Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Kingdom of Hoops

Once upon a time their was a village nestled in a lush valley called The Kingdom of Hoops. It was given this absurd name, because everywhere you looked were hoops of many different shapes, sizes and colors. You could not travel anywhere in this kingdom without first jumping through a striped hoop here, or a plastic hoop there.

It was tiring really, jumping all day- and very silly to watch. Many hours were lost as these Hoop People hopped, crawled, twisted and bent their bodies through one hoop after another. No one knew exactly why they jumped, it had been this way for so long that they accepted this system as the "Way Things Ought To Be."

While the origins of the hoops will always remain a mystery- perhaps it began with the age old quest for power. You see, the hoops were not put there by some imaginary force- but rather people themselves. Anyone had the power to create hoops if they deemed them necessary. Perhaps someone a long time before had discovered how pleasing it was to place one hoop in someone's path- and watch as others had to perform a trick to pass through it. Overtime, more and more discovered this power over one another- and the Kingdom of Hoops was thus formed.

Of course over time the villagers forgot that the colorful plastic bangles were of their own creation. And even though they had to contend with hoops made by men and women from ages before- interestingly enough- they continued the hoop making process as well. Making a new hoop gave these frustrated hoop jumping people a bit of their lost sense of control and power back. If they had to jump hoops- why then so should everyone else. It was the "way things were." This of course led to more hoop creation and the cycle continued on this way for centuries.

It created a paradox of sorts- the villagers despised the hoops, and yet defended their existence with great vigor. The kingdom's residents had lived with them for so long- they began to rely on the hoops to live. Jumping in and out day after day, they felt comforted by the familiarity of the hoops. The hoops became necessary to preserve order in their kingdom.

It wasn't long before the hoops really started to add up. The Hoop People realized a group would be needed to protect the hoops- and make sure others were using them properly. So trustworthy individuals were assigned as protectors of the hoops. These selected Hoop People were called 'Police' and they made sure no one tried to destroy the hoops. They kept the hoops in working order- and made sure everyone was using the hoops properly.

With the Police around- the villagers soon became much more aware of how effectively each other navigated the hoops. Soon the hoops were being used as a barometer in which to gauge each other's worth. It was naturally assumed, that since the hoops provided order- those who seamlessly traveled amongst them were contributing most to the village's well-being. Unfortunately, this standard left some of the less dexterous people feeling frustrated and confused at being ostracized by their peers.

Some in the village observed this, and decided then, to create places to educate children from a young age on how to properly manage the hoops. They called these learning center 'Schools'- and the best hoop jumpers that ran them were called 'Teachers.' One of the first things that the children learned while attending these schools was that 'without the hoops- people would not know which way to move. Without direction, people would resort to moving "in whatever method they pleased," and this would inevitably plunge their little village into disorder or even chaos'. None of the little children wanted
this to happen. Therefore the villagers and it's children continued to navigate the hoops day in and day out- fearful of what life would be like without them. In and Out, Over and Under, Dipping, Stretching, Ducking and Swerving...
The funny thing was, that no one was really good at hoop jumping. Even many of the teachers were poor at it. However, creating the
illusion of being good at it was all that was really necessary to become accepted in the Hoop Kingdom. It was quite amusing to observe from a far- people tripping and stumbling as they moved in and out of hoops... then quickly straightening themselves up- checking to note who might have seen- and then continuing on their way.

It was a system bent on destruction really. People distorting their bodies into all sorts of unnatural positions each day led to an array of problems- back pains, neck injuries, strained muscles... not to mention mental stress, fatigue, and over time depression and even rage. Hoop jumping also took time- time away from family, friends, leisure activities, and spiritual pursuits. In an effort to try to ease these physical and mental ailments- some of the villagers educated themselves in medicine and the like. People flocked to these medicine minded individuals in droves, hoping for a cure to relieve their discomfort. Of course it helped for a time, but the source of the problem- the hoops remained- and so the villagers became dependent on their 'Doctors' more and more, all the while still in great discomfort.

You might be wondering why no one ever put a stop to this madness earlier- and to be fair- many had tried. There were always some, who in spite of their education, and social pressure- still couldn't quite wrap their heads around the idea of the hoops. The nagging question remained- "Why?"

These free thinkers would share their ideas with the rest of the village in all sorts of forums.

"There must be a better way than this! Think of how free you will be without the hoops! Humans weren't built to live this way- there was a time when hoops never existed. It is possible to live without them."

And these free thinkers would weave glorious pictures of wide open spaces where there there would be fluid easy movement- no pain, no anguish. People loved listening to these free thinkers- they would also flock to them in droves- just as they had to the doctors. They would listen starry-eyed for a better future, their imaginations stirred by dreams of a life of their own choosing.

