Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Queen's Sheriff (Part I)

The Queen and da Sharift

Sheriff Edwin Cashgrow is one of the few elected officers of the court, commissioned by the queen and elected by the people of his district to enforce the laws within the queen's kingdom. He is bound by duty to uphold the spirit of the socialist equality upon which the kingdom is founded. He has ruled justly so far within the district of the constituents who elected him with no complaints from any of the those people. Most other law enforcement of the queen's kingdom are appointed to their respective offices by the queen herself, such as the royal guards, or a representative of the queen's court, such as palace and marketplace officers.

The queen's palace and the royal marketplace are governed under her direct order. If anything happens at either of those locations that leads to a dispute between two people, two businesses, or any other types of entities, then the queen is given total autonomy for deciding a fair and reasonable resolution that satisfies the complaints of both parties. She does not force her will on the two parties in opposition; instead, she forces them to find an agreeable solution that both can live happily with. That is to say, she does not force happiness on people, for it is their choice to decide their mental state, but she does insist quite adamantly that they consider the best interests of their neighbors when demanding the terms of their side in a fair compromise of the issue under discussion.

Since issues continue to arise that may seem repetitive in nature, meaning the essence or principles behind the conflict have previously been discussed and justly resolved in the queen's court, then the queen's court clerks are authorized to offer a similar resolution to the conflicting parties of any future issues, provided that no favor or preference is shown to either party by the clerks. Either of the two parties may demand an audience before the queen if they feel they are not being offered a fair one, in the interest of resolving the issues with the same diplomatic resolution that the queen demands be offered for all of her citizens who have the courage to voice their complaints in public, risking the public scrutiny that obviously always follows.

Outside the boundaries of the marketplace, the land is divided into districts, with sheriffs elected by the people to enforce the queen's law as the majority of the constituents within that district have agreed in writing as their interpretation of her laws. These written interpretations within each district are known throughout the land as the sheriffs' doctrines. The doctrines are publicly posted in various areas of the districts, typically along borders between two districts on the major roads that separate them. Often, in the interest of ensuring new laws are properly publicized, when a new law is decreed throughout the land, the sheriffs will visit each posting, and replace the fine-printed list of doctrines with a large printed summary of the new law, so that it is easily visible to passers by.  

If an issue arises that cannot be resolved peacefully, and a non-peaceful solution would lead to more problems, then a constituent may ask that the issue be sent for resolution to the queen's court, in an attempt to appeal a sheriff's form of enforcement. The queen takes great consideration when accepting an appeal, knowing the risk it poses to a sheriff's reputation, the only true voice of the people throughout the kingdom. An issue may be escalated within the queen's court, until it finally reaches the queen herself, where she is expected to not only resolve the issue, but ensure that any similar issues are resolved peacefully, so that they do not need to be escalated again.

The people have a right to revolt. That is one of the queen's stipulations. She wants to genuinely help the people live in peace. If she makes a mistake, she expects the people to get that message to her by any means necessary, even if they must rebel against her palace guards to do so. This obviously is not the most ideal method of communication within the kingdom, but as the demise of a good, honest sheriff once demonstrated, the people will not tolerate ignorance in any form, regardless of the innocence that may be associated. This is a very scary rule that no other kingdom's majestic authority would dare even voice sarcastically. Here in the queen's kingdom, the only kingdom ruled solely by one wise queen, she has taken great lengths of time to ponder the pros and cons associated with such a liberal approach to providing a diplomatic balance in an autocracy. 

Last week, I met with Sheriff Edwin. He asked me to advise him on some financial issues he had postulated, as if the questions were simply for his better understanding of our current economic model. A rather dull conversation in which I explained the cycle of monetary possession throughout the different forms of payments, spending, and investment. The differences between the three can be obscured quite easily, confused quite often, and misunderstood quite problematically. I have not seen him since, so I look forward to seeing him today present a new law from the queen in front of the usual crowd of aristocrats, representatives, politicians, officers, and other citizens concerned with the progress of the politics throughout the kingdom.

