Three Fiction Stories related to the Golden Rule 2.0

Anvils

On the planet Thera you either died from old age or an anvil fell on you. As far back as people could remember, things would be fine one moment, then suddenly an anvil would drop out of the blue sky and crush one or more people.

Richer people could build houses with roofs that were somewhat anvil resistant. That way, most of the time they could hold off the anvils a little longer, but they might be in their car or walking down the street and—BOOM!—an anvil would fall on them. Or a particularly big anvil would fall on their house and crush it in anyway.

Not all deaths by anvil were instantaneous. Some people seemed to get slower and slower and heavier and heavier until they died. When the doctors opened them up to see what was wrong, their scalpels would almost inevitably ping on something metallic. Then they would glance at each other knowingly and say in an authoritative and conclusive tone, “Body Anvils.”

Sometimes people would run amuck and kill others and then themselves. When the doctors opened up the bodies of their victims they would find small bullet-sized anvils. When they would open up the brains of the people who went bonkers, again their scalpels would ping on something metallic and the doctors would again propound authoritatively “Anvilum Craniosis” or, as it was more commonly called, “anvils on the brain.”

Not all anvils killed people. Some killed relationships. A couple who had been together for years would be walking down the street when suddenly an anvil would fall right between them. Then they would turn to one another, blink, and say in shock, “Who are you?”

So that was life on Thera. For most of the history of the planet, the falling anvils were totally unpredictable. Sometimes a giant-sized anvil would fall and crush dozens or hundreds of people at once, but it was more common for a much smaller anvil to hit a single person.

Then came the birth of Science and Probability. Scientifically-minded people started to notice patterns. For instance, if you didn’t take care of your health, you were likely to develop body anvils. Or if there was a lot of pollution and chemicals in a certain place, that place attracted more anvils than other places. Or when powerful and greedy people took all the wealth out of a country, anvils would fall on the children there.

You can imagine the controversy this caused. People who made things happen on the planet were getting angry at the scientists for making people uneasy about anvils. Anvils had always been a fact of life, but the scientists were leading people to believe that the way some of the rich and powerful did things caused anvils. These people were mad because the scientists were giving wealth and power a bad name. So very quickly they learned to ask, “Are you certain about this?” The scientist could only respond, “No, but it’s probably true.” Then the people who made things happen would scoff and say, “Probably?! What’s that mean?” And the scientists would go back to their labs beaten, with their tails between their legs. (Oh, I forgot to mention that people on Thera tended to have tails.)

Then one day came the grand discovery from the lab: metal filings! A higher concentration of metal filings was found in the blood stream of people who later developed body anvils. Metal filings were also found in the lungs of those who smoked, and those who were constantly around people who smoked. Metal filings were found coming out of factory smokestacks and the tailpipes of cars. Metal filings were even found coming out of some banks and secret government meetings.

Even more impressive, however, was the fact that metal filings were found up in the atmosphere in huge concentrations right before anvils dropped from the sky! In a famous press conference televised around the planet, an atmospheric scientist told the millions of viewers the reason that anvils had been dropping all this time. He said, “The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind, metal filings are blowing in the wind.”

He went on to tell the public his theory:  When people acted in certain ways that were generally known not to be very good, they generated tiny slivers of metal that went up into the air. Some slivers stayed in the vicinity and would clump together in the shape of an anvil and fall near or on the person who created them. Other metal filings would float away and clump together and fall on people far away who did nothing to create the slivers. The scientist predicted a rapid increase in the number and size of anvils as the population grew, and as people did more of those things that generated metal slivers. He even added that there was a growing possibility that a huge anvil would slam into Thera herself. The good news, though, was that there were activities that people could do to draw the metal back out of the air.

The scientist was just about to give examples of those activities when suddenly he was interrupted by a well-dressed man in the audience who stood up and said very angrily, “I know that people create metal filings, and that some people create their own anvils. But as for anvils from the sky, you don’t really know where they come from. It’s just a theory you have.”

“Now this is an astonishing thing!” the scientist replied. “You know that peoples’ actions create the metal filings. You know that each year millions of tons of metal dust goes up in the air from various sources. And you know that ever since the world began, anvils have been dropping from the sky. Yet you are still unwilling to accept that it is you who cause the anvils to fall!”

“You are just an atmospheric scientist!” the man retorted. “How dare you make a theory about economic anvils, body anvils, relationship anvils, psychological anvils, and political anvils! I have a feeling that the people who make things happen are going to stop funding your irresponsible anvil research!” With that, the well-dressed man stormed out of the room.

