MONDAY, FEB 20, 2017
Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS
TOPICS: KNOW-NOTHING, FROM THE WIRES, TRAMP ROYAL
TUCSON (A-P) — I, Muzuki, was named after the founding father of the island. At birth a soothsayer had predicted greatness, so it was with considerable disappointment of family and clan that I turned into a wandering cur 'begging for food and pity' though I never begged and expected no pity.
As a young man I had failed to understand why the clan I had been born into was better than the other four clans. I never embraced the 'my clan right or wrong' certainty and came to be shunned as 'suspect'. There were differences between the clans, of course; I had to wear gull tail feathers in my hair as a sign of 'solidarity', but that, and the ritual greeting, and the tattoos, and the clan stories of great deeds of triumph over the other clans seemed no more special than the ways of the other clans. I was obviously barred from serving among either the political or religious clan elites, could never become one, so the predicted 'greatness' was unobtainable. I was more impressed by towering palms than self-aggrandizing people. I didn't even manage to get a wife until I was 38.
I was surrounded by those who seemed to know, to know everything that mattered with utter certainty, while I didn't seem to know anything. I wanted to, but what was obvious to everyone else was not to me. Getting older and no wiser, I took the feathers out of my hair and took to wandering the island. I seemed harmless, just a freakish curiosity having no feathers to show what clan I was of, and so was mostly tolerated everywhere on the island. I could come and go, observ'n matters till I die. A poet friend called me a 'tramp royal'.
I took to carrying a sign that said, 'And then what?' and sitting in public places. When someone proposed a 'solution' to a current problem, I would ask, 'and then what?' About 90 percent of the palms that once covered the island had been cut down, and half of those just in my lifetime. They were mainly turned into fishing boats and there always seemed to be more fish than could be eaten, so many that some were just used as fertilizer in the older gardens that were becoming less productive where the palms once grew. The number of people on the island had doubled just in my lifetime. There were over 20,000 fat and prosperous people with such leisure time that the priests and chiefs had to help them stay occupied, and so hundreds of statues were made to the great satisfaction of all. Still, I keep wondering and observ'n. What happens in maybe ten years when the last palm is cut down? No more fishing canoes to replace the aging ones..., and then what?
I came to repeat, perhaps annoyingly, 'So, when the last palm is cut..., and then what?' Some would answer and to some I'd add, 'you should read my book', but none ever did. I took my concerns to every village, and managed to raise some concerns. The leadership reassured the people, of course, explaining that if the palms ran out, clever craftsmen would figure out how to make boats out of thinly carved stove that would be bigger than those that could be made of mere palm logs, and there would be evermore fish to come....
A political movement arose called 'Stand for Palms' that Prince Ea wrote an anthem for. It was lead by my ex-wife. She yelled the loudest at protests, shook her fist more furiously than anyone, and made strident demands for setting aside a People's Palm Preservation Park that everyone, especially the poor, could go to whenever they wanted to. She organized protest after protest, each becoming more intense. Three protesters died and finally the authorities caved in to protester demands. Some two percent of the original forest was set aside as the National People's Palm Preservation Park. A great victory was celebrated that didn't include me, because I had refused to join the movement.
I was present when the authorities signed the decree and cut the ribbon, each grinning broadly while nodding at each other. It was obvious who had won. The people's concerns had been allayed, palms had been 'protected' (as a recreational attraction for a time). The protesters had 'won' a great victory. I had been apolitical all my life, but now I became anti-political and anti-priest as they, protesters and politicians and acolytes and priests, were the handmaidens of the SYSTEM. To further distract the people, the priests encouraged the Cult of the Birdman that came to preoccupy the minds of the people and their words, words, words.
With the creation of the Palm Park, no one wanted to hear of my concerns, especially any doubts I have about political 'solutions' or religious 'salvation'. My mere presence became annoying, and rocks were thrown on sight of me. Over the years I had sown the seeds of concern which provided fertile soil for the protest movement (aka Palm Party) to exploit by offering the creation of the Palm Park as 'solution'. But nothing was done to address the real problem of the people's addiction to 'evermore', to the promise of illimitable growth and prosperity. None of the protesters nor cult members could even think of limiting population nor per capita consumption as neither prospect felt good. Creating a People's Park felt good. Obsessing over the Birdman felt good. But the only 'accomplishment' was to make the people think their problems had been 'solved' and that they would be 'saved'.
