The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Traveler and the Seed

a modern parable


Briseadh na Faire

“If you want to stay in power as long as possible, you must never give the people hope of anything better.”

Those were the father’s last words to his son. The son inherited more wealth than the rest of the people in his kingdom combined. But that still was not enough. He knew he had to keep his people oppressed, taxing what earnings they had to keep them barely above starvation. His soldiers he paid well enough, but they, too, labored under the yoke of knowing at any moment, the son could cast them out of his service, and into the streets to beg and be beaten for begging, just as they had beaten beggars.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Season after season the son ruled supreme. No one dared cry out against him, for fear of his wrath. His fortunes grew even as his people perished from want of food and ill health. But that did not matter to the son. All that mattered was ruling, and gaining more and more wealth. He was the giver of jobs, the taker of jobs; the giver of life, the taker of life. In his kingdom there was no hope.

He stayed in power with his armies and his nobles, his privileged chosen, whose only quarrels were with each other, as they each sought to increase their holdings and their favor with the son.

The little people he managed easily enough, for they were very easily distracted with the trivial; gossip and innuendo and religious fervor, pitting neighbor against neighbor. They were so preoccupied hating each other they did not consider rising up against their oppressors.

Then, one Spring, a Traveler passed through the kingdom. “I bring news” he said to the townsfolk, “of an uprising in a far off land.”

“What do you mean?” they asked.

“People have taken to the streets…left their jobs, their farms and their schools…and demanded their ruler step aside, and let the people rule.” said the Traveler.

“What? Foolish! How can the people rule? They’ll be killed. What did the ruler do?”  the townspeople all questioned the Traveler at once.

“Some were killed. The ruler called out his guards in force. But…an amazing thing happened” continued the Traveler.


“Some of the guards…joined the people.”

A gasp was heard in the crowd.

“Tell me,” said the Traveler, “what hope do you have, right now, of a better life, for a better life for your children?”

The crowd, which had been gathering, grew silent. The unheard groan of oppression weighed down upon them, bending their shoulders. A short distance away, a soldier ran for the king’s palace.

“If you do nothing, what hope will you have?” pressed the Traveler.

“None” a small voice answered.

“And if you rise up?” the Traveler lifted the chin of the young woman who spoke, looking into her dusty blue eyes.

“We can hope for the grave!” a gruff voice spoke out.

“Yes” replied the Traveler, his voice even and penetrating. “The same as now.”

“But we would have hope for our children” the young woman chimed, her voice growing stronger. “Lead us, Traveler” she implored.

Just then an eagle circling far above let out a cry.

The Traveler paused for a while. “It is not for me to lead you. There are those among you who will lead.”

“Who? How will we know?” the crowd asked.

The Traveler reached into his pouch and brought out a small handful of wheat seeds. “If I cast these seeds upon the cobble stones, most will be crushed under foot. Some will find their way to the cracks and survive – for a while. But if I take just one seed and plant it in fertile soil, with water and sunshine, it will grow and thrive, bringing forth more seeds, which in turn will grow and bring forth even more.”

“A seed of hope” said the young woman, softly.

“When the time is right, a leader will come” said the Traveler, looking her in the eyes. He took up his staff and began to walk down the street. The crowd parted from him and broke into smaller groups of twos, threes, fours and fives, murmuring to each other.

Just then, a noisy entourage of soldiers shoved their way to the Traveler. The son stood in their center. “What have you done?” demanded the son.

“I gave them hope” said the Traveler, the sun setting behind him, casting his long shadow on the ruler.

“How dare you! I can have you arrested! Executed!” the son was apoplectic. The townspeople had formed a large circle around the spectacle. Soldiers looked nervously over their shoulders. A dark, rumbling emanated from the crowd as the people seemed to press in on the entourage. The Traveler raised his hand and the sound, and people, stopped.

“Your laws have no power over me” proclaimed the Traveler, “for I have given your people the one thing you cannot execute. I have given them the seed of hope. And that seed will grow, fueled by the very oppression you have dealt.”

