Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Tent City, a fable for children

Once upon a time, a small town stood on a narrow strip of land next to a river in the shadow of a high cliff.  Occasionally, stones would fall from the cliff and land harmlessly on the roofs of the town buildings while other, rarer ones crashed through and caused harm.  One day, a portion of the cliff gave way and brought a rumbling rock-slide down upon the town.
The town was devastated and many were lost.  The survivors swore such a tragedy must never occur again and a council was held to determine the future of the village.  Plans were made to study the cliff and design new defenses.  While the science and engineering took place, the townsfolk set up tents on the other side of the river where the plain began so as not to crowd progress.
Every day, the people would cross the river to the ruins of their town to excavate, analyze, design and build.  Clever alarms were imagined and constructed with bells hanging from the cliff wall which would ring whenever the cliffside moved.  Great scaffolds were built alongside the cliff to discourage crumbling.  Flowering vines were planted at the base of the cliff that would one day secure the sandstone, it was thought.
After a year, the townsfolk decided it was safe enough to rebuild their homes and granaries when a wise man among the people noted that in the year spent on the flat side of the river not one of them had been injured by falling stone.  And so the people crossed the river one last time, carrying the tents which were safer than structures of stone and wood.  Or so the archeologists tell us.
MORAL: The wise man wades into danger while the fool swims.
LESSON, n. The happy error after.
RIP, Tobin


Jamie Dawn said...

Meanwhile everyone pushes and shoves to get in front of any camera to say, "Let me remind you, I said we needed to regulate the amount of rocks we were allowing to fall from the cliff, and no one listened."
Come to find out they were on top of the cliff pushing small rocks over, little by little.

Lesson: Words don't mean much.

Anonymous said...

If the opposite of "less" is "more", than the opposite of "lesson" is ... em, not politically correct. Even if it does describe more than half of the inhabitants of seats in university classrooms (not counting the football players).

Great story, Doug. Dammit.

TLP said...

Wonderful tale today. Congrats.

No lesson is fool-proof, 'cause fools are so ingenious.

Doug The Una said...

JD, what problem can't be solved by regulations?

Amoeba, having been a student in a University I universally pity those charged with pounding knowledge into such heads. And thanks.

And wise men so disingenuous, TLP.

Jim said...

Lesson: Mustard? I'd like a little less on my sandwich please.

Tent City: Lesson here reminded me of Bleak House by Charles Dickens, BTW, Bleak House is my favorite Dickens novel.

Anonymous said...

See, that's what happens when one's been hit on the head with too many rocks.

I believe their next collective decision (made by as much of the collective as remains next time) will be to build on TOP of the cliff -- because there is no way it could fall on them, then.

Anonymous said...

Doug, ain't much pounding going on these days. Between the students who don't wish to learn, and the administrators who don't care if they do, 'cause that means they can continue to collect tuition without having to spend it on minor details like salaries (apart from their own and those of the "glam faculty") and instructional materials, today's teacher, from pre-K to grad school, mostly practices the 21st century incarnation of "duck and cover".

And to conclude today's lesson: remember, practically everyone with leadership responsibility for the current economic debacle has a college degree. Including Alfred E. Bush.

G said...

I'm always suspicious when you label something "for children." Loved the fable and the definition.

Ariel the Thief said...

So people built a new town there where no rocks were falling on their heads. Doug, you astonish me.

Anonymous said...

Lol, Doug. Liked the ending.

Dr. Weirsdo begs to be an honorable exception to your description, Amoeba--unfortunately he has the salary to show for it.

Who's Tobin? I clicked on the link but couldn't tell.

Doug The Una said...

That's quite a compliment, Jim. Thank you. I'll put it on my reading list.

Quilly, that's already too smart for a council.

Amoeba, I think I get your point. Will it be on the test?

G, I should probably reserve "for children" to the more violent stories.

Nono, Ariel, the lived in the old spot in tents.

Weirsdo, Tobin was Terry's dog. Her fella left a comment here that Tobin had passed, but Terry hasn't posted about it.

Cooper said...

Yea, what is the lesson again?
Studying for the test is past of why the lesson is never learned Doug, and why those people will do the same thing over and over again. That and the fact that after a rock hits you in the head you tend to get a little dumber.

What do archeologists know anyway? Just look at how they malign Indiana Jones.