Monday, June 13, 2011


ONCE UPON A TIME, By Fiona Cristian



A Grandmother and her grandchildren are walking through a forest when one of the grandchildren breaks a small branch off a tree. The Grandmother stops walking.

Grandmother - Did you break that branch to bring sunlight to the flowers beneath?

Tom - No, Grandmother, they are violets that like the shade.

Grandmother - Did you break it because you wanted to take blossoms to your mother?

Tom - No, Grandmother, there are no blossoms on this branch.

Grandmother - Then why did you break the branch, Grandson?

Tom - I guess I wasn’t thinking, Grandmother. I have broken the tree for no reason.

Sam - But there are so many trees in the forest, Grandmother, why does it hurt that Tom broke just one?

Grandmother - Children, if there are many of you and I hurt just one of you, does it matter? Do you think it matters for Katie if I choose to hurt her rather than Judy? And if I hurt Katie, will I not also be harming the rest of you because you will now have doubt about how I might behave towards you. If I can hurt Katie, might I not one day hurt any of you?

Come children, this is a nice place to sit - I have a story to tell you.


Once upon a time there was a world full of people who loved to be slaves. They so loved being slaves that, if anyone suggested that there might be a way not to be a slave, the slaves raised their eyebrows, gave an embarrassed laugh and turned away as quickly as they could.

The slaves lived in a beautiful world full of natural wonders; of waterfalls, lakes and powerful seas, of mountains, valleys and majestic forests and of everything they needed to live lives of joy, freedom and abundance.

Their beautiful world was what sustained them, giving them air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat. Without their beautiful world, the slaves could not survive but they had been slaves for so long that they no longer noticed that their enslavement was slowly killing the world that gave them life.

They had forgotten that they were part of their beautiful world and their beautiful world was part of them. They had forgotten who they really were.

The slaves spent most of their time giving their energy to an artificial world, a fairytale that had been superimposed over the natural, life giving one. As the fairytale had no life force energy of its own, it needed the constant input of the slaves to appear to function.

Like all slave masters, the fairytale was not kind. The slaves had to spend hours away from their families and homes “working”, just in order to have a place to live and food on the table.

There were rules and regulations that the slaves were expected to conform to and those that transgressed were severely punished.

Of course, all the slaves had to do to be free was to get together and remove their energy from the fairytale because, without them, it could only collapse. But the fairytale had systems in place to teach the slaves that they were all individuals, isolated and alone, and that a life of slavery was the only one possible.

They learnt that only slaves belonging to their particular slave group could be trusted, that their slave group was superior to any other slave group and, in some cases, that they must be prepared to fight other slaves and even die for their slave group. The fear and trauma generated by the images of the fairytale kept them firmly in their places.

Thus it was impossible for the slaves to unite despite the fact that, deep down, every slave was aware that their addiction to slavery was killing the world that gave them life.

So why did the slaves keep working for the fairytale and giving up their freedom if they knew the consequences? It was partly because the hole seemed too deep and frightening to climb out of, partly because they had been taught to expect someone else to solve their problems for them and partly because they were too tired from working so hard for the fairytale to think about it. But the main reasons the slaves kept their heads down and tails up was that they were unwilling to give up the temptations of the fairytale.

Concoctions of chemicals disguised as food, with tantalising tastes that induced cravings, despite the damage done to the body. Drinks full of poison that sent you out of your mind for a while so you could forget your worries. Shops full of things to possess, bigger, better places to live, smarter, more powerful means of transport, more exotic and exclusive places to travel to, countless coverings for the body, and an endless array of ways and means to fill the time not spent in the service of the slave master.

Upon all these things the slaves placed more value than their freedom. As long as they could have their fairytale addictions, they were willing to be slaves.

A few slaves tried to turn the tide. They tried to break free of their shackles but it was very hard. Often they were punished, ridiculed and starved back into submission, even though all they asked was to be able to take on the responsibility of caring for themselves, others and the natural world.

As time went on, the fairytale became an increasingly harsh master, demanding more and more energy from its slaves until even previously happy slaves began to feel that all was not right.

As the demands grew, so did the restrictions until the few avenues available for the slaves to take back their freedom dwindled away and the punishments for slaves attempting to do so became even more severe.

The fairytale spread over more and more of the natural world, raping, pillaging and plundering until the rivers were choked, the mountains gouged beyond recognition and the forests reduced to matchsticks teetering in dusty, barren soil.

As the air became too thick to breathe, the water too contaminated to drink and the food lost all its life forces, the slaves began dying too quickly and in numbers too large not to notice.

Too late, the slaves realised that the fairytale had nothing to offer them and that they had all but destroyed their only means of existence. Chaos all around them, the remaining slaves realised they had to change their ways before it was too late.

But where to start?

There were a few slaves who had seen the signs and hidden themselves away. They had stored clean water, kept some seeds and found the few trees left that could provide them with clean air.

As the relentless destruction trickled to a halt and Earth breathed a sigh of relief, these slaves came out of their hiding places and gathered together with the others, ready and willing to take on the job of repairing the damage done.

And perhaps, even as they looked around at the desolate remains of their once beautiful land, they smiled because they had remembered who they really were and at last they were free.

Katie – And did they do it, Grandmother? Did they save Earth?

Grandmother – Have a look around, children. Did we do it?

Judy – We? We, Grandmother? Were you one of those slaves?

Grandmother – I was.

Tom – And Grandfather?

Grandmother – Yes he was, children. Grandfather, Great Uncle Collin and Great Aunt Danielle and many of the other older men and women you know.

Sam – But how did you do it, Grandmother? How did you make Earth better? If it was all broken and dirty, how did you fix it?

Grandmother – The first thing we had to do was to look at everything we had been doing and see how we had hurt Earth. And then we had to work out how to live in ways that didn’t hurt Earth.

We realised that the only way to help Earth become the beautiful paradise it had once been was to make sure that everything we did helped Earth and didn’t hurt Earth.

Sometimes we do break branches or chop down a tree but we never do it if we don’t have a good reason. That’s why I asked Tom why he had broken the branch.

He was not thinking or feeling the tree when he broke the branch and so he was able to do harm to the tree. And you are right Sam – just one little branch doesn’t make much difference in a beautiful forest like this one, but imagine if everybody began breaking branches, thinking that just one branch wouldn’t make any difference. In time, the forest would be full of broken trees.

This is how we start to do harm children, and one seemingly small act of harm leads to complete destruction if it is repeated enough times. Now I have told you the story of how we nearly destroyed Earth before you were born, I hope that you will always be mindful of your actions so that you will never do harm to this beautiful Earth we are so lucky to live on.

Children – We will, Grandmother. Of course, Grandmother.

The End