“If you want to stay in power as long as possible, you must never give the people hope of anything better.”

Those words burned in the son’s ears, like the roaring of a violent storm. He glared at the Traveler. The setting sun was behind the Traveler’s head now, giving his white hair a golden-red glow.

“Now that your people know the path to hope for a better life for themselves, their children, you cannot long stay in power.” The son knew the Traveler’s words to be true.

“The question for you is: will you cede power peacefully? Or will you seek to kill as many of your own people as possible to forestall the day when they cast you out?” With that, the eagle cried again.

“Seize him!” the son commanded. The soldiers, who had looked up to the eagle’s cry, looked down again, only to be blinded by the setting sun. The Traveler was not to be seen. The soldiers drew closer around the son, and all began to withdraw towards the palace.

The young woman stepped forward from the crowd, a flower in her hand. She approached the lead soldier and handed the flower to him. “You’re one of us, too, you know.” She blew him a kiss, then skipped off into the crowd.

Now that your people know the path to hope for a better life for themselves, their children, you cannot long stay in power.” The Travelers’ words echoed in the soldier’s ear. He shot a sideward glance at the son, then at the crowd. At that moment, he knew his allegiance now lay with the crowd. He, too, had received hope.

The young woman skipped on in the Spring twilight as crickets and frogs began their evening songs. At the edge of town, she met up with the Traveler again.

“That was a brave thing you did” the Traveler commented.

“Not so brave as you” she chirped. “You gave us the seed of hope. I just watered it a little.” she brushed a wisp of hair off her forehead. “Besides, it’s always good to make new friends.”

The Traveler smiled. You’re just the kind of leader the townspeople will be looking for, he thought, as he bowed in homage to the young woman. She curtseyed, then pirouetted and skipped back to town.



199 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

  1. Hope & Change….I remember those words. Unfortunately one party has decided to use a scorched earth policy against the President, the middle & working class, while some in the Presidents own party are spineless cowards. *sigh*

    Nice post BnF! As I told a friend of mine who thought that the OWS protesters were stupid and wasting their time, I pointed to the Vietnam war protests, the women who protested for the right to vote and for better working conditions, the Civil Rights movement, coal miner strikes, the protests in Wisconsin etc, etc….we the people can bring change, we just need to get angry and get off our asses.

    • I also think that Obama talked a lot and has demonstrated with his actions that his words were mostly empty. He’s a huge disappointment IMO.

  2. Beautiful story BnF. Have you ever considered writing a book of parables?
    Me, I think the seeds are planted and “in the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy”. The false prosperity and focus on material goods that was enabled by the housing bubble distracted the 99% for a while, but now most folks are staring at the stark reality of the stolen american dream. I think the young folks will reclaim it for everyone.

    • Thanks, Outstanding. I don’t have enough for a book yet, but the collection is growing. But if anyone knows a publisher….

      • Self-publish BNF – you can publish your own stuff on Amazon these days. I wish SammytheTurtle would finish her book about three Junior High kids battling a pandemic called “The Infection” so we could give it a go ourselves.

        • It’s a damned outrage that he came through two tours in Iraq only to suffer serious injury at the hands of one of his fellow citizens.

    • Those lazy kids! They should get off their butts and get a job! There’s no such thing as a “free lunch”! Someone’s got to pay for it, and that’s you and me, folks. The Federal Government is taking our hard earned money and giving it to some other folk’s children so they can enjoy a free lunch at our expense. It’s gotta stop, I tell you. These fourth graders are bankrupting this country!


  3. Great parable BnF. Hoping the American people wake up to the oligarchy that is ruining their lives as we read.

  4. I’d love to see Newt Gingrich go wading into the OWS crowd and spout his get a bath then get a job nonsense within earshot of those who’ve been looking, and looking, and sending resume after resume, ad nauseum while their unemployment insurance runs out, and they move into their car…I’d REALLY like to see THAT.

