Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Bearers of Witness with Justice"

This poem is spillover from the June 7, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl.  This poem belongs to the Aquariana thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

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WARNING: This poem includes graphic descriptions which may be disturbing to many readers.  Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers.  This is the trial of the Japanese whalers.  Accordingly it contains legal stress, the challenges of accommodating nonhuman citizens, interspecies diplomatic incidents, body consciousness, religious and political differences, traumatic stress, rough telepathic contact, alarming use of superpowers; graphic descriptions and telepathic re-experiencing of past attempts to murder and eat sapient persons, violence and injuries, miserable medical memories, really stupid provocation of the flashbacking whale, followed by relaying the whaler's memories to everyone else, Steel broadcasting his even worse memories of being hunted and seeing his family murdered twice, which includes child death, and lots of gore; current environment is safe; mass vomiting because the inside of Steel's head is a cookie-tossing horror show, rude people snapping photos of play therapy, references to possible mental injury due to telepathy, public shaming and banishment, schadenfreud, and other mayhem.  There is also a lot of emotional support, and justice is certainly done, but it's still very stressful throughout. If these are sensitive issues for you, then please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding whether you want to read this.  It's plot-heavy, however, so skipping it would leave a big gap.  WARN ALL THE THINGS!

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Bearers of Witness with Justice

Moving the trial to the waterfront
produced all kinds of challenges,
from the legal to the logistical.

After some negotiation, they decided
to hold the preliminaries in the courtroom,
since the whales had little interest in
such human details, and that reduced
the amount of time needed on the docks.

The President helped by cutting down
the number of participants to a minimum
and by sharing the great gauzy tents
that he used for garden events.

That still left a sizable number of people
squeezing onto the narrow dock.

Aquariana tried to concentrate
on Steel and Moderato, who had
arrived in the harbor along with
a considerable number of dolphins
and several other whales.

It was better if she didn't
pay too much attention to
the other people gathering.

"You seem upset about something,"
Irene said. "Is there anything I can do?"

"I am not comfortable going nude
around this many people," Aquariana said
with a sigh. "Actually, I'm not comfortable
going nude at all, but it's worse in a crowd."

"I wondered about that," Irene said.

"I can't wear fabric for more than
a few minutes," Aquariana said.
"It hurts my skin, and besides,
drying out is bad for me."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Irene said.
"Listen, I'm mostly here for the whales --
there are other people assigned to handle
EFA for the humans -- but you are all
so meshed together, I can cover you too."

"Thanks," Aquariana said. "I'll let you
know if I think of anything that would help."

If she shut out the people, the tent itself
was beautiful, all white and gold silk with
sturdy bamboo poles and bronze finials.

Judge Huraagey had even brought
a framed parchment of calligraphy
in blue and brown in which read,
Bismillah alrahman alraheem.
In the name of God, the most Gracious,
the most Compassionate.

That still felt a little odd to Aquariana,
who had grown up in America and
was accustomed to the separation
of church and state, but she was
also learning that most Muslims
were nothing like Haboob and it
was actually an interesting faith.

He really was a wretched Muslim anyway.

Judge Huraagey called the court to order,
and then said, "Today our lead witnesses
will be participating through telepathy.
Attendees are further advised that they
are trauma survivors, so the contact
may not be as genteel as customary.
Anyone not comfortable with this
should leave the courtroom now."

One of the Japanese diplomats left
in disgust, muttering in his native tongue.
A reporter tagged out, only to be
replaced by a different one.

Everyone else stayed put.

"Thank you," said Judge Huraagey.
"Since there is no question about
the violation of national waters or
the piracy, we will begin with
the contested charge of whaling --"

Steel's flare of rage scraped
over Aquariana's mind, and she
sent him a gentle wave of reassurance.

"The Japanese claim that they
ran a scientific vessel, instead of
a whaling ship," she explained.
"Everyone knows they're lying,
it's just a matter of proving it.

Steel's power flexed like
a length of anchor chain.

