By Ray Horsley
In a different time, place, and dimension there was once a land of many tribes. Each one had a chief, many elders, and a large number of native peoples who were born to the tribe.
These tribal leaders and their advisors had tremendous control over their people. Special permission had to be granted just to travel, even to work, and none were allowed to pray to the god of their choice. This caused much internal conflict among the people who were not pleased with this amount of control over their lives. Exasperating matters, the chiefs and elders craved even more control. The larger tribes often tried to take control of the smaller ones. So for many generations this land of tribes experienced conflict within each tribe as well as wars between the different tribes. Many sacrifices were made and tremendous resources were diverted to creating lethal weapons. Eventually their weapons became too destructive so an agreement was reached which stopped such warfare.
Conflict within the tribes was also reduced as people fought for and won the right to freely roam where they pleased, work as they needed, and pray to the god of their choice. Laws were even put in place to guarantee these rights. However, cravings among the tribal leaders to take back control never really disappeared.
Each tribe had different customs, cuisine, and they even spoke different languages. But there came a time when they stumbled upon a new way of communicating. It was discovered that a certain breed of parrots could carry messages very far and incredibly fast between any of the tribes. These were very smart birds and they enjoyed this new, ever-growing attention. The birds learned that the more sensational the message, the more attention it gained. Access to these birds and their information was soon universal.
Things changed quickly as the flocks multiplied in great numbers. Soon the origin of their messages was unknown. The parrots were no longer just messengers. They began to collectively assume a new type of leadership role themselves. Laws and rights were now ignored as each individual tribe conformed to the general consensus delivered by the parrots. One would think that a bunch of birds usurping the authority of the tribal leaders would upset them. After all, it was this kind of control they had fought so many wars against. But it did not. As it turned out, the interests of both the parrots and the tribal leaders were aligned nearly perfectly.
One day a chain of events began to unfold which pleased the tribal leaders immensely. The parrots had become obsessed with an illness, although it was nothing new. Various forms of it had seasonally come and gone for years. Of the many causes of death throughout the land, people had died from this, too, especially those already at the end of life. But overall it wasn’t that bad. Only a tiny percentage of those exposed to it died from it. In fact, the death rate from galloping fast on horses, a major problem for all age groups of all tribes during every season, was much higher. But the parrots knew that including this kind of information would only diminish the sensationalism of their message, so it was omitted. Thus, their messages became intensely popular.
The parrots loved it, and so did the tribal leaders to whom the now panicked public turned for answers. Sensationalism turned into alarmism as dire predictions were made. Estimates of those ill were exaggerated as those already sick who died “with” the illness were claimed to have died “because of it”. Anyone who coughed or sneezed was added to the count. It was an incredible circle. Attention craving parrots fed a sensation-craving people who turned to their control craving leaders for action. And action was what they received.
It was inevitable that the tribal leaders would no longer allow the native peoples to roam where they pleased, work as they needed, or pray to the god of their choice. One would think the people would be upset to be stripped of their most basic rights. After all, this was what they had fought so many wars over. But they were not. As it turned out, the native peoples were quite happy to have these rights taken away. So in the end everybody was happy, I think.