    • I started to think about what would be needed if Neut did do that he would need Secret Service coverage. That brought to mind that Citizen Cain would lose his if he dropped out of the race. CC has to stay in the race in order to survive. 🙄

    • Last time I looked, Rep Frank was elected by the people of Massachusetts.
      Tenneseean Bagghists, mind your own hillbilly asses.

      • “What do you mean? Africa *is* a country”

        – Rick Sanitation and Batshit Bachmann

      • I like Herman Cain.
        He’s crazier than Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann combined.
        Hmmmmm, I wonder if he’s tried hitting on either of them yet?

        Bad lip reading should have enough material to make at least five new Herman Cain videos.

    • Bimbo eruption. I like it. Must be part of the political climate change thing that the Right also can’t perceive. 😉

      • WHY are women referred to as bimbO/s?? Bimbo means little boy in Italian. BIMBA is the femenine term.
        I guess all those SINGLE women are whores to be damned while da candidate Cain was forced to do what he did.

  5. Excellent parable, BnF.

    Four years ago, we sowed the seeds of The Zoo, and look at y’all now. Such beautiful, shiny faces looking upward towards the sun. 🙂

  6. I hope Billo doesn’t learn of this. The War on Xmas took a turn towards violence here over the week end. The city’s Xmas tree was assaulted. A car tried to take out the Holy Conifer in the downtown Square. Either that or the driver was drunk on his ass.

  7. Another sign of hope:

    “One of the real changes that comes when you start running for President — as opposed to being an analyst on Fox — is I have to actually know what I’m talking about,” he said. The woman let out a startled laugh, and the audience joined in. “It’s a severe limitation,” Gingrich added.

    • Newt better be careful if he wants his FAUX”News” gig after he fails in his bid. Also, if I heard it right, it sounds like KochCain has an offer from the fascist propaganda network. Are Rupert and Roger going to be passing out consolation prizes to all the failed candidates or just the most stupid and dishonest? If so? We can look forward to countless outrageous comments from people who actually thought they could be the POTUS but they’ll have to keep them separated unless they want to turn into the WWE.

      • Seems a perfect fit, a faux historian pontificating and bloviating on a faux ‘news’ channel.

    • Very cool. I remember wearing my fatigues (ala Jim Croce) for about two years after I got back from Nam.

    • Good stuff. I’d love to see the prints in person.

      Caption on #6 is pretty dumb, though. Hot Tuna was, after all, a spinoff from Jefferson Airplane, not the other way around. I saw both bands on stage in 1970; the Airplane was beginning its descent into Starship and Hot Tuna played an entire set of Jefferson Airplane music. Strange.

      (I was convinced for years that I was the spitting image of Jack Casady.)

  8. Excellent post BnF. Yes this just might be a Leap of Faith.
    Your message arrived on my phone when I turned it on this AM and made my day! thanks

  9. I was standing in line at the store yesterday and overheard a gentleman talking to his young son about winter holidays. He explained how many different cultures have had winter celebrations, often associated with the winter solstice, to commemorate their survival and/or to appease their gods so that spring would eventually come. He explained how the people would gather with friends and family, hold feasts, and exchange gifts and finished with “sound familiar”? Judging by the icy glare of the check out gal I assume that she was very uncomfortable with the implication that winter holidays are not a uniquely Christian tradition. And, yes, it was the same gal who gravely informed me that compact fluorescent lights are “dangerous” because that’s what Crazy Shelly said. I think she’s more silly than evil so I was able to ward off the temptation to wish her a “happy solstice”.

  10. There’s a Bill of Attainder on it’s way to the House – the Senate has already voted it though.

    So not only can you be Hellfire missiled into tiny pieces by your government without due process…. you may soon be arrested by the US miltiary on US soil and detained indefinitely…

    First they came for Jose Padilla and I did nothing,
    Then they blew Al Awlaki into tiny pieces instead of charging him with something and I did nothing….

