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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

How Things Might Have Been

It is a great privilege to be Chief of the Western American Federation of Indian Tribes. I write these words while sitting on a high point in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and looking down upon the lands of my peoples. Below are scattered many villages with traditional roundhouses and bark dwellings. I can see fields of oaks, the acorns from which have provided sustenance for eight thousand years. Women are grinding acorn flour and small groups of men are setting-out to hunt.

I am proud of the survival of our traditional lifestyle. I feel more proud, however, that our philosophy of respect for all life and harmony with nature has spread throughout the world, leading to peace on Earth - something for which the whole planet now gives thanks to our legendary chief, White Flame.

All are taught of how, four thousand years ago, White Flame became Chief of my people. He too had rejoiced in their simple, peaceful and sustainable lifestyle. He had feared, however, that, one day, bad people might come from across the mountains and do us harm. White Flame had thus decreed that our most able men and women should devote some of their time to scientific and technological development.

Their fellows soon reaped the benefits as the wheel and the discovery of metal production enhanced their lives. So it was with other machines, the horseless carriage, the aeroplane, nuclear power, computers and myriad other advances culminating in intergalactic space travel. All were developed in research establishments while our traditional village lifestyle, the bedrock of our attitudes and philosophy, has quietly continued.

The great wisdom of White Flame was profoundly illustrated just one hundred and fifty years ago when bad men finally came from across the mountains. They wanted to take our gold – gold that we needed for advanced microprocessor circuitry. Thus their initial offers of beads, mirrors and whisky for our land seemed somewhat inadequate. When refused, however, they quickly reverted to threats of violence.

Fortunately, despite their huge numbers, greed, aggression and racism, their weaponry was no match for non-lethal defensive force-fields deployed from our anti-matter powered spacecraft.

We had no wish to interfere in the lives and cultures of others with whom we shared this planet. However, we felt that their propensity for killing each other in astronomical numbers for no particular reason was not a helpful trait. As neither was their apparent intent to destroy as quickly as possible all the resources of the Earth that my people had, for countless generations, honoured and cherished.

We, therefore, restrained them from the worst manifestations of their behaviour for four generations. By that time, their actions were no longer poisonously driven by memories of past cycles of violence. Hence we came to the peace and harmony of the world as it is today.

Sometimes I wonder what the world would have been like had it not been for White Flame. What would have happened if my people had simply sat on their backsides grinding acorns and hunter-gathering for eight thousand years without any noticeable scientific or technological advancement?

A cold shiver runs down my spine when I think of how things might have been.