Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo08

A very normal accident


The Imperial caravan has been four months on the road without any significant obstacles.  In fact, it was a road strewn with flowers and roses that the Persian little people hurried to have a glimpse of a God Incarnate.  The instructions forbade Alex to engage in any battle; his job was to negotiate and transmit the kind of troubles and the danger level; for example red, orange or yellow; red meant that Cyrus had to advance two divisions to link up with the retreating regiment; Cyrus was to dispatch a messenger for Artax to dispatch a division to fill up the space/time gap in Cyrus camp.

On a bright spring morning, Alex was having his regular morning fast paced walking exercises when he tripped and fell.  His three body guards dusted him off and casually lifted him off the ground.  Alex’ broken right hip condition was worsened by these inconsiderate rough guards.  The previous Two–Horned King was screaming in pain and could not breathe to ingurgitate any Babylonian beer.  The Macedonian physician resorted to the very old fashion technique to calm down Alex’ humiliating screaming; the brave physician clubbed gently Alex head.  Alex went into sleep.  In fact, Alex suffered a serious concussion in the head and the two combined injuries lead to the real Alexander untimely death. All the fantastic stories about Alexander’ death are the legendary Greek style for recording “historical” events in hyperbolic and imaginative mythical Homeric epics.

Alex corps was burned and his ashes kept in a gold urn.  According to Alex wishes his ashes were buried in Babylon in the garden of the Imperial Palace.  The caravan momentarily halted its victorious advances and the Imperial Monarch, not reluctantly, returned with his consorts and concubines.  The funeral was conducted as secretly as feasible and in the privacy of the Imperial Palace in Babylon but with great pomp as befitting a worthy King and adversary.  It happened that Roxanne, one of the Monarch’s wives, died in the return journey and Babylon observed the ritual of one week of mourning.

Artax mourned Alexander for two weeks in an isolated tent and forbade any contacts with him.    Alexander could no longer be his catalyst to changing the world and Artax went through a period of deep depression. Artax emerged from his seclusion a changed man with a definite purpose.

Artax’ secret project taking flesh


            The whole Persian Empire, from the confines of Africa to Afghanistan and Kazakhstan got words of a most serious and grandiose project perpetrated in the Capital.  The whole preparation was conducted in absolute secrecy!   The Imperial palanquins were being refurbished, the Imperial tents were dusted off and repainted and the Imperial guards re-clothed and re-armed.  The whole Persian Capital was feverish and excited with the grand scale remodeling and re-painting of monuments and carriages.

            These preparations were undertaken six months after Alex’ reversal to Babylonian beer and one year after Alex near death imprisonment.  During the last four months Artax and Alex had frequent meetings under the patronage of Scheherazade as a cover up gimmick since pleasure associations were excluded from formal requisites.  Alex was to subscribe to Artax secret project of moving forward eastward to the most exotic lands. Most importantly, Artax assimilated the goals and urges of the hot headed Alexander. Instead of resuming his plan to launch a counter offensive on Greece he decided to explore the confines of his Empire that his predecessors declined to do.

Alex was to lead the whole caravan with a regiment of one thousand men of war and Artax was to lead the slow moving and substantial reserve.  Cyrus “Alexander” was to lead the fresh three divisions at a day distance from the leading regiment of Alex.  Alex had thus earned the honor of discovering first hand the magic, the beautiful, the amazing, the scariest and the deadliest of surprises.  Alex had reservations as to the loyalty of Cyrus when the tough gets going and the God Incarnate revised his orders:  when in war, Alex will lead the three divisions and Cyrus “Alexander” would be the Chief military counselor to the God Incarnate, if and when rescue missions and support are needed.

            In the meantime, a second higher education center for research was to be established in Asfahan City; this center would be at the cross roads of the famous learning centers in Afghanistan, India, and Central Asia Estates.  Alex had the authority to hire the most learned scientists and philosophers in Greece, Albania, and Romania. Basically, Alex relied on Athens and its environs for his vast recruiting endeavors. On purpose Alex reduced to the bare minimum messengers to Macedonia:  Alex didn’t miss his mothers or her frequent letters of lamentations and remonstrance. Olympia was devastated and highly frustrated that her beloved Alexander put a brake on his beliefs on a Divine Star leading his steps. 

            Alex expressed a desire to visit the World City of Babylon, the most famous City in the Old World for three millennia.  Alex has heard of the suspended gardens wonder and the gigantesque Victor Arch and the fortified inner City of Nabukodnosor, one of the late founders of the Babylonian Empire before Persia entered the City.  The Son God Incarnate gave in to the puppet eyes of Alex on condition that his visit is a private matter and not as a guest of the Persian Monarch.  Thus, Alex will live in moderate size palaces and traveling in ordinary attires.

Alex was overjoyed and Babylon exceeded all his expectations in grandeur, richness and variety of nationals and languages.  Almost all caravans wanted to schedule a stop in Babylon and do profitable commerce.  Babylon was the nerve center for gathering intelligence and negotiating deals (political as well as business) and enjoying a most liberal climate and fun exotic places for late night orgies.  Alex forgot his stature and re-converted to an adolescent seeking freedom of attachments and responsibilities.  Within three days and nights Alex was sick and feverish; he kept pleading to be buried in Babylon.   The Imperial guards were ordered to dispatch Alex in shackles.  The return to Persepolis was most humiliating and degrading to a sobered proud soul.  Alex was confined into a much smaller apartment and put on diet of goat milk, yogurt and fruits. It was a hellish life without booz and beautiful girls, especially the abstinence of alcoholic beverages. 

