In Lower Manhattan, at the time of our telling, Number ___ Broad Street had been owned by the John Smith Trading Company for the past three hundred and four years. The company’s never faced an audit; a curious hazy indifference falls over any bureaucrat attempting to take notice of the organization; it’s books slumber on. What exactly does the company trade? Who was John Smith? How does it afford the taxes and the upkeep of this beautiful old cut-stone building in a global financial center? Who works there? What would it take to get hired and fat-paw waived past the heavy-set front doorman at the elegant marble desk reading classic literature in various original languages (and the occasional incredibly-outdated newspaper)?
In Lower Manhattan, in the time of the Creatures, on the second floor of Number ___ Broad Street, an elite team meets round a round wooden table overlooking a cobblestone road that no longer exists outside, unless you approach it through this very window. Although why would you go? It reeks of dust, of manure, of unbathed human and animal bodies; everyone is yelling, bustling, gaunt kids in rags cough and steal pennies; men own other people; a man’s work is from sun up to sun down but a woman’s work is never done; God saves the blessed but angrily spits out most; the details of whose blessed and who ain’t are hotly debated; the underlying mysticism binding all things is only referenced via a carefully maintained and largely unbelievable dogmatism; a dusty, sooty confusion reigns.
The head of the group, Ms. CMS, heir to the empire, stands with one shoulder at a large blank blackboard easel. She’s a petite woman, forty-two years old now, with a sort of open-eyed, full- and forward-cheeked, turned-up-button-nosed chipmunk charm; pretty in a tidy, hair-bunned-back way. She stands tall at that easel, angled towards the round table, chalk and eraser held limply at her side, lip a little fidget-shifted to one side, eyes roaming large and questioning.
It’s a big day, and the half dozen members of this top-secret, extra-governmental agency–ages ranging from spunky 25 to considered 82—are unsure what to think, what to say, how to proceed.
All indications suggest the two heroes are back. On the one hand, great: this pair can help in a way and to a degree otherwise impossible. On the other hand, hmmm: no organization, not even one with the conscious and resources of the ancient John Smith Trading Company, can control them, can stop them, can veto their choices. In the past, they seemed basically OK: they wanted to help, hearts in the right places, they were pretty effective at helping and not hurting; but, well, if they made a mistake, their great powers tended to greatly amplify the error, resulting in some extremely unfortunate mishaps.
MGV is fifty, tall and lanky, with carefully orchestrated thick black hair; sharp features; high cheek bones; a short, broad-lipped mouth; dark-distant, forward-truding, dome-large eyes; and a formidable nose. He wears neatly pressed faded blues, a button-up dress shirt, and a heavy white sailor’s sweater (thick wool lines, with braided-rope designs). Turning a thoughtfully-pouted lip and sparkling quizzical eyes towards the octogenarian: “Susan, you’re the only one here who knew them.”
Susan, now old, her once beautiful moist, elastic, suntan-shining gone pale, stiff and wrinkled, smiles a thin-lipped, blue-eyed reverie. “Oh, but I was so young! You’ve all seen the footage. They were like that. Pleasant, charming, easy, invincible. Not bad sorts. Not quite wise enough to deal with their own powers, but genuinely kind, thoughtful—and so saved from the worst of their own potential. You saw the footage; they were like that. They fell into a deep depression, a despondency when, well, during the events of ’61; I’m sure that’s what put them out of commission—not any outside intervention. Unless they go glum, no one can stop them.”
“We have, it seems, no option but to hope they are both morally correct and completely competent” offered ABC, the youngest, a mere lad of 25, mathematician, philosopher, linguist and computer scientist—whose collaboration with the biochemist (MGV) to his left and the physicist (CMS) across the way had thus far (now in its sixth year) resolved none of the mysteries surrounding the super duo’s abilities, let alone suggested any plausible containement system.
Everyone gave a silent, shoulder-thrust-forward nod.
JAL, thirty-five, medium in height and build, hair long and black, face wide, open, with a slight moon curvature at the chin. Long straight hair tumbling over muscular shoulders in a simple pearl-button, triangle-lapelled light-yellow blouse. Political scientist and historian. Left hand hovering slightly above the table, she jabs it with several quick, precise finger-tip strikes, and then looks up, shaking her head. “You can’t beat these two. You can’t tell them what to do. They’re like the SCOTUS. All you can do’s hope they either come wise or become wise.”
JAL is obsessed with checks and balances and proposes the following adjustment to the Supreme Court of the United States of America:
No entry until 60; you can serve 20 years; and then you have to retire, live off the government, write books, take walks, come to terms with your human fallibility.
She’s mentioned these reforms before. More than once.
On one or two such occasions, ABC’s chimed in with something about how they could spend their forced retirements contemplating the Forms, which of course they should’ve been doing all along. But, they’ve proven unable or unwilling to alternate between leaving this specifics-bound realm for studies in the plane of pure abstraction where dwells the Form of the Good, and using the heavenly insights thereby gained to guide their judcial decisions—decisions. Oh, they enlist mere human opinion! Oh, they’re grounding in the Spirit is never worthy of a Philosopher Guardian! Oh, how all too oft their touch and go, their blink and show’s all too marked by partisan prejudices and animal-bound urges for safe-snuggy embrace by human traditions and human social groups! Hence their demotion from Philosopher Guardians status, and the call for term limits. But this time ABC, like everyone else, thinks JAL’s gone too far exporting pet peeves into the conversation. They should stay focused on the matter at hand! Even if, admittedly, there’s nothing they can really think to do about it.
JAL slowly gets the hint from a room full of sympathetically quiet, lips-rolled-in, eyes big and wandering peers. She flashes a large winning, “ah, yes, but of course, pardon me!” smile before looking down and rolling her own lips inward.
But your narrator feels no such compunction and will expatiate a little more on the limited nature of the electorate’s control of SCOTUS:
All you can do is hope against hope. You can speak your wisdom into the air and hope that it moves all hearts and minds until even their vaulted, vaunted thoughts say and bend to the gentler, to the kinder, to the wider view of human life and love. But that’s all. They have more power than humans should; the rest of us can but pray they learn to let go of all concerns except the Kind Light that—unlike every other flinch and twist within the human conscious moment—actually wants, knows how to, and can help us humanthings live well alone and together.
But, really, I mean: that kind of longing for Light-before-dogmas righteousness is always be good, but we should in any case constitutionally amend their stay. So as to lower the stakes and allow for a little more public oversight of these interpreters of our—of We the People’s constitution. Part of encouraging spiritually-grounded behavior within government is limiting power,
and also, though perhaps at first glance paradoxically,
is separating church and state.
The Soul is wider and wiser than any human ideas and feelings, but all humans have some sense of the Divine Mark in thought and deed: awareness, clarity, honesty, accuracy, caution with people and their resources, competency, shared joy; words and deeds that know we’re all in this together. Let calm reign, let debate glow with gentle harkening, with honest exchange of info and ideas, let us focus on the visible and the bounds recognized by the invisible within each of our widest wisest gazes: we should tell the truth, speak clearly, and understand better and better how it is True that we are all in this together, and that when we die only the Love lives on—only that within each of us that lives in and through Love: only that is immortal; the rest is OK so long as it defers to the Kind Light; and not OK insofar as it commandeers the ship.