A mafia upstart’s first hit kills two birds: 1) a pigeon, a victim, a corpse sometimes never found. 2) a parrot, a hitman, an apprentice compromised for life. The former pays the price for crossing the line, union dues-paying member or not. The latter, upon completion of his first job, theoretically establishes loyalty to the organization upon whose shoulder he’s then perched. He could one day change feathers and sing like a stooly, but as any good company-man can attest, whistle blowers get whacked. Mob rules.
You might think that as long as y’keep your nose clean, this is a world you’ll never have to worry about. But make no mistake, one way or another, you’re paying for protection. Sure, you might live a life on the straight and narrow and never cross the wrong path, but this life involves more than just uprightness, it requires a little luck. It is a game of chance, after all.
For these rules are not limited to the underworld. Any studious fratboy could tell you, your path is paved with connections, and loyalty to your friends sometimes means following unwritten rules. Nobody complains about a free lunch until somebody they don’t like is eating it. And of course it’s all relative. One person’s interest is another’s conflict.
So, too, is our relationship to the physical universe. There have been attempts to draft a set of guidelines so that we might navigate our way in harmony, but unknown factors would tend to prove that exceptions, however infrequent, render harmony fleeting.