In all my years of asking dissonant questions (that didn't feel good) with no answers anyone liked, only one person was willing to discuss my concerns at length. She was also an odd-fellow, a castaway from somewhere else, ignorant of island ways. She was an island novelty in demand at clan courts, and had the ear of the elites when she had learned to speak our language. She was not dismissive of my concerns and went so far as to repeat them to the elites. But she ended up living in a shack on the beach near my own. When she had 'had enough', she disappeared somewhere. I think she really did share my concerns but had similar concerns for the place she came from and decided to somehow go back. I hope she was able to go back and help her people. I hope all my concerns are unfounded.
Meanwhile the 'sustainable development' of island resources could and did continue. The pace of island-wide destruction had not been slowed. The Park and Cult concerns served only to distract. When only the palms in the park remained, and there was maybe not going to be enough fish to go around due to delays in the stone boat development program, the people became afraid of having less than they wanted. They were terrified at the thought Walmarket would not always be open where they could buy cheap fish and other 'needed' stuff, and so no one complained when a few trees in the park were cut down.
Actually my ex-wife complained when the People's Park palms started to be cut down. Her twelve supporters egged her on, but while 'fighting for the 99%' she was put to death to the cheers of the multitudes who were demanding more fish. I merely walked about with another sign that said, 'There is no life without thought', and so could be ignored as I didn't yell loud enough or shake my clinched fist. Funding for the Ships of Stone was doubled and the people celebrated.
I lived long enough to see Mamo cut down the last palm. I won't live much longer. There is still plenty of fish. I've never been hungry in my life, even when all I had was other people's castaway leftovers, so I can't complain. I'll never know if the promised Stone Ships will be developed before the palm canoes rot. But let's say they are. Is there really an illimitable supply of fish in the sea? Will there be enough for 40,000 people? 80,000 people? I don't know. Will the people end up eating each other? I don't know. I'm just a know-nothing who 'just doesn't get it'. That's why nobody listened to me nor read my not so feel-good book.
Alternate ending: Muzuki's wife, Aluna, did force the island elites, both political and religious, to agree to set aside a People's Palm Preservation Park. When the authorities signed the decree and cut the ribbon, each grinning broadly while nodding at each other, Aluna came forth to speak to the people. She said, with a sweeping gesture, "Behold our great leaders." They grinned more broadly. She added, "See how they grin and nod to one another," with a look of utmost sorrow and contempt.
They think that by agreeing to 'preserve' this small patch of palm trees for human recreational use that you the people will be satisfied, that you will go back to building monuments, believing in the Birdman, and enriching those who serve your self-interests. By ignoring the teachings of our Founding Father, the wise Muzuki, who delivered our ancestors from the mismanagement of prior islands, who thought and thought about how we, his descendants, could avoid repeating the pattern..., our self-interests have been served.
We have known great prosperity and have become numerous, but now what? We have been lead to seek short-term gain by consuming the life support system of this once forested and bountiful island to build palaces and temples supported only by evermore canoes and fish. Those who serve the leaders prospered the most and with the exception of a few wandering curs all have sought to enthusiastically serve their beloved SYSTEM.
They grin because they think they have won. Like you they serve their short-term self-interests, but unlike them it is not in your interest to serve your short-term self. You would do well to serve the island instead. Your great leaders pander to your sense of self and entitlement to get you to enrich them and yourselves at the expense of the bounty about you. Your interests, however, are the same as the seventh generation to come in whom you the people as information will live on. You must endeavor to live right and well so the pattern you realize in your everyday life of loving and understanding may be passed on, paid forward, so those who come may love this island and the things of it—both people and palms.
