A myth goes sour

Sam Smith: The current conflicts between Harry and William of the British monarchy is a reminder that even the best of myths can go sour.

The British monarchy myth has been driven for decades by its treatment in the hands of Queen Elizabeth. Even I often went along with it since it was Queen Elizabeth’s coronation that convinced my parents to buy their first TV, demonstrating to this young boy her near supernatural power.

As an anthropology major I learned that myths were common to cultures. There are, for example, gods all over the place with each culture maintaining it has it right. At the same time, in our land, professors, corporate leaders and media maintain the myth that they are just rational.

This has become increasingly hard to argue given, for example, the recent administration of Donald Trump and a media proud of its rationality that  doesn’t even admit that much of what they report and quote is based on myth.

For my part, I found myself becoming a seventh day agnostic. I did not deny the existence of myth. There are, for example, too many gods in the world for them all to be real but I learned to respect and admire those believing in one of them and who were therefore engaged in admirable works of faith. I accept the presence of myth but judge it by its effect on people.

After all, even corporate and institutional America are driven by myth such as turning over morality to lawyers or creating huge bureaucracies incapable of positive effect other than self promotion.

The struggle between Harry and William is just our latest example of how myth works. One reality is that myth doesn’t automatically move from generation to generation.

Another reality is that the monarchy costs Britain about $115 million a year. Consider that Proctor & Gamble last year spent $8.1 billion in self-promotion. Even a couple of flawed royal dudes could be helping tourism. Let’s wait and see what reality has to say.