 

That’s pretty much the state of things on Thera right now. Some people were willing to draw the conclusion that the metal slivers they generated somehow caused anvils somewhere in the world. They began to modify their behavior. Others pointed out how much was not known about the weather, the jet stream, and atmospheric conditions in anvil clouds.

Still others refused to change their behavior until they were furnished with undeniable proof that metal filings caused anvils.

How about you? What do you think about anvils?

I guess the conclusion to this story is still up in the air.

 

 

The Dam
Once upon a time, there was a huge dam built by the ancients. On the stream below the dam lived a village of people. The dam was old and occasionally pieces of it, rocks and timber, would be washed down. Long ago, when the village was first established, the elders decided that all of the villagers were responsible for the upkeep of the dam. It became common practice for each able-bodied person to climb the hill once a day, bringing up a boulder or limb to place back on the dam.

However, as the village grew, people found many good reasons not to make the walk up the hill. The merchants of the town each pointed out the necessity of providing bread, fabric, tools or whatever they happened to be selling. One youth, a student, felt his time was better spent on education. His dream was to rebuild the dam. A village girl fell in love with him and married him. She stopped her walks, because it was her nuptial year, a time to concentrate on building a home and her relationship with her husband. By the end of the year however, she was pregnant, and so could not make the strenuous walks.

In the village, however, was one old man who continued to carry his share of logs and stones daily. Seeing him, a man with a crippled leg called out to him, “I cannot carry my share, would you carry it for me?” “Gladly,” the old man replied. And a few others were touched by this, and renewed their walks up the hill.

But not enough, for soon the dam was looking noticeably worse. Finally a village meeting was called for all the people to attend. The old man who made the trips daily confronted the others, saying, “We should each put back one stone and plank for each one that falls, otherwise the dam will fall in and many will die.”

They agreed, yet each gave good reasons why they should not make the trip. The village doctor spoke. “Surely my work is more important than carrying stones up a hill.” The old man said to him, “With your wealth, arrange for someone to carry your share.” The woman who had been pregnant brought in her new baby boy and spoke laughingly, “Surely I cannot make walks up the hill for now I must take care of my child.”

The old man replied, “Until she can carry your share, you can carry her share.”

This provoked her, “Who are you to tell me what I should do?”

He replied, “I am not telling you what you should do, but there are consequences if you don’t.”

A religious man spoke up, “Well put, old man, but I attend to spiritual matters. These take priority over the material world.”

The old man looked him in the eye and spoke, “Anyone who claims exemption or special privilege is merely claiming the right to burden others unfairly.”

But a villager not known for his industry cried out, “Away with this man, for someday we all must die!”

The next day the dam broke.

A thirty-foot-high wall of water hit the village. The old man, who was carrying a log up the hill, was the first to get caught in the flood. Because the daily walks carrying wood had built up the strength in his arms, he was able to hold onto the log until it became wedged in the top of a tree, and this saved him.

Except for the old man, all of the particular people mentioned in this story were drowned. At one point, a basket carrying the infant boy rushed by the old man. He lunged for it, but could not reach it before it was swept downstream. All he could do was hold onto the tree until the waters subsided. As he climbed down from the tree he found the body of the religious man. The religious man had been caught and drowned upside-down in the lower branches of the same tree that saved the old man’s life.

A few of the villagers who didn’t carry their share of logs and stones escaped alive, while some of the villagers who followed the old man’s example and carried their share drowned.

 

 

Suddenly You’re in Debt Up to the Moon!    (Your Portfolio of Love)

One day you’re going through your bills and you find among your gas, telephone and electric bills a bill that reads “Ozone depletion bill.”  You open it and in small print it reads, “This bill is based on the fact that air conditioners leak CFCs and CFCs destroy ozone, a stratospheric gas that protects people and other life from excessive ultraviolet radiation.  And because you have been using air conditioners for about 20 years you are being assessed for 50 pounds of ozone, deliverable to the stratosphere by March 15th, or you can pay $4932.00 to have it manufactured and delivered by hot air balloon.  We thank you for prompt payment.”  In addition, you will receive a monthly bill of about $35 for future leakage of CFCs.

The next day you receive a “global warming bill” based largely on your car exhaust and home energy usage.  It’s similar to the ozone bill, with extra surcharges added for acid rain caused by exhaust and burning dirty coal to get electricity.  Total damages: $10,961, plus a monthly $275.

A week later you receive a “Third World commodity export bill.” It turns out that the coffee, bananas and other tropical goods came to your table below real cost because multinational corporations had near monopolies and paid the farmers peasant wages.  For example, it cost much more than 20 cents for the banana you ate this morning to be grown, fertilized, cut down, packaged, and transported 3000 miles.  You can’t blame the companies because they are competing with each other, so for all the foods you have consumed in the last 30 years, you are being charged $15,380, plus a monthly food tax bill of $73. The money will be paid back to the Third World farmers through development and education organizations.

