Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 4, Ma’at And The Tale Of The Eloquent Peasant

The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant is an Ancient Egyptian story about the relationship of Ma’at to justice. Written sometime during the Middle Kingdom in the 19th century BCE, it relates a story about an incident that occurred during the chaotic First Intermediate Period.

The main character is a farmer from the arid and desolate Wadi Natrum named Khun-Inpu, who loaded up his donkey with most of his barley and set off for an urban marketplace in the Nile River valley where he intended to trade the barley for goods to take back to his wife and children. Along the way, he came to a place where the path narrowed down to the width of a loincloth bordered by a stream on the low side and a wheat field on the high side. A wet cloak lay across the path.

Khun-Inpu stopped when he reached the cloak. A man stepped out of the wheat field and warned him not to move or touch it. He said his name was Nemti-Nakht and he was the overseer of the wheat field.
Khun-Inpu asked him to remove the cloak so that he could resume his journey, but Nemti-Nakht refused. Khun-Inpu then stepped into the wheat field pulling his donkey behind him intending to go around the cloak and resume his journey. The donkey flattened some wheat, however, and then decided to stop and eat some grain, notwithstanding Khun-Inpu’s entreaties to to the contrary.

Nemti-Nakht started screaming accusing him of trespassing on his master’s land, destroying part of the crop, and stealing grain to feed the donkey. He assaulted Khun-Inpu with a tamarisk and beat him unconscious. When Khun-Inpu regained consciousness, Nemti-Nakht was nowhere to be seen. Neither was the donkey nor the load of barley.

Khun-Inpu decided to find the owner of the wheat field and plead his case for the return of the donkey and his barley. Upon reaching the next town, he soon discovered that Rensi, son of Meru, owned the land and he found him in short order down by the riverside in the city. Addressing him with praises, Khun-Inpu described what had happened and pleaded for the return of his donkey and the barley. Rensi’s judges heard his case, but they turned him down claiming that they could not do anything for him unless he provided witnesses to verify his claim against Nemti-Nakht.

The judges, however, were quite surprised and impressed with Khun-Inpu’s demeanor and presentation, which was not at all what they expected from an outlander, a class of people for whom they had little respect. His honesty and passion for justice and his fearless yet polite and earnest way of expressing Ma’at, or good speech would have been exceptional even if expressed by one of their own. Believing pharaoh might be impressed, if he were to hear Khun-Inpu’s literally divine speech, they convinced Rensi to refer the case to Pharaoh Nebkaure for his consideration. Pharaoh agreed to hear the case.

At Pharaoh’s request, Khun-Inpu prepared eight successive petitions, but pharaoh appeared unmoved. Finally, in desperation he prepared a final petition in which he really let it all hang out speaking truth to power. He told pharaoh that if he denied him Ma’at, he would seek it from Inpu himself in the Hall of Two Truths in the Duat. In pertinent part, he said the following:

nn sf n wsf(There can be no yesterday for the do-nothing)
nn xnms n sX mAat (There can be no friend for one deaf to Right)
nn hrw nfr n awn ib (There can be no festivity for the greedy hearted)

Pharaoh was so moved after reading Khun-Inpu’s three fundamental truths that are so essential to any understanding of Ma’at, that he ruled in his favor and ordered the donkey to be returned to Khun-Inpu and for him to be compensated with all of Nemti-Nakht’s property, including his job.

President Barack Obama might be a smart man, but he lacks wisdom because with each passing day he sows the seeds of his own destruction by lying, breaking campaign promises, and obliterating the principle of equal justice under law by exempting the rich from paying their fair share of taxes, obeying the law, or facing any consequences for violating the laws. He created a cancer on his presidency soon after he was elected when he announced that he was going “to look forward and not backward,” thereby aiding and abetting the criminal Bush Administration to escape justice by protecting it from investigation, prosecution, and punishment for:

(1) violating the Constitution by seizing virtual dictatorial powers at the expense of the Congress pursuant to the so-called unitary theory of the executive;

(2) committing multiple war crimes, including but not limited to, initiating two prohibited wars of aggression under knowingly false pretenses in Afghanistan and Iraq; and

(3) violating the Geneva Convention by kidnapping and torturing hundreds of people in an effort to obtain false confessions to justify its unlawful wars of aggression.

