June 2024 Pegasus Now Available!

Here’s the June issue of Pegasus.

In this edition, Michael Hartoonian, a teacher, reflects on the importance of teachers.  For moral capitalism to thrive, for moral government to bring civility and well-being, teaching is needed.

Secondly, for four years now, the Caux Round Table has sought to learn more of certain actions taken by the Prophet Muhammad, his teaching by personal example, by showing us, in word and deed, how to respect others of a different faith.

I am referring to his covenants to respect and protect Christians and Jews.

In that light, we include the PowerPoint presentation of Professor Ibrahim Zein of the College of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, reporting on his research into the covenants given by the Prophet.  Professor Zein was assisted in this research by Ahmed El-Wakil, now completing a Ph.D. at Oxford.

We also include the complimentary PowerPoint slides of Dean Recep Senturk, also of the College of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, on the concept of Adamiyyah in Islamic thought.

I would be most interested in your thoughts and feedback.

Zoom Round Table on the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad and Reconciliation between the Jews and Palestinians — Join us Tuesday, July 23

I have reported, hopefully with good effect, on our providing good offices for the study of the covenants given by the Prophet Muhammad to respect and protect Christians and Jews.

In May, with the gracious permission of the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Arabic and Islam, we convened two meetings in Rome to present in public the importance for today of the Prophet’s covenants.

The book describing the contents and historicity of the covenants written by our colleagues, Professor Ibrahim Zein and Ahmed El-Wakil, can be found here.

Please join us for a Zoom round table at 8:30 am (CDT) on Tuesday, July 23, to discuss the covenants.

Some of those who helped lead this effort will be joining us.

To register, please email

I also attach here a recent commentary of mine published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on how covenant might be used to bring about reconciliation between the Palestinians and Jews.

The event will last about an hour.

2023 Dayton Award – Wednesday, July 17

The American people do not trust the institutions that sustain their Constitutional Republic.  As of last April, 23% of Americans say they trust the government in Washington, D.C. to do what is right “just about always” (2%) or “most of the time” (21%).  Last year, 16% said they trusted the government just about always or most of the time, which was among the lowest measures in nearly seven decades of polling.  Only 8% of Americans Congress.  Only 14% trust television news and 18% trust newspapers.  Only 26% trust public schools and the presidency.

Without trust, social capital evaporates.  Without social capital, human capital withers.  Without social and human capital, constitutional republics collapse.

Trust emerges when people tell the truth, when what they say can be relied upon.

Telling the truth, then, is necessary for the success of constitutional democracy.

Telling the truth, then, is the moral obligation of leaders in a free society.

For 2023, our board has selected from among those nominated Liz Collin of Alpha News to receive the Dayton Award for her documentary, The Fall of Minneapolis.  In recommending her for the award, she was described as focused on mission, community and government impact, as well as having the vision and prudence of a level 5 leader.  She was credited with having a “powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will.”  “Her ambition is first and foremost for the cause of truth, not for herself.”

The award will be presented to her at a lunch at the Minneapolis Club at noon on Wednesday, July 17 and you are invited to join us.

Cost to attend is only $15 (plus tax).

For more information or to register, please click here.

Character: What Santa Claus is Looking for and How Destiny Orders Our Fortunes in Life

Here in Minnesota, we have a small group called the Minnesota Character Council, affiliated with the Caux Round Table, advocating the education of future citizens in good character.  I am its chair.  Here is a link to the current issue of our newsletter, with two statements of global relevance on character and leadership.

We cannot have a moral capitalism if there is no moral government.  We cannot have moral government if there is no moral society.  We cannot have a moral society unless people have good character. That has always been true, is true everywhere people live and will always be true.

To make the case for the human universality of benefiting from good character, let me quote Ptahhotep of Ancient Egypt, Mencius of ancient China and Heraclitus of ancient Greece.


The Vizier Ptahhotep, around 2375–2350 BC, during the rule of King Djedkare Isesi of the fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt, wrote out certain criteria to be followed by those of good character.  His text was discovered in Thebes in 1847 by Egyptologist M. Prisse d’Avennes.