Sheriff Cashgrow was just recently elected and has gained great admiration from the queen. She has spent quite a few days with him in the past week, and after careful consideration, appointed him to a secondary office under her direction and overarching across multiple districts, similar in theory to a supervisor of other sheriffs. His responsibilities now include ensuring that all of the elected representatives throughout her lands beyond the great wall obey the laws equally as the rest of her subjects are expected to do.

"Da Queen's citizens," announced Sheriff Cashgrow publicly in the Queen's court as he fumbled the words he read off the posting he just hammering into place, "are hereby re-kye-red ta pay taxes in accord-dance wid huh majesty's Justacation of Taxashun lawz. Dese lawz had bin enactid ta help afford educashun foe ah chelden an deh salaries fa huh knights an sheriffs an udder royal expanse is." The sheriff has a daughter Layla, who lives with her wicked stepmother in the far northern regions of East Westville. I was raised in West Eastville, the town just south of East Westville, by my two wicked stepsisters, Lina and Nali.

Edwin's profession as the new sheriff has required him to take courses at the community college to learn the the laws, the processes and bureaucracy of the legal and judicial systems, and how they all tie together as the foundations of our well-oiled political regime. He has become well versed in the laws currently in effect as well as the impact of any new legislation from the Queen's court on current laws, since he understands how the laws are enforced within the community. The new law on taxation allows him to personally collect a secondary tax on the citizens for the security of the society. He had hired a handful of deputies when the Queen first copied him on the final draft of the new legislation prior to his publicizing it today. The deputies were assigned to help collect the new tax revenue from citizens within the target demographic applicable under the new legislation, mostly artists, musicians, factory workers, serfs, and small business owners, including street vendors.

The post would have further explained the maximum amount he is allowed to collect cannot be more than half the Queen's royal tax plus one third any income above the social equilibrium, a set minimum income level for households with at least one child, but the sheriff's embarrassment at the mocking whispers from the crowd at his accent, which he misunderstood as insults of his reading comprehension, prevented him from finishing the oration. He glanced over at the queen before lowering his head and returning the hammer to the blacksmith, who was patiently waiting for the speech to end. The queen nodded secretly to the sheriff, a display of empathy, as he lifted his chin at the risk of sacrificing his reputation, which would weaken his authority within the royal community. Her nod signaled to him that he had completed the oration sufficiently to her satisfaction and they would reconvene at a later time to discuss future politics. 

Though the sheriff understood that he could collect a separate tax from certain households, he did not fully grasp the mathematical equations that calculated the amounts to be collected from individual income-earning households. We discussed last week some theories on net versus gross income, but since I was not privy to the stipulations of the new legislation, his ambiguous questions were unclear and seemed irrelevant to the nature of the new posting he had just announced. Though the new law does specify details applicable to the enforcement, proper regression analysis against the previously existing laws was performed hastily under pressure from the advocates of the law, specifically the wealthy citizens living in the Brahman district, and now a loophole exists that the rich Brahman residents intended, and the sheriff seems to have some insight into, regarding the ability to collect higher percentages from certain demographics, obviously those demographics do not include the Brahman residents.

Offended by the silent heckles, he marches passed me at a steady pace in the direction of his office, signaling with his hand for me to join him in his walk.

"Master Zen Chen, you've had always aw-ferd me advice wid my best interests at heart," he confessed as we distance ourselves from the crowds at a leisurely pace.

"Thank you Edwin, I sense a seriousness in you that was not present last week."

"Master, I feel justified in dee efforts I hab already initiated whens I hired some new deputies," he continues, "did you hear dem making fun a'me cuz I had trouble reading some ub dem words in..."

"Edwin, let me ask you this," I interrupt feeling his heart hanging low from the crowd's cruel calls.

"I rememba da previous pablems ub da old sheriff, Sheriff Blinders," he continues, ignoring my inquiring, "he allowed his deputies ta round up da calculations ub da taxes foe da foreign currencies dat da queen once tried to tax on our internashunal trada's. Before id ended, da deputies were seizing any foreign goods from da citizens' homes dat were purchased o' sole at prices below da fair market value in the interest of hedging da arbitrage advantages dat became available." I now begin understood his reluctance in finishing the public declaration based on the questions he had asked me the week before.

