The Return (A Parable)

David Pfau
There was a man who went on a long journey away from his home. He remarried and planted roots in this new place. As happens with long unattended properties, other people began to make use of his land figuring that he would not object.

After many years passed the man packed up all that he had and returned to his old homestead. He observed that his neighbors had been making use of his property during his absence and that they did not even remember him as lord of that land or as a neighbor. They continued their use of his land.

The man built a fence to keep them out. This worked, but his neighbors were not pleased to say the least.

A neighborhood leader began to threaten the man with bodily harm. The man called the police, but they were not empowered to arrest the neighborhood leader because assault was not against the law. Battery was against the law, the police told him, so call us after he actually tries to kill you. The police also also told the man that he could not fire his gun at anyone. Because to fire first would be murder and to fire second would be vigilantism. The man began to turn his homestead into a fortress with all manner of rifles and shotguns anyway.

As the days and weeks passed, the neighborhood leader demonized the man and encouraged those he had sway over to buy more weapons. He continued to threaten the man, telling him that he had no right to live there. And that he would surely die.

The man wondered how much time he had left before the neighborhood leader would try to kill him. He also wondered if the neighborhood leader was just using him as a means of rallying the neighborhood so that he could keep his position as leader. If that was the case, he wondered, the neighbors might elect someone else that would really act upon all of those daily death threats.

After watching a television program on medieval weaponry, the neighborhood leader began bringing home those things necessary to build a siege catapult. The man watched the activity from between the boards of his fence. He had seen the same television program. He saw the boulders that might be lawn decorations. He saw the gasoline cans that might be for the lawn mower. But he knew that the neighborhood leader kept telling him every day that he was going to kill him. The man told the stores to stop selling materials to his neighbors and their leader. This infuriated the neighbors even further and solidified the leader's grip on power as the few neighbors speaking sensibly were drummed out of the ranks. The man now waits and thinks.

In these United States a person will be arrested if he threatens another with bodily harm and is capable of carrying out the threat. What do you do when it is the leader of a nation who is doing the threatening and exhorting his citizens to hate and destroy another nation and its citizens?

The acrimony between the capitalist nations and the communist nations pales in comparison to that between nations where a religious aspect dominates.

Logic tells me that the action of hateful rhetoric must eventually result in hateful reaction. If leader X is not a true believer in his own rhetoric he will be overthrown by someone who was formed by it and will live it and act it out.

If the rhetoric is not reversed we will have war. War being the health of the state, according to Randolph Bourne, we will find many national leaders eager to participate on a remote control basis.

The first murder was a fratricide. I suppose the last murder may be one as well.

There was a man who went on a long journey away from his home. He remarried and planted roots in this new place. As happens with long unattended properties, other people began to make use of his land figuring that he would not object.

After many years passed the man packed up all that he had and returned to his old homestead. He observed that his neighbors had been making use of his property during his absence and that they did not even remember him as lord of that land or as a neighbor. They continued their use of his land.

The man built a fence to keep them out. This worked, but his neighbors were not pleased to say the least.

A neighborhood leader began to threaten the man with bodily harm. The man called the police, but they were not empowered to arrest the neighborhood leader because assault was not against the law. Battery was against the law, the police told him, so call us after he actually tries to kill you. The police also also told the man that he could not fire his gun at anyone. Because to fire first would be murder and to fire second would be vigilantism. The man began to turn his homestead into a fortress with all manner of rifles and shotguns anyway.

As the days and weeks passed, the neighborhood leader demonized the man and encouraged those he had sway over to buy more weapons. He continued to threaten the man, telling him that he had no right to live there. And that he would surely die.

The man wondered how much time he had left before the neighborhood leader would try to kill him. He also wondered if the neighborhood leader was just using him as a means of rallying the neighborhood so that he could keep his position as leader. If that was the case, he wondered, the neighbors might elect someone else that would really act upon all of those daily death threats.

After watching a television program on medieval weaponry, the neighborhood leader began bringing home those things necessary to build a siege catapult. The man watched the activity from between the boards of his fence. He had seen the same television program. He saw the boulders that might be lawn decorations. He saw the gasoline cans that might be for the lawn mower. But he knew that the neighborhood leader kept telling him every day that he was going to kill him. The man told the stores to stop selling materials to his neighbors and their leader. This infuriated the neighbors even further and solidified the leader's grip on power as the few neighbors speaking sensibly were drummed out of the ranks. The man now waits and thinks.

In these United States a person will be arrested if he threatens another with bodily harm and is capable of carrying out the threat. What do you do when it is the leader of a nation who is doing the threatening and exhorting his citizens to hate and destroy another nation and its citizens?

The acrimony between the capitalist nations and the communist nations pales in comparison to that between nations where a religious aspect dominates.

Logic tells me that the action of hateful rhetoric must eventually result in hateful reaction. If leader X is not a true believer in his own rhetoric he will be overthrown by someone who was formed by it and will live it and act it out.

If the rhetoric is not reversed we will have war. War being the health of the state, according to Randolph Bourne, we will find many national leaders eager to participate on a remote control basis.

The first murder was a fratricide. I suppose the last murder may be one as well.