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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Beyond Pandora's Box, A Fable

At first the lives of men in The Golden Kingdom were happier than they were now. Citizens were able to buy and sell, people prospered until the Old King began to make bad decisions, endangering the welfare and the way of life of the citizens of the Golden Kingdom.

And there arose unrest within the kingdom and the people began to murmur among themselves and organize themselves for change. The rule of the Old King was coming to an end and the citizens of the Golden Kingdom were eager for the end of his reign.

They could no longer accept the ways of the Old King. “We need a new leader,” the people decided. “For our Old King has lost his way. He has lost touch with the message of how we came to be the Golden Kingdom, revered throughout the known world.”

So, there came to pass a great contest to determine who would be the new King of the Golden Kingdom. Contestants came from near and far - the best and the brightest in the Kingdom, some strong, some mighty - to compete in the games.

Near the end of the final games, two strong Contenders for the title of King of The Golden Kingdom emerged - one young, strong and idealistic, full of new ideas of how the Golden Kingdom could grow and thrive, providing success and riches not only for the richest among the kingdom, but also for the poor and forgotten. He would restructure the kingdom so that its citizens had more, he would return the pride of citizenship in the Golden Kingdom.

The old Contender was much older, he had fought many battles alongside the Old King, he had experienced much and had gained much knowledge.

But the young Contender had the heart and the loyalty of the people. The old Contender tried to destroy the character of the young one with slanderous accusations and name calling to no avail. The young contender maintained the confidence of the citizens.

The two Contenders struggled bitterly, words became harsh, feelings were hurt, things were said and accusations were made that could not be taken back.

One day, the old Contender, growing weary of the fight, sat among his advisors. “What can I do?” he asked. “My young opponent has grown so strong, his followers so true to him and his cause. Where are his weaknesses? What can I do to gain an edge over my foe and thus win the title of King of the Golden Kingdom?”

His advisors murmured among themselves. They too had worked alongside the old Contender and the old King. They too had grown fat and comfortable and had prospered much under the old policies of the Golden Kingdom and saw no reason why this should change.

There had to be some way the turn the tide, they reasoned. Some way to win the favor of the citizens of the Golden Kingdom and return their loyalty to him and the old ways.

“I know what to do,” the old Contender decided. So he goes on a journey to a kingdom far to the north and there he finds a woman. She was beautiful, smart and industrious.

“Return with me to the Golden Kingdom,” the old Contender implored. “Help me win the hearts of the people and you shall have whatever it is that you desire.”

So, the woman returns with the Old Contender to The Golden Kingdom. With her she brings a large beautifully adorned jar.

“Citizens of the Golden Kingdom,” the old Contender announced. “Choose me and this beautiful lady agrees to become co-regent with me.”

The people were cheered for a while, invigorated with the prospect of the beautiful lady. Some began to follow him, to cheer for him during the great games.

Pleased, the old Contender asks of the beautiful lady what it is that she desires. “Bring my beautiful jar then leave me in peace.” she replies.

The Old Contender does as she asks. Once alone, the beautiful lady removes the lid of the jar.

“Come out,” she bids her companions. “Take what will be mine, my friends,” she encourages. Out of the depths of the jar comes Division, Provocation, Abuse, Hostility, Hate, Fear, Mistrust, Lies, Destruction and Prejudice. The beautiful lady released them into the world, to make mischief, to cause pain, to destroy and discourage and to cause strife.

But there remained one in the jar whom the woman hated. “You!” she screamed. “How did you get in there? Not you, you I do not want! There is no room for you in my new Kingdom!”

There was a great struggle and the unwelcome guest escaped, The woman, furious, slammed the lid back onto the now empty jar. It didn’t matter, she conceded. This unwanted one was one against many. The Golden Kingdom would be hers.

The one who got away - Hope - rested quietly outside the window. Pulling herself to her feet, she began her journey in the direction the others had gone.

The one true and lasting thing that came to man and remains to comfort him during times of distress, is the spirit of Hope.

I turned away from the computer to face him. “So, what do you think?” I asked. The Teenage Wonder also known as Son stood reading over my shoulder, his expression one of dejection as his eyes appeared shadowed by a strange sadness.

This year Son turned eighteen and will cast his vote for the first time for the leader of this country. He has taken his task seriously, he has watched every debate, he has listened attentively and when not understanding an issue, he has asked questions. He has searched out his own answers – this new generation of voters is not satisfied with the status quo and they are not willing to vote “the way of their fathers”. They want to know the issues and form their own opinions about them. Of this, I am very proud.

This year’s election brings to a head all of the ugliness that I have attempted to shield him from his whole life. The ugliness of a race that threatens to be more about race looms directly ahead like a specter, uncovering hatred thought long buried.

“Is it always this way?” he asked. I wished that I could tell him no, I wished that I could tell him that this was an anomaly, that campaigns are not usually so bitter, so harsh, so nasty. I wished I could tell him that the “grownups” who are asking that we allow them to run our country would abide by the same rules parents have taught their children: Play fair, no name-calling, if you do not have anything good to say, say nothing at all. Or to just be nice to each other. Make friends. Do not start fights. Do not lie or cheat.

I want to tell him that things will get better, that not all campaigns are this way, but I cannot, because I am not certain if this will be the end of the ugliness. Others are watching, the world is watching, future campaigns are developed on the success of previous campaigns. I do not have the heart to tell Son that it will probably get worse from here.

Later that weekend, Son and I both attended our first political rally – ever. I have to admit, it was exhilarating to listen to my candidate. During the rally, I stole a look at Son. Gone was the expression of doom and in its place – hope. Son stares with rapt attention, he claps his hands, he raises his arms in the air to chant “Yes We Can!’ And I smile.

Hope still walks among us, whispering to continue the fight. To stand strong and resolute. To brace ourselves against the hateful words that threaten to divide our country once again.

In spite of all of the ugliness that has been released during this campaign, hope still walks among us. Take hold of her. Hold her tight. Never let her go.

1 comment:

flashfree/liz said...

Wow. Just got goosebumps. Wasn't quite sure where your fairy tale was going. Love this post ML!