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The Landowner and the Foreman

Many years ago, when most of the earth was still untamed by the advances of humanity, there lived a rich man named Roman. He owned a great expanse of land that stretched across many wide plains and rolling hills. It crossed dense forests and tall mountains from whose melting caps gurgled streams that turned into rivers which flowed into a great sea. Roman also had a very large family to whom he’d bestowed their own plots in different corners of his land. Some took good care of their plots and cultivated great fields of wheat and other bountiful crops. Some were animal herders, others were hunters and fisherman, while others survived on a bare minimum, lacking the ambition and vision to make the most of their gifts.

One day, a strange sort of man came to Roman’s home. He told Roman that his name was Platitude and spoke of Roman’s land as if he knew every corner of it. He offered to take care of it on Roman’s behalf guided by his knowledge of crop growing, hunting, and fishing. This way, he said, he would be able to get the maximum yield out of Roman’s land. Roman told him he would think about it and let him spent the night in his home. When morning came, Roman told Platitude that he had decided he would hire him to  manage his land, especially for the areas where the crop yield was not reaching its potential. Although Roman was happy with what he had, he believed it could always be better and appointed Platitude as foreman.

Roman gathered all of his relatives, the hard-working and the lazy ones too, and told them that Platitude would be his foreman and that he had allowed him to make big decisions on his behalf and that he expected them to engage with Platitude to make sure he does his job well. He explained that somebody like Platitude was needed to keep a closer eye on things to make sure that their land would be better for future generations. With that, Platitude became the official foreman of his lands.

Platitude knew that he couldn’t overstep his boundaries with Roman’s family, so he was satisfied with the piece of land he’d been given and spent his days travelling from one plot of land to another giving advice where necessary, crossing the hills to the forests where the hunters assured him that game was plentiful, and to the great rivers in which fishermen made their catch. But over time, he saw that nobody watched what he did, nor did they engage with him to do more, and he began to keep company with a itinerant woman named Complacency. They spent many days together sleeping, neglecting the land, and then when they were hungry, they would go to a nearby land plot to resupply.

At first, Roman’s relatives didn’t know what to do. They thought that Platitude’s function called for the re-allocation of their goods so they did nothing although they resented him for it. Platitude himself could care less about their misgivings. He and Complacency took advantage of the ignorance and good-will of the people by pilfering everything in sight.  Using impressive words and twisted logic, Platitude convinced the people that it was fair for them give him half of all they produced. He told them he would use the goods to barter with workmen who could build schools and roads and provide them with all sorts of tools they never had before. In truth, Platitude kept most goods for himself and the workmen he hired were never skilled enough to build the things he promised.

The people soon realized what a charlatan Platitude was, but instead of confronting him, they just complained. They complained to each other, they complained to their animals, they complained to the trees, and then they complained to Roman who told them that it was up to them to tell Platitude to change his ways; he was too old and worn out to do anything himself. In fact, Platitude’s waywardness had hurt Roman deeply and he had lost the will to live. With that, the people realized that their land was in big trouble. Many chose to leave to other faraway lands, where they would not be taken advantage of and lied to. Others decided that the best way to get ahead was by befriending Platitude. This way, they too began pilfering the land. A few chose to stay and make the best of it. It was they who suffered most, and yet they still did nothing. They swallowed the lies, they complained, and when one of Platitude’s inner circle promised them he’d help change Platitude’s ways in exchange for concessions from them, they believed those lies too and lost even more.

How long would this go on? Roman himself had become so frail that word was that he was on his deathbed. Only a few loyal relatives remained by his side to care for him and to help ease his pain. Indeed, things were looking grim for this once beautiful and vibrant land. One day though, a strange thing happened. As Platitude and some of his group approached a land plot, two people came to block the entrance. Then another two came, then four, and then Platitude counted ten, and even more came until Platitude lost count. One of the crowd stepped out.
“What do you want?” he asked Platitude.
“What I am owed,” Platitude replied arrogantly.
“Where are our roads?” Another asked.
Platitude was stunned. Nobody had questioned him before. He got angry at the people blocking his way.
“Get out of my way now, you fools!”
“Where are our schools?” The people shouted. They began to close in on his circle. “Where are the yields you promised us?” They continued toward his group, which was now backing away.

Afraid of the numbers facing him, Platitude turned the reins on his horse and galloped away. His cronies followed, but as he looked back he saw that the people kept marching. Even as they got smaller in the distance, Platitude could see that they hadn’t stopped. He was worried. Back at his lavish home, another group of cronies waited for him, they described an incident similar to what he’d just experienced. Platitude now knew the game was up and that his words wouldn’t convince the people otherwise.

By nightfall an enormous crowd had gathered around Platitude’s home. It was the largest gathering of people in the history of Roman’s land. One of them, an unassuming man emanating a calm yet determined energy came out to the front and called out, “We will let you leave unharmed, Platitude, but you must never return!” Resigned to his fate, Platitude along with Complacency came out of the house, dressed for the journey.
“I have to know your name.” Platitude said to the man standing before him. The man looked him squarely in the eyes and said,“Will.”

With Platitude gone, the masses walked towards Roman’s home, celebrating, wanting to bring him the good news; to tell him that the land was theirs again. One of the relatives who was staying with him came out and said, “He doesn’t know anything about it yet, he’s sleeping.”
So the people chanted, “Awaken thee, Roman!” 
And he did. 

I wonder if anybody in this country has ever bothered to read or listen to the lyrics of this song:


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