Once upon a time, there was a small kingdom being menaced by its more powerful neighbor. The armies of the greater kingdom were said to be so vast they stretched from one side of the horizon to the other, and where they marched, rivers were drained dry by their thirst. All who they conquered they enslaved, and the king of the smaller kingdom feared for his ponies.
In his desperation, he called upon all the unicorn sages of his realm for a solution, and in their own desperation and in their loyalty to him, they drew from the tomes of forbidden lore that they had so long kept safe from the world. In the king’s throne room, they carved a circle of stone and filled the circle with oil and set it alight. Into the circle of flames they chanted to call upon one whose soul was fire, cruelest of spirits, the princess of all djinn, whose name turned the lungs of mortals who spoke it to ash.
One by one, the sages spoke her name, and each burned from the inside out, until the last sage fell, and the king was alone in his throne room. Long he waited there, until the sun set and fires died down and all was darkness. It was only then, in the faintest starlight, that he saw something dread and terrible take shape in the circle. He quavered with fear and could not speak, and though the sages had warned him he would face the djinn alone, he called for his servants.
The servants came when they were called, bearing torches to cast back the darkness. But when light returned to the room, the terrible shape was gone. Instead, a mare stood in the circle. She was of plain appearance and manner, and though surrounded by the king’s resplendent hall, she dressed herself only in the saddle cloth of an ironmonger, a single iron earring her only finery. And she waited for the king to speak.
‘Thou art the princess of all djinn?’ the king asked, and the mare said that it was so. ‘Why do you clothe yourself thus?’
‘For my soul is fire, O mortal king, and hast thou seen fire conjure steel from the ether? Nay. Though fire may turn iron to steel, the iron is consumed for the bargain, never to return. Such is my nature, and the nature of the wishes I may grant. Ask of me that a mare should love thee, and she will adore thee with devotion and loyalty, but closed is the path of the mare thou mightest otherwise have wed. Ask of me strength, and all the world shall be borne upon thy back, but hidden are the roads a weaker stallion might have walked.’
The king did not know what to make of this, and so spoke: ‘I wish for victory in the war.’
The princess of djinn bowed her head before him and said that it could be done. Yet before she called upon her powers, she spoke once more: ‘Art thou sure,’ she asked, ‘thou wouldst not rather have peace instead?’
The king said that he did not think such a thing was possible, for it was well known that his enemies’ cruelty was exceeded only by their greed.
‘It is for this fault that peace is possible,’ the djinn said, ‘for it is known that to enslave a city, one must have three ponies for every ten one seeks to enslave, and that three of the ponies taken will die in the process, and two more will be pegasi, and escape, and harass the countryside. Slavery devours silver like rust devours iron, and a greedy pony does not take at great cost what he may have cheaply. Pledge to thy betters two-hundred-thousand taels of silver a year for thy ponies’ freedom, and by my power, I foresee they will honor their word.’
The king’s temper rose. ‘Such a tax would impoverish the realm to the last serf!’
‘This is so,’ said the djinn, ‘but it can be done. And so peace can be thine.’
The king refused, and so the djinn said, ‘There are other roads by which thou mightest gain peace.’ And the king demanded to hear them.
‘Thou mightest bend thine knees, as thy magic hath compelled me to bend mine,’ the djinn said, ‘swear thy kingdom and thine armies to thy better’s cause, and marry thy daughter to their grandson, and I foresee they will rule thine ponies as honorable vassals, and protect them from predation.’
The king’s temper flared brighter, and a dark mood surrounded him. ‘Such surrender would see my ponies vassals of an empire. We would never again be free.’
‘This is so,’ said the djinn, ‘but it can be done. And so peace can be thine.’
‘I do not want peace,’ said the king. ‘I wish, as I have wished, for victory in the war.’
‘Then victory shall be thine,’ the djinn said. ‘Thy wish is granted.’
And so the djinn cursed the king, and his brothers, and his vassals, and every stallion in his realm, that if they were not victorious in the war, their sisters and their wives and their daughters would burn from the inside out, as the sages had burned. And every stallion in the realm knew they were so cursed, and knew what would befall them if victory was not theirs.
It is said in the wise writings of sages that when soldiers abandon their cookpots, slaughter their slaves, and burn the provisions they cannot carry for they know they shall never again need them, that an army is prepared to fight to the death. And when the invading army appeared on the horizon, the soldiers of the weaker kingdom did as such, and painted their faces with the blood of cowards.
Battle was joined, and each stallion fought like a pony possessed. No threat nor wound could deter them, and with each defender that fell, the invaders gained no more profit than a howl of rage that chilled the bones of the living. The attackers’ ranks faltered, and in time broke, and the battle turned. Those who had thought to conquer found themselves sheep set upon by starving wolves, and not one survived.
