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The Great Pall and its Fall: A Not-So-Grim Tale

September 14, 2004
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

Once upon a time, seemingly out of nowhere, a Great Pall settled over the world. Marauding religious fanatics, each convinced their god was the one true deity, tried to force their rule on their citizens and neighbors. Scientific thinking and logic were regarded with suspicion. Greed held sway, and many were poor or forced to work so hard just to survive that they had little time or energy for anything more, certainly not for resistance to their lot.

It seemed as if the world had receded into tribalism, perpetual warfare, and religious frenzy.

It wasn't clear from whence the Great Pall had come. Did it originate in the East, born out of strains of fundamentalist purity? Or did it come from the West, where rulers sought to rule by divine right of cash and more advanced weaponry?

Or did it arise out of the seeming chaos and cruelty of the world, with many wanting to return to a time of strict order and precision in order to assuage their fears? Or was it the universal Shadow that needs every so often to emerge into the public mind, to remind folks of their dark sides and what can happen when those forces and aspects are not dealt with?

Whatever the origins, the situation was dark and depressing, and the ruling cliques seemed to like it that way. The Marauders remained in power by constantly frightening their fellow citizens with how awful and bestial their enemies were - and with the wrong god, too.

THE DANCE OF THE TARANTULAS

Those who tried to find alternative ways out of the morass were regarded with great suspicion and fear. These idealists, from various religions and tribes, came to be known as Lantern-Bearers or Lanternists; they were more interested in bringing light than in enforcing darkness, which focus fingered them as potential troublemakers.

In country after country, the Marauders held sway. Former liberties were curtailed, under the guise of protecting the citizenry from the Enemies. Most people went along, worried for their families that the enemies - and many of the Lanternists also were regarded as Enemies - might come and harm them. (Those Enemies might indeed harm them; the Marauders on all sides almost seemed to welcome those attacks - as long as they didn't go too far - since they provided the Marauders with more fear-ammunition with which to exercise their rule.)

The Marauders, being in control, were able to make themselves and their closest friends rich, in money or in power. The ordinary people had to struggle just to make ends meet. The Marauders talked about helping the people out, but doing so would "have to wait" until the enemies were conquered.

In short, the world seemed locked into a permanent state of warfare and greed, which appeared to suit the Marauders just fine, no matter what side they were on, no matter what gods they prayed to, since their power remained constant.

In sum, each enemy needed the other, as if they were tarantulas intertwined in a grotesque political/military dance, never striking the fatal blow lest their reason for being disappear.

THE LANTERNISTS MAKE THEIR MOVE

All around the world, more Lanternists sprang up, wondering why they had to accept this Great Pall, this grim status quo. They realized they were in the minority, that most of their fellow tribesmen had fallen sway to the ideas and propaganda of the Marauding leaders. But these few idealists wanted to do something anyway, to try to alter the situation in which all found themselves.

They began meeting and talking with their neighbors, passing information from community to community, getting together with the like-minded. And slowly, a movement began to form. Some of the resisters continued to call themselves Lanternists; others called themselves Pendulum Soldiers, because of their desire to reverse the horrific momentum of the Marauders.

Whatever they were known as, they found that whenever they began to be effective, the Marauders would find them and stomp them out, divide and scatter them and their idealistic energies. The Great Pall settled in even deeper, and there was much depression and anxiety in the various lands.

THE FORBIDDEN SONG OF LIGHT

Some of the Laternist elders recalled from their mythology the ancient Song of Light (now banned everywhere), which had been invoked at times of great stress. The myth told them that children represent hope and light, and therefore they were the only ones able to rekindle the flame of truth and compassion and eventually force the Great Pall to retreat.

The elders searched far and wide for courageous, creative youngsters, those relatively free from the enchantment that enthralled so many children - the hypnotic messages and images that flooded so powerfully into their lives each day and evening.

These children were brought before the elders nightly, who taught them the songs and poems of power - especially the charismatic influence of the Song of Light - and schooled them in the truth of their people's history, and what life could be like devoid of the Great Pall.

These young men and women located others like them around the world, and began sharing the Song of Light with them, helping break the enchantment of the Maruauders' images. Little by little, the idea spread that perhaps the peoples in all of the countries could unite in their desire to bring light and progress to their peoples, and shake off the corrupt, brutal, dark rule by the Marauders.

The Marauder leaders eventually heard of the childrens' plans, but dismissed their importance. After all, these were mere kids, not to be taken seriously.

But slowly and then more quickly, the children's movement grew - and was joined in by many young grownups and many other adults as well.

THE NIGHT OF THE LIGHTENING

After many years of preparation and training, the children chose one night for The Lightening.

The night they chose was moonless, to enhance the dramatic power of their effect.

They met with their elders, received their blessing and good wishes, and held their lanterns open while the flame was transferred to them.

The young people quietly walked into town after town, village after village, city after city, bravely singing the Song of Light. So many lines of young people carrying lanterns in the dark had the effect of creating a kind of artificial dawn. Many citizens threw open their windows to see what was happening.

When they heard the forbidden Song of Light, and saw that the children were not afraid of the Marauders, smiles lit up their faces. Many grabbed torches and lanterns and joined the growing line, humming and singing along.

It is said that so many people were involved in these snaking lines of light that the world seemed aglow from the inside.

More and more ordinary citizens, tired of the Great Pall in their lives - and of the constant fear in which they lived - joined the swelling crowds. Hundreds become thousands became millions. The chorus singing the Song of Light grew so large and so loud that the walls of the Marauders' homes and offices began to vibrate.

The Marauders, all over the world, looked out and were terrified at what they saw. They ordered their armies to vanquish these light-carriers and singers - and there were some slaughters and mass arrests. But more and more of the armed soldiers and police threw down their weapons and joined the chorus.

It soon became apparent to the Marauders that the force of life was too strong. It was time for them to go.

Some of the worst of the Marauders were arrested and tried for their crimes. But most were permitted to leave, or simply melted into the dark of the night. As they departed, many of them proclaimed "we'll be back, someday!"

But the children and their supporters were not afraid. They knew that, if they stayed alert and dedicated to the power of the light - and if they took steps to correct situations that gave the Marauders entryway into their lives - the Great Pall would be lifted and they and their friends and families could live lives of great peace and harmony. And would be able to deal more bravely and intelligently with any Marauders who attempted to return to power.

And it all came to pass...

*Acknowledgement: great inspiration for this metaphorical tale was derived from storyteller Jim Thurston who, along with shaman Tom Baker, years ago devised a community ritual in San Francisco that included some elements included here.

Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright and Ph.D. in government, has taught at various universities, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers. He is a contributing author to the Big Bush Lies book.

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