Thursday, May 06, 2010

Saving the Savages

Once upon a time there was a tribe that had no air-conditioning.

For untold generations  the tribe didn't know that they needed air-conditioning. They also didn't know that they were ashamed of being naked or that sloth was a sin, so they went skinny-dipping to stay cool during the summers and napped during the very hottest afternoons.

It was during one such afternoon that the tribe had a visitor. A pale, bloodless-looking man entered the village and asked to speak to the shaman. At least the tribe thought it was a man, the visitor was covered nearly head-to-toe with sweat-soaked cloth so it made it a bit difficult to determine gender at first. The newcomer looked very hot and uncomfortable in the mid-day heat.

The Shaman raised a hand in greeting and approached the sweaty stranger, who introduced himself as a Priest.

"Hello", said the Priest. "Do you mind if I ask a few questions?'

The Shaman nodded.

"How do you people stand living in such an uncivilized wasteland?", asked the Priest.

"A w-w-wha-a-aaa--a?", stammered the Shaman, suddenly unable to speak.

"Dear Lord", exclaimed the Priest, " the poor brute doesn't even speak English! How can one hope to endeavor to be a Noble Savage without mastering the Queen's English?"

"No", interrupted the Shaman, " I understood you clearly except for the "hope to endeavor" part. I found  that clumsy and redundant. What I do find incomprehensible is your perception of my homeland. You think it is a 'wasteland'. Are you blind or just stupid?"

"But it is," insisted the visitor. "look around you: jungles, rocks, wild animals...and this weather. Abominable. Do you people even have air-conditioning in your lives? You live in wilderness, after all."

"We have the Wind. We have the Sea. We have the Land and we have the River. From these we get all that we need. We don't even have a word for 'wilderness'; 'wilderness' is your word for the places that you haven't destroyed yet. Such as our land."

"Well, that is something that we need to talk about," interjected the Priest. "See, you don't exactly own this land, right? You have no deeds and papers and I do, so you and your tribe will have to adapt a bit. For your own good , of course."

"Of course. And how shall we 'adapt'? "

"Well, first you'll need air-conditioning in your houses.Your lives are in peril without it."

"But our homes are made of straw and ox dung. I'm pretty sure the walls won't support air-conditioning. Plus we don't have electricity. And our lives aren't in peril. We don't wear wool in the summer and we don't hunt or fish when the sun is at it's worst."

"That is something else that we need to discuss. You can't be saved by air-conditioning if you are naked and live in huts. Your people are going to have to learn how to work for a living so you can buy houses with proper ventilation and enjoy the benefits of civilization. That mean no more sleeping in the afternoon."

"But it is very hot in the afternoon. A man can become very sick if he isn't careful."

"That is why you need air-conditioning. And houses. And jobs to pay for them. You can't live here anymore, so you will have to move to the city and start paying taxes like proper citizens."

So the Shaman packed up his tribe and moved to the city in search of jobs, houses and air-conditioning.

Two hundred years later the great-great-great-grandson son of the Priest was handing out bottles of plastic water in the slum where the great-great great -grandson of the Shaman lived. There was no air-conditioning and precious little water.

"You know what the problem is?", asked the charitable white man.

"We are thirsty?", answered the poor black man.

"No. The problem is that you people don't have plumbing or air-conditioning. You can't live in a hot, polluted sewer and not expect to get sick."

"Well", said the thirsty man, staring down at the mud and his filth-caked bare feet, "I  had planned on moving to Arizona when I retired, but I'm having a spot of trouble with my paperwork."

"Ingrate", sniffed the white man, putting his water back on the truck , ready for the air-condtioned drive back to civilization.



there's the allan i know and love.

billy pilgrim said...

i'll bet the shaman's casino is air conditioned.

Anonymous said...

I missed these reads!