Sunday, December 20, 2009

Common good governance. The Duty to Paratge. Ma'aht: Natural Order, Doing the Right, Balance. Malama.

 Recycle Language Concepts. Cultural Brilliance.
Re-Use the best of the Past:

  Paratge, Ma'at or Ma'aht.

The Duty to "Paratge" -  Old Roots 

Pronounce "paratge" in two syllables like "garage" = or  three, like "par-azghe-E":
In Catalan, perhaps the word "paraje" - 'tolerence', see ://
In Hawaiian, perhaps the word "malama" = 'care', see ://
Is that so, Mr. President Obama?

Update:see discussion of a current surface news-travel treatment of the Cathars, missing entirely this Cathar concept of paratge; and omitting the essence of the belief system.  Once expunged, wrongful or not, the myth of the irrelevance of the conquered continues. Crusades against the Christian Cathars and their Occitan language and concepts killed perhaps our Western last hope for tolerance as a cultural value.  See Cathars. Shoddy Research Rewrites History.

I.  Paratge 

Paratge stems from the old Occitan language of midi-France, the area known as Languedoc, and words from that language spilled over into England through people who spoke it in medieval times. But the Occitan concept of  "paratge" got lost as English forms took over.

Some still speak Occitan, in southern France, Pyrrhenees, Italy - there are some six dialects, see Occitan Language at :// See there its alphabet and pronunciations, and listen to a bit of it.  There are numerous related languages, spanning large geographic areas. It is not dead, just marginalized out of sight.

The Christian religious branch known as Cathars ("dualists" - another topic, and they were designated as heretics, see :// spoke Occitan, but the term also appeared in other French areas, and areas where that religious group did not dominate.  See FN 1.

The concept: 

Paratge is a word that combines
a) medieval chivalrous ideas of honor, gentility, courtesy, with an additional obligation,
b) a duty to do what is right.

A duty to a natural order and balance moral code - "Paratge".  That is more than a religious precept - do this because a deity says so, says someone.  It is a universal.  Paratge stood for what ought to be done to foster the natural order, balance.  A noble subject, such as a Duke, could even remind a Pope of the duty to paratge. The duty to paratge makes sense as a duty to an ethos.

Blasphemy, say we capitalists. Our system does not thrive on that stuff. Is that so?

Have we gone too far without it? 

There are stirrings of concern about the bents of our linguistic group, the Western Financial and Military Mogul.  For example, there are criticisms in news and financial analyses of Goldman Sachs and its direction, its goal of profits period, regardless, with an old societal service component down the tubes, see The New Republic, Has Goldman Sachs Lost Its Soul, at ://  "You lie!" shout the emboldened boors, modeling after those who are clueless.


This is not a religious piece. This asks, instead, that if other cultures have concepts for living together in a degree of harmony that ours does not, could we benefit from finding them and recycling, reusing them.  And if our culture does not have a concept, is that because there is none such, or because we beat it out of somebody.

Linguistics.  Cultural concepts. 

When languages disappear, or are superseded, concepts also get shoved aside in favor of the ones who win, who either defeat or sell the people on the new.

For example, the Cathar Christians, when their lands were being invaded by the French and other Christians who followed Rome's version, were horrified that the French "Christians" did not have the concept of paratge to govern their actions.

The French Christians from the north had no concept for it, no respect for it. Instead, they brought "deceit, brutality, vandalism, lying, hypocrisy, even mass-murder."  See ://  Rub the lamp. Oops.  Lamp went out. And this is progress? This is religious improvement?

Paratge in our history: 

Here is a fair use quote from this very large site on the Cathars and the Crusades (the Albigensian Crusades) against them, that virtually wiped them out, finally and with slaughter: This is from the Canso (Song of the Cathar Wars) and first lines shown in Occitan.  There are other, long quotes in Occitan and translation at that site.  Here, at this piece, the defenders at Muret had lost:
"Toto lo mons ne valg mens, de ver o sapiatz,
Car Paratges NE fo destruitz e decassatz
E totz Crestianesmes aonitz abassatz."

"It diminished the whole world, be sure of that,
For it destroyed and drove out paratge,
It disgraced and shamed all Christendom."

A Canso is a song in the form that troubadours used, see :// - a good starting point. Read about the Song of the Cathar Wars at ://' and part in narrative form at ://  Note that the Song begins in the voice of a supporter of the crusaders at the Siege of Termes, and refers to Brabanters. That is part of Belgium-Netherlands, showing from how far afield the crusaders came.

But halfway through the entire song, another anonymous voice takes over, supporting the Cathars - it looks like the quote above is from that section. Another Cathar supporter site:  the Historia Albigensis, by Peter of Les Vaux de Cerney, see ://

Paratge in action:  Common good governance; history of mutual respect

Go back to the Crusades. Saladin, in the Holy Land, says the site Languedoc site, says of Richard the Lionheart (of England) that his horse was killed. And Saladin sent him another.  Amazing, to militarists today.  Is this so?  West values gain.  Not then. Not in itself.
We looked it up:  it is so  This site says Saladin gave two equine replacements, see :// And Richard then offered his sister to marry Saladin's brother. Scroll down the crusades-encyclopedia site for more history, French, English.

Then the idea of paratge dissolves as the "West" develops according to Rome. Read more about Saladin, in the stories from his lands, at ://  It appears that he indeed knew "paratge".  A multi-cultural concept.  An honorable one.

