Democracy: A Parable

By Kevin S. Magri                                                                                         Word Count: 357

A council of seven citizens were elected every year to rule the city state with wisdom and intelligence. For many months, the council debated an important issue: should they build the world’s tallest tower as a monument to their civilization’s greatness? When the time came to cast their votes, the yea votes to nay votes were six to one. The one dissenter stood up and announced that all citizens would regret their decision.

The council proclaimed their decision with pomp and self-congratulation to the city state. For years, the citizens came together to build a tower that exceeded expectations. They built it on a hill, and the tower cast a shadow over the city.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the original council of seven were invited to the steps of the tower to address the city state. The six yea-sayers praised themselves for having the wisdom and intelligence to initiate the great project that had come to greater fruition. The nay-sayer spoke-up, again stating his dissatisfaction, and reminding all that they would regret the decision too.

The ribbon was cut. The assembled mob of citizens with excitement and enthusiasm pushed and crammed their way into the tower. The stairs were so narrow, they entered single-file, like ants in a line, climbing, one after the other, with no space even to separate each from each, until the very first citizen at the top, with no place to go, was pushed over the edge. His body thumped dead before the feet of the council of seven. The hastily built tower swayed forward and back and forward again until its walls snapped and collapsed across the city.

As the clouds of debris rose, the nay-sayer spoke-up: “I told you all would regret the decision to build the tower!”

One of the yea-sayers pointed his finger at the nay-sayer and replied: “You were elected among this council of seven to rule with wisdom and intelligence, yet you failed to articulate the wisdom and intelligence you possessed that would have stopped this tragedy. Clearly, this disaster is your fault!”

And the other five councillors in agreement rose-up and stoned the nay-sayer to death.

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“Democracy: A Parable” is part of a collection that explores existential questions.

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