Stories for the family

A Parable for Today  Part 1

High on a ridge overlooking the valley stood the King. Framed in the sun’s fading light, his form rose like a monument of unyielding strength. Above his head swirled hostile, black clouds. Raging winds snatched at his coat. But he, who could quell the assault with a word, refused to be distracted. His eyes were set on the valley below. Capturing each tiny detail, he traced the movement of gathering armies. Suddenly his gaze rested on a shadowy form well hidden from ordinary sight. Anger and agony flashed across his noble face.

"Once I cherished that traitor," he mused, "but the Prince of Darkness only loved himself. I made him strong and beautiful, but he used my gifts to build his own throne. How could he think that his mutinous force could hinder my plan? Has he spoken his own lies so often that he has deceived himself as well as my people? His foolish pride kindled this war, but soon even his blinded slaves will see my triumph."

The King’s focus moved from the enemy headquarters to the city nearby. Its people slept unconcerned, smug, oblivious to the scheming, waiting legions.

Tears stung the King’s eyes as he spoke to the city he loved. "If only you had listened," he whispered softly. "If only you knew.... But you ignored my warnings and went your own way. You delighted in comfortable words that fit your own selfish dreams — lies and false promises that were more pleasant to your ears than the truth.
"My dear foolish people, open your eyes and see. I came to love and care for you, but you turned away. The thief came to steal and destroy, and you worship him. If you only knew where you are heading.…"

Far below, near the edge of the city, where the forest opened to a lovely meadow, the grim armies merged into a ghostly, quaking mass. Suddenly, without a sound, a message burst into their consciousness: The prince has arrived. As one, they bowed in fearful surrender, breathing their salute: "Hail, Prince of Darkness! Master of the Force! Hail!"
Before them rose the tall, dark figure of the prince. "My friends," he purred, "I hear you have done well!"
A wave of relief swept over the mass.

"Report your progress!" his voice cracked like a whip over shivering slaves. "Have you captured the city? Are its people ready to follow?"

Silence hung like an ominous sword over the trembling warriors. Brash tyrants when far from their master, they cowered like frightened dogs in his presence. Finally a creature stepped forward. "Sir, the coup is almost complete. The city has yielded to your control."

"How did you win their allegiance?" demanded the prince.

"We followed your plan, Sir. You told us to target the children. To reform their schools, pollute their movies.…"
"Stop, stop! I want details. Who handled the schools?"

"I did, Sir." A burly figure lumbered to the front line. Under the heavy cowl which hid his features, his body was shaking.

"Explain your strategy."

"We followed our ancient plan, Sir. You told us to change labels to fit contemporary tastes—and it worked. First we whispered doubts about the King’s repulsive book of truth. Then we planted tantalizing visions of the New World into the minds of educators. We showed them irresistible delusions of their own divinity, the power of Self, the pleasures of sex, and the peace of global unity under your mighty reign.

"Slow down and describe their response."

"Those who were open to transformation were thrilled with their new discoveries. They quickly fit your ideas into their curriculum."

"Is that all?"

"No, there’s much more! We told them that the King’s intolerant values hinder the growth and happiness of Self and Community. To build a better world, they must discard his obsolete ways and pave new paths to higher consciousness and spiritual oneness. Quick to catch on, the kids are learning to ridicule the King’s archaic standards and narrow-minded subjects. Soon they’ll hate all who oppose your plan!" He giggled.

"Well done," grimaced the prince, "but control yourself."

Scanning the dark mass, he shouted, "Who’s in charge of music?"

A squat, slinking creature crept forward. "I am, Sir."

"Report your progress!"

"We have revived your fool-proof formula: drums, drugs, and sensual delights. This formula blocks reason and keeps our connections open. We give them a good time and make sure they come back for more. With the more advanced subjects, we no longer hide your identity. They crave your savage malevolence."

"Well done!" The prince rubbed his hands in obvious glee before he shouted, "Next! Who transformed television?"

"We did," answered a shrill voice. A short, round figure pushed his way to the front.

"One battalion produced cartoons with wizards, monsters, and super-heroes winning battles by your cosmic energy. Kids want supernatural power, so we’ve showed them yours. Camouflaged, of course." He giggled nervously.
"Splendid!" The prince’s cruel voice rose excitedly. "They’ll want more - and more, and when they’re hooked, they will be more than glad to see me. Ha! I will be their god, and they will learn my way to worship! Go on. Tell me more."
"We have been showing our vision of global unity to reporters, producers, and writers." He snickered. "We convinced them that the King’s values block progress. Parents are listening, and many of those silly, old-fashioned families are turning around. People are choosing their own way — or rather, our way. ..."

"My way, you mean!" shrieked the prince.

"Your way, Sir!" quaked the commander.

"You met no resistance?"

"Not much. Your brilliant ideas usually excite them."

"What about the King’s subjects?"

"Many don’t notice what we’re doing. We keep them too busy to study the Book of Truth, so they can’t tell your plan from the King’s. Some are afraid to speak up. The fools who do face our correction squad. Ridicule and exclusion will usually silence them." Cheers rose in agreement.

For a moment, the prince gazed silently into that dark mass of veiled warriors. Fear and hatred, not love and loyalty, bound these miserable subjects to do his bidding.

"Watch every rebellious subject!" he shouted. "Find loopholes in their armor. Distract those who pray. And above all, keep them from reading the Book."

Lightning slashed the sky and the distant thunder grew to a deafening roar. But the King kept his watchful position high above the city, waiting for the precise moment...

Suddenly he raised his right arm. "Be still," he cried into the storm. And the storm stilled around the summit.
He raised his left arm, and a battalion of soldiers dressed in white appeared before him.
"It is time! I have awakened my remnant. I have spoken to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see. To everyone not blinded and bound by deception. To those who have not bowed to the Prince of Darkness.
"I have told them to rise, take their swords, and fight for their families and children. You must take your positions at their sides. Sing with them the song of victory, then go forth and conquer in the name of the King."

From Your Child and the New Age, 1990, which is now out-of-print.

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