A ‘true’ story about inequality…

The year is 2 million years BC, and a lone Homo Habilis is standing on the dirt path outside his shelter, his friend appears behind him.

“That’s a fancy pile of strategically placed rocks encircling your dwelling place you’ve got there Wanna!”

“Oh hi Marej, yes I know, it’s taken me all feckin day, but the elders have told me I should put it up. They’re calling it ‘home security’.”

“What is it, about 4 and a half feet high? No pesky homo Habilis burglar is going to be able to get over that. What you need now is a nice coil of spikey vine along the top as an added deterrent, that would do the trick. I’m actually thinking about upgrading my boundary of upright sticks to something more modern.”

“Really? Do you think you need it? Do you feel safer with all this security? I notice that you have started carrying that axe around with you all the time.”

“I need this axe to protect me from all the other people carrying axes about.”

“But aren’t you just contributing to the problem? Wouldn’t you feel safer if nobody carried axes?”

“To be fair it’s a bit of a hassle, I’ll give you that, but that’s not the point, the elders have told me it’s my right to carry it”.

“Fair do’s, that’s up to you, but do you think we really need all this technology, these fortifications and weapons and what have you?”

“The elders say we do Wanna, they say these security devices and weapons give us greater safety, and thus greater freedoms with which to enjoy our lives”

“I know, I’ve read the tablets they put up every day telling us all that, but do you really feel more free by being armed by day and then barricaded away at night? Wasn’t life easier and more free when we used to just have a bit of fur hanging down in front of the entrance to our shelters instead of these daft big bits of chopped tree? We used to sit outside in those days.”

“We still do sit outside sometimes Wanna.”

“I know, but we used to sit outside together, as families, as a community. Now we just sit outside alone behind our barriers of sticks and rocks, we can’t even chat anymore.”

“I get what you are saying, but we need these things now, its called progress.”

“Progress? It’s madness Marej; it’s like going back to the Pliocene epoch! We are not Australopithecus, things were supposed to be better when we moved into the future. They promised us the great Pleistocene epoch was going to be the best ever. Move out of the caves they told us, everyone deserves a shelter, a place to call their own they said. Live the outdoors life they promised. Live the future!”

“And we did, we do! What’s your point?”

“Well for one, I quite liked my cave, but I accepted we needed to move forward and change. But also, not everyone can afford a shelter, not everyone has the means to build themselves a home. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair. If everyone had a shelter we’d all be equal, but as it is we are not all equal, there are homos out there that aren’t quite habilis enough to sort out their shelter for whatever reasons that might be. They are falling behind.

“I’m not getting you mate what does being equal have to do with our homes and our rocks and our freedoms and safety?”

“Do you not see?  By creating an artificial system where we are not all equal, we create a divide, social tensions, problems. Our habilis-created differences drive a sharpened stick through our community. We have crime now, but we never had crime when we all lived in the caves together”

“But the elders are dealing with that Wanna, they’ve said that the crime rates are down during this latest period of time when the fire travels across the sky, and that is very much to do with our collective efforts at securing our shelters and carrying axes, you have to see that.”

“I hear what they say Marej, but you are missing the point. By continuing to build these barriers between ourselves and the rest of our society, are we not exacerbating the problem caused by a lack of  equalness? Here’s an idea. What if instead of spending all our shiny stones and yellowy rocks on shelter security and weapons, we spent those resources in improving the situation for those less fortunate, less habilis than ourselves? Wouldn’t that be a better answer to solving the crime rates, wouldn’t that make us feel safer, wouldn’t that mean that we don’t need to carry axes and shut ourselves behind big expensive bits of tree in our shelters each night? Wouldn’t that make us more equal? Look at the new head village elder Drumpf, they tell me he’s built a big cage inside his house. Big enough for him and all his family to sleep in! Are you telling me he feels greater freedom by sleeping in a cage every night?”

“He has to Wanna, he’s got the biggest pile of shiny stones I’ve ever seen, and the biggest fucken axe in the round circle of dirt we live on! Rumour has it he’s fashioned some of those yellowy rocks into bigger rocks that him and his wife can sit on; it wouldn’t surprise me if he works out a way to wear them next. If anyone needs a cage to live in it is Drumpf.”

“I bet you if he gave all that bling away, he wouldn’t have to sleep in a cage”

“Perhaps not”

“I’m right. And I’ll tell you something else, because I am on a roll, and I’ve got the facility in which to express my opinion. The elders are trying to persuade us that they haven’t fecked up, that this recent invention called crime isn’t their fault. Have you seen the latest carved tablets; they’re now blaming the Homo Habilis from over yonder hill for our problems. They say that they are different from us, and we should fear them. They are blaming them for our current crime rate and breakdown of society. They are saying, and get this, things were better before we let them into our community”

“I get your point Wanna, and you know me I’m not a racist, but I think it was a big mistake letting them come over here in the first place. They are different from us Wanna, I’ve read the tablets, I know. The tablets  say that they know nothing about our way of life? They’ve travelled, what, a full fire and a bit of that white circle to get here? They are strangers, they look different, they wear their furs in a different way, they aren’t like us.”

“I agree, a full fire across the sky and a bit of the white circle is a long way, but in the grand scheme of things, considering we all live on this circle of dirt, can we really blame all our problems on them? Are they really that different from us at the end of the time when the fire goes down and the white circle appears? “

“Well they haven’t got any shiny rocks, they haven’t got any yellowy stones, they’ve got nothing, in fact the only thing they seem to have is that gloopy black liquid, and who in their right mind wants that? And they do wear their furs in a strange way.”

“So what are you suggesting Maraj? What is the solution? We keep building our piles of rocks higher? We carry sharper and bigger axes? We put limitations on the types of people that can live here based on how they wear their fur? When will it ever end?”

“But we need to do something Wanna. Think about the crime rates!”

“What we need to do Marej, is break these bloody rock piles down, get rid of those ridiculously heavy bits of wood in front of our shelters…”

“They are a bit inconvenient I’ll give you that…”

“…and we need to share the yellow rocks and shiny stones with those less fortunate than ourselves, and support them in building shelters for themselves.”

“Go on, I’m listening”

“Lets remove that lack of equalness, lets get back to everyone being equal like it used to be before they destroyed the caves for rocks that we could build shelters from. If everyone is equal, regardless of how they wear their furs or how lucky they get at shiny yellow rock stream, and everyone has the same opportunities to life, and thus the same quality of life, then surely we would remove the need for crime. Our community would become safer and our freedoms greater overnight if we took that one small step. And you’d not need to carry around that big stupid axe.”

“I mean I like your thinking, but, you know, its a bit ‘way-out-there. How do you think we can achieve that? I mean we have come so far.’”

“I’’ll tell you what I am going to do to kick start this revolution. I’m going to the village elders, in fact I’m going to go today, when the shadows have moved from this side to that side, and I’m going to stand in front of Elder Drumpf and I’ll tell him what I think.”

“It’s a great idea Wanna, and had I a bit more time on my hands I would back you all the way. But I’ve heard recently that things have changed and that due to safety, security and freedom reasons you can’t actually speak directly to head elder Drumpf any more. You have to carve a message into a tablet, and then pass it onto one of the younger elders, who then presents the tablet to a group of slightly older elders, who asses it for safety, security and freedom reasons and then pass it onto Drumpf himself.”

“Are you feckin kidding me? I don’t know how to carve a message into a stone tablet!”

“That is a problem Wanna”

“It certainly is Marej, and I have a bad feeling that our problems have only just begun.”

(this is a prelude to A ‘true’ story about Marijuana…)

 

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