Equivalent Exchange


The last few weeks of news have been bombarding us at the speed of sound and vision, connecting us through our many devices used to capture stories, tidbits of social flotsam…I was having so many stories compacted in a short period of time I hoped that I could encapsulate a recurring thought I had about these news events. These chosen few, out of the dozens of informative (and vaguely informative) stories we see each day, have a similar synopsis to me; a lesson I learned from a Japanese Manga series written by Hiromu Arakawa.

Two days ago it was reported online that iconic comedian and tv dad, Bill Cosby muddled through his most recent interview, handled by Good Morning America. The allegations from over 40 women that he drugged and sexually violated them has been an ongoing report continuing to grow in numbers-nothing is really being done about it, legally. The Statute of Limitations on most of the cases has passed yet more recent women coming forward fall within the time period to actually file a valid court action.

After extensive investigations and lots of media hype/rumor, the NFL powers-that-be decided to punish New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with a 4 game suspension for what they deemed his participation in ‘Deflategate’, which took place during the pseudo scandalous Playoff game between the Pats and Colts this year.

The 2015 Baltimore riot aftermath seems to have died down in the press, replaced by more minor stories of police matters v. the citizen on the street. Racism snaps it’s ugly jowls into the backbone of so many of these stories, followed by a seemingly equal amount of ‘young man on street shoots cop’ stories. Tensions between public and police appear to ferreting out new stories of injustice. Law Enforcement battles bad PR, keeping their officers safe and punishing felons on both sides of the badge.

Friday evening at a jazz bar here in Sleepytown where I watched my friends perform, a young man was cold cocked to the floor and never regained consciousness. He was blackout drunk and tried to rough up the bar owner, when a fist came in and put him to the floor. I watched while paramedics tried to bring him to but after more than ten minutes they ended up carting him off in an ambulance, still lifeless.

These particular stories made me ponder the concept of ‘equivalent exchange’, a concept most brilliantly illustrated in the storyline of the Japanese comic, Fullmetal Alchemist. Two brothers mother dies and they try to use techniques from Alchemy (a learned science in this comicbook reality) to bring her back to life. One of the basic rules of Alchemy in this fictitious world is what’s known as equivalent exchange; something of at least equal value must be sacrificed in order to obtain or transform something. I don’t want to go into more detail on the storyline but basically what is was showing is a world where equal loss must be given up in exchange for what change has to happen; a balance of nature that was fair, but not always kind.

Many individuals have trouble processing the fact that old beloved Bill could have drugged and raped all these women yet the accusations pile up; we have to at least do a true investigation on what’s going on. Since a hardcore investigation  doesn’t seem to be readily happening and until we know if a case will come against him, I feel the equivalent exchange Mr. Cosby suffers now could be the loss of his empire and legacy. If court cases bring no charges that stick to him, at least most will feel some form of mysterious justice from this shame he now carries amid dwindling finances.

Tom Brady appears to be one of those guys you love or you really really hate. True Pats fans were irate that Brady was punished at all as the rest of football enthusiasts felt it wasn’t a stiff enough penalty. The forfeiture of playing a couple of games is no real skin off his dick but his equivalent exchange is a burdening perception of character that will continue to haunt him the rest of his career. He will be shunned as Tom the Cheater and old avid Packer fans will spit on the floor and make the hex sign when saying his name. To some it seems a pretty minor payment but if you put aside subjective opinion and look at the grand picture of professional football, this is a pretty minor offense.

The police stories will continue to be brought forth from various cities throughout the U.S.-throughout the world- but they too will suffer the fate of equivalent exchange. Maybe not so close to home as true Karma, which comes back to haunt you directly, but perhaps like equivalent exchange, where something related to you directly or indirectly happens. Cops in Ferguson may very well have been the voodoo which forced New York youth into shooting a local cop there. More and more cases keep popping up from various locations showing video of police officers doing heinous things. The people in Baltimore who smashed windows and grabbed merchandise now live in a neighborhood which must be rebuilt…an inconvenience to all that live there and now, something they created; the rest of the world has stopped watching them. This is how I see it, how I describe it… our global society influenced from a buildup of actions and opinions…the chaos theory powered from a nation’s actions or reactions.

I still don’t know the outcome of the guy who went down in the bar. After watching them haul away this piece of human dough that had wet his pants I could only guess that he was either going to die from this, or be paralyzed. Perhaps not-perhaps he recovered and doesn’t remember a thing that happened but I do feel he paid with equivalent exchange for being a drunken ass in a jazz bar that evening.


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