— James Burke (science historian) British broadcaster, science historian, author, and television producer 1936
The Day the Universe Changed (1985), 1 - The Way We Are
Contexto: If something becomes common enough to turn into a ritual, and then starts to involve really large numbers of people, that's when the ritual becomes something else. It becomes widespread enough to affect the general agreement we all share. So, that's when the responsibility for running it goes out of your hands to be taken over by the institutions set up to run the rituals that matter on a regular basis, so that people can have clear rules and regulations to follow if they decide to get up to that particular ritual. The institutions take the admin out of daily life and run it for you: banking, government, sewage, tax collecting. Or, if you break the rules and regulations, one institution can take you out of daily life. This one: (James Burke displays a trial.) In every community, the law -- whether it's dressed up like this or the village elders telling you what the local custom is -- the law is all those rules I was on about earlier. I suppose what institutions like this do, most of all, is the dirty work. While they're putting them away here in the law court, for instance, that leaves us free to get on with making money, having a career, and avoiding the social responsibilities that these people have to deal with. And after a few centuries of this buck-passing, the institutions get big and powerful, and reach into everybody's lives so much they become hard to alter and virtually impossible to get rid of.