Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Parable

Imagine if you will a family living in a neighborhood torn by violence. The father decides to hire a security guard to protect his house and his family. As the days go by the security guard successfully defends the family from a variety of attacks.

Time goes by and the family becomes comfortable and happy in their house, safe from the attacks of roving gangs. As they become more comfortable they start watching the actions of the security guard from time to time. They notice that sometimes he has to use force to repulse the gangs. Sometimes an attacker will be hurt or even killed. This begins to trouble the family. They express their concerns to the security guard. "Can't you be less violent? Is it really necessary to hurt or kill these attackers?" they say. The security guard assures them that although he doesn't want to hurt anyone sometimes it is necessary. The family accepts this for a time.

After many years the parents have died and the children are now in control of the house. They have forgotten what it was like to live without the security guard and have become increasingly obsessed with the sometimes violent actions the security guard must resort to in order to defend them. They decide that this can no longer be tolerated so they begin giving the security guard specific instructions, limiting his actions against the attackers. The guard does his best to comply, but at times he has no choice but to use firm action against the attackers in order to defend the family.

The family finally have had enough. They begin to ridicule the security guard, calling him intolerant and a lover of violence. They become enamored with the roving gangs and begin to think that perhaps it is their own fault that the gangs are so violent. Perhaps if they didn't have such a nice house and live in such comfort the gangs would not be so intent on harming them. Perhaps it is partially the security guards fault for being so cruel and violent in his actions against them. In the end, when it is clear that the security guard will not obey their instructions to cease from harming the attacking gangs they fire him and he is forced to leave his post.

That very night a gang attacks the house. They find the family gathered around the television laughing at a show portraying security guards as ignorant, intolerant fools whose only desire is to stand in the way of poor misunderstood gang members. The gang tortures and kills the family in a horrible fashion and takes the house for themselves. Within months the house is dirty, run down and indistinguishable from the other houses in the neighborhood. A person visiting the neighborhood would never know that once the house was well kept and that in it had lived a safe and happy family.

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