Suddenly the ocean roiled and
then vomited up a chunk of metal.

After a moment, Aquariana
recognized the remains
of a harpoon cannon.

I thought this might prove useful,
so I brought it,
Steel said grimly.
Do you want the rest of the wreck?
Nautilus knows where it is.

At the edge of the harbor,
the blue whale spouted
in a tall thin plume.

Faced with such irrefutable evidence,
the Japanese conceded the point.

The court moved on to the charges
of assault and attempted murder.

When we surfaced to breathe, then
the whalers attacked us,
said Moderato.
They shot a harpoon at me, but Steel
caught it and threw it away. He told me
to dive. Then he tore into their ship.

With the words came images,
memories, a whale's-eye view of
the wickedly sharp harpoon approaching
and the sound of it slicing through air,
then suddenly veering away.

They felt Moderato's worry,
too, as Steel fought back,
how the fresh assault had
triggered old memories
that pushed his mind
from rational to feral.

Aquariana shivered.

Steel's testimony was darker
and fiercer, composed as much
of feelings as words, the weird
sound-touch-sense of metal in
the water and minds in the ship.

They tried to murder me
and my podmate,
he said.
They wanted to kill us and eat us.
So I stopped them.

Along with the words, Steel broadcast
the shudder and groan of the dying ship,
feel of metal ripping as easily as wet clay,
and sharp pain of the rudder cutting into
the flesh above his right flipper.

That connected to another image
of Dr. Caspian Barlough stapling
the long wound closed as Steel lay
in the sling, and the creeping slither
of compassion underneath his skin,
unpleasantly intimate, before Steel
flinched away from the memory.

Aquariana added her testimony,
pointing out the whaler who had tried
to shoot Moderato from a lifeboat,
and how she had prevented that
by capsizing their craft.

She emphasized especially that
she had talked Steel into capturing,
rather than killing, the survivors.

The captain complained that
telepathic testimony was unfair
because it biased the court in ways
that his crew could not match.

I can fix that, Moderato said.

Suddenly everyone had a headfull
of what the whalers were thinking and
feeling, what they remembered from the fight,
and more happy childhood memories of
eating whale meat than anyone wanted.

Beside Aquariana, Irene swallowed hard
and curled her hands into an odd shape,
three fingers touching the thumb and
the pinky sticking straight out.

Curious, Aquariana tried it too,
but she didn't feel any different.

Then the whalers spoke again,
arguing that the whole trial
was a farce since whales
were only animals.

Steel's temper snapped its anchor.

The great whale's mind rolled
over everyone else in the room,
vast and implacable.


His memories of humans were
a blurry horror of ridiculously thin limbs
and vicious weapons superimposed with
images from sharks in a feeding frenzy,
every picture seething with emotion.

They felt the helpless terror of a calf as
his mother was slaughtered in front of him.

They felt the frantic rage of a bull
as his own calf and mate were killed
despite him fighting to protect them.

They felt the determination as he
mastered the superpowers
which would protect him.

Then, thin and gleaming as starlight,
came the love as Steel found Moderato
and vowed to protect this new friend
who was not even of his species.

Blinking past almost too quickly
to catch were the images of
Steel's new human friends,
fleeting impressions of hope
and curiosity against a backdrop
of lengthy and terrible violence.

But the lighter memories could not
hold sway for long against the pain,
the rage, and worst of them all,
the deep, tolling well of grief.

The recent battle floated to the top, and
the flavor of Steel's own blood in the water
mingled with the whalers' hunger and
memories of tasting the blood from
his mother, his mate and their calf
as the humans butchered their bodies.

The spell was broken by loud retching.

Half the people in the courtroom were sick,
and many of them didn't even remember
to reach for the buckets that the EFA team
had insisted on placing under every chair.

Aquariana struggled to think through
the haze of pain that still lingered,
shaking herself back to action.

"How are you?" Irene asked,
although her gaze tracked
the Emotional First Aides
moving through the tent
to help those who needed it.