Micro designs fever


            It was decided that wine is toxic for Alex’ constitution; a substitute for wine was to be offered.  While the Persian Monarch’s chemists set to work, on a liquid that looked and tasted like wine without the uncomfortable side effects, a convincing story was to be fed to Alex.  The genius of Scheherazade was unfailing; there is this tradition for the God Incarnate to honor the “national” beverages of his vassal Estates; this week was Babylonian beer.  Alex was to honor this tradition from now on until a magic much less toxic substitute for wine was invented.  Alex endured the first cups of Babylonian beer but alcohol was his remedy for “normal” behavior and it was as good as wine though he had to re-design his dress for frequent visits to the toilets.  That is how toilet designs and accommodations got a boost in the whole Persian Kingdom.  Alex genius for architecture started on the micro level but bathroom concepts got a life of their own and superceded the design of the other quarters in habitats.  It was winter season and Persepolis felt cold.  The invention of Jacuzzi-like wood barrel, quickly replaced by marbled tiled bathrooms in palaces, was the rage.  Sure, Alex supervised the planning of Alexandria in Egypt but that is called urban planning and it was the trade mark civilization of Syrian wine products; more accurately, grape and fruit based fermentation condiments, except dates I think.

Artax’ dust off his dreams


            Night after night the God Incarnate recalled his early dreams that the comfort of life has blunted; He made Alex dreams and hallucinations His own, save diving into the ultimate void.  One night, the Persian Monarch could not sleep of excitement and He summoned his ministers and Grand Vizier on the spot.  Artax spoke in unambiguous terms; the largest of his palaces in Persepolis would be refurbished as the highest education center of the Empire and all the scholars in the confines of his Empire should be invited to reside in the center as his hosts.   Artax went a step further; he ordered Cyrus (not the founder of the Persian Empire) to quicken the performance of the three new divisions trained by the Macedonians.

            Cyrus was appointed General in Chief of the new divisions three months ago; he was one of the closest companions of the Persian Monarch and the most devoted.  Cyrus was a true man of war and very cultured and of the highest noble ranks; he even assimilated the Macedonian slang to perfection, specifically, only the cursing vocabulary; in return he earned the sensible appreciation of the Macedonian sergeants and corporals.  Thus, since Cyrus was a hard drinker and wore a one horned helmet he was given the pet name of “Unicorn Alexander”.  The real Two-Horned Alexander was very amused at first when the gentle information was passed on to him.  The same night, the real Alexander had a bowl too many of wine and suddenly he went livid and then his face turned scarlet.  The entourage of H-2 Alexander heard his roar “Unicorn Alexander!”, “Why, giving the name Alexander to their Chief enemy; this is not a trifling betrayal by my compatriots!  I know now that those hard minded Macedonians, barely literate, never believed my mother’s prophesies.  They don’t take seriously my Devine ascendancy!  They quickly accepted my current status as simply one of the honored guests of the Persian Monarch.  I was never mistaken; all they wanted was the loots and they are getting plenty of money as it is to satisfy their drinking binges”

 Alex rambled on and his eyes were playing flippers. The head physicians hurried when they got news of the recurring symptoms:  the God Incarnate was too smitten by Scheherazade stories to lose Alex.  A few drops of somniferous liquid were added to Alex wine who spelt with no further additions to his adventure story.  Scheherazade would have to take the relay and insert many female adventure dreams; this time pretty genies in colorful dresses were to be avoided in those forsaken lands and midget elephant-like animals had different skills and used for different domestic tasks.

Hallucinations of Alexander


During his more than occasional bouts of comatose states, Alexander’s memories underwent ravaging re-structuring.  Alex woke up one morning with a focused objective: going to China.  Alex’ irascible and blunt character made room to a thoughtful and diplomatically minded personality.  He recognized two noble nurses to be the closest concubines to the Persian Monarch and started to fake feverish nightmares and recounting his projects for far away adventures.  The concubines did not fail Alex and relayed these nightmares with details to please both parties.  The favorite concubine Scheherazade was a fine story teller and embellished details with her soaring imagination and frustrated dreams for adventure.  The Persian Monarch was made to believe that Alex is contemplating very risky adventures across desert and year-long snow covered chain of mountains.  Scheherazade recounted that Alex wanted to discover rich new connections with unknown civilizations, the multitude of problems to ponder on, and the creative solutions that would provoke him. Scheherazade went on, to the bewilderment of the God Incarnate, that Alex is excited to meet the mythic dragons and to reach that scary sharp cliff where the surface of earth ends, and to dive into the unknown of the other world for his ultimate curiosity.  Alex was to take with him scores of scholars and scribes and painters to record everything on their passage.