And these free-thinking individuals would have been more successful if not for one problem. The villagers were afraid. After the crowds would disperse from these motivational speeches- they would return to there quiet houses and say to each other: "Perhaps one day the hoops will be gone. But it's just so hard. It's been this way for so long. What would we do without hoops to show us the ways to move. To Act. To direct." Thus progress was slow, and many continued on the ways they always had.

At times, some would try and take things a step further by destroying some of the hoops. Most of the time, it was the angry and repressed villagers- the teenagers, uneducated, or outcasts. Because these individuals lacked resources and support- these were the ones hurt the most by the troublesome hoops. They didn't just reject the idea of the hoops- they were physically incapable if meeting the village's hoop jumping standards. Tired of being judged because they could not hoop jump as well- many would take the matters into their own hands.

Hoop destruction or lashing out of any kind would always cause a bit of ruckus in the Kingdom- because most of the time, doing this was against the law. Some of the villagers would applaud these brazen acts of defiance, but most would "tsk" and shake their heads. "What's wrong with people these days? It wasn't like this when I was younger."

These rash hoop destroyers were usually punished in one way or another- in order to discourage future hoop destruction. Fines, timely court proceedings, probationary periods, and even incarceration were implemented for failure to navigate, and/or the destruction of the hoops. The ironic thing about this system, was that punishing villagers in this matter caused even more of the problems they were trying to stop. Punishments almost always depleted villagers of resources- thus knocking them off balance for a time period- making hoop jumping even harder than it already was. It was no surprise then, that once offenders started getting punished- the process continued to spiral downwards. The popular opinion amongst villagers, was that this was a deserved consequence for undesirable behavior. After awhile though- hoop violations became more and more common-place, as it became easier to commit one. Now it wasn't just Hoop Hoodlums that were suffering from the system- it was regular everyday Hoop Joes and Janes.

People in the village observed this and decided this
was in fact, unfair. Some of the Hoop People began the tedious process of studying all of the hoops in the Kingdom- their origins, their creation, etc. After centuries of hoop making- this as you can imagine, took years. Hundreds of obscure hoops were hidden in small nooks and crannies, which made this learning process so demanding- that few ever completed it. Once successfully completing the study of hoop origin and creation- these select few were given the title 'Lawyer.'

It became their job to represent the outcasts of the Hoop Kingdom, and protect them from unfair treatment. Using their knowledge of all the Kingdom's hoops- they would apply their savvy and help Hoop Offenders defend themselves. This helped for a time, but the problem- the hoops- still remained. The people began to rely on the lawyers more and more- there were now SO many hoops- it was almost impossible to make it through a day without accidentally misstepping, tripping, or coming into violation of a hoop. Therefore- almost everyone in the Kingdom of Hoops were now violators of Hoop Law. Keeping up appearances of following Hoop Law became more important than ever, since actually navigating the hoops correctly was near impossible. Putting up this false facade was just another added pressure to the Hoop People, and doctor's and lawyer's visits continued to rise.

Now to you and I, this seems ridiculous. Why not just get rid of the hoops? Why all these policies, positions and so forth- that really only masked the problem? Well, to the Hoop People, it wasn't this obvious. You see they had lived with Hoops their WHOLE lives. Their parents, grandparents and great, great, great grandparents had too.

Albert Einstein once said-
"What does a fish know of the water it has lived in it's whole life?" And this was exactly the case. Some hoops had been around so long- and people had been jumping through them for so long- they were all but invisible. There was no doubt any longer that the hoops were problematic- but the Hoop people couldn't even see many of them anymore. Without the ability to see the hoops properly- the Hoop People were unsure why they were having all of these health, education, disorder and general life problems. But the Hoop People needed to do something to make these problems better. And creating new positions, organizations, institutions to deal with them, as well as- NEW HOOPS- gave the Hoop People a sense of purpose. They felt like they were making a difference, doing something towards making life better.

Unfortunately things didn't get better. And now- getting rid of the hoops was almost out of the question. The Free Thinkers were still giving their speeches- but fewer and fewer people felt that living without hoops would be beneficial. This was because now many of the Hoop People consisted of Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers and Police among many other positions- that needed the Hoops to survive. If they got rid of the hoops- what would they do? How would they make money? How would they feed their families? But most importantly- how would they feel meaningful any longer? Without realizing it, the Hoop People were defending the very things that were causing them so much suffering.

It seemed very likely that the Hoop People were doomed. Are they doomed dear readers? Or is there a chance for change? A revolution? After all, their very civilization was built upon hoops. Have things gotten so bad- that the damage is now irreversible. Stay tuned for the next chapter. I'm spent on this one for tonight.