"I'll be all right," Aquariana said.
"Steel gets rough when he's upset, but
the effects usually fade fast. I haven't
known him to do lasting damage."

With the possible exception of
the whaler who tried to shoot Moderato,
but even if his mental breakdown had
been Steel's fault, it was utterly justified
in the defense of self and others.

Judge Huraagey said, "The court will
take a one-hour recess for everyone
to regain their composure."

That started a general stampede
of Muslims toward the tent that had
been set aside for purification, since
the court would span the daily prayers.

"Let's get some air," Irene suggested.
"A little walk will do you good, and
I need to check on my charges."

Outside, Steel was nowhere to be seen,
but Moderato floated within view and
the harbor was swarming with dolphins.
Aquariana could pick out a few she knew --
Siggy the therapist, Skipper the tour guide, and
the unmistakable white streak of Styrofoam.

"Hi, guys," she said quietly, and
Skipper chirped back at her.

"Who wants fidgets?" Irene asked.

"Don't you think those would be
a little small for whales?" Aquariana asked
as she wet her skin in the ocean.

Irene grinned, "Only if I meant
fidgets made for humans," she said,
walking over to a huge dumpster
made of pristine blue plastic.

When she flipped back the lids,
Aquariana stared at a jumble
of shiny silver metal and
multicolored plastic.

"I brought whale fidgets, and
some dolphin ones," said Irene.

"Where did you get all this?"
Aquariana said as Irene pulled out
one toy after another and flung them
out into the harbor. She had worked
with cetacean specialists enough to know
that zoo enrichment toys were not cheap.

"I talked with some companies that
make toys for zoos and wildlife centers,"
Irene said. "Some of them were happy
to send free samples in exchange for me
telling them what the whales thought.
I figured I could get feedback from
Moderato even if Steel wouldn't."

The dumpster was full of balls,
big solid ones and holey ones with
a smaller ball inside and hollow ones
chained together or linked with bungies.
Some had straps for easy grasping,
and at least one was an oval.

There were flat disks in several sizes,
along with hoops and rings, and large or
small mirrors. There were jointed straps and
floaties with loops of rope for playing catch,
all of which the dolphins loved immediately.

"I even brought a few things just for Steel,"
Irene said, indicating a pile of enormous bells
and T-bars and balls, lengths of chain,
rattles, and even a manhole cover.

What are these things?
Steel wondered as he surfaced,
spouting forward and to the left.

"They're toys," Irene said.
"They help people to relax
in stressful situations."

Metal shifted and clinked
as Steel examined the pile.

With surprising delicacy,
he picked up the largest of
the stainless steel rattles,
its discs giving a bright jingle.

Oh! What does this do?
he said, yanking out a new toy.
The clear tube had a metal bar
and several discs inside of it,
holding chunks of something.

Irene grabbed it back.

"This is a puzzle, so no fair
just crushing it," she explained.
"You have to figure out how
to get the goodies out."

When she let go of it,
Steel caught it neatly in
midair, turned it this way
and that -- then suddenly he
unscrewed the top and bottom.

Irene laughed. "Technically
you're supposed to jiggle it until
you get them out through the hole."

Steel ignored her and tipped
the tube so that chopped food
tumbled into his mouth.

"What did you give him?"
Aquariana wondered.

!! said Steel, a quick blast
of surprise and delight.

"Horseradish chunks,"
Irene said. "Dredge told me
that Steel ate his sandwich wrapper
one day, and liked the wasabi."

"Yeah, so now Dredge uses
rice paper wrappers instead,
and throws them overboard
on purpose," Aquariana said.
"I have no idea if that's safe for
whales to eat, but Dr. Barlough isn't
worried about it, so I quit fussing."

Skipper's pod of dolphins
raced past, playing some game
with several hoops and rings.

Moderato rose up with a red ball
balanced precariously on his nose.

Cameras clicked and flashed
as reporters took pictures.