“All conduct should be so straight that you can measure it with a plumb-line.”

“Punish with principle, teach meaningfully.  The act of stopping evil leads to the lasting establishment of virtue.”

“Do not gossip in your neighbourhood, because people respect the silent.”

“Listening benefits the listener.”

“If he who listens listens fully, then he who listens becomes he who understands.”

“To listen is better than anything, thus is born perfect love.”

“As for the ignorant man who does not listen, he accomplishes nothing.”

“He does everything which is detestable, so people get angry with him each day.”

“Only speak when you have something worth saying.”

“May your heart never be vain because of what you know.  Take counsel from the ignorant, as well as the wise.”

“Think of living in peace with what you possess and whatever the Gods choose to give will come of its own accord.”

“He who has a great heart has a gift from God.  He who obeys his stomach obeys the enemy.”


Mencius went to see king Hui of Liang.  The king said, “Venerable sir, since you have not counted it far to come here, a distance of a thousand li, may I presume that you are provided with counsels to profit my kingdom?”

Mencius replied: “If your Majesty say, “What is to be done to profit my kingdom?”  The great officers will say, “What is to be done to profit our families?” and the inferior officers and the common people will say, “What is to be done to profit our persons?”  Superiors and inferiors will try to snatch this profit, the one from the other and the kingdom will be endangered.  There never has been a benevolent man who neglected his parents.  There never has been a righteous man who made his sovereign an after consideration.  Let your Majesty also say, “Benevolence and righteousness and let these be your only themes.”  Why must you use that word – “profit?”


Ethos anthropos daimon – “For persons, ethics governs their fates.”

George Washington

“Since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”

In all that we do, let us think of character first and foremost.

Boeing: “When Sorrows Come, They Come Not as Single Spies, But in Battalions.”

There are two stories in today’s paper here about the ongoing travails of a once great company – Boeing.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Emily Glazer and Sharon Terlep reported:

Several high-profile candidates have turned down the chance to run Boeing, complicating the jet maker’s search for a new leader amid discussions about whether the next CEO needs to be based near its Seattle-area factories.

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said in March he would step down by the end of the year.  GE CEO Larry Culp, widely considered a natural for the job, declined Boeing’s request to consider taking over, said people familiar with the discussions. 

Calhoun’s successor will have to deal with those issues, while rooting out ingrained quality problems that have led to massive production delays and drawn the ire of airline customers, federal regulators and investors. 

Culp, GE’s first-ever outsider CEO who rehabilitated the industrial giant, was a favorite of investors and suppliers.  He is known as a guru in the world of lean manufacturing, a management philosophy focused on cutting waste while continuously improving quality. 

Culp has said publicly that he intends to stay at GE Aerospace, which has shed its other businesses to focus on making jet engines used in Boeing and Airbus planes.

One of the company’s own directors, aerospace veteran David Gitlin, also declined an approach.  Gitlin, the current CEO of manufacturer Carrier Global, said on an earnings call in April that he told Boeing’s board to remove him from the list of potential contenders.

Secondly, also in today’s Wall Street Journal is a story that the U.S. Department of Justice is considering whether or not to pursue a charge that Boeing violated a pre-existing corporate probation for fraud related to the 2018 and 2019 crashes of Boeing aircraft, given a recent midair failure of a door.

If the measure of success in capitalism is, as many argue, financial returns to owners, then Boeing is a failure.

From the perspective of stakeholder capitalism, the company’s single-minded search for cost reductions devalued the importance it put on customers by compromising their safety through toleration of a shoddy production process, a failure to take due care and so set the company on a course to short-change its owners in the long run.

Who, in their right mind, would want to become the CEO of a company like that?