Concentration camps


            The Macedonian army lost irremediably 25 % of its effective and 40% was injured.  The remaing fit 35% were split into three groups to train three divisions of new Persian recruits in Macedonian war techniques. The Greek prisoners offered a direct insight to a different culture. The injured prisoners with slight handicapped, but no longer fit for the war business, were packed and shipped to remote camps that undertook large scale infrastructure projects.  Many of the handicapped Macedonian officers were elevated to the rank of foremen.  Language was no barrier: the Macedonian foremen realized that most of their subordinates were highly learned and cultured people; they even conversed in pure Athenian, later labeled “Hellenistic”, slang.  The skirmishes between the Macedonian and Athenian slang talkers’ war dragged on for some time and mistreatments were based on slang differences and not on mishandled jobs.  A few Macedonian officers who were “Hellenistic” from the mother side were very grateful to enlarge their knowledge or acquiring new horizons in clemency and wisdom.

            The Macedonians learned, to their amazement, that most of the foreign prisoners in the concentration camp spoke more than two languages; they came from cities and towns on the coastal shore of the Mediterranean Sea such Izmir, Tarsus, Antakia, Ugarit, Lazkieh, the Island of Arwad, Tripoli, Betroun, Jubeil, Beirut, Saida, Sur, Akka, Haifa, Yafa and Askalan.  The Macedonians were even more surprised to hear that these people were incarcerated because they had something to say, and worse that they had something to write about; that many could no longer sustain a civilization that has been stagnating for decades and expressed their opinions for reforms!  The camp was truly Babel of languages, cultures and customs; the Macedonian officers felt overwhelmed and inspired “respect” by brute force.

            There was a rational for this huge number of foreign prisoners.  To recall, Alexander in his push toward Egypt was obstructed by two City-States, Tyr and Askelon. Al the remaing City-States mentioned in the previous paragraph aided Alexander one way or another to get rid of Persian dominion.  Tyr and Askelon were totally destroyed and the Son God Incarnate didn’t help in the reconstruction.  All the other rebellious City-States had to pay heavy ransoms and many of its citizens directed to Persia, especially the skilled professionals.  This has always been the “historical” stories of the Mediterranean City-States; they never attempted to organize a central army because they could afford to buy, hire and rent what they wanted in people and raw materials and products.  They were not into the military looting mentality of the antiquity period. They were satisfied, rich and prosperous and very literate.  Consequently, all the warlike Empires targeted first of all these rich City-States for the loot.  After the wars are ended then the City-States will again regain their ascendance and influence the invading Empires in culture, commerce, manufacture, economy, art, and finance.

The prized prisoner


            Artax summoned his best physicians to treat Alex and save him at any cost, lest the physicians lose their heads.  Alexander was catered by beautiful and gentle concubines of the Monarch’s court.  The noble nurses fell irrecoverably in love with this livid, hairless and blonde specimen in a coma.  There is nothing like a motionless myth to engross imaginations into frenzy. After three months in convalescence and in total confinement in a kingly spacious apartment, only the energy of youth saved Alex from certain death.

 Artax could then sit down at a sizable distance from Alex’ bed and engage in formal discourse.  Artax was aching for closer interviews but formalities were unavoidable and “de rigueur”.   By and by, Artax out of celestial pride or out of celestial astute meanness to humiliate his foreign enemy, though not necessarily his arch enemy which many earned that celestial honor among his inner circles and very close to the throne, to send Alex a profitable and fatherly proposal.

 Alex was to be appointed Vice Military Advisor to the leader of one of the countless caravans heading to China, India, the Spice Islands, and even into the heart of Africa.  The mention of China made the head of Alexander swirl and then the title of “vice something” set Alexander in a feverish semi coma.  For four days and nights the noble nurses, glad to be on demand, kept hearing the living myth repeating in his sleep “vice, vice, vice”.  The noble nurses were beside themselves for knowing details of what kind of vices the living myth meant.  There is nothing like ambiguity in key words and uttered by a living feverish myth to keep the gentle noble ladies chatting hotly and interminably.

Artax was trembling of fear, all these grueling days, for the life of his prized prisoner, not for financial gain since Greece was no land of milk and honey, but for a larger plan that he dreamed of long before Alexander landed in Turkey.  As Alex regained consciousness the Monarch sent Alex a very friendly letter wishing him long life and expressing His displeasure, in a firm tone, for the displaced interpretation of His proposal.  Artax then endeavored a follow up counter proposal: since caravanserai is a complex business that requires learning and training for years and thus His Majesty, the Incarnate of God on the Whole World, would be honored for Alexander The Two-Horned King to be His guest of honor for any one of the long distance caravans with no authority in any decision save in the management of his transported comfortable oversized tent-like house. 

The humiliation kept drilling at deeper depths in Alex’ spirit; he was not aware that the whole affair was mainly a sort of cultural or communication gap with no evil intentions.  Nevertheless, Alexander sank again in coma!  Going into comatose state was getting a nasty habit but the noble nurses with silky touches never complained. Artax was quickly reaching a conviction that Alex is a crazy person with serious afflictions that might cancel the long range plans He had for the cooperation of Alex.

