Mumbo Jumbo or Dumbo
Nalcor watched the V in the water as the nose of a beaver sliced through the mirrored stillness of the pond’s surface. The little muskrat admired the beaver. In truth he wished he could be more like him. Beavers worked tirelessly and they accomplished a lot. Not just a lot, but they accomplished things that were good for others and not just for beavers.
This swampy pond where Nalcor had been brought up would not exist if the beavers had not worked so hard to build a dam across the little stream that was a tributary of the Big Cigar River, the one the people wanted to dam.
The beaver dam created a large pond in the little stream that was both home and food source to creatures other than beavers. Birds lived here and the pond served as a stopping point for many different species as they migrated north in the spring and returned south again in the autumn. In fact, Nalcor had just spotted a pair of greater yellow legs strutting along the margin of the pond just where the wake of tiny ripples that marked the beaver’s passing lapped against the marsh grass. The long beaks of the tall birds were probing the shallows for the tasty morsels they craved. They needed to bulk up for the long flight south.
Without the beaver dam the stream would be moving too fast for grass to grow; without grass and its decaying roots to eat there would be no reason for the yellow legs to stop here on their journey of migration. The calm of the beaver pond allowed all manner of other shoots, leaves and flowers to grow and Nalcor loved the delicious salads they provided him.
The beavers were good neighbours. Their work benefitted everyone, though Nalcor sometimes found himself feeling ashamed for how little work he did compared to his industrious rodent cousins, always happy to share the benefits of their labour. The beavers destroyed nothing and their work created a windfall for so many.
How very different were the dams beavers built from the huge one planned by the corporation whose name Mizkat had given the little muskrat. That gigantic dam will be built, if Mizkat gets her way, on this very spot. The pond in which the beavers, the muskrats and the yellow legs find food and shelter will disappear from the Earth for evermore.
The corporation with whom Nalcor shared his name and the people in power in the Tall Building on the Hill in the Capital City are quick to say that their dam, so much bigger than anything a beaver could possibly imagine, would deliver huge benefits to everyone in the Rich and Poor Province.
No doubt, thought Nalcor. It will deliver huge benefits, but at what cost. A pair of beavers working together deliver many benefits to a lot of other creatures, but with no damage. What the beavers build is what the people call a win/win solution.
What Mizkat’s people have in mind will destroy the place I live, thought Nalcor. And the homes and source of food of so many others.
The benefits will no doubt be real, but not for us.
And those benefits can be found so easily elsewhere for the short time that remains until the people of the Rich and Poor Province retake control of The Big Cigar Dam and solve their energy needs far into the future or, as Mizkat and her friends would say, “going forward.”
Why must we pay the cost of providing solutions to others needs when those solutions harm us, when the real purpose of the exercise is to soothe the bruised pride of The Angry Man Who Talks Too Fast? Why can the people who have already decided that damming the Big Cigar River is the only reasonable choice, not take a closer look at the way the beaver undertakes his projects. Benefits for all and no harm done.
No doubt a solution that copies the spiritually appropriate path followed by an industrious rodent will continue to be dismissed entirely. But take another look Capital City people at the Mumbo Jumbo of we who live where the damage will be done. Make a choice. Is it worse to give in to the “Mumbo Jumbo” of people who live where your beloved project will actually happen, or stick stubbornly to your guns and prove yourself a “Dumbo.”
Peter Pickersgill is an artist and writer in Salvage, Bonavista Bay. He can be reached by email at the following: email@example.com