Caux Round Table Presents 2023 Dayton Award to Liz Collin of Alpha News

The Caux Round Table Principles for Moral Government reflect the special legacy of Minnesota leadership in seeking the common good.  I believe it was Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey who, in 1861, responding to the call of newly inaugurated President Abraham Lincoln, committed the first military regiment to serve the Union cause in the Civil War.  Minnesota lawyer Frank B. Kellogg, as U.S. Secretary of State, in 1928, took the lead with Aristide Briand of France to establish by treaty a principle in international law on the illegality of aggression.  Later, Harold Stassen and Hubert Humphrey provided national and international leadership for the United Nations and the Peace Corps.  Hubert Humphrey’s demand at the 1948 national convention of the Democratic Party that racial segregation in the U.S. must end spoke moral truth to power.

For 2023, our board has selected from among those nominated Liz Collin of Alpha News to receive the Dayton Award for her documentary, The Fall of Minneapolis.  In recommending her for the award, she was described as focused on mission, community and government impact, as well as having the vision and prudence of a level 5 leader.  She was credited with having a “powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will.”  “Her ambition is first and foremost for the cause of truth, not for herself.”

Pursuant to its principles for moral government, the Caux Round Table believes that discourse ethics should guide application of public power, as follows:

Public power, however allocated by constitutions, referendums or laws, shall rest its legitimacy in processes of communication and discourse among autonomous moral agents who constitute the community to be served by the government.  Free and open discourse, embracing independent media, shall not be curtailed, except to protect legitimate expectations of personal privacy, sustain the confidentiality needed for the proper separation of powers or for the most dire of reasons relating to national security.

Accordingly, the Caux Round Table has proposed a code of ethics for journalists, which proposes, in part:

Journalism is a quasi-public trust encumbered with fiduciary duties.  Journalism, as a business, provides a notable good of great merit for society.  News, information and well-argued opinion constitute a vital part of a society’s social capital.  Inaccurate news, false information and propaganda degrade a society’s capacity for finding common ground, mutual respect and tolerance.  The moral character of a society flourishes with responsible discourse to provide checks on extremism, stupidity and political authority.  Journalism is not entertainment.

It is the intangible of leadership that counts most for moral success.  There are essential abilities required to lead – integrity, courage, compassion, respect and responsibility:

Integrity is being honest and having strong moral principles.  Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonors you.  Integrity makes you believable, as you know and act on your values.

Courage is strength in the face of adversity and upholding what is right, regardless of what others may think or do.  Courage enables you to take a stand, honor commitments and guide the way.  Courage is a necessary element of responsibility.

Compassion is having concern for another.  It is feeling for and not feeling with the other.  Compassion is concern of others in a more global sense.

Respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone.  Leaders ought to be respected and they ought to respect those with whom they work.  Demonstrating this perspective is essential to motivate and inspire others.

Responsibility is acting on commitment, will, determination and obligation.  Responsibility implies the satisfactory performance of duties, the adequate discharge of obligations and the trustworthy care for or disposition of possessions.  It is being willing and able to act in a life-enhancing manner.  Responsibility is expected of self, as well as from others.

In 2019, the first Dayton Award was given to Douglas M. Baker, Jr. of Ecolab, in 2020 to Andrew Cecere of U.S. Bank and Don and Sondra Samuels for leadership in the community, in 2021 to police chiefs Medaria Arradondo of Minneapolis and Todd Axtell of St. Paul for leadership in public service and in 2022, to Mary Kowalski and Kris Kowalski Christiansen of Kowalski’s Markets and to Kyle Smith of Reell Precision Manufacturing for leadership in business.

Reverse Engineering of Global Warming and other Possibilities

From time to time, I have shared reports on new technologies which can de-accelerate global warming or even, with carbon removal and sequestration, reverse it.

My thesis is that technology, a product of capitalism, got us to where we are today and that technology, again, can get us to where we want to be.

The only questions are: who will invent the technology and who will take it to scale?  The history of the Industrial Revolution down to today is that the private sector (including now non-profits and researchers) and markets are better designed to invent and scale technology than are governments.

Here is an update on some developments supporting the cogency of my thesis:

Graduate students at Purdue University came up with an ultra-white paint which reflects up to 98.1% of sunlight, cooling down buildings painted with that paint.