The Defeat


The whole strategy of Artax was almost going down the drain if the fresh troops were not far away to witness the massacre. The stories of the few escapees were in hyperbolic terms and the intelligence officers suspected that the escapees didn’t even participate in battle. Artax was in no mood of gathering his staff; he could hear the screams in the silence of his generals; he could hear them saying in their mind “Foul, foul of a Monarch.  Your new war techniques are not worth a dime.  You are sending our best soldiers as sitting ducks in slaughterhouse battle fields”

Artax came to the realization that this initial failure was a psychological error.  The main army could barely see the encampments of their cavalries and felt totally isolated in front of an outnumbered battle trained enemy and morale must have sunk to its lowest level; the worst case scenario for engaging battles.  Consequently, Artax decided that the next formation would relocate the cavalries at closer distances of the main army and the number would be increase to double the previous effective. Yes, Artax would experiment with his technique no matter the cost and would prove his generals wrong in their expectations!

Alexander analyzed the tactics of his unorthodox enemy and did not like it.  Alex had to think harder and learn the mind of his enemy before engaging any further battles. Thus, Alex would have to control his impatient temperament and play reverse psychology.  The Macedonian Two-Horned King ordered a relaxed and organized retreat.

The next day Artax could not locate the army of Alex and got very confused and scared.  Certainly a few of his officers are traitors and leaking intelligence and he had first to dislodge the cowards and then re-examine his plans. 

After three days of hide and seek the two armies decided on a battle field for serious confrontation this time around.   Artax the Persian had changed his “imaginative tactics” and settled for the traditional frontal assault with enough troops to overwhelm his enemy.  Artax was sure of his victory but wanted badly to take Alex the Macedonian prisoner and alive;  for that objective he ordered his soldiers not to achieve any fallen enemy soldiers. This order was difficult to carry on in the heat of battle and could undermine the morale of his troops but Artax believed completely on his wining star and that his wishes are ordered by the Gods.

The Persian generals were over pleased that the Monarch re-adjusted to their traditional concept of war strategy; they strutted all night long in front of their troops and solemnly giving oath of Divine victory.  By dawn and facing the barbaric enemy the Generals, Princes, Governors of two dozens of provinces and countries had mixed feelings. This was the definitive moment to win or die; it would be more honorable to die in battle than facing the executioners.  The battle raged for two days and two nights. There were many crucial incursions by the Macedonians and the Persian Princes, governors, and generals lead their regiments, battalions, clans and tribes into the foray; many died trampled: they were so out of shape.  Alexander was made prisoner, though believed to be mortally wounded


Wild Goose Chase into the Old World: Persia 4th century BC


Ever since I have read the life story of the so-called Alexander the Great I have been restless. I keep considering alternative circumstances of how this mad and impossible incursion into the Old Eastern World could have been stopped. I felt that writing a historical fiction novel about this period would do me good. It should be historical because people are shying away from current news: They don’t listen to news, they don’t read newspapers, they have no ideas what is happening around them and yet, they feel superior to all politicians and far more capable.

It has to be a fiction because the so-called facts are bitter pills and not so reliable:

They are the facts of the victors and petty facts after all. I needed to delve and know more about the ancient world.  I need to imagine that a few of its leaders and scholars could have foreseen how political systems and technologies would have developed. How they would dare change the world according to their new visions; Whether they would have been better equipped, spiritually and morally to improve their world, people and environment, at their own snail pace


Alexander’s upbringing


Alexander was brainwashed since childhood.  He was made insidiously to believe by his mother Olympia that he was the descended of the God Hercules. His mother kept telling him that the Highest Priest of Egypt was convinced that he is the expected World King for the end of the Aries period (The Belier or two horned mammal).

Alexander was actually a bastard.  His father Phillip, King of Macedonia, strongly suspected that his wife Olympia has given birth to an illegitimate son. At the time, the kingdom of Persia extended from the borders of India to Turkey to Libya in Africa.  It included the current countries of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Libya and the coast of North Africa.


Background on the motives of Alexander


Alexander’s goal was to conquer Egypt and receive from its High Priest the crown reserved for the expected son of God so that he can secure legitimacy. As one of Alexander mentors explained it to him “If you want wealth you steal it by force and if you want legitimacy then you have to snatch it by the sword”.

As the story of history goes, while in Egypt, Alexander received a letter from the King of Persia. The King was proposing to Alexander to accept the coastal land of Turkey to settle their disputes. It seems that the King of Persia was in a chatting mood and he added a threat that if his proposal is turned down then he will keep retreating before Alexander’s troops, to the confines of his vast Empire until Alexander gives up the chase. The letter warned Alexander that this task would be impossible to carry through.

The King of Persia had just handed Alexander a sweet excuse and a new purpose.

So much for making sense to a hot headed and crazy young adversary! Alexander barely visited any city twice and intended to advance further east to China. 


What old “history books” told us


For thirteen years, Alexander barely backtracked in his wild push forward. His military travel took him beyond the Persian Empire to the Southern parts of Russia, Kashmir, Pakistan and parts of India.   As matter of fact, Alexander could not have advanced that far if not for the fresh recruits coming from Greece to replace the losses. The new recruits adored him and wanted to have a share of the glory. Alexander crossed deserts in summers, the highest mountains in winters and most of his soldiers died of hunger, thirst and diseases rather than from wars.  Alexander died in Babylon at the age of 30 something and his fiefdoms were divided among his officers after many years of a long civil war.


