Friday, June 26, 2015

The Parable of the Dragon

Once upon a time in a faraway land lived a community of people.  These people were not so unlike you and me.  Some of them loved their families, and some didn't.  Some worked hard, and some did not. Some were smart; others, well, hopefully they had other talents.  Some lived long lives, but many did not.  Since the area where they lived was very cold much of the time, many people froze to death or sustained injuries like frostbite because of the cold.

One day a dragon was walking through the area when he tripped and broke his legs.  He couldn't move at all.  He bellowed in hunger--since he couldn't move he couldn't eat.  Some people were nearby and realized how nice and warm it was around the dragon while he was breathing fire.  Little by little though they noticed the dragon was growing weaker and not putting out as much warmth so they approached him and asked if he could warm them up more.  The dragon replied "I haven't eaten in three days and soon not only will I not be able to breath any fire, I will die of starvation since my legs do not work anymore and I cannot move."  The people had no idea how to fix dragon legs, but they asked what the dragon would like to eat.  It turned out that the dragon ate the same types of food they did, so they cut a deal with the dragon:  We will bring you food and you will breathe fire to keep us warm.  Both the people and the dragon thought they had a good deal.  

At first, the dragon only had a few people to keep warm, and those people were close to him.  When their friends visited and saw how nice it was, they wanted the dragon to keep them warm too.  They agreed to add more food to the dragon's diet so he would have the strength to blow fire further.  Because of the extra heat in the area, more people settled there.  Also, over the years, people got used to being warmer, so in some ways, their internal thermostats reset.  Before the dragon came, if the weather was above 50 it was warm; now people were uncomfortable if it was below 70.  The dragon told them that if they put crops in the field to his right, he had perfected his fire-breathing enough so that he could keep the field warm without scortching the crop.  The community had more food than ever and people were living longer.  Of course, everytime more heat was wanted, the dragon had to be fed more. The dragon was ok with this and the system seemed to be working well, for a time.  Little by little the dragon (and some of his close friends) throught of more and more things the dragon's heat would help with, and since there seemed to be no end to the amount of heat the dragon could produce, provided he was fed enough, more and more of the community's resources went to feed the dragon.

Eventually, when the dragon's feeders were making the rounds in the community to gather food for the dragon, people were unable to contribute.  At first, it was just the poor who couldn't feed themselves and the dragon, but the nice charitable people next door or down the block put in a little extra to help those who couldn't put in their share.  The community decided that those who couldn't pay their share should have to move to the outskirts of town, where the dragon's fire did not reach as well.  "But we will freeze to death" the poor complained.  "No", said the others "you may be colder than us, but you can stay close enough that you don't freeze".  Still, it became obvious that those on the edge of town did not do as well as those who were closer to the dragon's heat. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, that dragon, since he really liked to eat, continued to find ways that his heat could help people, and those who had the means to feed the dragon more and more came to believe that he was necessary to life.  Feeding him became more and more of a problem.  More and more people were complaining when the feed bowl was brought to their house.  When it was suggested that they could move the outskirts of town, they protested--surely everyone knew it was too cold out there.  Being warm was a human right, how dare anyone suggest they do without it?  

Then one day the town got a new mayor a board.  They had the solution to the problem.  "It is simple, and it is fair.  Instead of taking more food from those close to the dragon or those who use more of his heat, we are going to take more food from those who have more money, and less from those who have less.  Because we will have more people contributing something to feeding the dragon, most of us will have to give less"  Some people grumbled, but most also realized that the wealthy generally lived closer to the dragon and probably, as a whole, got more benefits from the dragon than the poor did, so things settled down again, for a while.  Still, that dragon did not stop thinking of new things he could do--or ordering more food.  

The next new mayor had a new idea:  Let's tell the dragon that we will pay him by the project.  He gets so much per field, so much per house, so much per warm swimming pool.  No more open bowl; he has to prove he is worth it.  Now, that dragon was a lot of things, but dumb wasn't one of them.  He figured out the new payment schedule and soon enough his bowl was as full as ever, and if you wanted to get him to warm something that didn't pay well, good luck. 

People were still complaining that they couldn't afford to feed the dragon, but no one suggested putting the dragon on a diet.  After all, they knew that if you didn't feed the dragon, he was going to quit working, and everything the dragon did was necessary (even thought they had lived (or died) without it not so many years ago).  Every time there was an election, the mayoral candiates would promise that they would come up with a new way to feed the dragon, but no one ever suggested putting the dragon on a diet, except in the most general terms (cut waste, cut the feeder's pay) that didn't get to the heart of the problem.  No one wanted to talk about whether it was really necessary for the dragon to do all he did because so many people had loved ones who thought they benefitted from those services.  No one wanted to be the one who said "the dragon could do it, but he's not going to, because we don't have enough food".  

Do you thing that one day the dragon will consume the town?

Any idea what I'm representing by the dragon?

1 comment:

  1. He will not destroy them, but they will be so weak that when another dragon comes along they will be unable to defend themselves or fend it off. Those who would defend had been shamed for so long, they no longer thought the town was worth their energy. They could go out on their own, defend their own, and educate their own.
    The dragon will begin to dictate who will be with whom, who will gain an education, who to work for, who to worship (most likely he would prefer and then demand they worship him). He will rid children of those he does not like. He will split people from one another. Anyone who speaks against the dragon will be thrown out into the cold , so people will huddle , scared to say anything "wrong" for fear of being bullied.
    Gird your lions. This is no longer a governmental issue, it is a religious one as well.


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