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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Kept at Bay


Abuse of power, as we have seen in recent and current events, has a tendency to backfire on those who wield it with the tightest grip. Some call it karma... I call it sweeeeet.

Whether the piggish one was a producer, a star, a journalist, an athlete, a statesman... It doesn't matter. In modern-day America, even the president of the United States faces pressure to step down.

And rightly so. Although today's High Def society has amplified the nature and the knowledge of their bad behavior, bosses going too far is nothing new in human history; there is precious little else to human history. It certainly predates the violent, rupturous birth of our nation.

In fact, it was an employee of the Crown who first explored much of North America. After its discovery, the royal cartographers were even good enough to name a river in Manhattan after him: Henry Hudson.

Actually, Hudson was working for the Dutch on that particular expedition. Great Britain didn't like that. They castigated him for working for a foreign power, and then tasked him with finding the mythical Northwest Passage, a route to the Orient going through the ice packed North Pole.

Hudson tried several times, without success, not knowing that global warming would one day open the route wide, or that he had already seen a New World that would soon enough dwarf the treasures of Asia. Whatever else he was, Henry Hudson wasn't one to look past the horizon.

Hudson's abuse of power, however, ran into its own brand of opposition on June 22nd, 1611. The long, brutal Arctic winter had finally ended, the waters were free of ice and could be navigated again... And his men wanted to go home. Hudson, being Hudson, wanted to press on. He insisted. He scolded. He ordered.

So his crew mutinied. Of course they did. To make their point, they left the great Henry Hudson and his few loyalists out there to freeze to death, adrift in a rowboat, in the icy waters of what is now known as Hudson Bay. For good measure, they threw his young son in the boat with him.

Then they sailed The Discovery back to England, docked it, and scurried on back to their lives. There wasn't much of an inquiry, despite a bit of a bloody mess inside Hudson's ship. Nobody knows what became of the explorer Henry Hudson. There is no grave for anyone to visit. No person was ever charged with any crime over his demise.

Even to the English, so historically indifferent to the suffering of others, Hudson had simply gone too far, too far! Perhaps there was a better understanding then that those who abused power did so at their own peril. If they didn't know it in 1611, the point was certainly emphasized in 1776.

We've obviously come a long way since then. Today, we are free to speak truth to power, to challenge the wrongs perpetrated upon the weak by the strong, be it in government, entertainment, business, wherever.

We don't have to wait so long that the resentment builds to a boiling point, one that might have resulted in bloodshed in earlier times. But, then again, maybe it's the unsharpened edge of civilization that allows it to fester anyway.

There aren't that many ways for it to end. We keep looking for the right one. This country is supposed to be the place where we won't have to repeat that vicious cycle, the cruel lessons taught (and learned) by men like Mister Hudson... The last thing he ever discovered.

pH 12.16.17

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