About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Parable of the Shepherd and the Shoemaker

Parable. There was once a shepherd renting land from an absentee landlord. The land was too salty to raise crops but the shepherd could raise sheep and goats, and he built a house on the land. One day the absentee landlord stopped collecting the rent and the man stopped paying for the land. A few years later, a shoemaker from a faraway land arrives and claims that he bought the land from the absentee landlord.

This shoemaker knows nothing about farming or raising sheep. But he does some engineering and draws water from the nearby shore of an inland sea, and although it is brackish water, he uses it to wash the salts from the soil. The shoemaker is desperately hungry so he buys meat from the shepherd, and then starts planting in his newly-flushed soils. To everyone's surprise, the soil is made fertile again after several thousand years of over-tilling. The shoemaker brings his friends, a candlemaker, and a watchmaker. They all start farming and building new buildings.

Now the shepherd can sell more goat meat to the new arrivals. Also his sons start working in the construction industry. Some more friends of his arrive from distant lands looking for work, and the farmers and goat-herds together raise enough food for everyone. Although the first man had to move out of the first house he had built, he just went and built more houses. Together, the families begin to build graceful cities. People are working and have jobs.

Together, they all built a garden in what had become an infertile desert. Together, they built some of the most beautiful cities in Africa.

Then one day a mob of idiots started making speeches on the radio. They talked about killing "cockroaches" with machetes. They taught hatred in schools. Mothers would raise their sons to hate other tribes they heard described on the radio. One day, at a signal from the idiots, thousands of people who had been shepherds and had immigrated into the garden, began killing tens of thousands of craftsmen who had become gardeners. After a few months of this genocide, there were many broken families and hopes, and destroyed cities.

And although many died, and now we are trying to forgive the killers, and repair the orphans, still, after all the deaths, life did not get better for anyone. It got worse.

It is better, perhaps, instead of leading chants -- "Death!" "Kill!" -- perhaps it is better to just build homes, plant your gardens, raise the goats. What did all the killing and hatred accomplish?