  11. Jan Schakowsky says that former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince has “attempted intimidation” of her in response to Schakowsky’s campaign to reduce U.S. reliance on private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    …“I want to make it clear to Mr. Prince that I will not stop working to end our reliance on private security contractors and to investigate any and all allegations of misconduct,” Schakowsky said.

    • Sorta cute how Eric is getting all ballsy since he ran to an extradition free country. I guess he figures those drones can’t find him now.

    • From the Prince letter to Schakowsky:
      “You have abused your Congressional power to request that Mr. Prince be investigated.”

      • I think that is legalese for “Eric shit himself when he heard and we had to clean up after him.”

        • It’s all ok – he does his murdering/mercenary work in the name of being a ‘good xtian man’:

          Board member of Christian Freedom International

          Religion Christian; a convert to the Roman Catholic Church,[2] raised in the Calvinist Christian Reformed Church in North America[3]

          • I can see where he got confused. Where Jesus spoke of “mercy” ol’ Eric saw “mercenary”. The two words, after all, only differ by a few letters.

          • He and his hired thugs…er…. “contractors” are likely the military arm of The Family.

    • Dear Mr. Prince;
      Representative Schakowsky is a member of our elected government.
      You are a mercenary pimp, sucking at the teat of the MIC. Blow it out your ass.

    • Interesting that his lawyer is Victoria Toensing… a sad excuse for a human being… anyone remember her from the Valerie Plame affair?

      She “argued that the law couldn’t have been broken when Valerie Plame’s cover as a CIA agent was blown because her status wasn’t really covert.” She also argued that Ms. Plame didn’t have a cover to blow.

  12. Speaking of German language media, Scott Horton has a money quote from Der Spiegel on how the GOP is viewed from abroad:

    “Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.” Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign.

    For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln. They are also ruining the reputation of the United States. They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy. And they expose a political, economic, geographic and historical ignorance compared to which George W. Bush sounds like a scholar. Even the party’s boosters are horrified by the spectacle…

    Platitudes in lieu of programs: in serious times that demand the smartest, these clowns offer blather that is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. But as with all freak shows, it would be impossible without a stage, the U.S. media, which has been neutered by the demands of political correctness, and a welcoming audience, a party base that seems to have been lobotomized overnight. Notwithstanding the subterranean depths of the primary process, the press and broadcasters proclaim one clown after the next to be the new frontrunner, in predictable news cycles of forty-five days.”

    • The article concludes…:
      Even those who despise the G.O.P. should be concerned about the depths to which the party has sunk.

      That would be me, and yes, I’m greatly concerned that these imbeciles have any chance at all of continuing their destruction of our nation.

      Our political history is one of compromise, and getting stuff done through negotiated give and take. To refuse to compromise on any issue is anti American, and a death blow to our tradition.

      • Indeed. It is possible for democracy to work within a two party structure but democracy can’t exist, much less work, if one of the parties is devoted to obstruction rather than negotiating in good faith.

    • It’s enough to make one weep when one realizes that this country no longer has a functional press/media. Instead, FAUX”News” will wail and gnash their teeth about how Der Spiegel is a bunch of communists trying to bring down the good ol’ U.S.A. and the rest of the “librul media” will either ignore the story or adopt a similar position.

  13. Cavuto closed the interview with Cain with the following exchange:

    Neil: FINALLY, A WEEK FROM Now, do you think in your gut you will still be a candidate?

    Cain: A WEEK FROM NOW I Will have made a final decision.

    Neil: IN OR OUT?

    Cain: A WEEK FROM NOW I Will have made a decision.

    Neil: AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T Say 9-9-9. All right, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

    NEIL zings!!!

    • Very surprised he didn’t say that in 9 days, 9 hours and 9 minutes, he’ll decide whether or not he’ll pull out or stay in for the whole pie.

  14. So the bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1867, a bill that contains vague language not only as to what exactly the US Government can consider a threat to the USA but also has vague language in which you or I (American Citizen) can be sent back to our country of origin, can be sent to a foreign country or sent to a foreign entity….