Direct air capture uses chemical filters to trap CO2 out of the air.  The captured CO2 can be converted to fertilizer or fuel or pumped underground to be trapped in rock formations.  A Swiss company, Climeworks, now mixes captured CO2 with water and pumps it underground.

Another company, Biochar, uses a kiln to heat agricultural waste without oxygen to make biochar, which traps the CO2 in the waste to prevent it from re-entering the atmosphere.

A company in Somerville, Massachusetts, is making batteries to store electricity by using iron and air.  When iron and air combine, rust is created and energy is released.  Apply an electric current to rust, it changes back into iron and stores energy.  The company’s batteries are charged with an electric current.  Then, when air is pumped in, energy is released as the iron rusts.  This technology, the company says, stores electricity much more cheaply than current batteries.

American Airlines is buying credits from a new company that uses bricks of carbon-absorbing plant material.  The company collects sawdust and tree bark and compresses that biomass into bricks sealed to prevent the plant matter from decomposing and releasing CO2.  The bricks are then buried.  The plants use photosynthesis to remove carbon from the air, so this technology piggybacks on nature itself.

Trees remove from the air each year some 2 gigatons of CO2.

Though the private sector is at work bringing forth new technologies, government transfer payments from taxpayers to companies finance the costs of developing the new processes.

Since the Earth produces hydrogen a fuel – from iron-rich rocks and radioactive rocks – such hydrogen can be extracted from those rock formations.  Iron-rich rocks react with very hot water to produce iron oxide and hydrogen.  A Canadian firm, Hydroma, is searching for the gas.

Extractable hydrogen has been found in France, America, Brazil, Australia, Colombia and Oman.  The search for hydrogen has attracted millions of dollars in private investments.

Private sector ventures need capital.  There is a market for carbon credits – some reduce carbon and get rewarded by society (government) for doing so with credits that can be used by others, which generate greenhouse gas release.  The generators can buy the credit from the reducers.

The total value of assets in global carbon markets was roughly $950 billion last year, with Europe accounting for most of that value.

But who will be a willing buyer and seller of such credits to make a market open to buyers and sellers, facilitating the creation and use of such rights created by government?

In the U.S., to facilitate growth in the trading of carbon credits, State Street Bank is now providing back-office services to clients who want to invest in carbon credits, expanding the market for such securities.  State Street is providing its usual custody and fund administration, including handling and valuing assets, gathering prices and maintaining investment records.

Markets need confidence and trust, which come with reliable custody of assets and transparency of pricing arrangements.

Concrete is the second most consumed substance in the world after water.  Around 3 tons per person are poured each year.  The production of 5 billion tons of concrete produces 8% of man-made CO2 per year.  The Materials Processing Institute has claimed to have made the first zero-emissions cement in northern England.

The key ingredient of cement is limestone – composed of oxygen and carbon.  A chemical reaction drives the carbon from the limestone, producing lime and CO2.  Roughly, one ton of carbon is produced when making one ton of cement.

A professor at the University of Cambridge proposes to recycle old cement into new cement and side-step use of lime.

In Germany a steel firm is using wind-generated electricity to run electrolyzers that split hydrogen from oxygen.  The hydrogen can then replace coke with its carbon in reducing iron ore into iron.

In Woburn, Massachusetts, a company, Boston Metal, proposes to use electrolysis to separate iron from its ore compound, avoiding any use of carbon to produce iron from iron ore.  This approach produces oxygen as the byproduct of the chemical reaction.  Iron ore is dissolved in a molten mixture of metal oxides.  Passing an electric current through the molten mass heats it and splits the iron oxide into its component molecules.  The liquid iron produced is chemically pure and homogeneous.  The impurities from the ore are left in the molten electrolyte.

There are also other new technologies that would give better protection to our environment.
A biochemist has suggested feeding insects on the waste – discarded barley and yeast – of beer breweries.  Such insects could become feed stock for beef cattle.

Sway, a small company near San Francisco, extracts cellulose from seaweed and turns it into a plastic-like substance, which can be used in plastic manufacturing equipment and then biodegrades when disposed of.

