Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
There’s a stone building in Dzibilchaltun in Mexico’s Yucatan built by the Mayans around 500 B.C. Called the Temple of the Seven Dolls, it is so aligned with the points of the compass that on the vernal equinox the sun shines precisely through its east-west opening at dawn. I’ve seen it. So can you.
On June 23 I saw another stone monument, this one in Elberton, Georgia, built in 1980 by anonymous investors, so aligned with the points of the compass that the sun shines precisely through its capstone at noon every day. But you can’t see it. It’s not there anymore. On July 6 someone in a silver sedan planted a bomb and blew it up.
What is it about Americans that we cannot have nice things? How can a temple in Mexico remain standing through nearly three thousand years on land cultivated by an ancient people who were conquered by the Spanish and the Catholics and ruled by countless iterations of governments and religions, while we can’t keep something even 50 years? You tell me.
The Georgia Guidestones, four 42,000 pound megaliths of pyramid blue granite, were commissioned by the pseudonymous R. C. Christian with a message for the world: guiding principles to go forward after a catastrophic event. At the time there was fear of a nuclear war, and the Guidestones, it is said, were developed to advise the survivors of such a war as they gathered to “start over.” Stephen King, anyone? Each monolith was engraved with the same message, but in six different languages. The capstone, which held the slabs together, held its own message spelled out in Babylonian Cuneiform, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics: “Let These Be Guidestones To Reason.”
Reason, however, seems to be in short supply in America these days.
Each monolith listed the guiding principles in a different language: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. The principles are:
“Maintain Humanity under 500,000,000 in Perpetual Balance with Nature;
Guide Reproduction Wisely – Improving Fitness And Diversity;
Unite Humanity With A Living New Language;
Rule Passion – Faith – Tradition – And All Things With Tempered Reason;
Protect People and Nations With Fair Laws And Just Courts;
Let All Nations Rule Internally Resolving External Disputes In A World Court;
Avoid Petty Laws and Useless Officials;
Balance Personal Rights With Social Duties;
Prize Truth – Beauty – Love – Seeking Harmony with The Infinite;
Be Not a Cancer on Earth;
Leave Room for Nature.”
Surrounded by a family farm, the Guidestones were built on the highest point in Elberton, the self-proclaimed granite capital of the world. A horizontal stone near the monument describes the astronomic features: it is oriented so that the channel through the stone indicates the celestial pole, a horizontal slot indicates the annual travel of the sun, and a sunbeam through the capstone marks noontime throughout the year. I couldn’t help but compare this modern monument with the Mayan structure, although the stories and legends of the Temple of the Seven Dolls have mostly eroded away. The Georgia stones were something for future generations to ponder, like Stonehenge. Who? Why?
But instead, the Guidestones generated another kind of story, one of fear, hate, and conspiracy, fueled by the likely suspects QAnon, Alex Jones, and even a failed Republican candidate for Georgia governor, Kandiss Taylor. Ms. Taylor said the monument was satanic, and were she elected she’d have it demolished. After the bomb went off, she tweeted, “God is God all by Himself. He can do ANYTHING He wants to do. That includes striking down Satanic Guidestones.”
Reading into the cap on population as a call to slaughter millions, some railed against the elites who must have designed this devious plan. To some these were the ten commandments of the antichrist. Others were frightened of having a world court, of sharing power with other countries with other religions and, god forbid, promoting some new language. Unless, of course, that language was English. Certainly not that of the much-maligned French whom the comedian Steve Martin joked “have a word for everything.” Weren’t the French and the Brits into Paine’s Age of Reason? Enough said.
Seriously, people. A reasonable person would say these are some cool stones in the middle of a small town in Georgia, not exactly mainstream. A reasonable person would look at the cattle grazing nearby and say, “Huh? A new world order threatening civilization from a rural Georgia knoll?” But reason is a hard sell these days what with so many versions of the truth circulating. And it’s a knoll. Grassy knoll? That has history. You know the stones have to be subversive if Yoko Ono wrote a song about them, right? Look it up on SoundCloud. It’s called “Georgia Stones,” and the song begins with Ono reciting part of the guide over eerie sounds of nature. The song in three movements is 20 minutes long, though, way longer than it would take you to read the message on the Guidestones for yourself. Of course, you can’t do that now, because someone caught on camera leaving the scene, whom the Georgia Bureau of Investigation can’t yet find, blew them up.
We were some of the first to arrive at the Temple of the Seven Dolls on that particular March morning in Mexico. Near dawn the crowd had grown, world-travelers like ourselves and locals, all quietly waiting to be awed by the skill of the craftsmen who designed and built this temple, whatever their reasons for doing so. We weren’t disappointed.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to go back to the Guidestones and see the sun in its perfect alignment, although I did marvel at the craftmanship of the Elberton artists who erected the monument, and my fingers traced the modern words etched in the ancient, locally-quarried stone.
There is a story about a man who once stole a piece of the capstone and was caught trying to replace it. He said he was tired of carrying the weight. I’m hoping the bomber feels the burden of 237,746 pounds of blue granite. That would be nice.
One nice thing I have is a photo a friend took the day I visited the Guidestones. I’m happy to share it with you because we all deserve nice things. Even in today’s America.
Photo by Sharon Nix