Then comes a “topsoil erosion bill.” It reads: For every bushel of corn produced by large-scale farming methods a bushel of top-soil is eroded, normally washed into a river and ending up in the ocean.  Since you have been eating corn and other crops for about 30 years, you are being assessed 700 bushels of topsoil, deliverable to the Midwest, by next spring.  In the event that you do not have 700 bushels of topsoil in your possession, please remit $6588.  That money will be used to have 700 bushels of earth dredged up from the Mississippi delta, desalinated and shipped to the Midwest.  In addition, you will be assessed a monthly bill of $18.30.

Next comes a bill for allowing political corruption, because you did not vote, or advocate certain failed pieces of good legislation.  Also comes a fairly big bill to recycle the materials that you didn’t recycle.

There you were, a basically decent person minding his or her own business, and now suddenly your in debt up to the moon, because of all the debts that had been neglected.  In the name of fairness, you need to return what you take.  Even if you declared bankruptcy, you would still have an extra thousand or so a month to pay.  The burden becomes unbearable as you realize the magnitude of your debts.

But then you receive the following letter:

 

Dear Resident,

We understand that in this hectic world it is easy to fall behind in repayments to the economy, the environment, the political system and the community, not to mention your physical and mental health and personal relationships.  However, it has come to our attention that you have become delinquent in repaying certain debts, specifically in returning to the world as much as you take. Unfortunately, your desire to repay, although commendable, is not enough.  And your overpayments into some of these accounts does not compensate for deficits in other accounts.

That is why we at World Peace Mutual Assurance are offering you, for a very low (membership) fee, our state of the art “Mutual Assurance Installment Plan.”  This payment plan allows you to repay your debts in easy quarterly installments.  Here are some advantages of this installment repayment plan over the leading competitor’s plan:

1)  Lower quarterly installments:  Our motto at World Peace Assurance Co. is “Assurance is cheaper than insurance.”  For example it’s less expensive to exercise regularly than to get open heart surgery.  It costs less to promote development in a Third World country than to fight a war against that country.  In other words, a dime of prevention is worth a dollar of cure.

2)  Adjustable installments:  You will not be financially strapped or overextended, since you adjust your repayment schedule on a quarterly basis.  Our specially-trained installment “negotiators” simply ask that you make a reasonable stretch during each pay period.

3)  One plan covers all:  No more worrying about specific unpaid accounts, because once you begin to make payments on the installment plan tailored to your needs, you are covered in all critical accounts!

4)  Exciting payment plan:  Rather than paying in one form such as money or volunteer time, you can choose from a wide variety of payment instruments such as planting trees, writing letters, practicing communication skills, doing socially responsible buying and exercising.  In other words, your portfolio is broadened and diversified.  Not only that, but many of the projects create additional fringe benefits: planting trees by your home cuts down on heating and cooling bills as well as your ozone depletion and global warming bills.  Exercising not only reduces doctor bills and health insurance but makes you feel better and lighter and if the exercise is riding a bike to save on trips it even cuts your global warming bill.  Many other projects can be fun, sometimes done with the rest of your family or friends.

5)  Recession-proof tax shelter:  Most of the payment instruments listed above are not only recession-proof but they are nontaxable, and recently a portion of our plan has become tax-deductible!

6)  Double returns on long-term equity:  One perk is the set of skills you learn in the process of making your installments, such as goal-attainment, time-management, communication and behavior-modification skills that increase your individual net worth.  A second perk is that you build equity in the planet (through stabilization of her life-support systems)  This is a handsome long-term investment to pass on to your children!

Here’s how the plan works:  You take a “Peaceful Lifestyle Assessment” to inventory your current state of credits and debits. Then you develop a Peace Pact – a set of goals and plans to make the regular installments into the various life-support accounts.  At the end of the first installment, you repeat the process and reassess your lifestyle.

To take advantage of this offer simply contact Group Genie Mutual Assurance at contact us.  A trained volunteer is waiting to take your call and help you create the installment plan that is right for you!

Sincerely Yours,

The folks at Group Genie

 

It seems too good to be true!  As you read, the bleak picture of interminable debt and of leaving the world a mess is gradually replaced by a picture of how your life and world would be progressively changed for the better.  It will take effort, but you actually feel relieved to finally face the music.  You immediately call to sign up to create your one six-billionth of world peace.  Then you sit back, relax and think about making your first investment into your portfolio of love.

 

 


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