That’s What Walls Are For [Stories with a Point]

Once there was a city that was built on the edge of a cliff. Why the founders built it there, I don’t know, but there it was. The city was situated in a dangerous part of the country, filled with marauders, thugs, and outlaws (the kind with bandanas).

The founders of the city had built a large wall around it, protecting the inhabitants from ruffians and thieves, as well as preventing any livestock or children from wandering too close to the cliff’s edge. The one way in and out of the city was through the large reinforced gate on the west side.

Generations went by, and the trusty wall did its tedious duty, protecting the people of the city from all manner of harm.

At some point, however, the people of the city began to feel that the wall was one massive inconvenience. It was way too restricting. It hindered the free flow of goods in and out of the city. People on the east side of the city had to walk all the way across town just to get to the gate. All that extra effort was exhausting and inefficient.

So some of the more enterprising citizens decided to tear some holes in the wall. Nothing too large, just enough to make travel easier. The naysayers in the town warned of disastrous consequences if parts of the wall were torn down. But the deconstructors were persistent and most of the townspeople didn’t give a rip.

Despite the holes in the wall, nothing disastrous happened. Soon more people were making holes in the wall and the existing holes were widened. A few bandits got in and out, but no one seemed to mind. “That’s the price of progress,” they said.

As the wall continued to deteriorate, the consequences were not hard to predict. One of the Jones kids fell of the cliff, as did half of Farmer Peterson’s flock. A new band of thieves moved in and started absconding with property that didn’t belong to them. At one point, some marauders actually burned a quarter of the city to the ground.

Though many of the inhabitants were surprised by the rise in crime, they quickly came up with a solution. They passed laws against thievery, fire, and falling off of cliffs. They were sure that their new legislation would solve the current problems.

However, a number of the younger folks in town came up with a different solution. They started building their own walls around their houses (and in some cases, whole neighborhoods). When asked why they didn’t simply rely on the new legislation, their reply was simple:

“That’s what walls are for.”

For All the New and Expecting Fathers in the House [Stories with a Point]

Once there were two robins who were married. We’ll call them Papa Bird and Mama Bird, for they had just received the happy news that chicks were on the way (Don’t ask me how they knew; they just did). Needless to say, they were both very excited, as this was their first time to have eggs of their own.

After the first few days, however, Papa Bird’s excitement turned to confusion as he began to notice some odd behavior around his house. At first it was small things: he would come home from worm-hunting and find that his favorite twig, the one he sat on every night, had been moved across the nest. Being a patient bird, he didn’t say anything, but just adapted to the new view.

But his confusion continued when, a few days later, his twig was again moved to a third part of the nest. And then a fourth. Having heard that this sort of thing was “normal” (if that’s the right word) in expectant females, he again kept his mouth shut.

Then one day he came home to discover that the red twine that held the inside of the nest together had been removed and discarded beneath the tree, along with the wallpaper and gum wrappers that had adorned the east side of the nest. Taking the twine in his beak, he flew to the nest to find out what the problem was. But before he could ask, he was greeted with a question from his wife.

“Could you fly down to the big parking lot and get me some new twine. Light green and yellow please. And pick up a couple of saplings on the way back?”

“What’s wrong with this twine?” Papa Bird said, motioning to his beak. “And do you mean the big parking lot that’s three miles down the road?”

“Yes, that’s the one. And nothing’s wrong with that twine.”

“If nothing’s wrong with it, why are we replacing it?”

“Because the green one is prettier. And it’s just time for a change.”

“Well if it’s time for a change, why can’t we just use some of the twine that we’ve stored in the hole over there?”

“It’s called basic sanitation. Do you really think I’m going to have that filthy and dirty old stuff anywhere near our new chicks?”

“But I don’t understand. You’ve been moving stuff around around in this place for weeks. It’s like a totally new nest. Why do you all of a sudden feel this need to rearrange everything?”

“For the same reason that you feel the need to get up, puff out your bright red chest, and sing the same song every morning.”

Just Like the Government [Stories with a Point]

Once there was a little boy who struggled mightily with covetousness. Well, “struggle” is probably not the right word. “Surrendered often” would be more accurate.

Anyway, the struggle manifested itself in a variety of ways, but Christmas and birthdays were always the worst, for obvious reasons. His parents were praying people, and regularly asked God to “lead him not into temptation.” But what they prayed with right hand, they took away with the left, because a few weeks before those gift-receiving holidays, they would take him to Toys R Us and stir up his little desire factory.

He always asked for more than he needed, and, more importantly, more than his parents could afford. However, like all good parents who are accustomed to the incessant begging of children, his had developed a typical parental response, one that, though not very creative, usually did the trick.

One day, the little boy was in a particularly beggary mood and so his father started to pull out that old, trusty one-liner. But before he could, the little boy, who had recently become an avid television news watcher, said, “I know, Dad. ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees.’ But, according to all the senators on TV, it is printed on printing presses. So, instead of real presents thisĀ  year, I’d just like one of those. Then, we don’t have to worry about how much we can afford ever again. Just like the government.”