A tale from the river bank.
Once upon a time there was a big family of otters who controlled a large section of the river. They were called the ‘Big Otters’ because they had so much land and controlled the largest section of the river. There were other otters, but they were relatively small and unimportant. Some of them tried to remain independent from the Big Otters, but many of them just went along with the Big Otters because it was in their material interests to do so.
The Big Otters lived in a part of the river where there were plenty of natural resources. They had lots of fish to eat and access to all the materials they needed to build their extensive dens along the bank.
Every now and then the other animals would complain about the Big Otters’ dominance of the river bank, but the Big Otters ignored them. It was true, though, that some of the other animals, like the rats and voles and kingfishers and frogs all struggled to find enough food and resources in the parts of the river they were allowed to occupy.
Some of these other animals felt they had been ‘sold down the river’ and accused the Big Otters of stealing their fish, and even some of their land on theWest Bank. But the Big Otters just ignored them. In fact, they didn’t really know much about the other animals. They tended to lump them all together as non-otters. They called them seals. Or at least, that’s what they meant to call them, having picked up the word from their cousins, the sea-otters, who were always complaining about seals. But the Big Otters weren’t very good at spelling, so instead of ‘seals’ they referred to the other animals as ‘Zeals’.
The river was a tense place and every now and then there were incidents.
The Big Otters managed to keep control by favouring one group of Zeals against another. They didn’t really understand how relationships worked between animals on the river bank and tended to see things from a very crude perspective. The Big-Big Otter, who was the leader of all the otters said, ‘You’re either with us or against us.’
That was their policy on everything. The Zeals they favoured did a good job of keeping the other Zeals at bay for a while, but eventually some of the more radical Zeals began launching violent attacks on the Big Otters’ Zeal-allies, who they referred to as goslings.
Sometimes the gosling Zeals themselves went out of control and started taking land and fish from other Zeals. The Big Otters mostly laughed when this happened and said they were just Zeals who were, understandably, trying to be like the Big Otters. They tended to turn a blind eye to this, especially in the dark parts of the river, where many terrible things went unnoticed.
But then one of the Big Otters’ favourite gosling Zeals, Sadmad Hasbeenman, attacked another gosling Zeal. The Big Otters got very cross and started talking, menacingly, about something called ‘de-toxicity’.
For a long time, the Big Otters had provided Sadmad Hasbeenman with all kinds of resources and weapons because he was good at keeping other Zeals at bay. Some of these other Zeals aspired to have wealth and security, just like the Big Otters and the Big Otters had always been contemptuous of them. In fact, they called them the ‘Zeal-Otts’, or in other words, Zeals who wanted to take over and be Big Otters themselves.
For a long time, Sadmad Hasbeenman held these ‘Zeal-Otts’ in check, but when he attacked the neighbouring gosling Zeal, who provided fish oil to the Big Otters, the Big Otters got really mad. They accused Sadmad of being ‘unde-toxicratic’ although this had never bothered them in the past when had been killing Zeal-Otts in hundreds of thousands, including many in his own country.
‘De-toxicity’ was a philosophy the Big Otters cited whenever they didn’t get everything they wanted. ‘De-toxicity’, according to the Big Otters, was sacrosanct, and had to be defended at any cost, even if it meant suspending the de-toxicratic rights of certain Zeals and even those of some smaller otters.
In essence, defending de-toxicity meant that the Big Otters could go and clean up any other part of the river bank that wasn’t contributing what the Big Otters felt it should be contributing to Big Otter interests. In extreme cases, they would completely ‘de-toxicritise’ entire areas. ‘De-toxicritising’ involved cleaning out any unwanted, ‘poisonous elements’ so that the healthy flow of food and materials to the Big Otters’ den was maintained, unimpeded. Bizarrely, the Big Otters often claimed the right to poison whole areas of the river themselves, with their own effluent, in the name of de-toxicity
Then one year some radical Zeals from another part of the river launched a dramatic attack on the Big Otters themselves. These radical Zeals commandeered several of the Big Otters’ own speed boats and deliberately crashed them into the most important Big Otter bank on the river, causing much damage and killing many Big Otters.
The Biggest of the Big Otters, the Big-Big Otter, was stunned. He couldn’t really understand why the Zeals had attacked his favourite bank.
Unfortunately, in spite of being the Big-Big Otter, he wasn’t very intelligent. This lack of intelligence was compounded by the fact that he also held a very simple and very strong belief.
He thought that Big Otters must be right about everything because he believed there was another Big Otter in the sky, called G-Ott, who was the arbiter of all things and who was guiding the destiny of the Big Otters everywhere. He said that the Zeals, and especially the Zeal-Otts were all guilty of anti-de-toxicratic behaviour, because they did not believe in the Big Otter in the sky.
What he didn’t realise was that he, and many of the other Big Otters, had forgotten that centuries ago, their ancestors had just made up G-Ott ,the Big Otter in the sky, to make sense of a world which, in those ancient times, had seemed magical and inexplicable without something big in the sky controlling everything below. The Big-Big Otter didn’t even realise that this imaginary Big Otter in the sky wasn’t originally a Big Otter at all, but a Big Zeal!
The Big-Big Otter and some of his cronies, who should have known better, had believed in G-Ott for so long that they had become convinced that this allowed them to do what they wanted to do, anywhere on the river, in the sure and certain knowledge that they must be right, because it was His will. They even had books that explained all this, although when the other animals read these same books they seemed to mean something different.
