«They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women…»
Margaret Thatcher, talking to Women’s Own magazine, October 31, 1987
Once, a young atheist found himself in the Greek countryside. There he met an old woman dressed-in-black, picking potherbs. They started talking to each other and the discussion progressed to God. The young man being young, and at this age there’s a surplus of arrogance of knowledge.
– What is the proof that God exists? he asked the old woman.
– This, she answered.
She showed him the chicory she had just picked.
She didn’t tell him something wise, she just showed him the herb. It was so beautiful, so perfectly developed in its Fibbonaci symmetry, that the young man began having doubts about his beliefs.
When you observe the nature all around you, its complexity and its diversity, the beauty of the World, the magnitude of the starry sky, it’s impossible not to be awe stricken.
This sensation that led all of the civilizations we know of – cold or hot, since the world began – to the belief that there is something else, something superior, a higher being or a plan.
The beauty of the planet that offers us hospitality gave birth to transcendence, spirituality and religiosity.
But something innate to man, something that he inherited or it could be an unusual incident of civilization, a social mutation that made him dread diversity. The impulsive spirituality turned into religion, power, war, extermination. Extermination of the Other.
Every form of power seeks uniformity.
Be it (bad) education, the army, the church or the state, always anything different triggers aversion, fear, hatred.
This is not just weird; it’s catastrophic since without diversity, life cannot exist.
In every field, in every forest, in every ecosystem, hundreds-thousands-millions of different kinds of species of plants and animals are developing. But also each plant and every animal is different from its’ relatives.
Of course chicories don’t thrive everywhere, neither could koalas survive in Greenland. But an ecosystem that consists only of corn and cows is doomed to extinction.
By chance I saw a picture of a snowflake. I was so impressed that I couldn’t help but search a little more and learn about these natural chefs d’oeuvre.
The most impressive of all I have read, is that it’s almost impossible to find two identical snowflakes.
Give it some thought: Out of the trillions of millions of snowflakes that fall every year, almost all of them are different. So, during the billions of years, that billions of snowflakes have fallen on our planet, how many can we claim that are exactly the same?
Yet, all of them, combined, they make up snow.
“There is no such thing as society”, Margaret Thatcher used to say.
This is just like saying: “There is no snow. Only snowflakes.”
Or “There are no humans. Only cells.”
“There is no forest. Only trees.”
(Or if you want to stretch it a bit, she’s just like saying: “There is no matter. Only atoms”.)
A snowflake by itself wouldn’t even make it to the ground; and even if it makes it, it means nothing, it doesn’t matter. It will melt before it spends the money it has siphoned off into its offshore account.
All the snowflakes are different. There are not even two alike. But when combined, thanks to their diversity, they create snow.
All men are different. There are not even two of them alike. But all together, thanks to their diversity, they make a society.
A single man, a single tree, a single snowflake, a single atom.
One is zero. The second is what gives the first a meaning.
The matter consists of atoms, the snow of snowflakes, the forest of trees and the society of men, dear Thatcher.
After that, as if a sinister internet mind meant to play with my thoughts, I bumped into this photo, depicting this skull.
It comes from an archaeological excavation at Faliro1, where they found thousands of skeletons with their hands tied behind their backs.
In this skull, there was once a brain. It was a thinking, dreaming, fearing, hoping human being.
It was special, different from anybody else. It was a Thatcherish individual.
Yet, the existing society 2700 years ago killed him and buried him with his hands tied behind his back along with 1000 people.
What is society? It is the living organism that people, the individuals, create.
Society consists of people. The human body consists of cells. The matter of atoms.
The snow of snowflakes.
Men are like snowflakes.
If you take a closer look at everybody with a microscope, if you observe them, you’ll figure out that everybody is different, that there are not even two people who are absolutely the same.
And yet, we’re all hexagons.
And yet, all of us together make the snow.
(And all of us will melt in the springtime, to turn into water, to make streams and join with the river and reach the sea. To become steam again in the summer and cloud in the autumn and snow, once again.)
- Faliro is a coastal suburb and a municipality in the southern part of the Athens
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Translated by Alexandros Mantas
Edited by Jackie Pert