Lesser known stories


The officers of Alexander, battle worn, sick with disease and confused as to the purpose of this incomprehensible campaign, finally expressed bluntly their unwillingness to go any further and confronted him.  Alexander had to stop his advance and convinced his officers to navigate the Indus River and then reach Egypt by sea. To punish his officers for foiling his dream of reaching the confines of the ancient world, Alexander made his army to cross the southern desert of Persia for 60 days where thousands of soldiers died of thirst.

Organization of the Aram National Party

Noura and Gergis invested many hours to have a viable structure for the processes of administering and organizing a political party. They devised a system based on certification of eligibility to various levels in the organizational hierarchy. They wrote down 5 criteria based on disciplinary, civic, intellectual, strife, and political awareness achievements.  The adherent who would attend meetings regularly and obey directions for a year was certified as a full member, then if he paid his taxes and did not have any civic blemish he was certified as a “worthy” member, then if he showed dedication to learning the foundations and the Party lines and confirmed his faith he was certified as a “graduate”, then if he accepted missions and was successful in his assignments he was given the titled of a “Chest” in the Party and was eligible for defense and military training positions, then if he pursued a profession and could earn a decent living out of his specialty he was awarded the title of “Cornerstone” and was eligible to executive positions, then if he kept up his cultural development and knowledge of the social and political status of the Nation along with valuable practices in any one of the party administration branches he was offered the title of “Trustee” and was automatically eligible to elect the legislative committee members and be eligible to any legislative and executive positions and be nominated to any committee membership.  The most sought after membership was in the Highest Court of justice committee and required a thorough knowledge and practice in the legal profession. 

This system of certification and potential eligibility to the hierarchical echelons was considered a satisfactory method for insuring professionalism and dedication to the cause of the Party and consequently the safeguard of the Nation interests and promotion of human rights in society. The township and district executive members would be basically appointed by the highest executive council but the major townships would elect supervising committees by the full members and higher titled members; the districts would elect their supporting and supervising committees by the “worthy” and higher level members. The highest court of justice committee would establish 4 headquarters in all the Nation territory so that timely justice is provided for all claimants in the Party whether it be civic differences or Party disciplinary problems.

Preparations for the second revolution

The First Emir summoned Gergis, Mariam and Mustafa to a secret enclave to discuss the current State of affairs and how to plan to counter the decadence invading society from the top down.  Gergis rehashed on the principles, articles, and organization of the Aram National Party, and then discussions ensued:

Antoun said: “I have a serious problem with the article defining the borders of the Aram Nation.  If this article is circulated in writing then the Mameluk Sultan will have material evidence that we are preparing for independence and I am not ready for this dangerous step”

Gergis said: “We can drop this article but if we are asked about the boundaries of the Nation, and we will be asked, then I propose that we verbally offer suggestions to that effect and analyze the reaction of the adherents”

Antoun replied: “Do your best to avoid responding to that question or at best generate responses instead of offering your own opinions.  Now I have two more concerns; first, it seems to me that the hierarchical structure of the Party, although logical and well intentioned, will scare away good potential citizens from joining and participating as full members. I am under the impression that you are expecting already disciplined citizens to be attracted, especially the military officers.”

Mustafa said: “I guess that this structure is meant to encourage adherents to continue learning and improving on their potentials. I have some understanding of a few organizations that divulge the duties and responsibilities in stages when members have accomplished what were required of them previously and are ready to assume higher responsibilities.  May be we could emulate their systems by keeping the requirements secrets until the time is ripe for the next stage in the hierarchy?”

Gergis replied:  “I am aware of these secret structures and they worried me as to their consequences in forming ignorant zealots who are ready to commit unimaginable atrocities in the name of performing their duties and obeying orders.  We cannot take this direction if our principles are clear and our purpose open and honest.”

Antoun said: “I understand the genuine attitude of Gergis and I would be ready to take my chance with transparent teachings upfront as evidence of our confidence in our people and his capabilities.  We are in the business of enlightening the masses and not forming passive leaders waiting to be spoon fed at every stage of their organizational development; true leaders are ready to take initiatives and plan their political development as leaders should. I am under the impression that you guys are adopting the thinking and attitudes of the civil servants.”

The room was silent and heavy with accusations. 

The face of Mustafa turned from pale to hot purple and intoned defensively:

“What are you trying to convey my Don?”

The First Emir smiled lightly and said: “At least we guys have worked hard for our living before we engaged into politics and we know the value of work that the people understand; but we have engendered a class of civil servants who is entertained by the hard work of our people and yet sincerely believes that they are doing them a favor.  Our civil servants are into politics big time and have raised the motto that “everything in life is politics” so that they hide their indolence and refusal to try work that can add value to society.  They want the government and the people to feed them throughout their retched life as a deserved right for their sacrifices to the well being of the working people. If we found a political party we are also creating another brand of civil servants living at the expense of the party members and still believing they are the best and chosen ones among them.”

