Good readers, what sin still presides in the land since Perceval failed to ask The Question of the Fisher King? As I ride through the Waste Forest on yet another Quest, signs trouble me. In the Matter of Britain, something is not right.
I read of Britain’s “moral collapse” today and wonder whether King Arthur himself has sunk into a coma, never to recover. I see damsels no longer demure, turned instead to riot and cast rocks and stones. I read of serfs driving chariots into innocents and mowing them down. Order has gone from the land. The armies of the Queen seem unable to bring order to the people. The forest that doth feed the nation is turned to waste indeed…
How comes it that a land I knew so well now turns itself upside down? Where now social order? Why does the populace fly from morality? Well, riot is not controllable and neither can it be “cured” like a leg of ham.
Rioting has always been the way of the people – as Wat Tyler himself was telling me just the other day – but what is it this time which stirs the bellies of the rebellious?
Once, they told us, it was authoritarian brutality and prejudice. Now they tell us it is money and social problems brought on by “decades of neglect”. I read, too, that the armies of the Queen are to blame because they failed to predict rebellion. Stuff and nonsense.
Governments argue that the cause of riot lies not without but within. Social order is not about social control but self control. Where today the private moment in the hermitage, the silent inner counsel, the discipline of self over the indiscipline of the many?
True enough, private moments today are oft spent in front of mirrors, on social media, on telephones and other devices. In my day, we had none of these things (well maybe a mirror): we could only look out and reflect in upon ourselves. In so doing, love, charity and faith governed our ways and moral codes.
But did this make things better? Did this avoid riot? Ah, no! After all, as a knight I benefited but as for the serfs who worked my land, that’s another matter…
As I write, I reflect too on the words of the maverick preacher John Ball when he argued: “when Adam delved and Eve Span, who was then the gentleman?” It is careless to think too romantically of my own times: the people have always sought to better themselves.
But sadly, government reactions today seem hardly any different to my own time. It was Richard II who is supposed to have said at Blackheath: “Serfs ye are, and serfs ye shall remain“.
Alas, this seems the response of government today. Some things never change. To coin a phrase, the serfs are revolting. Again…