In fact the books seemed to mean whatever anyone wanted them to mean. Specifically they seemed to mean that it was ok to kill anyone – Big Otters, little otters, Zeals or Goslings in the name of anything Big in the sky. The Big Otters said that Zeals did not really believe in G-Ott and that this was because they were backward and unenlightened. Strangely the Zeals said pretty much the same thing about the Big Otters.
After the speed boat attack on the river bank, the Big Otters were very upset, understandably. They wanted someone to blame. Unfortunately, the origin of the radical zeals who had carried out the speed boat attacks was a bit obscure, and anyway, they had all died in the attacks.
But the Big Otters were cross and upset and they needed to find someone to punish. There was something about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth in their version of the book about the Big Otter in the sky (i.e. G-Ott, the otter who wasn’t really an otter but a zeal). Some of the more intelligent Big Otters said they should find out why the Zeals hated them so much that they would rejoice in such death and destruction, but the Big Otters who were in charge didn’t listen to them
Instead, the Big-Big Otter decided to go after Sadmad Hasbeenman. At first he said they had to get him because he had some big bombs, although the Big-Big Otter didn’t mention where he could have got these from. When the Big Otter army got to Zealand, they couldn’t find any of these big bombs, so they changed the story and said they were going to de-toxicritiseZealandinstead.
This all turned out to be a big mistake. The more intelligent of the Big Otters had said it would be a mistake because it would stir up more Zeal-Otts. But the Big-Big Otter said he knew he was right because he had read the book about G-Ott and had felt the hand of destiny upon him, he really did.
In reality, no-one knew what the Big-Big Otter was trying to achieve and he knew that he didn’t really know either so he got one of his friends, the Chief War Otter, who claimed to know what he knew and also knew a lot about these things, to explain it all to the press. The Chief War Otter, explained it like this,
“We know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our river bank and other de-toxicratic river banks, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”
So they took overZealandand went after Sadmad Hasbeenman, and 5 years later, half a million animals were dead, but they were nearly all Zeals, so the Big Otters said it was worth it. The Zeal-Otts had, as the more intelligent Big Otters predicted, become much more powerful and active and the Big Otters found themselves stuck inZealandwhilst the otters at home got more and more fidgety about the price of detoxicritisation. Otters were now dying everyday and no-one could see a way to stop this.
Eventually the Big Otter army found Sadmad Hasbeenman hiding in a hole in the ground. They told the new gosling Zeals, who the Big Otters had now forcibly de-toxicritised, to try Sadmad Hasbeenman and then execute him.
So on the appointed day, the Big Otters handed Sadmad Hasbeenman over to the new gosling Zeals and the gosling Zeals, who had been sorely abused by Sadmad, taunted him and then hanged him.
But then something strange happened. Well, that is, more accurately, something didn’t happen, which seems strange after so many Zeals had died to make the thing happen that strangely hadn’t.
The strange thing that didn’t happen was that no-one, not even the Big-Big Otter, deep down in his heart, felt any better. In fact, the honest truth is, virtually everyone felt WORSE! It was true that Sadmad had been a really cruel ‘sonofabitch’. But he had been the Big Otters’ very own cruel ‘sonofabitch’, created by the Big Otters.
So maybe Oscar Wilde was right. Perhaps ‘all men kill the thing they love’.
But that’s Fagg-Ott talk and Big Otts will not tolerate Fagg-Otts. For Big Otts, Fagg-Otts are worse than Zeal-Otts; even worse than the Zeal-Otts who worship All-Ott (another Otter in the sky who isn’t really an Otter and who isn’t really there either.)
No-one knows what will happen next, although I suspect the Bigots and the Zealots will carry on killing each other in the name of Gott and Allott, whose name we must not mention, and any other lot who decide to join in, until they are all dead and have taken the rest of us with them. And, of course, all of them will kill the Fagg-Otts, even if it is only with a word rather than a sword, although they do both, I understand.
Which all adds up to what?
Well you can make your own mind up and I fully understand if you don’t agree with me. It simply means you haven’t yet heard the word of the Pi-lot, i.e. the Otter in the sky who is also known as the Pie in the Sky. But then you wouldn’t have done because He only talks to me and that is why I know I’m right and the rest of the otters are wrong.
Of course, this is just a L-Ott of nonsense because anyone who tries to ‘control’ anyone, in any circumstances, (like children, or employees, or the population of any given country), invariably ends up ‘killing’ them, physically and/or spiritually.
‘Influencing’ people on the other hand, is a different matter, because the way you influence people is by being the way YOU choose to be WITHOUT imposing your choice on anyone else.
Of course, I accept, if there had been the same amount of effort invested in ‘influencing’ as there has been in ‘controlling’ since September 2001, we might still have problems.
But this has gone on for too long.
When people begin to experience the reality of influencing, rather than controlling, and discover that it actually works, then others may become more apt to copy the process.
I know it doesn’t always work and certainly not always straight away, but it will do, over time. The South African truth and reconciliation commission provides a positive example and a far preferable alternative to all this endless retribution.
Killing people never works, because whilst you may think you are in control, in the sense that you have stopped people from doing things you don’t want them to do, you cannot make a corpse DO or ACHIEVE anything positive
And if you are at all spiritual, then you will know that in reality (reality?) they have entirely escaped your control anyway – they are beyond human reach.
For me it is as simple as this. JUST STOP KILLING PEOPLE, ‘metaphorically’ in our case, and ‘actually’ in the case of our leaders. Blame is futile. To create positive change, in any context, we have to engage in positive behaviours. Then people will stop dying, ‘metaphorically’ …and hopefully in reality.