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A Parable from a Sleepy Mind

Dear All:

It's late, but I'm moved for a short while to quickly tell a  tale in
the way that I seem to remember having learned it.  The tale happened
some time back, long before I was interested in things other than my
next vacation and the rest of my life.

There was an island in the Pacific somewhere, inhabited by what we in
the civilized world might call "simple folk."  It had  been happily
self-sufficient for as long as anyone could remember, although I'm sure
there had been many bad times that they had overcome with their own art
and effort.   They were survivors!  One day a representative of a great
nation stepped onto the sand and said that his nation would like to
build a radar station (or an observatory, or some other seemingly benign
installation) at the end of their little island.  In return, the
residents of that island would receive lots of goodies (can't remember
what those goodies were, exactly, but they were things like canned
goods, etc., things that the islanders had previously  been perfectly
able (although often at great effort) to produce for themselves.

They said OK!

In whatever language they talked (and it was probably only a few
higher-ups who made the decision for the entire population of the
island) they decided that it would be a good idea if that great nation
built that facility on the end of their little island.  Who knows what
sort of arguments went on among the residents, within whatever political
strtucture they had found had worked so well for so long, but the deal
was struck.

Within one or two generations, the residents of that little Pacific
island lost their connection to the land and the ocean. They no longer
needed to till the soil or harvest the fruits of the sea to survive in
the way that they had always managed to survive before.  They were
getting cans of the produce they used to grow by the sweat of their
brow, by the crateload, for nothing--for no other reason than that
someone had showed up with a fat wallet, and a desire to spend, and had
managed to arrange a meeting with whoever on that island had been
willing to "talk" around the table, and had a little muscle besides!

Most of the time, when there's a war on, it's just one guy shooting at
another.  The idea of an "enemy" is usually only a convenience of the
time;--a way to get large droves of men to take up the sword.  Stupid or
smart, wartorn or fresh, each has swallowed the party line, and will do
their best to do what they are told is right.  The "why" question isn't
even asked!  It is very often the men sitting on the crest of the hill
on their chargers, ready to ride the other way when given the chance,
who know the REAL reason why the grunts in the valley fight, and die.
Perhaps one day the grunts in the valley will ask that question BEFORE
they take up arms, and decide to go home before they do something they
will always, as human beings, regret.


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