Solugen makes chemicals from boring ingredients, such as corn syrup, to replace ingredients that disrupt the environment or the climate.  The company’s founders used AI to design new biomolecules.  They invented a “biofuge” – a 60-foot-tall tank that keeps harmless ingredients, like sugars, trigger them with biochemical reactions and aerates them with a dense stream of microbubbles.

The machine creates a biomolecular alternative to phosphates, which reduce corrosion in water systems, but cause life-killing algae blooms.

The bioforges produce enormous volumes of chemicals at a profit, using renewable energy and removes more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit.

Solugen wants to produce enough bioplastic to remove from commerce 5 billion non-degradable plastic bottles.  Though a private business, the owners want government to use its regulatory power to create incentives for customers to demand their new products.

Finally, a company in Norway wants to put 8 million young Atlantic salmon in tanks.  Fish farming is the fastest growing method of food production, now accounting for 17% of the world’s protein intake.  The World Bank estimates that 90% of the world’s fisheries are fished either at or over their capacity to regenerate.

But aquaculture in net pens creates serious pollution of surrounding waters.  And rearing lots of fish in close proximity to one another risks outbreaks of diseases and parasites.  That demands that the fish farmers use antibiotics and other drugs.

In tanks, a new technology continuously cleans and recycles water for the tanks.  Water cleaning machines dispose of the waste produced by fish living in the tanks.  This technology was largely borrowed from the sewage treatment industry.

Standard salmon farming requires about 50,000 liters of water per kilogram of salmon, when the new technology might need only 150.

Tank farming also has the advantage of being close to consumers in urban areas.  But the capital costs of using more technology are high.

Human ingenuity – for good and for evil – must not be underestimated.  But eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

May Pegasus Now Available

Here’s the May issue of Pegasus.

In this edition, we include 2 pieces.

First, Steve Young introduces the concept of moneyism and how it relates to money and wealth.

Secondly, Michael Hartoonian includes his first article in a series on the causes of wealth creation and the reasons for poverty.

Lastly, we lighten the mood a bit with some cartoons.

As usual, I would be most interested in your thoughts and feedback.

The Covenant of the Prophet Muhammad Provides Insight into the Formative Years of Islam

My apologies for being late in sending you this report on the 2024 Georgetown Lecture at the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Arabic and Islam (PISAI) in Rome.  On my way home from Rome, I picked up Covid and so have been rather lethargic these past 2 weeks.

Perhaps the best way for me to report briefly and effectively to you about the unexpected success of the presentations at the lecture is to give you excerpts from my report to Pope Francis.

But first, I want to affirm my appreciation of the leadership of Silvano Cardinal Tomasi over these past 4 years in having insight into the importance of these overlooked recensions of covenants made 1,300 years ago by the Prophet Muhammad and so in constantly encouraging us at the Caux Round Table to pursue a close study of the covenants.

I also thank most enthusiastically Father Diego Cucarella, President of PISAI, for asking our colleagues Professor Ibrahim Zein and Dean Recep Senturk to speak about the covenants and their importance for us today at the Georgetown lecture.

Especially given the appreciative audience reception of the presentations by Prof. Zein and Dean Senturk, I thank them for their dedicated intellectual leadership, of such benefit to all of us and for their selfless collaboration with others in our study group.

As I reported to Pope Francis:

On May 16, our colleagues, Professor Ibrahim Zein and Dean Recep Senturk, spoke at the 2024 Georgetown Lecture at the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Arabic and Islam. … Though he could not attend personally, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, kindly asked Monsignor Simon Kassas of his office to attend the lecture.

In his presentation at PISAI, Professor Zein concluded that the recensions of the covenants that have come down to us are not forgeries.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable for us to infer that study of those texts will put all of us more directly in contact with the thinking of the Prophet in his time.