And yet, all was not done, for the stallions of the weaker kingdom were given to doubt. The army was destroyed, but could the foe not raise another? What was victory, with all that was precious on the line? And the madness did not abate, but grew into a foul beast of smoke and flame, more dread than any dragon, and upon the stronger kingdom marched the army. Each city in turn was struck, and in each, the entire population was put to slaughter, to the last filly and colt.
And thus in time it came to pass that the king stood in what was once the capital of his foe. The whole of the city burned, and the sky was naught but smoke and flame. Monsters that were once ponies shrieked and snarled around him, each a rabid dog straining at its chain. Up to his ankles ran rivers of blood.
‘Am I dead?’ he asked. ‘Is this the underworld?’ And the princess of all djinn appeared by his side, and told him that he yet lived.
‘No pony will ever forget your wickedness,’ he told her, tears streaming from his eyes as a young filly pulled from its mother. ‘I see your true heart, monster. Let a thousand years pass, and all of Saddle Arabia will tell tales of the evil of the djinn. Never again will you be summoned.’
‘Ponies may tell what tales they will,’ the djinn said, her voice mocking him with every word, ‘but thou knowest the truth, O mortal king. This was thy wish.’
Bile rose in the king’s throat. ‘I did not want this.’
But the princess of all djinn only sneered. ‘Nor do farmers want to till their fields, but we cannot eat their wants in lieu of grain. I have offered thee no deception, oh mortal king. Thou wast warned at the start there would be a price, for I cannot conjure steel, nor victory, nor peace from the ether. Thou stoodst before my altar, wrapped in my grace, and three times I sought to turn thee from this path. Freedom was thine for silver, for pride, for your ponies’ daughters, and three times thou refusedest me, and now the daughters of a great nation are all slain, and their brothers beside them.’
Rage rose in the king’s eyes. ‘Do not presume to tell me my own soul, monster.’
‘Then wish of me once again,’ said the djinn, ‘and by my power, I shall turn back the hands of time. Thou shalt be the starving king of an impoverished nation. Or perhaps a servant, watching thy daughter bear thy conquerors’ children. Or perhaps thy sages shall find nothing of me in their books, and we shall never meet, and thy kingdom will be enslaved, and thou wilt die in thy throne room, and all this will be undone. Wish of me, and it shall be so.’
The king looked at the fire and blood around him and said nothing.
‘Hear me, O mortal king, and know my words to be true. That while thou mayest have wanted to avert this, thou didst not want it enough. All is fire, and fire consumes, and to that hunger must one be sacrificed that another may be warmed. This is life, and the warmth that I put in the blood of the living, and the choices that make them alive. Thou hast made thy choice, and by thy choice, thou livest, with thy silver, and thy pride, and thy daughter. May they bring thee joy.’
The princess of all djinn then vanished, and the king did not see her again.
I am resolved that something good must come of all this. It is up to us to make it such. Much passion has (rightfully) been stirred up by the election's shocking result. But passion is only useful inasmuch as it inspires action.
The lure of political power is the whisper "if you controlled the Presidency, you could fix the whole country!" But change imposed from the top down has its limits. Trump's election is at least partly a reaction against liberals imposing their worldview through political force. Now the wellspring of political force has run dry. Are we done? The hell we are.
We're knee-deep in emotional gasoline; it's time to start pumping it into some engines.
My friends, if you are feeling at a loss as to what to do in the wake of an election result that has many of us reeling, Jeanne Devon (founding editor of the blog The Mudflats, http://www.themudflats.net/) has some wonderful suggestions. I agree with every one of them. The following text is hers; the text at the link is identical. I've added only the clarifying information in brackets.
So, I've been thinking, and I've made a list. Anytime you suffer a political shock to the system, you go through an emotional process. You vent, you rail, you weep and rend garments, yell at clouds, throw chairs... but eventually the raw emotion dissipates, and at that point you have a choice. You can either whine and complain and feel sorry for yourself, or you can dust off, suit up, and get ready to work hard for the world you want.
If you're lost and wondering what to do, here are some things that have been bouncing around in my head. Not everyone is ready yet. So don't feel like you have to defend the fact that you're not, or explain to me why you are feeling angry and intolerant for legitimate reasons. I get it. I'm not here to tell you what to do. I'm mostly reminding myself that things can be done.
1) The most obvious, and least done thing. Get involved in as many real world ways as you can. Run for office, convince good people to run for office, work for a candidate or a cause you believe in, be a poll watcher, find your people, organize, wake up. Seriously. YOU.
2) Stay informed. Read your local newspapers. Watch C-Span or Gavel 2 Gavel [her, and my, state version of C-Span] as it happens. You don't know what to ask for or what can be accomplished if you don't know how the system works.
3)Don't follow unreliable news sources, and don't share them without caveat. You can still read opinion pieces, but recognize them for what they are and don't make them the bulk of your diet. Correct people who believe bullshit by providing accurate information.