Gergis replied: “I understand your concerns my First Emir and many times I have been recollecting the happy and good period of our youth but our job right now is much harder emotionally and I can barely have a good night sleep. I feel that you have a recommendation to suggest and I cannot provide a satisfactory answer of how to bypass the formation of a professional class of political administrators and managers.”

The First Emir voice started low and then its pitch grew in crescendo saying: “I abhor the idea that any sane civil servant is set for life remunerated by another group of people.  I suggest that civil servants at the pay of the Party should not hold full time positions for more than two years; they should have an earning job before taking a political assignment and return to the real life of earning their bread after the assignment is over; new blood has to circulate continuously in the Party if it has to serve its purpose.  I suggest that we include a separate article stating that members are not required to serve in administrative and political positions unless they feel the drive and have the talent to serve in a party position.  Members have to understand that joining the Party is not a hindrance to continuing living the way they like but a school of life improvement if they have the drive for it.  Back to my third concern…”

Mariam interrupted him saying: “Excellency, sorry to cut you in but I feel it important to expand on your second concern.  As far as I can recollect, the status of civil servants was one of the hottest issues immediately after we won the insurrection and most of us felt uncomfortable holding government positions because we were unfamiliar with their demands, rules and procedures.  We meant well to shorten government assignments but circumstances and lack of funding prevented us to hold on our commitments. According to our wishes exiting civil servants were to be compensated so that they could open their private trades but we found it more economical and more expedient to extend their appointments at the expense of our principles and the trend stuck with practically no incentives or courage to change our administrative structure.  We need practical means not to revert to previous expedients in the Party hierarchy.”

The First Emir replied: “Yes, I do remember and several times I thought that we should hold fast to the commitments of our revolution and failed to communicate my worries in due time. I guess the Party has to consider business infrastructure to sustain its growth and not rely on the government fund or Party members’ dues. It is my position that any political party that cannot offer services to its members and their families over and above what the government is able or willing to offer then the party would become a serious liability to society.  Imagine adherents fed on principles and emotions bottled up with no positive outlets for practical changes then I can foresee rash and irresponsible responses funneled through incompetent leaders. Now back to my third concern; I wonder why there is no mention of religions in these principles”.

Gergis answered: “It is a dangerous subject to approach and the best we could come with is freedom of beliefs which is what we have been practicing but still is a momentous milestone to be able to state it bluntly”.

Antoun replied: “Our society is founded on dozens of religious sects and hiding this fact under the carpet would not strengthen the unity of the Nation. I remember my lack of patience with the confessional elements during the preparation for the insurgency and I do recognize that we failed to approach this fundamental problem through rational discussions. I suggest that we openly study this problem emanating with each district identifying itself according to its religious affiliation first; this trend is extremely stubborn and is spreading havoc to our concept of a united Nation”.

Mustafa: “Do you suggest my Don that we should adopt a religion as the main one for the land so that we retain a distinctive identity?”

Antoun: “I think that you are attempting to be sarcastic. We never stated it formally but I believe our actions tended to distance State affairs from religious meddling.  May be it is time to officially announce to the citizens that there should be a separation between State governance and religious beliefs.”

Mustafa: “To the best of my knowledge no citizen ever contemplated such a separation, not only because it has never been an issue but because they sincerely believe that governance is not possible without the blessing of religion. Besides, we have been doing fine without this announcement and any confrontation with the religious hierarchies at this junction might exacerbate the political climate.”

Gergis: “I believe that it would be a great idea to include the principle of separation between State affairs and religious beliefs in the Party’s articles.  The application of this principle might turn out to be extremely delicate and requiring a lot of tact but it certainly might allay the fears of many minority sects which are the most virulent in time of scarcity and instability.”

Antoun: “Indeed, the future generations should be able to accept this necessary trend as most normal if it is adopted by the grass roots first and made an obvious statement as time goes on.”

Mariam: “I still cannot delineate the fine line where State affairs starts and where religion stops. Suppose that I believe 100% in one religious dogma then my faith in these doctrines should take precedence over anything else that is of this World. If we have to boldly approach this topic we might as well identify the basic issues that are harmful to the professional running of a government and how religion can be of support.”

Antoun said: “Religions should preach what is all about the after death and State affairs is about enjoying our life, running society in an ordered fashion, and what is needed to survive as a society in an independent Nation.  I am not attempting to pin Reason against Faith but these concepts are the main delineations with the implicit understanding that Faith is in no way synonymous to Spirit”

Mariam: “With due respect Your Excellency, this is a pretty simple concept that is basically trying to sweep the problem under the carpet as you mentioned previously. The population is basically very religious and relying on reasoning will not cut it. For example, what if a citizen secretly belonging to a minority sect has cheated in his true religious affiliation and is elected to the highest position in the Nation, then would his election be valid on the basis of separation of religion and State affairs?”

