Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parable: Relevance

Written 8/18/14

In times that are there is a valley. It is a valley large enough for many villages yet isolated enough to be determined in their ways.

Long ago, three villages were almost at war. The reasons are long forgotten. What was remembered was the friendship of four young people of these villages that finally brought peace to the valley.

With a peace newly attained, a craftsman sculpted a memorial to the strength of friendship and unity. Four arms encircling the valley, bound with bracelets of friendship. It was placed in the new governing building.

The bracelets had been a mark of friendship between the four during the conflict. The weaver's daughter had made them with specific colors to name home, family, profession. When one married she'd add the new family color.

Out of honor and respect for those brave enough to speak peace, these friendship unity bracelets were adopted by all. One look at a person's wrist and a person knew who they were talking to. In time, the people added greater distinction to the meanings available, such as whether one was a master at their profession or simply an apprentice.

Time passes. Another floor is added to the government center. An opening is left to leave a view of the sculpture from above.

Time passes. There are some disagreements among the people. Some begin using the wrist bands as a means to include or exclude others. Some think one can only work in the profession of the family. The miners disagree. A new leader reminds the people of the four and the peace they worked for. Finally peace was remembered again.

In the rejoicing of unity safeguarded, another craftsman regards the statue in reverence. He seeks to add his own witness and is granted permission to create a stained-glass interpretation of the sculpture and meaning below.

Time passes. The center grows larger. The original floor becomes a forgotten basement used only by custodians and assistance for storage. The sculpture is forgotten.

Time passes. A student studies the stained glass and finds patterns and insight from long ago history. The student submits their analysis and a plaque is mounted with this third interpretation. Prominent are the ideas that the valley was built upon enslavement symbolized in the wrist bands now worn as a reminder of the uncivilized days.

Time passes. The people are unhappy again. One group claims the pick represents the violence of the workers that must be kept in line. The other group claims the wristbands are just modern enslavement forms of class and rank. Both groups gather at the stained-glass as historical proof that they are right. "See the proof!" They yell at each other.

One lowly assistant hates walking by when the demonstrators gather. She has heard all the rantings. She has studied the stained-glass and read the plaque. But all she sees is that nobody wants to find an answer. They only want to be right and the others to be wrong.

One day she seeks refuge in the basement. While those argue and yell above, she studies the glass from below. "It is even prettier from down here where the light shines through," she thinks. Not watching where she is going, she backs into a covered pedestal.

Only it is not a pedestal. It is the sculpture. There are no picks. It is unexpected and different and unknown. All it has is a date, a title "Unity from Friendship", and the creator's mark. Clearly the story is different from all she had heard.

She begins to dig through storage. She finds writing so old they're difficult to read. But it is important for her to know, to understand. She learns of the friends and the danger they faced. She learns that they made everyone so angry for daring to stand together that they faced death yet stood together, still. She learns that they'd stand in front of anyone threatened with harm, no matter which village they were from. She learns this won them over until the villages were finally willing to talk peace. She learns of the friendship bracelets.

After learning these things, she looked up at the glass and listened to the arguing above. "They don't even know what they argue about," she thought.

She went back upstairs to find her supervisor. "Guess what I found down there. Do you know what I learned?" The supervisor did not want to be bothered. She went to the balcony. "Did you know there's a sculpture and a story down there that tells a different history?" They shushed her and pushed her away.

She drew pictures of the statue and wrote the story she had learned. She put them on the wall by the plaque hoping the others might see and consider it. Her supervisor took them down. She tried to bring people down to see the sculpture and records for themselves. She was fired for insubordination.

She went home and made her own record. "This for posterity, should they ever wish to know the truth. My generation only wishes to argue irrelevant interpretations."

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