4) Educate yourself. Don't rely on your Facebook news feed or Twitter or a talking head to explain it all to you. Once you understand a topic, you can help others do the same. You don't have to have an opinion on everything. You are a more effective advocate if you understand a few things deeply than if you just react to many things you don't fully understand.
5) Be kind. Learn to disagree without hating each other.
6) Treat individuals as people. Don't mass unfriend people who didn't vote the way you did. They are not all the same. Recognize that not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or misogynist even though racists and misogynists likely voted for Donald Trump. Treat people on their individual merit or lack thereof. The worst thing you can do is live in a bubble.
7) Work to change leadership in the DNC. Tell them you won't give them a dime until they clean up their act, and encourage others to do the same. Whether you supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, you were played, and disrespected. Keith Ellison is running for Chair. I suggest you support him however you can. And don't be blind to skulduggery on your own side. Be angry about it and don't tolerate or support it with your silence. Make them prove to you how they have changed and why they again deserve your support.
8) Work to abolish the electoral college if you are unhappy with it. Learn about its history, teach others what you learn, and create a movement for change.
9) Use your compassion to understand the people that progressives are supposedly working to help. We have lost middle America. We support farmers, and lower income people, and unions, and American made products, and workers in theory, yet we have a blind spot for those actual people in our heartland. Maybe most of them vote red because they don't feel acknowledged on their issues. Work hard to lift these people UP even if you don't agree with their politics. If you do your job right, eventually they may agree with yours.
10) VOTE. Get everyone you know to vote. Be obnoxious about it. Drag people to the polls. Become a registrar. Don't let them slide. We need more than half the people to be engaged in the democratic process - especially during midterms and on a local level.
11) Protest bad things. It's your First Amendment right. But it is NOT your right to be abusive, destructive, or violent. Peaceful assembly. Use it, don't abuse it.
12) Lead by example. Stop letting people debase the process and the conversation. Go high. Make those who disagree with you WANT to listen to you. Make your objective in a conversation be to have the other person say "I see your point," not block you on Facebook.
13) Stop letting people divide you. The comfort and euphoria of the echo chamber can lead you down dangerous paths. Many media sources and organizations rely on that, feed off your emotions and are less concerned with accuracy and being honest brokers than we would like them to be. Everyone has an agenda.
14) Corporate power, big banks and their influence on government is your enemy, not red shirts or blue shirts, or third party candidates. Criticize Republicans all you like, but until you realize that the Democratic Party and its organization (for the most part) are just as guilty, you are preventing real progress and change. Those entities are thrilled you're fighting your neighbor over social issues because you're not paying attention to them.
15) If you are worried about those who are fearful for their own safety, wear a safety pin! I like this new thing. That's the sign that ANYone can sit next to you on a bus without being harassed for their race, their gender, their religion, their clothing, or their sexual orientation. They can come to you for support in a scary situation, or rely on you to call for help. It may just make someone who is feeling marginalized feel cared about instead. There are lots of defenders out there. Tell the world you are one of them. The melting pot is what America is all about.
16) Be a good citizen. We've agreed to the rules even if we don't like the outcome. Be part of the peaceful transition of power. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but he IS your President. Please disagree fully with bad policy and behavior. But respect the process. It will self-correct. Think of what you feared the other side would do if Clinton won the election. Think about how awful some people were when Barack Obama was elected. Don't be those people.
17) Support the issues you believe in, even if you hate the messenger. I've been opposing the TPP for a long time. So has Bernie Sanders. So does Donald Trump. I know. I get it. It's hard to wrap your mind around, but don't throw the policies we've been fighting for under the bus just because someone you dislike agrees with you. I hope very much that Trump is successful in tackling the issues he's right on, and there are a few.
18) Don't be smug. If you know more than someone else, or are more educated than they are about something, teach them. Share with them. And do it in a way that allows them to preserve their dignity. Don't call them a dumbass, or a moron. Help them.
19) And finally... here's a tough one for some. If you see some post or article that shows an awful event, a horrible act, a cruel or abusive incident, don't believe that all people are this way. Don't allow the world to make you hard or cynical. The internet tends to favor the outrageous, scandalous, WORST examples of humanity. This is why Donald Trump got so much air time. This is why "if it bleeds, it leads" in the newspaper. Outrage gets clicks. Clicks make money. I'm not saying don't acknowledge the worst of humanity is out there, but just know that most people are good, and a few really awful ones can make that hard to remember. Don't lose faith. Be the change.
Remember that the Dalai Lama said that the Chinese were his greatest teachers. If he can forgive, learn, and become stronger and smarter, so can we.
On we go. <3
In my free time, I read books, play games, and make cool stuff on my computer.
- Rocky Mountain College of Art and DesignGraphic Design, 2010 - 2013
- Community College of the Air ForceComputer Information Systems, 2006 - 2010
- My Father's WorldDesigner & Web Developer, 2014 - present
- US Air ForceSenior Airman, 2006 - 2010Computer accountability, maintenance, and repair
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