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Friday, November 05, 2010

The Pot and the Kettles - A Parable

Once upon a time there was a great iron stew pot that sat on the edge of the village in the camp of the outcasts. You see it was an iron rule in the village that only the eldest child in each family could inherit the wealth of the family.  In the old days, each house kept an iron kettle on the hearth of each great house. These kettles became the symbols for the bounty kept and bestowed by the house and the kettle
was passed on from fathers to sons as the symbol of the transfer of the new house master's hereditary rights and privileges.  

Children who were not able to inherit, became servants in the village.  Those, whose temperaments were unsuited to servitude, left the village to live in the camp of the outcasts.  Those who lived in the camp soon learned skills they needed to survive and taught others in the camp to do so.  They gleaned the leftovers from the surrounding fields after the harvests, saved the seeds and soon planted fields of their own around the camp, trading their goods for livestock and land.  They taught each other crafts and skills needed to survive and to give the newly outcast something useful to contribute to the camp.  Some new outcasts brought skills with them that they had learned in the village. They worked hard and soon, the camp of the outcasts grew to a vibrant community that rivaled and in many ways exceeded the village in size and wealth.

The iron stew pot, at first, was where the outcasts shared the food they were able to find and where they took their meals together.  Later it became the place where the outcasts pooled a tithe of all their goods and purchased weapons to defend their camp, organizing a defense force and electing a sheriff, a judge and mayor of their own.

In the village, the lords of the great houses with their armies of servants laughed at the pretensions of the outcasts. They exploited their servants; labors and amassed huge fortunes until the burden the great house masters necessarily placed on their servants became so onerous that the servants rebelled. The rebellions in some cases were crushed; in others the houses changed hands and a new master took control.  A very vew houses fell into the hands of the servants who copied the outcasts in reordering their houses. Some of the most tyrannical masters picked fights with other houses in the village in order to distract their servants from their unhappiness and to bind their loyalties to their own houses through outside conflict.  While the village lord and masters hacked away at each other, the outcasts grew in power and wealth until the outcast camp was greater than all the village houses.

When chaos in the village became unbearable, some of the great houses invited the outcasts to send their soldiers to quell the violence.  After things settled down and the outcasts had helped repair the damage, the houses reluctantly formed a village council and invited the outcasts to sit on it.

Years passed. The outcasts helped provide security for the village as well as the outcast camp. The council met and fussed and fumed and tried to cling to what they perceived as their ancients rights and privileges. They finally organized a special council to determine why people were not happy in the villages.  They brought their kettles to the special council as a symbol of their ancient power.  The outcasts brought their great iron stew pot.  Because it was larger than all the kettles, the village houses complained that the outcasts should get a smaller pot or leave it at home so as not to upset the village house masters.

So they left the pot at home when they went to the meetings.

The special council then complained that the outcasts were not playing fair and that they had too much wealth and too much power and blamed it on their having a larger pot.  Some of the biggest troublemakers among the village house masters accused the outcasts of being somehow responsible for all the problems in the village.  The special council voted finally to issue a decree condemning the outcasts for having a bigger pot and demanded that the pot be given to the special council as a symbol of the council's superior position.  They further decreed that the outcasts should get a decent sized kettle like everybody else.

They all felt better then.

Some of the outcasts wanted to give away their pot, buy a more modest kettle and rejoin the village, hoping the villagers would all like them again.

The rest of the outcasts went, "You've got to be kidding!" and promptly ignored the decree and the silly people among them who cared anything at all about the special council's decree.  They tossed out a few of the troublesome goofs in the camp council who had neogtiated the terms of the decree with the special council in the first place.

Then everybody went back to work and a whole bunch of smart villagers, sick of the mess in the village, defected to the outcast camp bringing their energy, wealth and skills with them... 

Or at least that's how it ought to end.....

(c) 2010 by Tom King                                      .

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