Dean Recep then shared with the audience his research on the concept of Adamiyyah, an Islamic universalism, an Islamic humanism, implicit in the teachings of three schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

Dean Recep quoted Sarakhsi, an Islamic scholar of the Hanafi School of Jurisprudence (D. 1090):

“When God created human beings, He honored them with intelligence and the capacity to carry responsibilities and rights (dhimmah: legal personality), so they would be capable of fulfilling their obligations and the rights entrusted to them.  Then, He granted them the right to inviolability, freedom and property, so they could continue their lives in such a way that they can fulfill the responsibilities they carry.  These responsibilities, freedom and right to property, are inherent to individuals from the moment of their birth and the discerning and non-discerning alike are equal in this regard.  Thus, the capacity to bear rights and responsibilities is inherent in individuals from birth and all individuals, regardless of their level of intellectual development, are equal in this respect.”

In response to a question, Dean Recep noted the alignment of Adamiyyah with Qur’anic guidance never to forget the mercy and compassion of God.

The presentations by Professor Zein and Dean Recep confirm the implications inherent in our study of the covenants of the Prophet that such texts present an opportunity for dialogue and engagement with our Islamic colleagues, both Sunni and Shi’a, on the deepest possible understanding of Islam in its formative decades.

An American Tragedy

Yesterday’s decision of a jury in New York City to find Donald Trump guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records with the intent of covering up a crime puts before the American people this question: how much do they want their constitutional republic to survive?

One notable and now relevant historic precedent was the factional self-destruction of the Roman Republic.

A second relevant and most notable precedent was Maximilien Robespierre’s terror during the French Revolution to cleanse France of “enemies of the people.”  The law which established the tribunals seeking out those “enemies of the people” and killing them was the Law of 22 Prairial (10 June 1794)

That law legalized the following procedures:

The Revolutionary Tribunal is instituted to punish the enemies of the people.

The enemies of the people are those who seek to destroy public liberty, either by force or by cunning.

The following are deemed enemies of the people: those who … have sought to disparage or dissolve the National Convention and the revolutionary and republican government of which it is the center.

Those who have deceived the people or the representatives of the people in order to lead them into undertakings contrary to the interests of liberty.

Those who have sought to inspire discouragement.

Those who have disseminated false news in order to divide or disturb the people.

Those who have sought to mislead opinion and to prevent the instruction of the people, to deprave morals and to corrupt the public conscience, to impair the energy and the purity of revolutionary and republican principles or to impede the progress thereof, either by counterrevolutionary or insidious writings or by any other machination.

The penalty provided for all offenses under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Tribunal is death.

The proof necessary to convict enemies of the people comprises every kind of evidence, whether material or moral, oral or written, which can naturally secure the approval of every just and reasonable mind; the rule of judgments is the conscience of the jurors, enlightened by love of the Patrie; their aim, the triumph of the Republic and the ruin of its enemies.

If either material or moral proofs exist, apart from the attested proof, there shall be no further hearing of witnesses, unless such formality appears necessary, either to discover accomplices or for other important considerations of public interest.

The law provides sworn patriots as council for calumniated patriots; it does not grant them to conspirators.

We should note in this law that those accused had no right of defense.  If there was evidence against them, they could not contravene it with counterevidence of their own. And no legal counsel could assist them.

More importantly, the standard for conviction was whatever the jurors might believe, no matter how false such beliefs were or how prejudiced the jurors were.

In the criminal proceeding against Donald Trump and in line with the Law of 22 Prairial, the judge left it to the conscience of the jury to find a crime.  His jury instructions encouraged them to indulge in speculation and prejudice.

Nor, during the trial, did the judge permit Trump to have effective assistance of counsel.  The judge even refused to let the jury hear germane and material testimony from an expert witness that no crime had been committed under federal election laws.

Trump’s trial, in other words, was a diluted measure of French revolutionary terror seeking to destroy an “enemy of the people.”  The revolutionary faction on the hunt for its enemies being the Democrats in the White House desperate to crush through state repression those whom they fear as “counter-revolutionary” activists.

Fear of such opposition to the moral hegemony asserted by the Democrats has been given the name of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” a kind of elite psychosis.

Looking back, we might even say that Robespierre, Saint Just and other Jacobins also were under the influence of some derangement of mind and heart.

The dynamic of breaking the law in order to defend the law was presciently described by James Madison in his 10th Federalist Paper on factionalism.

