Omdahl: A parable from the kingdom of Gnosis
Once upon a time there was the Kingdom of Gnosis, populated largely by peasants who spent their lives assigned tedious duties because they could not venture out to capture the essence of gnosis.
The dukes and knights who ran the land were content to have the peasants do the chores until one day a peasant came to the public square and announced that he had created the formula for curing infantitis, a disease that struck children.
That made them speculate about the great works that could be achieved if all peasants could travel into the beyond to make new discoveries. But peasants had no way to travel into the beyond.
So the dukes and knights met in council and decided that it would be good for the Kingdom of Gnosis to furnish transportation to the peasants so they would have the opportunity to venture forth. So it was done. Every peasant in the land was given a Chevrolet.
With all of the peasants now sharing in the gnosis, the Kingdom prospered and grew strong. Peasants became lawyers, doctors, inventors, entrepreneurs and such. They stimulated the economy and paid taxes and Gnosis became the most prosperous Kingdom in the known realm.
But soon some folks thought they deserved more than Chevrolets. They wanted Cadillacs, Chryslers and Lincolns. So they demanded that the Kingdom give some of them better vehicles.
But the ability of the Kingdom to furnish Cadillacs, Chryslers and Lincolns was limited by the treasury. So the councilors said they would not even study the matter because the only way they could give some folks Cadillacs, Chryslers and Lincolns was to downsize or eliminate the Chevies provided for the peasants.
“We think everyone in the land is entitled to a Chevrolet,” the councilors said. “You can have Cadillacs, Chryslers and Lincolns if you want to pay for them yourselves but we think everyone should have an equal opportunity with Chevrolets.”
After being rebuffed by the council, they continued to complain. They disregarded the argument that diverting money for Cadillacs, Chryslers and Lincolns would give some an unfair advantage.
Eventually, a new Gnosis leader was appointed in the Grand Empire. In her whole life, she never traveled in a Chevrolet so she couldn’t understand how some folks could be happy without Cadillacs, Lincolns or Chryslers.
So she announced that she would use the power of the Grand Empire to help the complainers get Lincolns, Cadillacs and Chryslers. The gnosis councils in the shires asked her how she would finance Lincolns, Cadillacs and Chryslers without taking Chevrolets away from the peasants.
“We will just strip down the Chevrolets – remove the headlights and other frills to free up money for Lincolns, Cadillacs and Chryslers,” she explained.
“That means the peasants will be limited in their pursuit of gnosis and the kingdom will suffer for want of creativity and leadership,” the councilors argued. “Some will end up without Chevies.”
“Let them drive Cadillacs,” she replied sternly.
She disregarded the prosperity brought to the Kingdom when all peasants got Chevrolets and claimed that “peasants were not the best recruits for future leaders anyway.”
Then a warrior from the wars told about the prosperity that came to the Kingdom when warriors were given Chevrolets as a reward for their bravery.
“My folks were peasants but I went to fight and was awarded one of those Chevrolets,” he reported.
“Soon I prospered and paid the Kingdom tenfold in taxes,” the warrior said. “So don’t tell me that our Kingdom will be greater if we neglect the many to benefit the few.”
Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and former political science professor at UND.