A parable for a new paradigm


Richard Moore


A parable for a new paradigm

Convergence Festival, Dublin, 2001

Richard K. Moore
27 April 2001

Once upon  time there was a tribe of people who lived in a
happy land called Eden. In this land the people could find
everything they needed.  When they wanted to eat they might
kill an animal, just like a lion or a hawk would do, but
otherwise they left the other creatures alone to live their
own lives.  For a million years, for thousands and thousands
of generations, the tribe lived this way - in harmony with
nature and the creatures around them.

Then one day a tempting spirit came to them and whispered a
new paradigm in their ears.  The seductive voice said, "The
world is yours to conquer.  Go forth and multiply, and
subdue the creatures of the earth, the birds of the air, and
the fish of the sea."  Most of the people said "No, we
cannot do this, for only the gods are wise enough to rule
the earth. Such is  not the business of man."  Had not a
wiser spirit told them that they would surely die, if they
ate from the tree of the gods?  But there were a few who
were greedy, and short-sighted, and they adopted the new
paradigm.   They set out to subdue the world, as if they
were gods.

They said why should I hunt, when I can keep animals in
fences, and kill one whenever I'm hungry?  They cut down
forests, and planted fields, because they had learned to
always want more - they could no longer be satisfied with
enough.  Always they thought of subduing, and conquering,
and before long they began subduing other people, along with
the birds, the fishes, and the creatures.  They invented
slavery, and sent their slaves out to tend the animals and
sow the fields.  Soon they had storehouses full of food, and
they were pleased, because they didn't need to work
themselves, and they always had food to eat.

But they could never  be content, because they always wanted
more, and they were always growing in number.  They trained
some of their slaves to be soldiers, and they fed them from
their storehouses of food.  In this way they conquered and
subdued neighboring tribes, and soon they invented kingdoms,
and then empires.  The evil new paradigm spread like a
cancer, until only a few remote corners of the earth were
free from it.

In a mere 10,000 years - only a few hundred generations -
they had built empires that covered the globe, and they had
made slaves of everyone except for a few wealthy rulers.
They had become very sophisticated, and they no longer
needed chains and whips to control their slaves.  Instead of
whips they invented something called capitalism, and instead
of chains they invented propaganda - by which they fooled
everyone into thinking that slavery was freedom.  Finally,
the top rulers got together and combined their empires into
one. They called it globalization, and they said it was
good.  They began to recreate life itself, to their own
design, and thus conquered even the last domain of the gods.

They had been warned that if they became like gods they
would surely die, but they had never believed it.  For
10,000 years they escaped the prophecy, and there always
seemed to be more to conquer and to subdue.  But then, in
their triumphal era of globalization, the truth of the
prophecy was becoming apparent. The fish were disappearing
from the sea, the fields were turning to desert, and famine
and disease  were destroying whole populations - on the very
continent that gave birth to humanity.   The Earth itself
began to heat up in anger, which it expressed with
hurricanes and floods.

And then one day the wiser spirit returned again to the
land, and began whispering a very old paradigm in people's
ears.  Her voice could be heard everywhere, from Seattle to
Prague, from Brazil to Quebec, and even in fair Dublin City.
She used new phrases, like sustainability and building
community, but her message was a primordial one: Return to
the Garden - learn once more to live in harmony with the
world and with one another.

Only the rulers were unable to hear this voice, for they
listened still to the other spirit, with his old siren song
of 'subdue and conquer'. They sent their troops into the
streets, and built walls around their gatherings, but they
could not silence the voice of the wiser spirit.   Finally
people everywhere set down their tools and said enough is
enough.  The rulers retreated in dismay, everyone returned
to the garden, and they all lived happily ever after.