I offered my version of a diplomatic response, "Well sheriff, unfortunately, it failed to stimulate the proper macroeconomic development across multiple kingdoms because of unfair trading practices, you are correct," I reassure him, "the pricing differences were due to the poor foresight of the instability in market fluctuations among the varied kingdoms throughout all the lands and the arbitrage in pricing presented an advantage that allowed traders to realize profits at the expense other citizen's income losses. As other kingdoms established their own import and export regulations, the arbitrary fluctuations provided greater arbitrage, which provided even more opportunities for investors to realize huge gains in economies of scale, which then led to a repeal of the law by the Queen, if I understand it correctly," ending my statement with as little condescension as possible.

"Wow master," he interrupted, "I'm not so sure if any of dat is true or makes any cents ta me, but it sounded really smart, so yeah, that's what I was gonna say... more or less." I smiled; I honestly wasn't sure if what I had just said was in fact correct, but his confidence seems to have already been affected by the crowd earlier today, and explaining to him how he just agreed with my statement that may be false will certainly deepen his frustrations.

"So tell me what troubles you now old friend. Why do you care if your accent is different from the pompous aristocrats that fill the queen's future with golden rays of honey-glazed sunshine?" He finally turns his gaze at me, shaking his head with a look of bewilderment.

"Do you know how that story ends master? Before dey elected me?"

"I'm not sure. I have been away on the top of Mount Astorya," I respond with a curious tone, "perhaps one day we will sit over some tea, and I will share with you the great journey I undertook before I recently returned."

"Well masta, ebentially, all da foreign property imported widdout paying foe da newly formed import taxes was confiscated by da deputies. Da rumors had spread dat da deputies were selling or habbing someone sell foe dem da contraband on da dark market, an da funds were used ta acquire more resources ta furtha persist da deputies' efforts ta collect more contraband."

"The dark market?" I interrupt him, informing him of my ignorance, "I'm afraid that's a new term to me."

"Yeah, you neva heard ub da dark market?" he questions me in disbelief.

"I may have heard of it by a different name," I suggest, "but please continue."

"Maybe zen master, but I'll tell you about dat after dis, cuz dat's important too, ya know?"

"Yes, that would be interesting to learn about, please continue," I offer.

"Where was I now..." he mumbles passed his lips as he stumbles in his thoughts.

"You were describing the deputies collecting contraband," I advise.

"Oh yeah, dey collected more and more contraband ta sell on deh dark market. When da rumors landed on da sheriff's ears, he was horrified by da news..."

"...of such unethical practices by his deputies," I chime in sensing his train of thought would soon derail.

"Right and he immediately went and told da queen," he continues.

"Right?" I interrupt, suggesting a deeper interest in his approaching conclusion.

"She oda'd him ta retire da deputies. So he sent dem home. Dey returned ta da skill dat they apprenticed at when dey wuz young, but..." he hesitates as he reviews my reaction to what he might possibly be about to say.

"hmm...." I offer him, as if proof of my ability to objectively mentally digest what was about to be revealed.
"dat sheriff," he continues, "found himself answerin ta da edge of one of da Queen's royal guard swords," he concludes.

"Sounds like the deputies used him as a scapegoat," I suggested in lieu of the knowledge of the reasoning behind the decision.

"Da ways I heard it was dat da crowds were demanding da queen return da monies or offer some sort of vigilante justice foe dey losses, and they gathered outside da court ready ta revolt cause ub dey said id was his fault foe being da supervisor ub his depudees."

"I see my friend. You are troubled by the responsibilities set upon you by the queen?" I inquire as an offer of my understanding of the troubling thoughts tinkering in his head.

"Huh? Nah masta, I can do ma job, whadaya mean?" he replied. This is why I have always appreciated my friendship with Edwin, because he is not afraid to stand up for himself no matter who might be facing him. In this case, I understand why he responded this way; he is already troubled that the people of his district have been able to sacrifice a sheriff who's deputies committed crimes and have continued to go unpunished. Such is the way of the peaceful warrior, and it should be a lesson to all who believe one good deed deserves another, because often times, if not always, no good deed goes unpunished. That does not mean that you should carelessly continue about your life with complete disregard for your neighbors and countrymen, but do not expect a cash reward for something you believe was a good deed. Hopefully one day, we will all understand that the idea of good is subjective, which means that each person has their own interpretation of what might be considered a good act in a given circumstance. He continues, "Zen master, you just reminded me of some guy I ran into from da other side of the river."