Antoun: “You certainly are devious Mariam and I appoint you as the devil advocate to Gergis. I am inclined to reason that in this instance it is politics rather than cheating since it is none of our concerns his personal religious beliefs if we are sincerely secular as long as the candidate never offered to divulge his religious affiliations. I have been hearing rumors, which I am inclined to believe, that many Christian sects allow parallel pagan traditions among agrarian people. These peasants still worship Mother Earth for its bounty and do indeed offer human sacrifices to ward off calamities and dry years and they could not shake it off as far as I know.  Now, no sect is going to confess or proclaim that these ancient rooted beliefs and traditions are part and parcel of its religious principles although it is a pagan religion anyway you consider it.  Would you think Mariam that these pieces of information might complicate your example? All I can tell you is that I am not good with abstract notions. I do believe that anyone who reaches a stage in his growth to claim that his faith is total in the after death then he is a liar and not worth a dime anymore.  I also believe that whoever claims that we are just dirt and nothing else is also a liar and not worth a dime. Even if I still have a tiny pride it would be impossible for me to accept that we are just reduced to dust and dirt after death.  I am a good judge of character and the scoundrel is anyone who wholeheartedly believes that clinging to life is the best attitude to preserve and yet keeps preaching about the after life.”

Mustafa: “I think that I agree with your premises my Don though I am afraid that you will have the whole population against you if you proclaim that whoever claims has total faith is a liar.”

Antoun: “I guess you are in an ironic mood today and your attitude may be taking the edge off our heated discussion but hope that you will put a break to your behavior.  What I mean is that as long as we have a whiff of energy left in us to struggle for survival then our faith is necessarily within the range of the two extreme positions. Once we reach an extreme point in our beliefs then we are reduced to either stones or carrying on irrational behavior.”

Mariam: “I still need to grasp the dividing line where we can bring to court a religious movement with a political position that we deem it out of its jurisdiction. I can offer several examples that are very pertinent; first, there are a couple of sects that prohibit carrying arms or using them against their fellow men and second many sects insist on reading verses from the Bible or the Koran before starting classes or even providing an answer or delivering a speech. Another issue is shouldn’t the full time religious clergy have the right to vote, and why the clergy has to appoint representatives as it is applied now instead of the people electing these representatives?  It is time for the people to have a direct say on matters that impact their daily life and send a strong message to the clergy that more transparency is needed in their internal dealings and the community has to have a share in their financial discussions.”

Gergis: “Now we are talking business.  Abstract notions have to be explained in procedural forms if justice is to be applicable in any governmental action.  I can see the usefulness of not prohibiting the clergy from participating fully in elections though I can guess that the outcome of any election would be biased toward the clergy interest because they clearly have the power to easily impress and dissuade well intentioned voters.”

Antoun: “In response to the first example of Mariam I guess we were successful in enlisting many families in the army after they initially refused on moral grounds by increasing the pay and benefits of the soldiers.  I believe that adequate incentives and direct and patient communications with the members of these peaceful sects can open acceptable alternatives. As to the second example I sincerely do not see it fitting within the framework of our concerns. I think the most serious difficulty is that the clergy would interfere one way or another in the implementation of State decisions and programs.  For that reason we need to set higher standards for candidates otherwise the clergy representatives will dominate the floor and weaken any fair law.  Also, our work is going to be much harder now because the clergy is on the offensive big time. We will have to analyze every proposal from different perspectives and test the people’s responses to the proposals first before submission.”

Mariam: “I can see that the struggle is going to be tough for decades and only dedicated and highly learned servicemen would be able to turn the tide.  Stable nations had the vast majority of its citizens believing in our religion and a so-called secular government could be camouflaged under the implicit recognition that it is functioning within the nation’s religious beliefs. In our case with no overwhelming majority for a single religion we might be playing with fire attempting a distinct separation.  I don’t think Mustafa was joking when he alluded to the need of adopting a religion for the Nation. This was the case with the exception of the Roman Empire though most societies then were pagans, similar in their practices and traditions and their Gods were not invisibles and all that encompassing in a single unifying God. It is my position that change would be won by secular schooling and eliminating any notion that requires the support of religious dogma in the reading materials. Let the mind guide the kids in school and let their parents decide on their religious education outside of school”

Gergis: “I am inclined to include in the principles of the Party that religious beliefs are intrinsically personal matters but once a person is given State responsibilities or given a civil service appointment then he should adopt reason as his guiding God and the articles of the Constitutions as his guiding principles.”

Antoun: “I think we are agreed, you and I, though I see Mariam fretting in her place and doubt that she is about to accept your opinion.”

Mariam: “I understand your position Sir and the need of proclaiming Reason as our guiding power in managing our State affairs but I suspect that if this principle is formally included in the articles of the Constitution then one day the State will persecute religious beliefs under one reason or other. What sound like reason to you is within the abstract frame of mind to me; I have been around to know that many excellent civil servants, not of your political inclinations, will be sacked on the basis of preaching his faith at some point in his service, a right that is guaranteed in the Constitution also.  I demand that any censure based on stating religious principles should be examined by a regular civil court and all expenses paid by the State. “

Antoun: “I think Mariam that your apprehension might be founded.  Gergis, would you include in the Party principles something to the effect that faith is necessary for the spiritual stability of the Nation but that human Reason is capable and well endowed of forecasting changes in society and providing the appropriate remedies for the survival and development of the Nation?”

