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The Animals and the Bridge

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Jungle BridgeFive animals were trying to cross a bridge, a cat, a dog, a cow, a pig, and a goat. The cat went first. Just then, a strong gust of wind came and knocked the cat off the bridge into the water below. The cat swam to shore then called to the other animals, “It’s the wind’s fault that I can’t cross the bridge. I am giving up.” The dog went next. Just then, a bird swooped down from the sky and pecked at the dog’s head. The dog panicked and ran back past the other animals. As he ran, he proclaimed, “It’s the bird’s fault that I can’t cross the bridge. I am giving up.” Next went the cow. As the cow stepped onto the bridge, the sun came out from behind a cloud and shown directly into the cow’s eyes. Unable to see, the cow stopped in it’s tracks, backed up, then walked into the trees to hide his eyes from the sun. From the trees, the cow called to the pig and the goat, “It’s the sun’s fault that I can’t cross the bridge. I am giving up.” The pig and the goat looked at each other and then the pig squinted his eye’s, looked down, and started making his way across the bridge. As the pig looked down, he noticed just how far above the ground the bridge was. His pudgy legs began to quiver in fear. He squealed, turned around, and ran past the goat, shouting “I’m afraid of heights! It’s the height’s fault that I can’t cross the bridge. I am giving up.” The goat stood there for a moment and considered his options. Finally, he cautiously stepped out onto the bridge. Just then, a gust of wind blew, but the goat caught himself and stayed on the bridge. Then a bird swooped down and pecked at the goat’s head, but the goat nipped back at the bird and it flew away. Next, the sun returned from behind the cloud and blinded the goat. The goat, squinted his eyes, looked down, and continued walking across the bridge. As he walked, like the pig, he noticed the great height of the bridge. His legs began to tremble a bit, but then he got a hold of his senses, kept walking forward, and eventually made it across the bridge to the other side. From there, he shouted to the other animals, “Hey guys. I made it!” The four animals just looked at each other, shook their heads, and marveled. “Wow.” they said, “Some animals have all the luck. I wish it had been that easy for us.” Then the cat, dog, cow, and pig all went away, never to cross the bridge.

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.” ~Richard Bach

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – you can blame anyone but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it is always your fault, because if you wanted to change, you’re the one who has got to change. It’s as simple as that…” ~Katharine Hepburn

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Eidolon Forest (Part 2) [***]

August 18, 2009 Leave a comment
When this story left off, three corrupt animals were overseeing the rationing of wealth and responsibilities of the animals of Eidolon. 

In time, the animals once again saw that things just weren’t working out the way they had hoped and so they gathered together for yet another discussion. This time, an eagle came forward to present his plan. Instead of just proposing a leadership style, he also proposed a new kind of system. The system would be based on a series of “checks and balances”. He proposed having several groups of leaders, instead of just one or three, who looked after each other and the forest. Unlike before, these leaders would be given very minimal power over the other animals. This meant that the animals would need some additional means by which to regulate themselves. For this, he proposed an emphasis on the acquisition of wealth. He claimed that the failure of the other ways was that there had not been enough motivation for the animals to work hard. By allowing all animals the freedom to work as much or as little as they wanted and by allowing them to keep whatever wealth they acquired for themselves, all animals would have equal opportunity. The leaders would only be needed to ensure that no animals were cheating, stealing, or in some other way harming the other animals. Most of the animals thought that the eagle’s ideas were brilliant so they declared the new ideas as law and quickly put them into action.

The eagle’s plan did work and very well. Initially, the number of leaders was very small and their duties were minimal. As animals started having more and more problems, though, the leaders had to lead more and more. For instance, some animals tried to take land away from other animals. Since there was no way to determine which land was the property of which animal, the leaders couldn’t help. So, they created a new group of animals dedicated to defining and enforcing property lines. There was a lot of land to keep track of so this group of animals wasn’t left with any time to gather their own food and take care of their own needs. It was therefore decided that they would need a property tax. A property tax meant that any animal that owned property had to pay these animals a small amount of money based on how much land they owned. Also, as more and more animals traveled, more and more roads were needed. Since there was no one in charge of the roads, they were often confusing and difficult to travel on. It was decided that another group would be created to manage the roads. Like with the land management group, a new tax would be needed to pay these new leaders. Any animal with a wheelbarrow, cart, or other vehicle would need to pay a transportation tax. Read more…

Eidolon Forest (Part 1) [**]

August 13, 2009 Leave a comment
In the beginning, the Maker created an enormous forest and He called it Eidolon. He created the trees and bushes, the streams and rivers, and the hills and the valleys. He populated Eidolon with many kinds of animals: birds, foxes, bears, rabbits, fish, and more. In the early days, the Maker walked among the animals of Eidolon teaching them how to live and how to benefit the most from the forest and from each other. The Maker commanded some of the animals to write down his words in the Book. All animals that lived according to the ways of the Book prospered. As the number of animals increased, the Maker walked among them less often. His plan was that the younger animals would learn from the Book and the older animals. As time progressed and the animals of Eidolon continued to multiply, many of the animals forgot about the Maker and his Book. They heard stories about Him and His Book but believed them to be just that, stories. 

