The Problems with Self-Reliance

The lengths one will go to win an argument!

I have been listening to G’Lan rail on about self-reliance while drinking taree and playing fo’lac for years.  We have argued the finer points several times.  I appreciate his faith in self-reliance even as I disagree with him heartily.

Last week he complained that even his most ardent acolytes do not understand him.  He sincerely believes without self-reliance we Narn are doomed.  

After all these years, I believe most Narn have learned that the central government of the past is gone.  There are many things we can no longer rely on the larger structure to provide. Order broke down and is being built back up in a different pattern.  A pattern which he worked and designed as much as I have.  His urges toward self-reliance now ring hollow on a Narn people who feel they have sacrificed community enough in the name of self –reliance.

Our people naturally build communities.  That is why Unification made sense for our people so many years ago.  To tell them that they have no one they can rely on but themselves is a foreign idea.

His complaints gave me an idea.

So after I allowed him to win and he was sitting back well fed, well drunk and well satisfied with his victory I suggested we move to the sunroom.

“G’Quan, it is night. Why would we go to the sunroom?”

“Because I poisoned your drink and I do not wish you to die.” I responded.  Yes, Dear reader, I had poisoned his drink.  It is surprising how easy it is to obtain poisons when one is interested and has a Guild of Assassins.

In the sunroom I had prepared a long jhawa box.  As he looked upon me with a stricken look of betrayal I announced the puzzle.

“G’Lan, in this box I have two items that will interest you.  One is the answer to your dilemma with your students.  The other is much more pressing.  It is the antidote to the poison.”

G’Lan rushed to the box and started trying to open it.  His claws scrabbled at the opening.  He banged it against the wall.  Being jhawa wood, the wall gave more than the box.  His eyes were wide with fear.

As if I had momentarily forgotten, I handed him a key, “This fits one of the locks.”  I assured him.

G’Lan quickly found the lock to which his key fit and turned it.  The box remained steadfastly tightly closed.  With his breath sobbing in his throat he looked at me. He was obviously starting to feel the effects of the poison. He then discovered the other lock and tried to unlock it.  When he turned the key he heard the other lock resolutely move to the locked position. He sat heavily in his chair and looked at the night sky as if he were saying his goodbyes to the universe.

“Why?” he begged, tears flowing down his face.

Wordlessly I came over and showed him the dilemma.  The box was chosen for its length.  There is only one way to open this particular box.  As he wept I revealed the other key and unlocked the other side.

As he greedily drank the antidote he looked at me.  The horror of his near death and my betrayal still in his every movement.  “Why, my friend?  Why did you do this?”

I held up two fingers and handed him the box. “Now you know the flaw in your philosophy, Dear G’Lan, in your bones.  Hopefully this will help you the next time you talk to your students.” Impulsively I kissed the old Narn on the forehead before I left him to his new insight.

I paused at the door with a smile on my face.  He won at fo’lac that night, but I had won the argument. I may have to be careful with my drinks for a few weeks, but I think that he understands now the failure of his philosophy.