Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mingats


 
    Today Mongolia has a parliamentary system that includes elections, which a couple of years ago boasted a seventy three percent participation by those of voting age.  It has population of almost three million people.  A little under half of whom live in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator.  The country is about fifteen times larger than Kentucky, it's a about one hundred thousand square miles larger than Alaska and it's around seven times larger than the current borders of the United Kingdom.  And perhaps Genghis Khan was an ambitious bastard, but to unite quarrelling clans he chose first to divide his people into arbatu.  An arbatu was a family, or group of families, who could raise ten warriors.  Ten arbatu made up a zagutu. A mingat was a group of families that could produce one thousand warriors. Ten mingats made up a tumen.  And on it went into the sweet and obedient harmonies of the decimal system.  From these general figures the professionals have estimated that the population of Mongolia in the Twelfth Century was at least four hundred thousand, which is a figure based upon the ninety five thousand horse soldiers that crossed the Great Wall of China to do battle with the many millions aligned with the second Jin Dynasty.

    And the question is this, for those of us who do not get excited by fighting, or sporting activities, and who are not that fond of competing in other ways, is it because we are dumb, improperly formed, weak kneed and lily livered, limp wristed with one poor knee, and absolutely nothing useful to contribute except to fulfill the dictionary definition of  "gutless coward" or "genetic error."  I suspect the answer to this question is essentially, "Yes, we are both."  However, in the Twelfth Century when Mongol people were slaughtering Chinese Peasants, or laying siege to Bagdad, had I been an  adult male Mongolian I might not have found it as easy to say "No!" to the demands of my leader and peers.  And for those of us who might share the view that our species is peculiar in the weird way, worth remembering the words spoken by the current President of Mongolia when he addressed the Non-Aligned Movement  in Teheran the other day.  He said, "Peoples themselves never confront and fight each other. It is because of leaders' stances and policies that confrontations and struggles might occur among nations."  And you have to know, that Genghis, and all of the others, from the beginning of us all to the end of us all,  clearly share this same sentiment.  


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