Posts Tagged ‘changes’

Changing values

In a curious town like Pye-in-the Skye there are many ways to be considered ‘mad.’ Max was not an idiot but the folks thought he was a borderline case. They didn’t take kindly to those who did not live unto their expectations. Nor did they warm up to those who stuck to their guns. As soon as he learned to assemble a refrigerator he knew he wanted to sell one. Where did he go but to the North Pole and naturally the rest sighed and said, ‘Good riddance.’
He wanted to sell refrigerators to the natives.
The Inuit didn’t buy a single one and he died a very poor man. All that he left behind was some ice boxes and a technical manual.
On the other hand Dr. Faustus having made a pact with the devil became the most celebrated scholar. He knew everything that went under the Sun, which passed for knowledge. How the crowned heads and scholars alike feted him! Then came the computers that made him redundant. He died in grief. He said that a machine beat him. Yes.
The world went a-changing! Then came a thaw and ice melted. The polar caps vanished as an icicle in a furnace. The people in Nunavut learned to live with the climate changes. Then someone found the papers of ‘Mad’ Max and it was a discovery that electrified the whole region. They began to make fridges themselves and control their houses to the right temperature.
The world in their own muddling ways saw a great injustice was done to Inuit. They owed to them a great debt for destroying their old way of life. How to repay them?
Nunavut became synonymous the home of refrigerators. The world leaders came to an agreement that fridges made there could be sold worldwide duty-free. Buying fridges made in Nunavut was consistent with principles of ethical living. Inuit prospered.
Who contributed to the welfare of the world more? A fool or a scholar?

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Prophet Totem Pole ©

Long ago when American Indians roamed the heart of American continent they had no miracle workers. Iroquois lived close to the soil, hunted the bison for meat and lived from the fruits of the earth. They dressed themselves too well,- they wore buffalo skins in winter and loin clothes of various fibers spun from plants at other times. Children of the Plains they were.
A prophet one day came out of nowhere and revealed to them of the Great Spirit of the Plains. They were impressed. The chief asked him to marry his daughter as a mark of respect. The prophet refused politely saying that his dress was special and it did not brook any person ever touching his person.
“See how white it is?” the prophet asked.” It is made out of some cactus the likes of which grows only in the Blue Yonder. He pointed dramatically to the horizon and said,” My sanctity and powers come from this poncho which I shall leave at my death which is soon.”
One morning he went on the top of a hillock to die. His dress lay in a tepee decorated with sacred objects he had brought along. “As long as this remains white as now, it is a sign that my body shall never decay.” So he died.
The whole tribe mourned for him. They revered the dress, which each member of the tribe, young and old alike kissed in veneration. It was not obvious at first but with time the poncho changed color. It became yellow. Was it as a result of the breath of devotees or time working out changes? One day pilgrims filed past the relic: the poncho was no better than rags.
Next they checked the body to see, and it had to their horror, become a totem pole! Since then the tribe began praying to the pole instead.

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(After the threat posed by Persia was gone Athens and Sparta fell out. Their rivalry will bleed them white and their decline will leave Rome to rise as an imperial power. b.)
Athens of old was gone. None could believe how quickly the city had showed a deep chasm within itself. It was thus Aesop found Athens in his advanced years. He was sixty something. When one of old acquaintances shared his disappointment at the deep division rearing its head Aesop dismissed it thus, ”Nothing strange, Cleomenes, what do you expect from a city of highest ideals but would require slaves? We ourselves are to blame.”
Even when Athens looked so formidable, tocsin of decline was going on at a rate that was so subtle and implacable. The citizens the wise, the good, and the bad spent their lives just as the very dregs of the city made their living: for all their actions good or bad could not have stemmed the crisis. It wasn’t the guardian spirit of the city had abandoned the city but the march of events taking elsewhere needed more room to spread out. In the face of such overwhelming onslaught the city was not adequately protected. (Just as a hurricane can be explained as Mother Nature letting out excess of heat escape. Hurricane Katrina, – or Floyd before it, made a landfall not caring where it hit. The dikes of New Orleans would fail and create unparalleled havoc. Such an impersonal hand takes over history of nations as well.) Athens was no exception to the general rule.

Athens in transition. For Aesop it was as if his beloved city, that tower of pride had vanished, brick by brick even while he sought its shelter: his more pressing concern was to beat back the boredom which was creeping on his old age.
Aesop told stories to the Athenians the young and old, not so much for its moral content but as a way of being part of the warmth that the living gave out. It did lessen the pain of losing his wife, and his old master and his wife. And his only friend Xeno took leave for the last time. Before he died the old cynic felt homesick. He had a knack of making every friend look a fool. It did not work in the case of Aesop because he affirmed that he was a fool. “I am a fool for progress Xeno. I look forward to changes. What these will be or in what shape or form I have no idea. Yet I call it is progress. (A higher state of things, so I tell myself.) But when it comes, I am sure, I will not like it at all.”

A tragic poet had his play put up before the boards. He watched a tragic actor who was required to wear thick shoes and tall wigs. Since it was his play and knew the effect he wanted from him he explained his entry called for a subtle approach. The much harried actor said when he came in such thick shoes it was a wonder he did not fall over. “So I need a cane to support myself. How much more subtlety you intend to put into my cane?”
Another time a comic actor who did not impress his audience with his witticisms asked the public, ”You get two obols worth of seat, free from the city. The least you could do is show some appreciation of that?”
Dramatists of yore wrote as they often said, as inspired by gods. The audience lapped it up and said they were enlightened and taken to a higher sphere as a result. Aesop was shrewd to note how the relationship between the writer and his audience went a shift over the years. It was progress that Aesop thought as natural. The audience became enlightened with so many plays that they attended in civic pride and it made them arbiters as well. Gradually it was the taste of man on the street that decided the kind of plays that were to be staged. Not the poet, not the muse but the uncouth rabble set the trend. It was the masses that in the end beat the system. (ch:11-Beating the System:sections 4-6)


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