CREAM AND SCUM: THEY BOTH HAVE A NATURAL TENDENCY OF FORMING ON THE TOP OF BOTH THE AGRICULTURAL AND HUMAN FOOD CHAINS
I was meditating a while back many months ago and the fruits of my meditation had seemingly slipped away into either the inner or outer recesses of oblivion. However, today I found myself meditating and contemplating in silence once again in a moment of tranquility and solitude and what do you know, the substance of my previous contemplation came back to me in a flash of insight!
I was thinking about how we always talk about ‘the cream of the crop’, or in French, a more elitist expression, the ‘crème de la crème’, when speaking of the best of what society has to offer. This metaphor of course comes from the milk-producing industry, which separates the milk from the heavier, fattier cream, which has a natural tendency to float to the top, and is more prized because it is rarer and can be used in rich foods such as baked goods and sauces.
So over a period of time, our civilization has come to equate cream rising to the top in a literal fashion, with its figurative equivalent in society. What we often don’t realize, or don’t want to admit is that for every ounce of cream, there are so many more times of milk. So for every hit record, there are that many more popular songs which are quite average if not even outright awful.
Another thing we often don’t realize is that scum also rises to the top, or at least it has a tendency to form at the top. Leave a jar of unseparated milk in the fridge long enough with the cream on top and sooner or later the cream will get scummy. Same goes for oil paint. Leave a can of already opened oil paint closed-up again and sooner or later the oil will separate from the rest of the mixture and a layer of scum will form on top.
This could easily be a metaphor for what goes on in society as well. What starts out as ‘cream’, which has naturally floated to the top, be they a politician, a cleric, athlete, business person, soldier, academic, police officer, lawyer, doctor, teacher, you name it, can easily, if the conditions are ‘right’, (or ‘wrong’, whichever way you look at it), turn to ‘scum’.
We see it all the time in the media. People who are in exalted positions of power and are respected by their peers and the public, fall prey to whatever temporal forms of temptation that their office or profession brings them into contact with. And no wonder. These people are all at the forefront of professional avocations which bring them into intimate personal contact with either some of the most vulnerable, impressionable or most unsavoury elements of our society.
Therefore it’s only to be expected that some of them, being systematically exposed day in and day out to either the very unsavoury societal elements they are supposed to combat, or elements they are supposed to heal, or impart spiritual knowledge and wisdom to, find themselves being either corrupted by them in the first case, having their deleterious health outcomes rub off on them in the second case, or find themselves ill-equipped to steer clear of their psycho-sexual entanglements or find themselves powerless to control, or in some cases, empowered to indulge , their longstanding urge to satiate their sexual appetite, which often takes the form of inappropriate sexual contact with some of the most vulnerable and impressionable members of society.
I’ve always been of the opinion that, if you want to find corruption, a good place to seek it out is amongst the very people who’re supposed to uphold the law and defend virtue. If you want to find illness, go amongst the practitioners of the healing arts and you will find plenty of sickness. And so on it goes.
The difference between ‘cream’ and ‘scum’ is often difficult to discern. We often don’t know the full story about the ‘product’ in question until some scandal breaks in the news. Funny, there are no scandals about ‘scummy’ journalists who started out being ‘creamy’ but who then got to be ‘scummy’. Maybe they’re to busy digging up ‘scum’ everywhere else to see any of it forming around them.
In any case, I never thought milk and paint would provide me with such incisive metaphysical insights. I’ll see what kind of ‘cream’ floats to the top the next time my mind wanders off in to a state of oblivious contemplation. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to report back to you before the substance of my reflections get too ‘scummy’. God Bless. Amen.