"Oh? How so?"

"He sed ta me dat when the Great Buddha was axed whad he hoped ta gain from da meditation, and den da Buddha said to him 'nothing!.' So's I says okay, dat done make sense. and so dis guy says ta me, 'of course not to a commoner such as yourself, for the Buddha gained nothin bud was able ta remove all his hate, and greed, and anger, and negativity by meditating."

"I'm so sheriff that you spoken to in this manner, was this one of my student's? do you know his name?"

"Yah, he colds himself 'Dareel Zendeele' but I tolds him you'd ged mad and he sed you are harmless, so I kicked him out back to his district an told him not to come back for a month." the sheriff apologetically relayed to me with a slight hint of concern that I might not believe his story.
"I am aware of this man-child that is preaching and professing throughout the kingdom, claiming to be my master."

"Well whad should we do Master Chen? I done think I can arrest him fa lying, even if it's not right. He didn't steal anything dat I saw, and the kids and the young ladies seem ta like him."

"Sheriff, someone like that is someone we should feel sorry for, not threatened by. If he were to attack me, I'm not sure how I would react, perhaps I might teach him a thorough lesson from my catalog of wutang defenses, or perhaps I would defend myself using a humorous approach, such as drunken boxing, but at the same time, reacting so quickly, that my gentle touch provides him comfort instead of pain. And maybe that act of helping him to save face, might lead him to continue his childish rants to the children and pretty women, who seem to enjoy his company" I answered, but then immediately regretted my response as the words were coming out of my mouth.

"I don't understand dat at all Zen Chen," he replied. This is an interesting aspect to my friendship with young Edwin; when he hears something he doesn't understand, something that he was taught as a child could be a potential threat as a result of a con or hustle, he immediately raises his defenses, and let's me know he has taken offense by changing the title with which he addresses me.

"Let me explain myself Sheriff, but before I do, I want you to understand, that as a teacher to children, it is important to set a proper example for them to follow."

"Oh okay, so you just saying to take pity on him cause he so pitiful?" he asks me, searching for a way to comprehend my reaction to what is clearly a violation of my respected title in the kingdom.

"Sheriff, first of all, he was lying to you. The Great Buddha did not answer the question of 'what have you attained from meditation' with the answer of 'nothing' unless he was making a humorously ironic reference to the realm of nothingness, which I recently attained again while meditating in the mountains."

"I'm not sure Master Zen, I means, Master Chen" he fumbles humbly as his logic resolves the resolve I am showing for the disrespect of a charlatan posing to be my equal and bashing my reputation.

"Sheriff, please stop me if something I now explain seems confusing," I offer him as the preamble to a small speech that I do not want to be interrupted during, and of course, he senses by the tone of my voice, that I am about to offer him a valuable lesson on Zen.

"Okay Zen master, I'm listening," he responds as he signals with his hand that we should adjourn to an outdoor table at the tea house up ahead. I nod in agreement.

"This speech is a response to what that bafoon fed you the other day, but only as a value to you, and not something I would care to share with him, because someone like that would just take down notes for his next con." We both chuckle. "Interestingly, I don't think much of this person, so I hope you appreciate that as my friend I offer you this insight into my understanding of the path to enlightenment. I do not meditate to remove negativity, hate, anger, envy, and whatever other nonsense he fed you the other day. You see, without negativity, there can be no positivity."

"Okay master, I'll takes ya word foe id," he questions with scratch of the back of his head.

"Think of it this way my friend. If you had a paradise, an absolutely beautiful, perfectly decorated, freshly cleaned palace, which of your friends would you invite over to visit for the weekend from our old neighborhood in West Eastville, but before you answer, the roads are muddy, and it is raining outside."

"If da roads muddy, ain't none of dose guys coming in my palace, dats foe shaw," he smiles inviting me to join him in his quick witted response.

"Right sheriff, so too, heaven does not want muddy shoes in the entranceway, so in order to appreciate the bliss and euphoria of heaven, one must first understand all the bad things that are not welcome there."

"I done think I understand dat" he interrupts as his smile dissipates and his brow tenses.

