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Friday, August 8, 2008

Birth of fear

Many, many years ago Og came home to his cave from a day of hunting with nothing to show for it. Og knew his woman would give him a very hard time for this, and he was thinking of what to tell her. He was not a particularly good hunter, mostly because he would rather sit by the stream and sleep rather than roam the area or set up a camp and wait. Og knew he could not tell his woman this either, or she would leave him for Rusty, their annoying neighbor who always seemed to be cooking some huge beast he had brought home after his hunting trips. Og had noticed there were a few other guys that rarely came home with a kill (most were on the stream bank with him most days). He knew they were in for the same bad time he was when they got home. He knew they would be on his side if he could come up with a great story. Og had also noticed that over the last few years the successful hunters had been going a bit farther away from the caves each day to get the really good kills. He also thought about how they hardly ever saw any animals around the caves any more. Then it dawned on him.... He had no kill to bring home because people were killing off all the animals! Now Og knew that the real reason he had no kill was he liked to sleep more than hunt. But, no one could doubt that hunting was harder now than in his father's lifetime. And in his Grandfather's; well, animals almost came and jumped on the fire! His story had just enough truth to be believed. He began to work out the details. When he got home Og was met by his woman. She accosted him at the mouth of their cave with a shriek of "What no food!?!" Og shook his head sadly and began his tale.... "You know how the men stay out longer and longer, right? You see how many of us come home with no kills more and more often?" Og was warming up to the task as he saw some of his neighbors gather around. "It is true, I have no beast today. The beasts are dying out, we have nearly killed them all!" He tried to look somber and concerned as some of the womenfolk gasped. Og continued, "As we hunt more and more, we are killing all the beasts fit to eat. Soon they will all be gone and we shall starve." A little girl began to cry as she was quite hungry. Og loved the sound effects. His wife said "Rusty has a large beast to eat. He has a kill almost every day." Here was the tricky part. Og knew this could make or break his argument. He turned to Rusty and asked, "Is it not true that you have to travel farther now than when you learned to hunt? Is it not a fact that we see fewer animals around our caves?" Rusty knew why Og did not get a kill most days, but he could not deny the questions. He just said "It is true." Then he started to add, "But, if you just go into the trees and hunt...." Og cut him off with a "See, even the best hunter among us admits it is harder to find a good beast now!" He turned to his friends that sat on the stream bank with him most days and asked, "Do you all not agree? Are there not fewer and fewer animals to be found?" Now they were not as sharp and quick as Og, but they were tired of getting yelled at when they came home empty handed so they all started nodding vigorously and saying "It is true." Og was invited to dine that night on some of the best food he had eaten since his childhood. He was asked over and over to tell them about the lack of game and what they could do. Og saw a real potential here. He went to bed and thought about it all night. The next day, Og went to the village elders and said to them, "I wish I had the time to try to work out a solution to our problem. But, with spending all day out trying to find a beast to kill, I cannot." The elders thought and after seeing how many of the tribe were watching, said to Og, "Stay here and think. The tribe will feed you and your woman. We must find an answer to our problems." This was what Og wanted to hear. Og set up an area by the main cave of town where he sat and "thought". Mostly he napped and daydreamed, but it looked good to the other people. They brought him lunch and drinks and asked what else he needed. He was wined and dined every night and was brought gifts of clothing and food by tribe members hourly. Og sat back and thought how good his life had become. All he had to do was talk to the tribe at the weekly council meetings and say that he was working on the problem. Then an idea hit him. Wouldn't it be better if he could talk and enjoy the leisure "thinking time" with his friends. At the next council meeting Og said, "I am making progress with a plan to help us out of this crisis. (He had noticed how using words like "crisis" and "destruction", the people paid more attention to him) I need more minds working with me on the problem. I propose a separate council to ponder these new and deadly dangers." Og then proceeded to name four of his best friends (the ones that also were too lazy to hunt) to join him. Og continued. "Of course, they will not be able to hunt any longer and will need the tribe's support. But, if we really work on solving this threat to our existence, we will prevail." The group started yelling in agreement that Og and his "council" should be supported by the tribe, and the chief had to agree. Rusty and Og's former woman (now with Rusty and eating roast beast every night) seemed to be the only ones that spoke against it - "Og is just lazy" they said. "Why should we offer food, drink, and clothing for them to do nothing?" Og saw this as another turning point here to his scheme and went on the attack - "Do you not love our way of life? What of our children? If we have hunted away the animals, what will our children's children eat? We must work on this problem for our children if not for ourselves!" This worked, no one could argue against helping the children. Og worked this plan for weeks and months. He was set up in the best cave with some of the best food and drink he had ever had offered to him daily. He and his friends sat all day by streams and on cool hilltops "thinking" about how to overcome the crisis facing their tribe. But, Og knew from the talk he heard around the stream that he had to come with some ideas or the tribe would stop supporting him. So, after days of talking to his friends Og called the tribe together. He began to speak: "We all agree that we are facing a crisis that endangers not just our way of life, but our children's future." A few of the dissenters led by Rusty started crying "We do not all agree", but were quickly quieted by the chief. Og continued, "We all know the great beasts are harder to find now than at any other time in our lives. We must act or we shall perish. I and my fellow council members have come with a plan. We must eat less beast. Berries, nuts, and fruit along with edible leaves are plentiful. They truly grow right from the ground. We must eat more of these and not dine on roast beast every night." Og saw some of the men squirm, as they really loved the roast beast. So he quickly continued, "I know this will be a change and even a hardship for some of us. But, for our children's future and the future of our tribe, we must change. We will still hunt the beasts, but only three days a week. Smaller beasts and females must not be taken. We must leave them to repopulate the herds. Berries, nuts, fruits, and leaves must be harvested daily. Some of the hunters can be involved in this since they will not be hunting as much. I will provide more details to the tribal council as we go along. These measures are all that stand between us and disaster. We must act now!" Og saw how these words had people nodding in agreement. Og began being asked to speak at neighboring tribal councils. He was wined and dined like a great visiting chief. He realized this could be the beginning of him getting more fame and fortune out of this disaster and crisis scam than he ever dreamed of. It was good. Og spent the rest of his days speaking and telling people how conservation and frugality were the answer to a great future for the people. The more deadly he made problems sound, the more he was in demand. Crisis after crisis was his "golden ticket". It was good. Og's descendants have carried Og's tradition throughout the ages. In my lifetime they have told us that global cooling would kill us all by destroying agriculture and making northern latitudes uninhabitable (the 60s - 70s). They have told us the the rapidly exploding population would destroy civilization in twenty years with worldwide hunger and anarchy. (the 70s) They have told us that the oceans would not support sea life for more than ten years and mankind would suffer greatly due to no food from the sea. (the 70s - 80s) They have said our oils supplies were almost gone and we would be pushed back to the pre-industrial days. (1920s - to now) AIDS was going to decimate the population and was a pandemic unlike any ever faced by mankind. (80s - 90s) We were told that nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons would destroy mankind with nuclear winters, and/or meltdowns that would destroy the environment. (50s - to now) We were told that Y2K would be a total meltdown of our electonic world (late 90s - 2000 thanks to Dave for reminding me I forgot this one). Now the favorite is Global Warming (which has already morphed into Climate Change - as the earth appears to have cooled over the last ten years) which will end life as we know it if we don't start driving hybrid cars. (90s - to now) Og would be proud.