"Hey! Cut that out!" Irene barked
at one of them. "The whales don't
come to your therapy sessions and
take photos of you coloring on the floor."

The man blushed scarlet and backed away,
lowering his camera as he went, and
the other offenders followed suit.

"How did you do that?" Aquariana said.

Irene shrugged. "Educated guess," she said.
"He has colored stains on his fingers, so I figured
artist, and most of them find art therapy useful. I
just picked on the offender I was most confident
of being able to shame into better behavior."

"I'm glad it worked," Aquariana said.
"The whales have a hard enough time
without turning this into a pool show."

They watched the playful swimmers
for a while longer. Irene made
occasional suggestions about
coping with difficult emotions,
while Aquariana proposed
new ways to play with the toys.

Despite Steel's gruesome memories,
he seemed able to pull himself out and
focus on more positive things, like having
friends around him -- and from what
Aquariana had observed in their time
together, he was getting better at it.

When Irene and Aquariana returned
to the courtroom, the crowd had thinned.

The judge and the defendants were still there,
of course, along with other official attendees,
but a number of observers had gone home
or been advised to sit out by the EFA crew.

The case turned into an argument about
legitimate and illegitimate use of force,
from the weapons on the ship to
the whales' use of superpowers.

The Japanese even complained
about Moderato's use of mind control
to rescue panicky sailors from the ocean.

At that point, Irene volunteered
her professional input. "They're talking
about protective restraint there," she said.

"Please elaborate," said the judge.

"It's justified in cases to prevent someone
from harming themselves or others, and
generally not for lesser reasons such as
convenience. Since the defendants were
attacking the plaintiffs, that use was justified
by EFA and police standards in America.
In the Maldives ..." Irene spread her hands.

Maldivian justice was in flux, due to
its long and varied history. Currently
the legal system was a blend of
Islamic and Western influences.

That left people trying to balance
different expectations and techniques,
with the good judges searching for
the best ideas from each source.

It led to a discussion of Islamic law --
in which Aquariana was fascinated by
the range of obligatory, recommended,
permitted, discouraged, and forbidden acts --
alongside American and Japanese law.

Aquariana attempted to represent
the perspective of the whales, who had
no real concept of laws but who did have
a crystal-clear awareness of right and wrong.

Steel's hunger for justice hung
in the back of everyone's mind, as
cold and keen as the edge of a sword.

Judge Huraagey consulted
with several other Muslim men,
a remaining diplomat from Japan,
a Jewish scholar who seemed eager
to debate the minutiae of anyone's faith,
and Irene whose training as a peacemaker
included matters of justice and diplomacy.

Aquariana did not envy him the challenge of
handling a case that involved Japanese sailors
and two whales in an Islamic country where
none of them had grown up with local laws.

Accommodations had been made for
that unfamiliarity, but it was still awkward.

When the whalers began whining
about how Steel had allegedly -- if you
believed half of the psychiatrists -- broken
the mind of at least one man, Judge Huraagey
clearly reached the end of his patience.

“One who is not compassionate,
God will not be compassionate to him,"
he said sternly, glaring at the Japanese.
"You cannot attack someone and then
expect to be treated gently yourselves."

If it was our actions that caused or
contributed to his mental injury, then
we wish to do what may be done,

said Moderato. I am no mindhealer,
and Steel even less so, but Siggy
is willing to help the broken one.

Steel gave a purely mental grumble,
but did not dispute Moderato's plan.

Judge Huraagey did not quite smile,
but the corners of his mouth twitched up.
“Be merciful to the inhabitants of the Earth
and He who is in Heaven will be merciful
to you," he said. "Although you two were
attacked and wounded, and you have
no love for your enemies, still you have
shown them compassion once they could
no longer threaten you. This is good."

Then it was time for prayer, and
the judge dismissed the Muslims for
that purpose, leaving the others
to their own devices.

Aquariana was becoming fond of
these opportunities during the day
to relax and to clear her mind.
She stood up to stretch and
wet down her skin again.

