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 six 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.