On the Ruler of the Universe
Please consider these three ambiguous words:
“Law”, “Governor” and “Ruler”.
They are ambiguous because each has two meanings; one humble, physical and trustworthy, the other proud, political and devious.
By “Law” we may mean mathematical/physical law, or we may mean juridical/political law. The first kind of law includes the law of gravity, the law of commutativity, and the laws of thermodynamics. The second kind of law includes tax law, drug law and traffic law. Need I point out which laws are fixed, immutable, universal and eternal, and which ones are not? Which ones are discovered by humans, and which ones are invented? Which ones are fair, consistent and incorruptible, and which ones display opposite traits?
By “Governor”, we may mean the small whirling gizmo on a steam engine that bleeds off excess pressure when the engine runs too fast; or we may mean the political leader of an American state. Upon which type of governor would you let your very life depend? And not just once but many times?
By “Ruler” we may mean a straight-edge; or we may mean an alpha politician, usually male. I submit that the straight-edge consistently displays all the traits of a good ruler; it is humble, straightforward, honest and true; it serves the people; it never wavers or deviates; and it is the very model of uprightness and integrity. Of what alpha politician can we say the same?
Why then do both go by the same name? For the same reason that liars and the honest both call themselves honest.
What then would be the Ruler of the Universe? A cosmic alpha politician, or a cosmic straightedge? Surely the Universe requires a ruler of utmost integrity, for it to be a ‘uni’verse; but surely no alpha politician, however powerful, could hold to such a standard. Indeed, the more power, the less integrity!
Whereas a cosmic straightedge is that which always travels in the straightest and shortest possible path; a ‘geodesic’. And what tends to travel in a geodesic?
A friend has pointed out to me that light doesn’t always follow the straightest possible path, due to diffraction, reflection and refraction. In fact light’s true Law of motion is the Law of Least Action. Light always moves to minimize the sum of momentum times distance, a.k.a. ‘action’, which the photon is a quantum of.
So light is a ruler which always takes the least-action path. This is in line with the Taoist principle of ‘wu-wei’, or non-doing. This is also in line with the libertarian principle that ‘the government that governs best is one which governs least’.