Beside her, Irene was doing
that thing with her hands again.

"What is that?" Aquariana asked.

"Mudras, yoga for your hands,"
Irene explained. "It's very soothing."

"I tried copying you earlier, but it didn't
do anything for me," said Aquariana.

Irene chuckled. "Most mudras take
a while to work. There's a balancing set
that work faster, though. Here, try touching
your thumb to your fingers one at a time ..."

She walked Aquariana through the exercise,
and this time, it seemed to help a bit.
At least, by the time the Muslims
returned from their prayers,
she felt calmer inside.

Judge Huraagey declared
the whalers to be guilty, and he
read through the charges against them.

Steel's satisfaction was a bright spark
burning in a vast, cold darkness.

Moderato's appreciation was a warmer glow.

The judge moved on to the sentencing,
which included enormous fines for
the violation of national boundaries
and other civil offenses.

Then it got interesting again,
because Islamic law allowed victims
to participate in the sentencing. It was
a way of acknowledging the three parties
affronted by a crime -- the offenses against
the victims, the state, and God.

This also required a certain delicacy,
since the whales had no familiarity with
human concepts of law. The judge
did his best to explain in terms that
Steel and Moderato could understand.

"What kind of restitution do you seek
from this case?" Judge Huraagey asked.
"What will help you feel satisfied that justice
has been done, or feel safer, or recover
from the assault against your persons?"

For me it is good just to speak what they
have done, and to hear others agree that
it was wrong,
Steel said. That is very new,
and it helps ... more than I thought it would.
So I would like more of that, please.

"We can publicize the trial. We discussed
that possibility earlier, and planned to ask
you for permission," Judge Huraagey said.
"If we do this, then everyone in the world
will have a chance to learn more about
what happened and how we responded."

Take the ocean away from them,
Moderato added. They are sailors.
They love it very much. We do not
want them here in our home

"That's a good idea," said Judge Huraagey.
"They will be banned from returning to
the Republic of the Maldives, and sent
back to Japan. I have no jurisdiction in
their nation, but I will enter the ban on
ocean travel in my ruling, so perhaps
Japan will choose to honor it."

That is good, the whales agreed.

The remaining diplomat asked for
and received permission to speak.
"I am here to ensure a fair trial --
which this has been -- to attend
the interests of my country, and
to make recommendations about
the ruling," he said, bowing to the judge.

Then he turned to the whalers.
"Your actions are shameful,"
he said. "You have disgraced
yourselves, your families, and
your entire nation. So I say
that the judgment will stand,
and that Japan will abide by
Maldivian law in this matter."

Aquariana looked at the stony face of
the former captain and thought that it
would be prudent to reiterate a warning for
suicide precautions to the police after the trial.

The Japanese diplomats had been quite clear
that they did not wish the whalers to effect
an honorable escape from dishonorable actions.

The trial wrapped up quickly after that.

The judge made his closing remarks
and then intoned, “O you who believe,
be upright for God, and bearers of witness
with justice! Court is adjourned."

Aquariana and Irene went outside,
where Aquariana ducked into the ocean,
enjoying the water on her skin.

"Steel, Moderato, how are
you feeling?" Irene asked.

Confused, but hopeful,
Moderato said. Your culture
is very strange to us.

Sad, still angry, but ...
good too,
Steel added.
I don't know this other feeling.

Aquariana could feel it
spilling over from him, like
a seemingly calm beach with
a riptide running back out
toward the deep sea.

"Vindicated," she suggested.
"They hurt you, but they didn't
get away with it this time."

Yes, Steel said.

"I can help you work through
what you're feeling, and put names
on the emotions, if you like," Irene offered.

Moderato surfaced near Aquariana,
his waves sloshing over her.
I would like that.

Steel was silent, but Aquariana
could still feel him nearby.

"What do you want to do with
the restitution money?" she asked.
"You'll be getting a lot of it."