The time has come to put palms over people, over the self-interests of we the people our leaders have encouraged within us that we must now let go of. Let us start by replacing our leaders and their self-serving SYSTEM. Let us do as the palms tell us and not what our self-important leaders tell us. Let us listen to those who serve the palms best by listening to and understanding them. Through them we may come to live properly on this island.
We need the palms. We need to listen to what they say. We do not need the leaders. We be many and they be few. They need and use us; we do not need them. When they command you to build monuments, ignore them. When they urge you to believe the the Birdman, disbelieve them. We need not kill them. We can but pity them and reeducate them to serve the palms whose services we depend on.
I have a broom and must clean house.
Aluna, broom in hand, with her twelve devoted supporters and a few others advanced towards the assembled island leadership, all of whom had come to celebrate the founding of the great People's Palm Preservation Park and to take credit for its creation. They were no longer grinning.
Aluna lead the women with their brooms to clean house. The island elites became concerned. They ordered their warrior minions to stand between them and the women with brooms. They ordered the women to put down their brooms and go home, but onward they came. The great leaders ordered the warriors to push them back with their spears.
The mighty warriors looked upon the mothers and wives and daughters of their people and despaired. In desperation the High Priest and Head Chief came forth. They grabbed the spear from the leader of their Guards and yelled, "Thus be it always with tyrants!" and stabbed Aluna who, clutching the spear, fell down with spear upright for all to see.
The people had had enough. Some men came forth and managed to kill the High Priest and Head Chief, but the Guards felt no restraint and showed no mercy as each was put to death. The Illimitable Mother Force self-organized. The Praetorian Guards were pushed aside. The women approached the cowering elites, those hollow men whose hollow hearts quivered in terror. A broom was put in each of their hands. Each was taken by the ear by a mother, told firmly to come and clean the woman's home, and each was lead away to perform domestic services for a year so they could learn to be ordinary, after which most became productive citizens again. Only a few heads ended up on pikes.
Aluna's death, her martyrdom, was morned. Her body was placed on a high platform, spear still sticking up and in the same position as she fell. The Twelve stood about her and for three days urged the people to come forth one by one to lay a dry palm fond at the base of her alter. Thousands did so and by the end of the third day all right thinking people on the island had made their pilgrimage to honor the sacrifice of Aluna as there is no life without thought. A scribe had recorded her final words and copies were given to all who could read to read to those who could not.
As the sun set on the third day, the multitude had gathered for the funeral pyre. The Twelve, who had helped preserve Aluna with oil and herbal anointments, who had anointed her with blessed waters from the sacred spring at the base of Mt. Muzuki, sang hymens. Aluna's ex-husband volunteered to come forth and light be great pile of palm fonds. He climbed up to kiss her goodbye, a tear fell upon her cheek.
As he climbed down he failed to see what all others saw to their amazement. Aluna's arm reached out towards him then extended up as if reaching for heaven. Her hand slowly closed to form a fist which shook furiously for all to see, defying death and the gods themselves. A new world was not only possible, but on this quiet day the people could hear her breathing. Aluna arose as the goddess she had been whose Nature all women partake of. It was the women who felt the arising, who became one with Aluna, who arose with the setting of the sun to put an end to empire and folly. As had the Guards, the men of the island came to know their place and work to serve the Mother Force in both nature and humankind. They came to love this island and the things of it.
Aluna sat up and slowly descended. She walked among the people. Unnoticed, her ex wandered off towards Mt. Muzuki, to climb the central mountain, to look upon the island below and wonder what the future would bring.
For several weeks Aluna was seen only by the Twelve. She emerged from seclusion to climb upon a mount. The people, unbidden, assembled. Aluna spoke:
All of you know of my husband who wandered the island 'observ'n matters' till he died. Some know that he wrote a book that no one read. I didn't. But I have now. His namesake had tried to teach us how to live properly on this island. Our Founding Father was one who listened to the island. The island has all the answers. Muzuki asked the questions. The book is Muzuki's book and we need to consider it.
