Monday, January 15, 2007

The battle between kindness and stupity

Once upon a time, there was a land far, far away which was covered in thick dense woods. The woods had many animals and also nuts and berries. At the far corner of this land were big mountains.

There were only three families living in this land. These families were called Oak, Ash and Sycamore. They liked to be called after trees, because they all knew how important trees were to them.

The Oak and Ash families lived quite close together and they generally got on well. Sometimes there were occasional arguments and the odd punch up, but it was never anything too serious. About the worst that ever happened is that once a boy got a black eye.

The reason that the Oak and Ash families got on well together was that despite the nice woods, life was actually quite hard. Often the winters were very cold and some of the animals in the woods were dangerous. So the best thing that the families could do was work together. The families also knew that they had to be careful with the woods and never take too many animals, berries or trees at once. Quite often they would actually be hungry. They also knew that if they had too many children, they would run out of food, so they were very careful with their family planning.

The two families had heard of the Sycamores at the other end of the land. In fact, they considered the Sycamores to be poor and possibly even a bit stupid. Often they felt sorry for them, but not so much that they would ever be prepared to do much for them. The Sycamores lived at the bottom of the mountain where the ground was stony and plants did not grow so well. The Sycamores though, certainly knew all about the Oaks and Ashes and wanted to be like them.

One day two magic fairies were flying over the land. One was called Menoy and the other was called Reged. The fairies were kind but, as we shall see as we continue our story, sometimes a little bit stupid. Unfortunately, when the two fairies got together, they were often even more stupid than when they were just on their own.

As the fairies flew over the land they looked down and saw the Oak and Ash families. On the particular day that they were flying over the land, the Oak and Ash families were hungry, but the fairies knew they could make things better for them. They also though it unfair that they had to be so careful with family planning.

They had the great idea that they could use their magic to make the Sycamores grow lots of food to make nice big cakes for the Oaks and Ash families. Nobody, after all, cared that much about the Sycamores. They knew though that the Sycamores could easily be persuaded to grow food for them by telling them that one day the Oaks and Ashes would learn all about them and then be friends with them. The magic fairies would also tell the Sycamores that the Oak and Ash families would share their parts of the woods with them once they got to know where all the cakes came from because they would be so grateful. The magic fairies would help the Sycamore families grow lots of food for the cakes by making chain saws and powerful fertilisers appear by magic at the edge of the wood.

As expected the Sycamore family found the chain saws and powerful fertilisers. They quickly started cutting down their forest and used the powerful fertilisers to grow lots of new crops. They then made lots of cakes which the magic fairies took to the Oak and Ash families.

The Oaks and Ash families were initially very surprised and happy when they saw these great cakes. They enjoyed them and ate every crumb and shared the cakes fairly amongst each other. They knew it was okay to share the cakes because the fairies told them they would bring more cakes the next day. The fairies went back to the Sycamores and told them that the Oak and Ash families were happy with them, so the Sycamores grew even more cakes. The fairies were happy because everyone was happy. The Oak and Ash families had lots more food and the Sycamores were happy to work for next to nothing.

Eventually the Oak and Ash families realised they could have more children. They did after all have lots of cakes, and everyone looked forward to the future. More cakes continued to come, in fact so many cakes came that they actually got a bit wasteful with them. Rather than appreciate them as kind presents from the fairies, the Oaks and Ash families believed that the cakes were their entitlements and they demanded more. Also, as the families got bigger, they needed more houses, so they decided to cut down the trees in their part of the land for space and building materials. They knew that it was okay to do this, because the cakes kept on coming and they did not need the forest anymore for food.

In fact because they did not have to grow their own food, they used their free time to make lots of clever toys.

At the other end of the land, the Sycamores kept chopping down more and more trees to make more and more cakes. When they heard about all the nice toys the Oak and Ash families had, they started wondering why they were doing this. They questioned the fairies, not believing anymore that the Oak and Ash families would actually help them. The Sycamores then had a bit of a riot, but the magic fairies ruthlessly put it down and quickly installed a dictatorship to make sure that they kept making cakes. The Sycamores though had a more serious problem that even their new dictator could not solve. Once they had grown crops on the land, they could not grow any more crops, so they had to keep cutting down more forest. So, if you have done maths, you will appreciate that the population of the Oaks and Ash families would grow exponentially given an unlimited food supply, but the food production from the Sycamores could only ever increase linearly.

Some people in the Oak and Ash families said that one day there might be no more cakes, but most people preferred not to listen to them. Especially, the leaders of the now very large Oak and Ash families who liked to tell everyone that things would only continue to get better. They also knew that the best way they could stay as leaders was to tell everybody nice things to keep them happy. In fact, they told everyone not worry because the expanding families would develop new technologies that would eventually enable everyone to have all the cakes they could ever want. Strangely enough though, they were prepared to make some agreements. For example they decided to agree to reduce everyone’s consumption of cakes by 5%, though nobody really took much notice. Again if you have done maths, you would realise that because of the exponentially expanding population, the actual consumption of cakes would still rise exponentially even if everyone did as they were told. Also, somewhat unfortunately, the Oak and Ash families found that their new toys could not make cakes.

Some people in the Oak and Ash families also said they were worried about the poor Sycamores that they had heard about who were making the cakes. Again they were told not to worry and that they should continue making as many toys as possible and eat as many cakes as possible because their wealth would "trickle down" to the Sycamores. No one really understood how this wealth would trickle down, but it sounded like a nice idea, so those that were worried stopped worrying.

Then one day, when the Sycamores, Oak and Ash families were busy cutting down the forest they met each other in the middle of the land. It was strange how they all had now forgotten how important trees once were. The Oak and Ash families looked at each other and quickly agreed that there was no space for the Sycamores. They viewed the Sycamores as an invasive species from a far away land.

The magic fairies looked down and instantly realised there was a slight problem. There were suddenly no more cakes for the Oak and the Ash families as well as no more space. The Oak and Ash families started fighting for the last of the cakes. This time it was not just a few black eyes. The Oak and Ash families knew they had to fight to the death, because death was the inevitable result of having too many people and not enough cakes.

The Sycamores finally realised that they had been conned. They were very upset, they had prodigiously grown their population with the expectation that they could move to a better land but now had absolutely nothing.

The magic fairies looked at each other perplexed. As they flew off, they thought that it was strange that everything went so bad just when there were so many people and so many cakes. There was talk about them helping another far off land, but nobody ever really heard of them again.

Unfortunately, no-one lived happily ever after.

The moral of the story - unfortunately, stupidity beats kindness every time.

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