An essay from an old pal
- Subject: [cg] An essay from an old pal
- From: Alliums <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 09:39:49 -0500
I received this a high school buddy today and thought it spoke a lot to what
we are all trying to do with community gardening.
Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
A mission of
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460
>The following is an essay on cooperation and attitudes that was sent to me
this morning that I find interesting and would like to share with you:
> This morning, yer old pal Jerky was running his fingers along the
exquisite, mother-of-pearl trim that adorns the glass-topped puzzlebox that
is the ongoing Enron debacle, trying to make room in his brain for the
constellation of con-men, bag-men and good old boys involved, when he
concluded: What's the point? Putting a few trembling accountants behind bars
won't do any good. The trivia only obscures the bigger picture. Eventually,
we're going to have to face it. Something is wrong with the way things are.
I don't know what, exactly, but please allow me to digress.
> Yer old pal Jerky often finds himself mulling over the memory of a TV
show from his teen years. It was on PBS, and I believe it might have been
the science program, Nova. I can't remember what the show was about,
exactly, but I do remember a specific experiment outlining the different
ways in which middle class American kids and third world kids interact,
> The experiment was simple. A board with five squares in a line was
placed between the two students, and a checker was placed on the center
square. To the best of yer old pal Jerky's recollection, the kids were told
that they could make thirty moves, and they would get a dollar whenever the
checker landed on the square at their end of the line.
> First up were the Mexicans. A coin was tossed to determine who got to
make the first move, and the girls began pushing the checker across the
boxes. First to one end, winning a dollar for one kid, then to the other
end, winning a dollar for the other. Back and forth they went, until both of
them had four dollars each.
> Then it was time for the two Americans to play. A coin was tossed to
determine who got to make the first move, and the girl who won immediately
moved the checker towards herself. Then, the other girl, for her move, moved
the checker back towards herself. Then the first girl moved it back again.
This continued for a while, with both girls growing angry and impatient. "No
fair!" one cried. "I won the toss, so I should get a dollar first!" whined
> Their thirty turns passed without a dollar won between them.
> The program presented this experiment as an illustration of how
mutually beneficial cooperation can be, but the image of those grabby "Me
first!" kids sticking to their guns and refusing to consider cooperation or
compromise, at any cost, has always stuck with yer old pal Jerky.
> Folks, I don't care if you're Klan or Commie. If you've got a working
brain in your head, you have to see that we have too many of these "Me
first! Gimme! Gimme!" people in positions of power. And they do have WAAAY
too much power. And this isn't a Republican/Democrat thing, even though that
particular cultural fault-line runs roughly parallel and a tad over to the
right of this one.
> Putting aside the fact that there were far better revenue models than
the all-the-way-back-and-forth system devised by the Mexican kids, the fact
remains that, historically, progressive reforms have eventually turned out
to benefit everyone, even those who resist it violently. It is a great irony
of history that the same moneyed swells who thought much of the legislation
passed by F.D.R. heralded the end of Western Civilization as they understood
it, also had their butts pulled out of the fire by his programs. And on it
goes. Progressives struggle to change things for the better - as they
perceive it - and reactionaries resist, kick and complain. Then everybody
shares in the struggle's rewards - and deals with its consequences. It's
> yer old pal Jerky
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