"Let me continue dear friend. You see, there cannot be good without evil. In fact, between me and you, there is no good and evil. For example," I offer sensing his confusion has not subsided, "we have laws that protect women from the brutality of drunk men who forget to mind the boundaries we have set in public areas."

"Right?" he grunts, not foreseeing the direction of my argument.

"Well, if a man does that, he has done something bad, and it is your job to discipline or punish as per the Queen's laws. Now let me offer you this perspective: 10,000 years ago, assuming the fairy tales of our history books are accurate, cave men did not have alcohol to use as an excuse, and they're methods of communications with women were barbaric and by today's standards, completely evil in ways we could never imagine treating any person, let alone a lady. However, without those acts by our ancestors, according to our biology teachers from our childhood, we would not be here. That is how they perceived reality at that time. It was neither right nor wrong to the caveman, just what happened at that moment. If his female partner cried or showed pain, he may or may not have reacted as we do today to someone's, especially our partner's, emotional outbursts. Do you see how this otherwise offensive argument applies to the concept of duality being subjective?"

"I think so Zen Chen, but I'd have ta arrest da caveman too." He states very matter of factly, indicating I have provided a terrible example, which as I said before, I regretted the second it came out.
"Indeed you should Sheriff, and I'm glad you are wearing the badge in this district to uphold the Queen's code, so that our streets are safe and people are comfortable commuting at any time of the day or night."

"Thank you friend," he answers, "but I still don't..."

"I know," I answer, "that was a terrible example. It seems this copycat kungfu con artist may have bothered me more than I let on."

"But nothing bothers you Zen Master," he interjects with objection.

"That is my point Edwin," he senses I do not wish to be interrupted again as I offer a more serious response to an incident that seems to have been troubling him."I am peaceful by perception, not by nature, and not by design. Let me explain." I offer sensing more confusion brewing from my second failed attempt. The Great Buddha did not answer that question with a response of 'nothing, but I got rid of all this baggage you guys carry around,' if I may humorously paraphrase. In all seriousness though, I want to share my perspective with you, so that hopefully it will guide you as a beacon when you are confronted by a confusing situation. Negativity is the opposite of positivity; without one, the other cannot exist. If everything was gold, then gold would be worthless. If the trees needed oxygen, instead of carbon dioxide, as you may have heard from my teachings to my students, then we would have to fight the trees to survive. They exist in contrast to us; and with the existence of those two opposing forces,we are able to sustain a balanced interdependent coexistence. Allow me to further elaborate, I'm sure you will find use in your career with this advice."

"May I offer you some tea gentlemen?" the owner of the small shop interrupts as he withdraws slowly upon recognizing his two patrons.

"Tea would wonderful. Thank you so much." I reply, extending my arm with payment ready in advance, which he kindly accepts as he disappears into the background. The sun taunts us under the protection of the awning at our table outside the tea shop as I continue my monologue to the sheriff.

"To sit and meditate is a practice of a person who wishes to still the mind, reduce the racing of thoughts crashing into each other inside the head, and rejuvenate the spirit through proper breathing. To breathe properly means that your body is steady, shoulders relaxed, and the stomach expands outward as you inhale a breath using your nostrils into the bottom of your lungs. In a calm, steady pace, you then slowly release the breath out of your mouth, as your stomach contracts, almost as if someone was pulling a string behind you, forcing your stomach in, which if you try it now, you will see, it seems unnatural."
"Yeah Master Zen, bud I done see how ta do dat," he submits as evidence to my claim after a single failed attempt.
"It is not easy, I know. I spent well over a year training my body to breathe through my abdomen rather than my rib cage, and now I am able to sneak in a few powerful inhale-exhale combination sets every hour or so throughout the day, but when you sleep at night, your body automatically switches to the breathing style I just described, because that is how your body refills your energy levels at night. Why we sometimes wake up tired after a full night's rest is another story for another day about the politics of the egocentrics."
"Oh, yeah, dey a powerful colleck-shun of votaz, but thank you Zen Master Chen, I always appreesheyade learnin somedin new from ya every deh, even if id iz not somedin I expecteds ta learn."

"You are welcome my friend, now where is that darn tea?"

Queen’s sheriff continues

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