All of Nothing

It is a well-known fact that within the many cultures which have existed throughout history, tales have emerged which have attempted to teach us the “way to live.”  Aesop shared his fables, Hans Christian Andersen told his fairy tales, the Brothers Grimm wove their grim yarns and Dr. Seuss rhymed his most passionate views so that we might seek direction on the path of integrity and morality.  The tales continue to be told to this very day, as we apparently have not learned a great deal from the old masters.

Many years past, there existed  a small village of little renown.  The hamlet was nestled among the mountains of a blessed land, with flowing waters and thickset forests and wildlife so diverse that even the elders of the community could not claim to know all of it.  The rugged qualities of the earth made for a difficult living, but a contented one.  The periodic disruptions of Nature and from other, less fulfilled communities, only served to deepen the enthusiasm for their way of life.  Worries of a sometimes insufficiency were muted by the comforts of a way of life.

Many generations lived in this way.  But there came a day when one of their number became obsessed with the desire to possess much more than his neighbors.  He did not require more to eat or nicer clothing to wear or a better dwelling in which to raise his family, but he coveted such things.  And so, with deliberation and malice, he slowly  acquired more than he needed, and always at the expense of others.  When his fellow inhabitants- with deep curiosity- questioned his actions, he took even more from them and they became his subjects in this giving place.  Without sensible reason, the man’s sole objective became ownership and control over all that the hamlet had to offer.  The passage of years bore witness to his greed.

Of course, the people who were dispossessed did not favor the new apportionment of the resources of the land, but being of peaceful demeanor they did not strongly contest the arrangement until many had too little on which to even survive.  They eventually came to object- first, with measure and words, then with anger and weapons- and they drove out the one who had laid claim to their wealth, though at great cost of resource and years of strife.  When the people had finally prevailed,  spirits climbed high with the belief that fairness had been restored to their place and time, and expectations returned to where they had been before.

But the return to earlier times of a shared life together could not take root.  Something had changed in the minds and the wills of too many, who had witnessed the  plunder and been stricken with the same illness to take, to fatten their shares and reduce those of others to their own advantage.  Soon, new privilege emerged, with still more of the community gifts finding their way into the coffers of a very few.   Competition for the most favored spaces in vying for excess became normal, and along with it arose disparity, deceit, departures and even death.

With the passage of generations, the old way of life slowly, imperceptibly, eroded into a past footnote.  The people no longer imagined a life of equality or even impartiality.  There came to be little that was shared, as all means truly belonged to but one owner.  And it could finally be said that she held all of nothing….

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