Monday, August 01, 2011

The Politics Of Doom

"Liar! You told us this would happen!"

It's the vanity of man that man has no vanity. Proceeding under this assumption treated as true as stars in the sky, the village elders brought forth a new decree to deal with the dwindling water supply. It read quite simply: Water is no longer needed. They made this proclamation for the same stated reason all proclamations are done: for the benefit of the common good. Therefore, anyone opposed to it was by default also opposed to the common good - those in that camp labeled rabble-rousers, malcontents, selfish, anarchic and treasonous.

Still, the populace had to be convinced.

"But won't we die without water?"

"It's not for us to conform to reality, it's for reality to conform to us. We have decreed water is no longer needed, therefore it is thusly so."

"But it's a scientific fact we need water!"

"Science is the religion of limited minds. Did not the science say we could not put poison into our air, land and water and also survive - and yet we do it every day as we still yet thrive. Science is the domain of wishful thinking. I've had no water today and I'm clearly not dead. The truth is merely a philosophy and my philosophy is one of optimism! "

"Just because you're not dead now doesn't mean you won't be later!"

"You, sir, are an alarmist, spreading panic and fear and disorder - precisely the things this decree prevents! Yesterday we saw much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, people bemoaning the lack of water. Bemoan no more! We your great leaders have solved the crisis!"

The environment is the enemy! Kill it before it kills you!

Loud cheers burst forth among the gathering crowd, excited to hear the grand bargain. The storm clouds of doom declared gone, a day of victory! What a relief to no longer need water, free from its cruel yoke. Parents lifted their children in celebration, the future saved. Many openly wept with joy, hugging strangers and praising the good kind Lord in heaven. Eager smiles rushed forward to shake the hands of the village elders (whose re-election was now assured). But another voice dare speak.

"It neither need be fact nor fiction the body needs water: it is our Nature. As part of Nature we cannot deny Nature for to do so is to deny ourselves, our very existence. This decree cuts all ties with ourselves and thereby dooms us like a leaf that detaches from a tree!"

The elders were outraged by the civil disobedience. "We'll teach you to stir the masses! Crucify that man before he ruins us all! We'll show you man's true nature! Let this serve as an example: we shall not tolerate those who undermine our authority! We shall protect the people!"

Taking the cue from their leaders ("They must be good men because we follow them!") a lynching mob nailed the heretic to death and cheered, "Now we are saved! Long live the elders!"

Saving the white woman one lynching at a time

But it did not take long before the elderly and small babies began to weaken and die. Confused, surviving families entreated the elders for an explanation.

"The weakest, the least productive among us must go, as always. All during our history we have the seen the useless jobless and the begging homeless fouling our streets! Never once did we cry a tear for them - and quite rightly so! We did not cry then, we shall not cry now. We do not do this to them, they do it to themselves. There is no living with those people."

A grieving mother protested her baby's innocence but the surrounding crowd quickly drowned her out for being "a selfish bitch who doesn't give a damn about the common good and only whines when things don't go her way." Her stifling chastisement silenced the others who'd lost friends and family. "We're all suffering you fucking bitch. Shut your damn mouth or we're all the fucked!"

And so a creeping, unprotested death slowly strangled the village hour by hour, minute by minute agonizing the villagers in helpless, nightmarish torment. Riddled with guilt, none even dare mention their deepening, endless anguish lest they betray the revered decree. And in this way death became noble. Rumors spread that the elders, who remained in perfect health, still sipped from the remaining water. But these conspirators were frowned upon as mistrustful, immature and blindly led.

In the midst of this draining of life, a stranger passed through town carrying bags of water. With curious eyes he saw the parched lips and shriveled faces of the villagers and marveled at what it was that kept them in such a state. A few of the weaker souls, forgetting all mandates, crawled to the stranger beseeching him for the liquid of life. This the stranger readily granted. He spoke of a land across the horizon with endless fresh water. He'd share all he could.

When word of the stranger reached the elders' ears, it sparked an instantaneous and lethal fury as they rushed to the town square. "That man is a waterist! He'll doom us all with his false talk and false promises. There's no way else to live but right here, just as we've always done! Are we to think ourselves blind idiots and stubborn fools for the ages who lived in vain? We must stay the course and persevere and not cut and run as this false prophet would have us do!"

How true, thought the villagers, there is no wrongdoing unless one admits it. Moving to the land of endless water would be disastrous! If they moved now, parents would lose the respect of their children, society would lose all moral authority and every life in the village revealed to be an exercise in vanity. The elders continued.

That bastard has no understanding
of socio-economics!

"This man poisons us with his wicked ways, hoping to make fools of us. See how he corrupts the soul by giving water away asking nothing in return. Is that the path to individual responsibility? Sending a message of a free ride, water for nothing? Rid us of this cancer! Free us from this beast who would chain us and take away all that we have to live for!"

The angry crowd chased off the reviled life giver, and "waterist" became a pejorative of the highest order of any who proposed a differing path than the one of righteousness and freedom and responsibility the village already claimed. But a few brave souls yet yearned for life - some merely confused as to why they should die and some believing life to be more. These few snuck out to the land across the horizon of endless water and rejoiced in the road less traveled (some realized this too late, too weak to make the journey).

In time, all died but the elders who then laughed and mocked the dead as they secretly continued to drink the last of the water. But needing to convince themselves they had done the right thing, ("We kept order!"), they too were trapped in the village, never once entertaining the thought of traveling to the land of endless water and betraying their vanity. No, they were too busy smirking and congratulating one another on outwitting and swindling the masses - even as they swindled themselves.


In later years, copies of the decree were found in the ghost town the village had become. Across the land laughter rang out loud and true as disbelieving eyes read the words of the insanely self-deceived villagers. Some even said it must be a hoax, an incredulity not to be believed. Regardless, a new term entered the popular lexicon: "Village idiot". And forever were the villagers who "refused to be made fools of" were remembered and branded morons for all time.

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