the tragedy and injustice that taints so much of modern life can be emotionally and psychologically toxic. And I think that one of my victories in my time here was that I remained joyous through it all. For me, the Darkness never vanquished the Light. I could still savor the mystery, the beauty, the heroism, the magic and the shortness of it all.
Once upon a lifetime, in a run-down park in the Archipelago of Bliss, I watched a little Indio girl, who had never seen a sliding board, build up the courage to give it a try. The joy on her face when she safely made it down just saturated me with happiness. And as I now write these, my final lines, I can still see her image perfectly. Perhaps, in the end … that is enough…