Seizing virtual dictatorial powers was a grievous insult to our Founding Fathers who risked their sacred lives and fortunes to conceive a new nation under law with liberty and justice for all. With its abominable unitary theory of the executive, the Bush Administration fractured the separation of powers principle that is the foundation for the structure of our government. To prevent the executive branch of our government from assuming absolute power, our Founding Fathers established three independent and co-equal branches with their own powers, duties, and responsibilities that were intentionally designed to function as a system of checks and balances to prevent one branch from becoming more powerful at the expense of the others. This was a reasonable and legitimate concern given the successful war for independence that they started against the all powerful King of England. Indeed, the unitary theory of the executive is a dagger in the heart of our system of government and no meaningful reform can occur unless it is discredited, repudiated, and discarded.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused the deaths of over one million Iraqis and the deaths of an unknown number of innocent Afghans that the Obama Administration will not reveal, but probably is not less than a thousand and may number well into the thousands. Over 2.3 million people fled Iraq in the sectarian strife that the United States military invasion unleashed. The United States military has officially sustained 4,472 casualties in Iraq and 1,661 casualties in Afghanistan. That adds up to 6,133 men and women soldiers who have sacrificed their lives so that multinational oil corporations and the Wall Streets banks can gain unfettered access to and exploit petroleum and natural gas deposits for the financial benefit of their shareholder owners. More than six times as many soldiers have sustained wounds that disabled them for life and countless soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). The number of soldiers who have committed suicide exceeds the number of soldiers killed in combat. These statistics are an astonishing and disgraceful legacy of shame. Every decent and honorable citizen of this country has a duty to stand-up, speak-out, and non-violently protest these unlawful, immoral, and continuing wars of aggression until at long last they end and our troops are withdrawn.

98 alleged terrorists seized during this bogus war to steal natural resources from foreign countries died in U.S. custody between October 2001 and February 2006. 34 of those deaths have been confirmed as homicides. Even though the United States prosecuted, convicted, and executed German and Japanese soldiers for war crimes involving torture after World War II, President Obama has refused to do anything except prosecute people who have blown the whistle on illegal conduct committed by people in government service. He has established a two-tiered form of justice that violates and mocks the bedrock constitutional principle of equal justice under law. These awful deeds cannot go unpunished. Ma’at has been disturbed and balance must be restored lest we suffer a fate similar to the Ancient Egyptians during the First Intermediate Period. As William Butler Yeats wrote in The Second Coming,

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

People in the United States now have no reason to believe that President Obama respects their legal rights or that he cares whether they live or die. What will be the consequences of the destruction of public trust in the principles that no person is above the law, not even the President of the United States, and justice must be fairly and impartially rendered? How can any citizen willingly forsake and discard the dream for which our Founding Fathers risked their sacred lives and fortunes 235 years ago?

Ma’at cannot be restored; Isfet cannot be suppressed; and peace and harmony cannot be restored unless the war-mongers, the torturers, and their enablers and protectors are brought to justice. That includes President Barack Obama who lied his way into office only to aid and abet the criminals in the Bush Administration by covering up their crimes and refusing to investigate and prosecute their horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity. By so doing, he willfully, intentionally, and enthusiastically joined their criminal conspiracy to seize control of our government and transform it into the largest and most dangerous terrorist organization in the world.

No one is going to rescue us. We must stop waiting for a messiah to appear and instead rescue ourselves. By acting together with a common purpose we can create, in effect, the superman we wait for to end the imperial presidency forever, restore the separation of powers doctrine, and reclaim our lost civil rights and democracy. Khun-Inpu taught us all we need to know: we don’t have to be rich or famous; we don’t have to be well educated and well dressed; we don’t have to use good English or be a great public speaker; for the meekest among us can do what needs to be done by speaking Ma’at and never ever giving up. Why? Because it’s all about sacred speech; speaking the plain and simple truth straight from the heart. Ma’at, the sacred idea that everyone understands. The idea that is more powerful than any despot, the military forces he commands, and the armada of weapons at his disposal.

Cross-Posted at Firedoglake and The Smirking Chimp

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor.
Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

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One Comment on “Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 4, Ma’at And The Tale Of The Eloquent Peasant”

  1. laluna Says:

    tears ~ for our children and grandchildren.

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