Profits and Prophets

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Words are powerful things. They are our chief means of communication—assuming you can move past all that ‘body-language’ mumbo-jumbo—and thus serve as our key to expressing all ideas, plans, and opinions about the world around us. They allow us to apply labels, transfer knowledge, and express complex concepts to one another—passing information along and allowing it to grow across generations.

Words are the building blocks of language. They afford to us the ability not only to share our thoughts with one another—but to comprehend them ourselves. They apply meaning and value in a world of chaos; functioning to give context and relevance to what may otherwise be inconceivable. In an earlier article, we’ve actually covered how intangible it is to consider a world ‘Without Words’.

Words have the ability to convey great and terrible concepts—elevating us above the mire, or dragging us to the depths of despair. In this strange world or ours, there are even words which are considered too heavy to be spoken, whether because they are revered as sacrosanct, or reviled as curses.

Lately, there are two words in particular which have been troubling me. They are phonetic-twins: identical save for their spelling, and their meanings too have become all too dangerously similar. These are ‘profit’, and ‘prophet’.

Profits refer to the net gains made by an institution: usually monetary. In times like these, with corporations pulling the reins of government, and the media touting the notion that true ‘freedom’ is for the marketplace alone, profits have become the apple to the wild horses trampling all good sense and civility from our society.

Citizen interests are sold out for profits. Veterans are left homeless for profits. People suffer and die without healthcare in defense of the all-mighty profit-margin. Profits, profits, profits. They’ve become the sole respectable merit, and the defining drive of a corporate machine racing driverless, determined only to see how far it can go, how long it can persist. It seeks profit, and any destruction caused in this pursuit is justified so long as it has no effect on the net-gains.

We’re often reminded of what is owed to us: this illusive promise of life, liberty, and happiness. Of course, we are further assured, money cannot buy happiness. So it’s up to us to find on our own…just keep your hands off the profits.

Prophets are those people considered to speak in place of god or any other deity—often via divine inspiration. Like our recent discussion on the ‘Insidious Threat of Legacy’, prophets often represent an increasing distance from the so-called source material, and too often become cited as justifications for acts of violence and other atrocities which can in no other way be reconciled with their foundational beliefs.

It’s as prevalent a threat today as it ever has been.

Wars are waged in the name of prophets. Buildings are toppled in reverence to prophets. Ongoing conflicts over which prophet is to be trusted and which to be eschewed continue to enable the endless global uncertainty to which we are all subject.

Profits, and prophets—they aren’t so different in the end.

Both represent the false ideals of a misguided population. A life led in reverence only to that which can be gained; a sacrifice of ideals in order to defend the sanctity of a decaying value structure. Many religious communities seem to have turned away from worship of their actual gods, and are defined now by strict adherence to the prophets who have interpreted them. So too the governments of the world—who have turned away from their true purpose of protecting their state and citizens—wooed by the unscrupulous practices of corporate lobbyists who promise to redefine the national priorities.

How can these threats be rectified? If profits are not the only sufficient motivator for directing the course of society, and if prophets have proven an insufficient source of moral guidance, then where are we to turn?

If the value of profit is in what it can accomplish, and the value of prophets is in the ideals they represent, then perhaps chasing these equally-listless sources is the wrong approach entirely. Here at Brad OH Inc., we would encourage everyone to take some time to consider the foundation beneath each of these—and that is value.

What really matters to you? If you had all the profits in the world at your disposal, what would you make of them? If you could speak as a prophet to the people, what wisdom might you impart? If you are honest with yourselves, we believe you’ll find the answers are not so dissimilar. More importantly, and herein lies the essence of the issue—you may find that both profits and prophets are red-herrings, distracting us from what true happiness might already be available to us, if only we can disavow ourselves of these tired and misaligned notions.

-Brad OH Inc.

Without Words

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Among the many blessings inherent to being a writer, paramount among them is the gift of always having the right word for a given occasion. Any writer—and even well-read non-writers—knows the thrill of pulling out some million-dollar word that so perfectly encapsulates your predicament it seems made just for the occasion. But recently, I found myself wondering just what sort of blessing this is, and whether with every proud smile and impressed friend that comes with knowing how to effectively articulate some miniscule event, some greater thrill may be lost.

What would the world be like without words?

Not many know—and those that do would certainly have a difficult time expressing it. It’s a primal sort of idea, hearkening back to cold days huddled around small fires on the plains of the savannah; gazing with inexpressible unease into the encroaching dark.

Sitting at that fire, you might feel the cold creeping into your bones, and with no words for why, toss another handful of sticks onto the glowing coals of your salvation. The flames would lick up; tiny firefly sparks sailing up into the boundless night sky to get lost among the countless, brilliant stars that watch you each night from above as the wolves watch from below.

The heat would swell, pushing back the creeping chill of night in its eternal yet ultimately futile battle. You might smile, and your head would swim with the wonder of it all. You would understand the connections and worship the results, but you’d have no words for the meaning behind it. A smile would have to suffice.

The next day would find you rested and warm, the sun back again, reliable as ever, chasing away the nameless demons of night and promising again that the familiar cycle would continue. And you would be glad.

There would be no words for the joy that day brings, nor the trepidation you might feel when the thunder clouds roll in, covering up the sun and threatening with their deep voices to tear the sky asunder.

With all the terrible fury of an unimagined god they would come, beating down with rain and hail from above, and shattering the mountaintops with flashes of authority beyond description.

Imagine then the relief when they passed, and again the world returned to normal—like it always did. Imagine the thrill of security and the reassuring surge of faith in your pounding heart: imagine it all without words.

So too would every waking moment be defined by such wonder. In the world we live in now—there are words for everything, even if at times many seem to fall so pitifully short.

Without words, how confounding would be ideas like hate, and love, and grief. Without a means of expressing them, how could we ever let go of that which hurt or hallowed us. All would be reduced to the guttural screams of terror or triumph; communication shackled to the hair-tearing passions of inarticulate isolation.

With no weather systems or science or writing, the world would be an unpredictable place of magic and mania—and every turn would bring some uplifting new idea which would lie stillborn on lips incapable of giving them birth.

It’s a marvellous but inaccessible idea. I think about it a lot, and slide every time down an unspeakable precipice of wonder and nostalgia, as if touching by proxy upon the culturally inherited passions we all share in our ancient past. It fills me with an incredible sense of awe, but each time I’m moved to encapsulate the extent of such feelings, I find sadly that I am without words.

-Brad OH Inc.