Madison considered any propensity for the “violence of faction” to be a “dangerous vice.”  He reasoned:

“The instability, injustice and confusion introduced into the public councils have, in truth, been the moral diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished.” …

“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society.  A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.” …

“It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests and render them all subservient to the public good.  Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

John Locke, in his 1690 second treatise concerning civil government, had previously rendered an opinion as to abuse of lawful authority as we have seen accomplished in the criminal trial of Donald Trump.

According to Locke, the purpose of civil government is to protect us from “the corruption and viciousness of degenerate men.”  Thus, a government may be directed to no other end but the peace, safety and public good of the people”.

Locke proposed that all power is given to public officials as a trust and that whenever that trust is manifestly neglected or opposed, the powers which have been given in such trust must be forfeited and returned to the people.  A public trust may never be used to further personal ambitions.  Making use of power not for the good of those who are under it, but for one’s own private, separate advantage, is tyranny.  “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins,” he said.

Locke insisted that whenever rulers “make themselves or any part of the community, masters or arbitrary disposers of the lives, liberties or fortunes of the people,” they forfeit their trust and lose their authority.  They, thus, “put themselves into a state of war with the people.”

“Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws and all the slips of human frailty will be born by the people without mutiny or murmur.  But if a long train of abuses, prevarications and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people and they cannot but feel what they lie under and see whither they are going; it is not to be wondered, that they should then rouze themselves and endeavour to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected.” (Sec 225)

“The end of government is the good of mankind and which is best for mankind, that the people should be always exposed to the boundless will of tyranny or that the rulers should be sometimes liable to be opposed, when they grow exorbitant in the use of their power and employ it for the destruction and not the preservation of the properties of their people?” (Sec 229)

“Here, it is like, the common question will be made, who shall be judge, whether the prince or legislative act contrary to their trust? … To this I reply, the people shall be judge; for who shall be judge whether his trustee or deputy acts well and according to the trust reposed in him, but he who deputes him and must, by having deputed him, have still a power to discard him, when he fails in his trust?” (Sec. 240)

With the conviction of Donald Trump, no matter how the case finally comes out after appeal courts have considered its lawfulness and fairness, the American people now face a watershed November election in their political history: will this abuse of power by the Democrats be ratified by the people or will the Democrats be found to have forfeited their public trust?

At stake for the American is nothing less than the rule of law and their constitutional order.

The Caux Round Table Principles for Government accept the righteousness of the rule of law, looking at precedents in different wisdom traditions – Ezekiel 34 in the Old Testament, Cicero, the Buddha’s middle way, Qur’anic guidance in keeping one’s trusts (Amanah) and serving as God’s steward (Khalifa), Mencius on the right of revolution, Confucius on the need for virtue (te).

Our principles include the following:

Public power is held in trust for the community.

Power brings responsibility.  Power is a necessary moral circumstance in that it binds the actions of one to the welfare of others.

Therefore, the power given by public office is held in trust for the benefit of the community and its citizens.  Officials are custodians only of the powers they hold.  They have no personal entitlement to office or the prerogatives thereof.

Holders of public office are accountable for their conduct while in office.  They are subject to removal for malfeasance, misfeasance or abuse of office.  The burden of proof that no malfeasance, misfeasance or abuse of office has occurred lies with the officeholder.

The state is the servant and agent of higher ends.  It is subordinate to society.  Public power is to be exercised within a framework of moral responsibility for the welfare of others.  Governments that abuse their trust shall lose their authority and may be removed from office.

Justice shall be provided.

The civic order and its instrumentalities shall be impartial among citizens without regard to condition, origin, sex or other fundamental, inherent attributes.  Yet, the civic order shall distinguish among citizens according to merit and desert where rights, benefits or privileges are best allocated according to effort and achievement, rather than as birthrights.

The civic order shall provide speedy, impartial and fair redress of grievances against the state, its instruments, other citizens and aliens.

The rule of law shall be honored and sustained, supported by honest and impartial tribunals and legislative checks and balances.