WILSON: Rules of elfdom
Once upon a time (because that is how fairy tales, fantasies and all good stories of make-believe begin), a small corner of the world was populated by elves. In accordance with elfin cultural (and general elfin disposition), most elves were good-natured, worked hard, and liked it best when things functioned the way they were supposed to function. Elves, much like everyone else, are happiest when turmoil, tumult and general hub-bub are at a minimum. Because of this, elves understood the need for rules — especially when the rules were designed to keep hub-bub under control.
Early on in the elfin tribal history, Sam, the leader of the smallest of the 14 elf clans, sent a message out to the leaders of all the other clans. The message said, “I sense hub-bub is afoot.” He then proposed a convention to determine a few rules to keep hub-bub under control. Sam was the leader of the Pol clan, a select group of elves with the innate ability to talk out of both sides of their mouths. With this skill, they were able to use lots of words to say nothing at all. Sam felt his clan was the best suited for making all the rules — and with a hub-bub crisis afoot, rules needed to be made, fast.
During a particularly hot, humid and generally uncomfortable summer, the leaders of each elf clan met at their capital city of Elfidelphia. Sweating profusely within the great hall, but keeping with the strong elfin regard for manners, the leaders graciously ignored the aroma and, politely, began their conversation about keeping hub-bub under strict control.
“Are we sure hub-bub is afoot?” asked Virginia, a delegate from one of the southern clans.
“Absolutely!” answered Sam. “Hub-bub could impact all of us, if we don’t get ahead of this scourge. Left unchecked, hub-bub could end our way of life.”
“How do we know hub-bub is afoot?” asked Vernon, the leader of one of the northern clans.
“Experts have said so,” Sam answered. Without expert opinions, each clan leader would have to come up with their own opinion about everything. Coming up with one’s own opinion is a huge responsibility, requiring a lot of effort, and interferes with important recreational endeavors.
“What kind of experts?” asked Georgia, a representative from another southern clan.
“Real experts,” answered Sam. “And the opinions of real experts aren’t just opinions … they are real opinions.” Everyone felt better when agreeing with the real opinion of a real expert — it was the quickest, easiest and least hub-bubish path to recreational endeavors (Elves like recreational endeavors even more than they dislike hub-bub).
Since no experts were in attendance to speak against the probability of an imminent attack of hub-bubbery, all of the delegates, from all of the clans, agreed with all of the real opinions, from all of the real experts, about how bad things were going to get if hub-bub was indeed afoot.
“I move we outlaw all acts of hub-bub,” motioned the leader of the most northern clan.
Before the delegate from a midwestern clan could rise to second the motion, Sam jumped up and began to speak.
“Please forgive me,” Sam began by apologizing for having bad manners — but, not for having interrupted. “We can’t just pass a rule that outlaws hub-bub. It is much more complicated than that. We need to define acts of hub-bub, set the penalties, create a group to go around making sure hub-bub isn’t happening, appoint a hub-bub magistrate, build a building complex to keep all the hub-bub paperwork.”
“That sounds like a whole bunch of work,” whined someone from someplace within the other 13 clans.
“That is going to cut into a whole bunch of recreational endeavors,” moaned another member.
At that point, Sam offered the services of the Pol clan to all of elfdom. His clan would shoulder the enormous responsibilities of making all the hub-bub rules, enforce them, determine penalties and handle all the paperwork. The delegates from the other 13 clans would not have to bother with forming their own opinions and all of their clan members would be free to enjoy recreational endeavors.
A chorus of, “Alrighty! Sure. We can do that. What could possibly go wrong?” rang out.
That is how a small group of Pols came to have control over all of the recreational endeavors of the citizens of elfdom.
I think my high school geometry teacher told me that some 58 years ago. Some truths are eternal. I am... read more