So, Christianity took the other road. And here we are. What if the Popes had lost. What if their military and administration skills failed, and nobody bought their version of dogma, interpretation of matters subject to multiple interpretations. Would a western culture of tolerance and respect, a different culture from competion and accumulation, have won.


Extremists of any belief system have no paratge?  Explore the issue. Our extremists, other culture's extremists.  Is openness to paratge an important difference.

Read about the Saracen invasion and linguistic and other traces still in southern France, at ://, at ://

Remember little dark Buckwheat in Our Gang?  Early film?  Find Buckwheat in southern France.Traces of the Saracen.

II.  Ma'aht  -  or Ma'at

The ancient Egyptians had a concept like paratge - see the same Languedoc history site.  Ma'aht apparently is ancient Egyptian. We'll vet the site and its information further, but stay with the idea for now.  Ma'aht connotes cosmic balance - like the natural order of paratge. But ma'aht adds to it its result - contentment, joy, light.  It is a goddess who represents ma'aht, and the idea of ma'aht even underlies the later Christian concepts of heaven and hell. See

The goddess Maat - these spellings can be so different that it makes researching online difficult - stood for " "truth,  balance, order".  Honor.  Justice.  But the term is more a concept than an actual deity.  Without Ma'at, the world would revert to chaos.  See Egypt:  Ma'at, Goddess://  She represented an abstraction, the "rational and orderly working of the universe" - see ://  She was more the linchpin than the gods of power. 

The Orient incorporates these - in Buddhist ideas like karma, and the "right" - this is a really interesting site.

The Greeks also had the idea - in logos, or order, or pattern.  In the beginning was the logos - how and when was that concept of basic order then changed to a mere "word"?  The Christians turned the logos or pattern or order idea into their "God".  See ://

Linguistics and how meaning changes with who plays with it.  The earliest transliteration we find has "logos" from the famous Bible verse in John 1:1 or so transliterated into "in original was the saying and the saying was toward the God and God was the saying this was original toward the God" etc., see

That indeed looks like someone else was doing the saying, and aiming it at God, that it did not originate with God, and that would fit the Egyptian model of Ma'at on top (Wisdom up there?).  Even Michelangelo has the lady looking over the deity's shoulder to see how he's doing.  See Sistine chapel.

Nothing is ever clear if you look. Things are only clear if you don't look.

III.  Malama - Hawaii

Malama is care, fairness, trust, inventiveness, respect, freedom, kindness, equality, cooperation. Not malama is obedience, shame, coercion, punishment, criticism, violence, fear, contempt, competition, deceit, defensiveness.  See the full lists at ://  How is it applied, or not - see Socialist Mop, and Malama.

IV.   A Little Play:
How to Rebalance the West's Flaws

Speak, O Past. (Actor rubs the lamp). 

(Chorus Intones) We are sick of Gain meaning All.  We are sick of government faction fights and global warming fisticuffs in high places, and healthcare issues becoming toxic.

And yes there's more.  There is seeking self-interest at the expense of what is right, with religions as profit-minded as Wall Street, and the winner of toys is cheered on culturally as the loser dissolves into a puddle and the winner does little victory tippytoes and fist bumps supporters.

(The lamp stirs).  Suddenly, out wafts -- what? Paratge.  Out comes -- what?  Ma'aht.  What?  What are those?  What are they telling us? Why are they here?

We haven't a clue at first, because we don't have the concepts to define paratge and ma'aht in ready form in our language.  We acknowledge no duty to paratge, to ma'aht. Is that so?  If we have no concept for something, do we even see it. Here is a clue:  If we do paratge, we are wimps in the eyes of those who strut and count.

Paratge and ma'aht.  Find them at The History of the Languedoc, at ://

Conclusion:   O, scholars, rub the lamp again ....  how to get paratge back, ma'aht, malama.  Too late for Copenhagen or Washington?  Or civil discourse over tea with bags.  Define "heretic." Whose power interest is served. What did the Crusades kill:  an ethos of egalitarianism, honor, fair play.  What survived.  Gain, force, militance, intolerance, abuse of the helpless, molestation of children all institutionally sanctioned or shoved under the clerical rug. The Crusades killed essential values.

FN 1  This site gives information about the Cathars, and their language that included that word, "paratge".  They were a large and prosperous Christian religious group, who did not follow Rome or the Pope, but had their own rituals - with elements later included in the Roman (read the site) and  located in southern France and a swath east toward Italy and west into the Pyrenhees, we understand. Visit ://

In the middle ages, this group were deemed heretic (look up the crusades against them - were they largely so the Roman church could get its vast land holdings and property, increase political power? go vet).

The language of the Cathars was Occitan.  The old Occitan language was the language of many prominent early English (Eleanor of Aquitaine, and King John I, for example).  Teach languages and history on a par with the theorems.  How else to open windows on perception.  How else to train to hear others.

Is this so:  some political leaders or devotees are simply bad sports when they have lost something they had wanted very much.

Bad sports. Does that idea relate to paratge. Poor sportsmanship. No sense of paratge. Dirty tricks, all that to sabotage the others before, during and after the event, denigrate the win, take away the victory. In elementary school, people would be expelled for it. Is it time to assess paratge in leadership and compel some to repeat Third Grade Sportsmanship 101.