    Gee….I consider the financial terrorists on Wall Street a threat to the USA, but I doubt any of them have to worry about being sent to Guantanamo, a foreign country or a foreign entity….

    I wonder if this is a revamped version of HR1955 The Violent Radicalization and Prevention of Homegrown Terrorism Act, with more bells and whistles.

    Just wait, soon in our future those who dare to stand up against our overlords, like the OWS protesters could be deemed as a threat and shipped off to never, never land…and this under a democratic senate…and democratic president…I thought sh*t like this only happened under republican rule…someone wants to clamp down hard on the natives who are beginning to get restless.

    • I found clarifications on S 1867 here.

      It covers al Qaeda, the Taliban, and anyone providing material support to same, and it does not apply to US citizens.

      Still not thrilled with such an act.

      • Heard someone this morning noting that we have over 300 criminal court convictions, as opposed to six military tribunal convictions, of which three of the defendants have since been released. Our criminal justice system actually works, we don’t need military activity on our own soil. Bad effing idea.

    • Actually, Herb, i had a dream a few nights ago that you delivered a steaming, maggot filled pizza to our door and my house melted.

      The wriggling insect larvae were arranged in the numbers 999 but you then rotated it around and started insanely cackling as the walls began to drip…

    • Right, “Herb”. You’re “reassessing” your candidacy because all of those women are lying and you’re just so damned smart that we stupid Americans can’t figure out what the fuck you’re talking about.

    • Herman wouldn’t be “running” for President unless he suffered from delusions of grandeur. Latching on to the usual Republican paranoia, he believes that the Democrats have been leaking his exploits–because he had the lead over the other Repubs, which makes so much sense–because he’d be such a strong candidate in the General. snrff snrff

      Herman, you’re a particularly ludicrous bad joke.

    • Good for the deputies! It’s always a treat to see people behaving as though they had real principles.

      And fuck a bunch of Chase Bank.

    • Is it just me or do none of the GOP candidates have any historical knowledge of anything? I mean except the “historian” of course. 😉

        • It’s a strange mix of stupidity, ignorance, dishonesty, and insanity. The lines have become so blurry that it’s impossible to say when they know they are lying and when they are just clueless.

      • They live in a fantasy world where they can make up anything they want and never get called on it. During these endless “debates”; how many times have you found yourself hoping, against all hope, that the “moderator” would calmly say “that’s not true”? It’s bad enough when the lickspittles from FAUX”News” blindly accept outrageous statements but the rest of the “librul media” is so paranoid about being labeled as “librul” that they utterly fail in their responsibilities.

    • From another article linked from that one:

      “I haven’t had a gaffe or something that I’ve done that has caused me to fall in the polls,” Bachmann said,

      That’s a safe statement, given that she has no room to fall any more than she already has. The woman is even more delusional than most of her opponents, and that is a tough bar to set.

      • Crazy Shelly is a pathological liar. And that might be her most redeeming feature. I am absolutely certain that, if she sat down with a qualified psychiatrist (not a “Christian councilor” like her hubby), she would be strapped down and medicated within minutes.

  15. Cain says we’ll know in a week whether or not he’s still a candidate.

    Um, I think we’ve known for a while, Herb. 🙄

    • Is that Cain-speak for “I’m going to get every penny out of this venture before I pull the plug” ?

    • Newt was astoundingly wrong on his facts about American energy and oil reserves last week in the debate – stunningly wrong. So far wrong he cannot be that stupid, He must have simply been lying.

      • I’m afraid that the modern “librul media” doesn’t have the integrity or the guts to call a liar “a liar”. They will call it “playing politics” and, even if a dissenting voice points out a whopper, the brave modern “journalist” will end the interview by saying “we’ll have to leave it at that” rather than simply saying “you’re wrong”.

  16. Did I hear that right?

    I was half listening to the local progressive radio station and I think I heard something really outrageous. The Minneapolis police are going to clear out the OWS protestors’ tents in order to, of all things, erect tents for the local holiday extravaganza. Ironic, if true, no?

