“Pretty much.” I dread questioning like this since I know he is practicing what he calls ‘The Dead Greek’ method of debate. He even appeared as Socrates, complete with robe and beard.
“And these feelings are new or old—this obsession with owning the land?”
“Old by our standards,” I said. “It goes back nearly 3,000 years.”
“Odd,” he said. We were taking a break from the spring rains to walk in the woods of our farm. ”So the land must be very productive.”
“Not really,” I said. “It is arid and prone to be rocky.”
“Oh,” he said. “So its value lies in its beauty?”
“So your species finds it worth fighting over for what reason?”
I thought. “Some of it does have oil.”
“And that was useful for what, say 3,000 years ago?”
I stopped and pretended to admire a young white oak sapling.
He continued. “Would you say this obsession is rational or irrational?”
“It seems,” I said, “that the people involved, the current inhabitants, believe they were given the promise of ownership some time back.”
“Ah,” he said, picking up a piece of dried cow manure and examining it. As if it provided some clue, he turned to me. “A promise from some legal entity that controls ownership records I suppose?”
“No? Who made this promise?”
“Their god, so their written records say.”
“Their god is a real estate agent?”
I ignored him.
“Tell me,” he said. “Why, being half way around the world, has your country become so mired in this ownership dispute?” He tossed the cow manure toward me. I let it fall to the ground.
“It’s complicated,” I said.
“Is it of such importance that the future of your country depends upon it?”
“Some think so.”
“Ah,” he said. “The land contains a valuable resource vital to your way of life?”
“Uh,” I said, “not exactly. Actually the other side has the most valuable resource.”
“And that is?”
“Remember the oil I mentioned?”
“Yes, that resource that had no value?”
“It has value now,” I said.
We walked in silence. He stroked his chin after a while and stopped, facing me. “There is something you are not telling me.”
I sighed. I knew this would make the electrodes in his Amalgamated Scientific Synthesizer spark. “Religion is involved,” I said.
Sure enough, the smell of wires burning told me that his ASS was getting warm.
“Religion?” was all that he could manage.
“The current inhabitants of the land are culturally and spiritually connected to an ancient religion that requires, so they say, that they inhabit the area.”
“Even if inhabiting it threatens another world war?”
“Perhaps.” The smell of electrodes frying was stronger.
“So the inhabitants of your country support them because they share the same what you call religion?”
“No, only a small portion do.”
“And the rest?”
“Mostly neutral except for politicians and a group of highly energized zealots who would support the current inhabitants at any cost.”
“For what your species calls love and sympathy?” he said.
“Not exactly.” I heard the sound of sparking.
“They admire the inhabitants and their brethren in your country?”
“Nope,” a faint flume of blue smoke rose from beneath his robe. “During most of modern history they have hated and despised the culture and its people, even, until recently, depriving them of some civil rights.” More sparking.
“They want to assure their survival out of a new sense of justice?”
“Hardly. If you must know …,” I began.
“Oh, I must,” he said, interrupting me.
“Truth is, this band of fanatics in our country plans to destroy all the current inhabitants of that troubled land of which we speak on what they believe is some pre-ordained date in the future.”
I had to step away to avoid the smell of burning rubber.
“So your, uh …"
|Doesn't ownership of land on a planet that is |
five billion years old seem a bit strange? - C.W.
"Evangelicals,” I said.
“Whatever you call them,” he said. “They need to keep the currently chosen inhabitants alive until it is the proper time to kill them?”
“More or less.”
“For what reward?”
“Promises,” I said.
“Promises? From whom?”
“From their god. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?” I said.
“My child,” he said, “after all this time, nothing on your planet seems strange to me anymore. Now if you will allow me to take a break, my ASS needs some relief.”
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