Mariam: “I suggest that we add in the Nation’s Constitution a clear article that no authority in the land should has the power to persecute any citizen based on his religious beliefs or to proclaim any religion unlawful unless we are ready to ban religions all together as anathema to unity and progress of our Nation”

Antoun: “Mariam, you are driving a good bargain that should satisfy the Party and the Nation.  I guess we have to bite this bitter pill since we have a wide variety of sects and refrain by law from forced persecution no mater how small a sect might be or to our distaste. I have to agree that the Aram Nation is going to be a precarious nation unless it enjoys a long peaceful reprieve with strong infusions of unifying and tolerant leaders. Are we all agreed on Mariam’s article?”

Mustafa: “I can go along this line of thinking if we could overcome the material power of the clergy.  I think that we have to target the essence of their power, mainly their riches. We already have taxed donations in money and their best parcel of lands which allowed us to study the trend in people behavior toward the hegemony of the clergy; now we need to study the problem of pro bono work on the clergy lands simply because the peasants are scared on the status of their after death.  I suggest that the clergy properties and profits should be taxed as any business. Donations should be taxed more heavily and pro bono work need to be revisited.   If the peasants are not paid by the clergy then part of the fruit of their labor that increases profits should return to the State to invest it for the benefit of all the society.”

Gergis: “These suggestions are pleasant to my ears because their rationales are sound and just. I move to adopt this taxing scheme.”

Mariam: “Don’t you share my view Mustafa that this new tax is proposed in the worst time?”

Antoun: “I tend to disagree with you Mariam. I think this tax is an excellent idea and very timely.  We know that the citizens are aware of the clergy injustices and unfair privileges. We could use the citizens’ restlessness and anger to our advantage by concentrating our effort and public pronunciations on that important platform. It is kind of killing more than one bird with one shot. If we all agree then I order Gergis to write up the required laws and establish a list of priorities targeting the financial worth of the richest monasteries.”

Mustafa said: “May we add another criterion for the priority list?  I have been wondering whether to annex a few properties that are strategically important to the military?  The clergy has been giving us hard time and was successful in baffling our plans.”

Antoun replied: “You may coordinate with Gergis on that list.”

Mariam said:  “I think that we may have an opportunity to expand our schooling institutions by appropriating annexes to the monasteries or suitable lands by providing tax breaks in these instances.”

Antoun: “Am I familiar with your machinations Mariam!  Your alternative could be acceptable only on a case by case basis and only if the negotiations are done openly and the townspeople participate vigorously in the negotiations.”

Mariam: “May I ask why the military is exempt from open negotiations?”

Antoun: “I could see that coming.  Actually it has nothing to do with paternalism or chauvinism. Historically, there is no love affair connecting the citizens with any military institution although no Nation was able to safeguard his integrity, independence and interest without a strong physical military institution.  In your case, every parent wants to educate his children and the odds are high that you will win your negotiations.  The way I look at it is that the service ministries are the cornerstones in the victory over the clergy. The more negotiations you win the more the people will grasp that this tax is for their interest and in no way intended to harass or persecute the clergy.  The victory of our platform resides in your zeal, stubbornness and continuous success.

Mustafa: “I am interested in the strategy contemplated to win victory over the clergy’s power.”

Antoun: “The clergy is powerful because it is the people who lent them acceptance and support to manage their spiritual needs and they will revert to them at the first spiritual malaise once their stomach is empty and opportunities scarce.  Anyhow, back to your strategy Mustafa. First, this tax law should be a tight secret.  Second, the tax law has to pass the legislature quickly.  To achieve passing the law fast we need to select a judicious timing for convening the House; the meeting of the House could be held close to major religious celebrations so that the clergy representatives would fail to attend the meeting. Once the tax law is passed, legality would assure us a hefty leverage in our struggle.  Timing, readiness and quick actions are the means to our victory.”

.  It was decided in that enclave that political parties would be legalized with conditions that their leaders, ideologies and funding be made public with the implicit primary objective of the government to acquire the necessary intelligence without undue pressures or disruption of the political situation.  It was also decided that the Aram National Party be funded through a special appropriation to the education ministry for only two years but kept a State secret and that Gergis would take a year sabbatical from his government functions to concentrate on the organization of the Party.  The First Emir planned to appoint each year a new leader for the Party and run his corresponding government functions in order to have a deeper and detailed comprehension of the intricacies of the government. Once the idea of forming a political party took hold in the First Emir’s mind his life regained some of its earlier enthusiasm.

The First Emir discovered that the ideas and principles of the Party had been disseminated slowly but surely in the last two years and he implicitly resented being kept in the dark for so long and this message came to him as a chock that he has been out of touch in the day to day running of the State and neglecting to frequently meet with his close associates and the citizens.

The Tatars are coming

Terrible rumors were spreading that hordes of Tatars were again on the march from the North East torching and destroying towns on their path.  Although these hordes were coming from far away Samarqand and had to cross Iran and part of Turkey before advancing toward Syria the population was in turmoil and business was hampered by the forthcoming calamity, reminiscent of the Mogul invasion a century and a half ago. 

The First Emir grasped the fact that the population needed a leader they could trust and allay their fears. He understood that this situation could have a positive side to it:  reorganize the population through a firmer ideology of values that could unify the people to face a ruthless and stubborn enemy of that magnitude. The new moral and political ideology was to unite the people and take advantage of the capabilities of all the member of the society.




December 2021

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