  17. Bachmann: The US Embassy in Iran would be closed if I were President.

    It’s closed with Obama as President. It’s been closed since 1980.

  18. Batshit ‘thinks’ teaching only evolution in our schools is government censorship.

    BACHMANN: I think what you’re advocating for is censorship on the part of government. So the government would prohibit intelligent design from even the possibility of being taught in questioning the issueof evolution. And if you look at scientists there is not a unanimity of agreement on the origins of life. …

    Yeah, and I demand that public schools begin teaching Transfiguration, Potions, and Care of Magical Creatures!

    • unanimity of agreement

      Batshit’s unattainable bar, 100% compliance. If there is one dissenter out there then “ya never know.” This is why Congress is mired in gridlock and has a margin of error-type approval ratings.

      • And note the careful construction: “if you look at scientists”, which would include all the idiots teaching Intelligent Design as though it was a legitimate discipline. Just like when the Deniers trot out their lists of “scientists” who are anything but climatologists.

    • And, yet again, Crazy Shelly says we should leave things up to the students. Maybe that’s the problem with these freaks? Were they allowed to make up their own minds by teachers who were either stupid or incompetent? I hold my former teachers in very high regard and I can say, with absolute certainty, that every one of them would have laughed me out of the room if I had told them I was going to make up my own mind about simple, or not so simple, facts.

      • Hmmm. Perhaps that’s why so many fundies home “school” their children? Are they afraid that their brainwashed little darlings might actually be shamed into learning something if they were laughed out of the classroom?

    • This line caught my eye:

      “Phoenix police alleged protesters assaulted them with nail-filled sticks. That is basically police speak for when we were doing “crowd control” we were touched by the sticks holding up protesters’ signs.”

      Nail filled sticks.

    • Several organizations have been contributing pizzas and other necessities to the protestors. I’m thinking that list should include goggles and helmets. Football helmets, biking helmets, hard hats, etc. Of course, there’s a good chance that some communities would declare goggles and helmets to be in violation of some bullshit regulation and cause the police to be even more violent.

    • The watermelon carrier is slipping on a croquet ball – look under his l/foot.

      Jackie Gleason seems to be the ‘cook’.

      • On page 7, the “Beach Barbeque”, the woman at the waters edge looks like she’s holding a very large knife, perhaps to protect the chef should Godzilla come ashore…

        • How appropriate to be bbqing frogs legs — this being the anniversary of Mark Twain’s birth. He of the “Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County”.

  19. Stellar Scene: A Tour Of The Galaxy Through Hubble’s Lens

    The Hubble Heritage Project has a collection of dazzling photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, in what amounts to a “cosmic zoo.”

  20. Herb:

    “Here’s what I need you to do,” Cain told a crowd of supporters in Dayton, Ohio. “Stay informed, know the facts because stupid people are ruining America.”

    “They are,” he added. “We just have to out-vote them.”

    And Herman Cain is their King…. 🙄

    • Cain so wants to be relevant.
      It is pathetic how he tries to maintain distance between his sexual harassment and current events.
      Herb face the music – no sense in dragging it out.

    • Actually, it’s evil people who are ruining this country. They have been given the power to do so because fabulously wealthy people pay not quite as wealthy people to lie to middle class people so they will be afraid of poor people and vote against their own interests, reason, and conscience.

      The middle class people are the ones we sane people have to convert but it’s damned hard when Reichwing propaganda is so prevalent.

      • My brother-in-law is a devout GOPer. He has MS and the GOP is about to shelter him from the benefits he receives from Medicare. This he blames on Obama. He has convinced his spouse of the same thing. If Cain were to win the nomination, the two of them would vote for Cain because Obama is black.

        They have said as much!


  21. I’m totally out of sorts — my car has been stolen. Now waiting for the police.
    I’d gotten home about 5.30p.
    Went down about 10p – no car.

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