I do not know, Moderato said.
We don't really need money.

"Well, you're citizens, so you
do need to pay taxes," she said.
"Think about other things you might
want or need, like hiring people for
services you can't do yourselves."

More toys? Steel said wistfully.
These are so shiny and smooth,
much better than finding junk.

A silvery rattle jingled softly at his touch.

"Yes, of course," said Irene. "There are
some other kinds of balls, and I could
make you a giant wind chime to play with.
Maybe more puzzles or rattles, if you liked
those. Take the rest of the day to relax, and
I'll come back tomorrow with a catalog."

The dolphins helpfully rounded up
all the toys scattered around the water,
playfully flipping one of the big hoops
right over Aquariana's head.

Both whales spouted and submerged.

As Aquariana climbed out to help
Irene put everything back in the bin,
Steel's voice slid past like a caress.

Thank you.

* * *


Ahusan Huraagey -- He has toffee skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair going gray with just a frosting of white beard.  He serves as a judge in the Republic of the Maldives and lives in the capital city of Malé.  He does an excellent job and can adapt to unusual circumstances in a case, but he is not good at improvising anything from scratch.
Qualities: Master (+6) Deductive Reasoning, Master (+6) Judge, Expert (+4) Family Man, Expert (+4) Muslim, Good (+2) Arabic Calligraphy, Good (+2) Heat Resistance, Good (+2) Wealth
Poor (-2) Improvisation

* * *

“O you who believe, be upright for God, and (be) bearers of witness with justice!...” (Quran 5:8)
-- Justice in Islam

Maldivian law divides criminal offenses into two parts: offenses under the Penal Code and offenses under Islamic Law (called Hudood offenses).  The court system is in a state of flux due to cultural changes.  Here is an exploration of Sharia Law.  T-Maldivian culture seems to be pursuing a path not mentioned in these materials: essentialism.  They're looking at the core concepts that God conveyed in the Quran and then considering how those apply in a modern context, rather than clinging to a literal interpretation of a historic document.

Another crucial aspect is the five-step range of obligatory, recommended, permitted, discouraged, and forbidden acts.  This is far more nuanced than the simple legal/illegal binary of most justice systems.  Aside from its use in describing the acceptability of things under Islamic rule, it's also useful in mediating interfaith behaviors.  It relates to the happy-sad face scale widely used in T-America to indicate excellent, good, average, poor, and bad quality.  A similar scale could be created for whales: breaching (excellent), spouting (good), basking (average), back fin (poor), and flukes (bad).

This is the large beach tent.

Arabic calligraphy. It says Bismillah alrahman alraheem which means, “In the name of God, the most Gracious, the most Compassionate.”

Emotional First Aid minimizes traumatic stress in court, most often used with children or people with disabilities, but also others such as jurors.  Some places use assistance animals.  Various studies are seeking to determine what types of EFA help people.  T-Maldivian custom sensibly provides EFA at events where distress is likely to occur.  Here are some tips on handling people immediately after a crime and longer term.

Read about blue whales and their visual signifiers.  Watch a video of one spouting.

Understand the effects of crime on victims, and why it's important to protect victim rights.  Terramagne does better than here, on average, in putting people back together afterwards.  The victim's role in the justice process is vital to attaining a sense of satisfaction that justice has been done.  This begins to repair the damage, and reduces the chance of people seeking vengeance on their own.

Trauma can lead to traumatic stress, including chronic conditions such as PTSD.  Know how to help someone with traumatic stress.

Traumatic grief comes from bereavement which is so disruptive -- usually because it is sudden and violent -- that the person cannot process what happened and gets "stuck" in it.  This can happen with children, and they need special resources.  There is a whole archive of articles about grief here.  Survivors need a safe, comforting environment.  Steel has lost his family twice, but is fortunate in having a support network now, even if he doesn't entirely know what to do with it.  You can still see the impact of those memories on his behavior, but it's not as bad as it could be, or used to be.  Understand how to treat and cope with traumatic grief.