During the ancient days of Eidolon, the animals had needed to rely on the Maker for guidance in everything from farming to clothing. They also needed instructions about right and wrong. During the later times that the animals referred to as the “progressive era” or “modern times”, the animals relied mostly on themselves. In those times, the animals chose to do things their own way and in their own time without guidance from the Maker. Some remembered the Maker and His Book and turned to Him for guidance, but these animals were small in number and were often made fun of for being “old fashioned” or “narrow minded”. Some of the ancient traditions established by the Maker, like marriage and observing a weekly day of rest, carried on independently of the Maker, but most were abandoned in favor of more progressive ideas. Read more…

A Sibling Rivalry

June 25, 2009 Leave a comment
A certain father had two sons, ages 9 and 10, and both were talented baseball players. The older son, Caleb, was a catcher and the younger son, Arnold, was a pitcher. Both could hit very well. The father coached a baseball team for kids and both sons were on the team. The father loved both sons equally and gave them both lots of praise whenever they did something well. When they made mistakes, he encouraged them and gave them advice about how to improve. Wanting to please his father, the younger son, Arnold, spent nearly all of his free time practicing. He went to the batting cages, threw the baseball at a board with a target on it, and played catch with himself by throwing the ball straight up into the air. Caleb on the other hand spent most of his time with his pals. They rode bikes, traded baseball cards, and talked a lot. Caleb loved to brag to his friends about how great of a baseball player he was, how he could hit home runs and pick off base runners who were trying to steal. 

Naturally, over time, Arnold became the better player. As a pitcher he won lots of games and as a batter he got many hits including home runs. Caleb was good too but he could never be credited with a “win” since he was a catcher. Also, although Caleb had a strong swing, he tended to pop up and strike out too much. Their father, and coach, praised both children according to their abilities which meant that Arnold got more praise. Arnold’s dad wasn’t the only person dishing out the praise either. The other members of the team often gave Arnold high fives and head noogies. They would occasionally even chant his name from the dugout. Read more…

Freedom of the Individual [*]

June 19, 2009 Leave a comment
This story takes place in a small town somewhere in middle America. The laws of the town had been written years ago and had been based on absolutes. i.e. “This is right and that is wrong.” Over the years, many of the laws and the reasoning behind them slowly faded from relevancy. Among these were laws regarding the prohibition of alcohol and prostitution within city limits. Although alcohol still couldn’t be sold within the city, drinking became a regular occurrence. Many of the gatherings where the drinking took place were held at the town hall. Even the mayor made an appearance from time to time. Prostitution was still frowned upon but a “massage parlor” thrived just outside the boundaries of the city. Occasionally, the town police would enforce the laws because they were, after all, the law, but the enforcement was seemingly random and often annoying. So one day the mayor called a town meeting to discuss the rewriting of these and other laws so that they could be consistently enforced. Read more…

A Day at the Theme Park [**]

June 12, 2009 Leave a comment
As the sun broke through the cracks in the blinds, its beams found their way onto little Susie’s face. She stirred momentarily and then sat bolt upright! She was still groggy and needed to rub the sleep from her eyes, but today was the day! Her parents were taking her to Wacky Land! Susie had never been to a theme park before but had heard many exciting things… rides, caramel apples, carnival games, and more. Even now her heart raced with anticipation. Susie’s parents had told her about the trip weeks ago and the days seemed to have dragged from that point forward, but no matter now. Susie got dressed and ready in a flash, and before she knew it, the three of them, mom, dad, and Susie, were getting out of the car in the Wacky Land parking lot. The actual park was still a long way away, but from where she stood Susie could see the tops of many of the rides. She could hear lots of screams of excitement and was visually bombarded with cartoonish colors and shapes. It was all so different from the mundane life she was used to. The walls of her bedroom, for instance, were eggshell white and her classroom at school had wood paneling on the walls with plain tile floors and ceilings. The dominant sounds of her life came from the air vents and the cars and buses outside. Even from a distance, Wacky Land was just so surreal. Read more…

Misrepresenting the Healing Tree

June 4, 2009 Leave a comment

There was a certain village with a tree with fruit that could bring healing to all who ate of it. As has been described in other stories, the residents of the village were divided as to who should have access to the healing power of the tree. Some felt that the tree was only for the villagers plus a few select “outsiders” while others felt it should be available to everyone. Among those who believed that the tree was for everyone, there were many ideas about how the tree could best be used, often for some sort of personal gain. Some devised ways to convince others, mostly outsiders, that they must pay money to access the tree. Some villagers convinced others that the only way to be worthy of accessing the tree was to first perform certain acts of kindness. More times than not, these good deeds mostly benefited those who requested them. Some villagers convinced others that anyone who approached the tree must first make himself clean. Many of the sickest people, those who needed the fruit of the tree most, were convinced they were unworthy and so they either relied on “clean” villagers to get the fruit for them or they gave up altogether. Recognizing the power of the tree but not having much power of their own, some villagers made a big show out of the healing power of the fruit. They set up large tents with lots of chairs and a stage and they invited many to come and watch the healing take place. There was lots of cheering and clapping. This was done to bring glory to the villagers on stage, and not to the tree itself. Some villagers felt so strongly that the tree should be accessed by all that they physically dragged some people to the tree and tried to force-feed the fruit to others, even those who absolutely did not want to be healed. Worst of all, however, were the villagers who set up fake trees made to look like the healing tree. They convinced others to come to these trees and eat their fruit. Some of this fruit would make its eaters feel good for a while but would never bring real healing. Most of this fruit would actually make those who ate it worse off than they were before. These fake trees had many variations and the villagers who set them up did so for lots of reasons. In any case, all the villagers described here committed a great injustice against the real tree and deterred many outsiders from ever wanting to approach the healing tree themselves.