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Poem: "In Good Cause" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "In Good Cause"

This poem came out of the November 1, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by laffingkat and sponsored by janetmiles.

It belongs to the Ocracies series, and you can find the other poems through the Serial Poetry page.  Ironically, I could not find a named form of government focused on happiness, well-being, good, or humor -- although there were plenty about evil and demons and all flavors of mayhem -- which says something about governments and human nature.  So I coined the term "bonocracy."  Worth mentioning is that Bhutan tracks Gross National Happiness.  There is some basis in consensus reality for such a governmental theme.

In Good Cause

It was difficult to be a diplomat
in the Bonocracy of Ophele.
You would state the obvious,
and people would look at you
like you'd grown another head
and say something ridiculous.

On one side lay the Plutocracy of Aurea,
whose delegates were prone to respond:
"Of course happiness is important,
but you can't put it in the bank."

On the other side lay the Hamarchy of Helgi,
whose delegates were prone to respond:
"Of course well-being is important,
but that depends on whose."

Inland on the rolling plains lay the Hipparchy of Pelip,
whose delegates were prone to respond:
"Of course it's important for things to be good,
but are they good for the horses?"

You could spend all day negotiating
for whatever seemed most likely to promote
happiness, well-being, and good humor
with colleagues who seemed to grasp none of the above
and who made proposals devoid of sense and benefit.

In the evening, though, you got to go home
to your cozy little house with your family
and sit by the fire with a cup of cocoa
and listen to the waves booming on the beach outside.

Then you'd remember, after that long hard day,
how lucky you were to live in a country
that always aimed for the best it could achieve;
and when you went to bed, at least you'd know
that all of your exhaustion was
in good cause.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 3rd, 2011 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I could see wanting to live in a bonarchy. I can also see "but is it good for the horses" as being a not-unreasonable question, because if it's bad for the horses, there's a good chance it's bad for the environment in general.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 3rd, 2011 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)


Precisely. Pelip is inland and mostly grass. The wealth and power of the culture lies in the horses. They're just more sensible about acknowledging that than historic horseclans have been. What's good for the horses is good for the environment, and generally good for people as long as folks aren't trying to, say, take over the world or suck up all the money. You get a pretty good situation that's pretty consistent, and works for most people most of the time.

The challenge is that these folks are used to thinking in talking in terms of the horses. It's hard for them to stop and reconsider what that's going to look like, in terms of advantages and disadvantages, for a foreigner; and if the foreign interests and the horses' interests conflict, it's not always straightforward to explain the reasons why Pelip decides the way it does, beyond that shorthand nobody else gets.

So far, the countries all seem to be relatively functional, and aimed at producing a society that more-or-less works. But they're all using very different methods and markers. Some of them really tend to level things out, while others stratify. Some emphasize teamwork whereas others are more individualistic. I think they mostly manage to work things out, but my how the sparks do fly in the process.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 3rd, 2011 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)


>>I'd like to live in a Bonocracy. Sounds like a nice place.<<

So would I.

>>I had to look up Hamarchy, and I'm still not sure I entirely get the concept. Sounds sort of like maybe some sort of idealized fusion of anarchy, socialism, and democracy?<<

Something like that. There is no one central leader, as in anarchy. One aim is along the lines of the greatest good for the greatest number -- they're disinclined to screw one group for the benefit of a few -- as in socialism. Leadership is collective and selected, as in democracy. Basically it's government by committee, where they've assembled teams of reasonably competent and knowledgeable people to take charge of each area.

They're used to working in teams. They value cooperation and ... hmm, their concept for this is more along the lines of "clockworking," trying to arrange matters so that each distinct part both does its own job and coordinates with the larger whole. They dislike a solution in one area that causes a problem somewhere else; they want the whole country to run smoothly. And it's an intricate little clockwork of a government, with individuals forming small teams, and fields coming together under the supervision of the main committees, the way individual gears form movements and then become a clock.

>>I do like the response from the Hippocracy, though; got a good laugh from that one :) <<

It makes sense, given their location and culture and source of prosperity. Just ... most people don't think like that.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 3rd, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>OK, that's about the conception I had of a Hamarchy. It's different enough from anything I've looked into before that I was having trouble coming up with the right descriptors for it, though.<<

Yes. It's not easily summarized.

>>That seems to happen a lot over here. I like it, keeps me learning new things :) <<

Yay! That's one of my goals as a writer. I love it when people let me know it's working, and especially, when they seek out my writing because of it.

Then too, you folks have the same effect on me. Tuesday, I went pawing through half-remembered alchemical lore to refine the framework for "The Steamsmith" and "The Four Humours."

>> And yeah, the Hippocracy's approach does make sense, but if you're not used to that perspective, there's a serious moment of "wait, what?" <<

Heh, yeah. But I think all the governments have an aspect of that when viewed from someone else's perspective. The base assumptions and values are just so different, they always tend to make people shake their heads at each other.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: November 3rd, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am intrigued by the concept of a Bonocracy, at least; it reminds me of "hedonistic calculus," a concept I fell in love with in college and found really, really tricky to put into practice.

(It does not work all that well as a dating strategy ;-)
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aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: November 3rd, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
(icon <3<3)

It's been a long time since I read up on in - freshman year of college, in a year that started with 19-. But that would, indeed, make a lovely album title. :-D

laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: November 4th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay, glad this was sponsored. There are aspects I like about each country described so far, and I love that each works pretty well, but wackiness ensues when they interact. Vive la différence!

And exhaustion in good cause can be a really nice feeling. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> There are aspects I like about each country described so far, and I love that each works pretty well, but wackiness ensues when they interact. Vive la différence! <<

Yes, those are my favorite parts about this series too. Everyone has a piece of the truth.

>> And exhaustion in good cause can be a really nice feeling.<<

Satisfaction in a job well done, yes.
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