Traumatic rage can result from horrific events that leave someone with lingering anger and/or a desire for revenge.  This is particularly complicated in cases of homicide.  There are ways to help homicide survivors.

Trauma-informed care recognizes the treats the effects that terrible experiences have on people when they interact with organizations such as legal or health care systems.  In this case, that includes moving the trial to the beach and making sure the whales have people for emotional support, as well as warning other participants that the communication may be rough.  Japan has also furnished a representative to see that the whalers get a fair trial instead of being railroaded.  Here are some best practices for trauma-informed care.

(These links are gross)
Eating whale meat is part of Japanese history, including school meals, although it is unsustainable.  Opinions about eating whale meat vary greatly among Japanese people.

(So are these.)
Cannibalism is technically about eating one's own species.  Colloquially it may be used for humans eating humans, or for eating any sapient creature.  There is some debate about proper terminology for eating sapient creatures. Sapiophagy has been proposed as a specific term for this, as we already have anthropophagy for eating human flesh.

Sperm whales typically travel in family pods of 15-20, and humpbacks in pods of 2-15.

Mudras are yoga for your hands, discreet and portable.  They work by balancing the energy of the five elements in your fingers and thumb.  Think of it like a switchboard for your nervous system -- when you connect the right points, it changes the flow to make you feel better.  Some people feel the effects after a few seconds, usually after a few minutes, but others find that it takes much longer.  Irene is doing the Hansi Mudra for courage and acceptance.  My go-to sequence for stress relief touches the thumb to the four fingers in turn, sometimes called the Sa-Ta-Na-Ma for the chant that often goes with it.  Learn how to do mudras.

Islamic prayer must be preceded by purification, so facilities for this are ubiquitous throughout Islamic territory. Both blood and vomit are considered impure. Therefore, the Muslims in the courtroom felt covered in filth and urgently wished to purify themselves, outside the ordinary obligation to wash before prayers. (The mental plane was probably a solid wall of, Aaa aaa get it off me get it off me!) Happily, washing produces measurable psychological relief from feelings of dirtiness, and for religious people a purification ritual is very effective in helping people feel clean after physical or other contamination.

A new dumpster makes a terrific container for a collection of large objects.

Zoo enrichment toys come in many styles; some are bigger versions of regular pet toys, others quite different. Just as humans can enjoy puzzles and sports equipment, so super animals can enjoy things like these.

A giant ball is popular with large animals such as big cats.  These can be made solid, hollow, or have holes in them depending on intended use.  Marine ones are usually meant to float. This style of holey ball gets loaded with treats that fall out when it's hit.  The Terramagne version of this teaser ball is designed with neutral buoyancy for underwater play.  The Orka Ball has a tube through the center so that you can, for instance, chain several together.  Another way to make balls easier to handle for people without hands is to loop a long strap through it or attach a short thong to each end as in this bear ball.  Two balls may be connected with a bungie to create a ball tug toy.  The Saurus Egg is one type of oblong ball.

Flipper Floats are flat discs that can be played with in different ways depending on the relative size of toy and user. Otters like to lie on them.  This version marketed as a "pill" is popular with larger animals such as orcas for fetch.

Dolphins adore anything with a hole in it.  I imagine they are trying to figure out how humans made a bubble ring solid.  There are large hoops and smaller rings for different games.  A floatie with a rope loop is another popular fetch toy.  A torus, described here as a tire, is another fun one for big cats and other tough customers.  This large version floats for aquatics.

Straps can be toys unto themselves, like this Super Turbo Chook.  Here is a heavy-duty elephant bungie, which is what Irene uses to attach parts to make more complex cetacean toys.

A marine mirror is designed to float and be waterproof.  They come in small and large sizes.

