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Newsletter Dated: 3/3/2002 6:13:11 AM
Subject: Little People Sometimes Have Big Brains
The giant and the pygmies - a fable for our times
A giant was striding through the world looking for enemies. At his heels was the usual posse of pygmies, chattering and complaining and complicating things.
Yuro was one of the worst of them, always raising tedious questions like some God-forsaken medieval theologian. Example: "When is an enemy not really an enemy but just someone who's busy killing his own enemies?" Yusa's patience was long since exhausted, but, for some reason, he continued to indulge Yuro's snide importunities.
"There are five kinds of enemy," Yusa explained. "People who have attacked me. People who have threatened to attack me. People who have got the capability to attack me. People who look like getting the capability to attack me. And people who are the enemy of my friend or the friend of my enemy." "So everyone in the world is either an enemy or a friend?" Yuro asked.
"No. Some people are nothing," Yusa replied. "And a friend can become an enemy at any time. We must always be on our guard."
"Can an enemy become a friend?"
"Sometimes, with persuasion, yes," Yusa said.
"What is persuasion exactly?" Yuro wanted to know. "Friendly persuasion is friendly. Self-defense isn't."
"It must be a terribly stressful life, Yusa. So exhausting and so expensive All that persuading and self-defending."
"You are right," Yusa agreed. "We bear a heavy burden. Somebody must."
"The only thing is," Yuro pointed out, "some of my own little friends seem to think that your friendly persuading is just the continuation of self-defense by other means." "Don't give we that, Yuro. You were once a giant among pygmies yourself. And you had the morals of an alley cat and got nice and fat and rich on it. Until you started killing each other by the million." "If it wasn't for us there wouldn't be you, Yusa. Don't forget that. You saw us in your mirror, warts and all."
"You were a good teacher. And from you I learned how to outgrow you, as students do. And now the whole world is my student," Yusa said. "And will outgrow you, as students do?" Yuro suggested.
"What more can I teach them?" Yusa asked.
"Demockery and crapitulism."
"There was a time when you Yuros burned people alive for saying things like that."
" Sorry. It was meant to be funny. It's what some of my little friends say. Less developed pygmies, admittedly," Yuro said.
Yusa frowned. "I sometimes wonder if you are a friend or a friend of my enemies. I really do."
"Actually, we've been talking among ourselves, we Yuros, and we're thinking of making a Declaration of Independence."
"From you, I'm afraid. A Yuro Declaration of Psychic Independence."
"Are you mad?" "That would be part of it," Yuro admitted without taking offense. "We would re-define madness like we used to do, when we were in charge of such things."
" And what if I decided that you were one of my enemies?"
"We would try to persuade you, Yusa, in a friendly way."
"Of what, for heaven's sake?"
"That we can't go on like this forever. All this Empires of Darkness and Axes of Evil and Us and Them. That can't be the whole of the human future for the whole of the 21st century and beyond." "You are crazy," Yusa said. "You know that? No, of course you wouldn't know that. Crazy people don't." "We certainly don't think we're crazy. It's simply that we Yuros have been asleep. For 50 years, paralyzed by our own spell of madness, and by shame and apathy. And now we've remembered something we had forgotten. We've got minds of our own, after all."
"We've got to start thinking again," Yuro continued, "about everything. About demockery and crapitulism. And the end of the beginning of history. Things like that. It's not easy, thinking. But somebody's got to do it."
Moral: Little people sometimes have big brains.
Philip Allott is Professor of International Public Law at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He contributed this comment to the International Herald Tribune