Had we, our parents, grandparents and great grandparents not been distracted by the merely eloquent whose narrative of prosperous growth served to enrich them and us for a time, we would not now have to do the hard things. We could have transitioned from the exuberance of growth to a steady-state way of life that provided enough for all, thanks to the island's natural wealth, if sipped in moderation. But we have taken too much and now we must descend as prosperously as we can to a smaller population with just enough per person consumption of island resources as we need to preserve life—our own and that of other living things.
We must all work to minimize our demands on nature's resources until our population can be degrown humanely to a number such that one fifth of the island's resources can equitably support our needs if not our wants. To do so, a change in practice and policy is needed. From now until a steady-state population can be achieved, there will be a policy of one woman one birth. Those who have had a child will have no more and those who have yet to give birth may do so once but no more. Not all infants become adults, so each couple can hope to raise one child knowing that many will raise none to become replacement adults. May each of our children be blessed and valued.
To know why and how, read the book. In 35 years our population will be reduced by half. The People's Palm Park will be used only to gather seeds. Each clan will plant a grove to provide more seeds. Each family will plant a grove. We will work to restore Nature until 80% of the island has been reforested. Within our 20% we may grow palms to serve our needs. When mature trees are feld to build replacement canoes, the clearing may be farmed for several years before being replanted in palms to begin soil restoration during 25 years of regrowth. The prosperity of the smaller population will be enough and the people will live and love as the millennia pass—on this our life giving island.
Clever ones must design rat traps and the children taught how to build them to then go forth to find their abodes and set the snares. Great will be the praise of their parents when they bring home a tasty bit for the pot. There will always be rats, but in moderation, like the humans who brought them to the island, they will not eal all the palm seeds and collapse the system.
We must live in smaller groups of 20 to 50. Clan politics will pass away. We will gather together in the central city for a time to share and know unity before returning to our life giving farms and fishing canoes. Each will have a home in the city and on the farm or beach. We will live by Nature's policies and not by the decrees of tribal politics or religion. We will list to Nature's teachings and not to the dissemblings of priests and politicians.
There will come a day when each couple can have two children to raise to become the next generation. We will work together to give back to Nature services of equal value as the centuries pass. This is what works. Until then we must minimize to make up for prior unwise maximizing. Life will not be as prosperous as we could want it to be for a time, but it can be prosperous enough and we can still live right and well within self-imposed limits, and love that well which each must leave ere long.
Endnote: In the first century AA, Herclidorus wrote Tracitus Aluna based on primary sources detailing 'the Aluna deception'. While dismissed by the public then as now, her history of the Aluna Movement has become influential among those scholars inclined toward disbelief. The prevailing view among herstorians is that Aluna, with support of the Twelve, forced the establishment to kill her by spear. When Aluna grabbed the thrusting spear, it was to help direct it to the abdominal shield of leather and turtle shell that she wore that included a bladder of blood. The shield had been pierced, but the injury was not fatal. A scribe had attempted to record her 'final' words, but the copies were of her prewritten script. Her acolytes did more than anoint her with holy water and clean her body, they gave her drink and removed bodily waste.
Aluna's motive was to deceive the people she purported to serve. Aluna served a higher power and betrayed the people’s self-accredited exceptionalism. The people were true believers who not only wanted to believe, but needed to believe. Aluna gave them something to believe in more powerful than the narratives of the patriarchal priesthood and other chiefdom servers. To end the 'evil empire' building that served the elitist interests of all humans who would dominate, who would be King, a goddess was needed and so a goddess arose. She lead the people to become listeners to Aluna who told them to listen to Nature, the truly higher power, and to obey her laws as the servants of Nature.
They who asked the questions of her and listened well could best guess what her laws decree. Aluna had told them to "think for yourselves and tell better stories" and they had repeated in unison, "Yes, Aluna, we will." The irony had not been lost on the scholars, but after several centuries of repetition, the young were developing evermore inquiring minds that would rather know than believe, that could actually think more than a decade ahead, and the number of true believers were becoming ever less. Information from the past, the ability to read and write, had been preserved. Fewer now believe in the Aluna mythology, but when scholars speak of 'Aluna' it is with greater awe, respect and admiration than when commoners intone the name.