There are also a bunch of metal toys to appeal to Steel in particular, since he's better at manipulating metal than other materials. A bear bell is basically a giant metal tube with a chain hanger and a clapper inside it. A T-bar is another way to attach or hang things. Stainless steel balls are used for primates, often partly filled with something like sand to change how they roll. Stainless steel rattles come in various shapes.  This is the Shake-a-Treat food puzzle, typically intended for primates.  Steel has no manipulatory digits but does have telekinesis and metal control which allow him to manipulate objects.

The ethics of magic are complex and often equated with the ethics of superpowers, with the same argument of black vs. white.  In particular, people argue over whether negative magic and magical self-defense are permissible. One useful premise is that if something is okay to do by mundane methods, it is okay to do by mystical ones; if it is not okay by mundane methods, it is not okay by mystical methods either.

In any case, people with special abilities have an obligation to use them responsibly, which means not abusing other people. It doesn't obligate people to use  their abilities at all, let alone turn private people into public property; crickets are free to abstain.  This interesting exploration of the legalities of superpowers compares them to weapons, but largely ignores the fact that weapons are chosen while superpowers usually are not.  However if we look at the phrase "typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes," consider that 2/3 of soups are crickets and 1/3 of the rest are superheroes.  That means a sizable majority of enhanced persons are law-abiding citizens who use their powers, if ever, for lawful purposes -- and that's before figuring in the trend toward blue-plates.  It makes supervillains an aberration who may be prosecuted under standard criminal laws, just tacking on aggravating circumstances particular to the use of superpowers for harm; instead of trying to track everyone with superpowers.  Ultimately, superheroes do good and not evil because of their conscience.

A key difference with superpowers compared to mundane abilities is that few people can stand against them. This introduces the concept of punching up vs. punching down: your power level compared to that of your opponent.  In general, superheroes punch up, and they don't punch down.  Conversely, many supervillains prefer to pick on people less powerful than themselves, using their abilities for evil.  Obnoxious behavior gets people hurt.  While none of it is okay, it is very predictable that people who mistreat others tend to wind up in trouble.

Another consideration is perception.  If a bully attacks a victim believed to be greatly inferior, but is wrong about that, and said victim turns around and cleans that bully's clock, then the victim is not punching down even if their respective abilities are quite far apart. A subtly different issue, excessive force, comes into consideration with regard to how much force is necessary to make the bully desist. Punching up/punching down is about how a fight begins. Appropriate force/excessive force is about how it ends.

Mind control is among the most troubling superpowers because it is so easy to abuse and so difficult to defend against.  In Terramagne, telepaths tend to be mentally fastidious, but not all of them are; this concerns people. The whales aren't, because being whales, their lives are so different that they have no real concept of privacy. They mentally chatter at and fondle people quite freely.  But they don't control  anyone without sound reason. Here's a look at restrictive interventions which includes the idea of protective restraint.  While abuses are common in L-America, the ideal is that the least restrictive approach is used, and people may not be restrained for mere convenience; but they may be restrained to prevent them from harming themselves or others. Someone trying to shoot a superwhale has no grounds for complaint if his intended victim rolls him like a round-bottomed bun.  Similarly, it can be argued as acceptable to use mind control to save a panicking person from drowning, although first responders debate whether autonomy outranks safety in such cases.

Compassion plays a fundamental role in Muslim ethics.

Islamic prayers happen at particular times throughout the day.  Prayers typically last around seven minutes.  In many countries, this can conflict with work.  Islamic countries often close shops for prayers, but large businesses may simply have their workers pray in shifts.  People of other faiths have two polite options: cover work or other activities for Muslim friends (who will typically reciprocate by covering the other person's breaks), or else take the time for meditation or other personal refreshment.

For a futher introduction to mudras, they offer various benefits but those can take a while to build up.  The fingers correspond to different elements, so by folding them together, you can change the energy flows in your body. Since the chakra system largely overlaps the nervous system, this makes more sense if you imagine your nervous system as a big circuitboard that you can affect by rerouting the connections.  Some balancing mudras appear here, and this set covers the chakras or energy centers. These images show even more mudras.

Logical consequences suit the penalty to the offense.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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