The Tale of Two Islands — Part 1
Once upon a time, there lived two societies, each on its own island separated by the ocean. Neither remembered exactly how they got there or when the separation occurred, but both agreed that it was due to a conflict long ago when they were all crew members on the same ship. Eventually that ship crashed along the reef. Afterwards, the desire for power and resources drove them to eventually split.
The First Group was made up of eight people – four men and four women. They were of lighter complexion and not used to the heat of the overbearing sun because they worked within the hull of the ship, maintaining its machinery. They inhabited the larger island, full of lush resources, fresh water, and plenty of space. When they first arrived, they were greeted by a group of darker skinned people who welcomed them and taught them their ways. The locals were also very generous and shared with the First Group half of their produce and land. Eventually the First Group learned all the skills they needed and were satiated. However, as time passed, the First Group felt that they needed more than what the locals were giving them. So they made demands. The locals refused, because this was originally their land and the First Group were simply guests.
This was not considered a satisfactory answer.
Was it not they who came on a large metal ship that only their advanced values and intellect could create? Was it not they who were protected from the sun and had such fair complexions? Were they not superior because of this?
The First Group demanded again. The locals again refused. The First Group took this as an insult to their superiority. The locals were slaughtered.
After the local population had been completely destroyed, the First Group saw their victory as an affirmation of superiority and thus named themselves the “Civ”. They took the island for themselves and prospered, ever-seeking opportunities to assert their supremacy. Eventually, they all agreed to codify their superiority into law. They called it ‘Liberalism’ because they were obviously more free than the inferior locals they were coerced into slaughtering.
On the other side of the island were the Second Group, which was also made up of eight people – four women and four men. They were not as light skinned as the First Group because they mostly worked above the hull of the ship, maintaining its course. They inhabited the smaller island which was barren, had very little fresh water, and little space. There weren’t any locals either. However, they did have a strange black substance flowing under the rocks which resembled what they saw fueling the ship.
The Second Group was more hardened and had to rely on themselves to survive. As a result, things were much more difficult. They did name themselves, but since their language was too strange to speak, the Civ simply referred to them as “Sav”. The Sav eventually codified their own laws for the sake of governing themselves in the harsh environment. They said that this law was from the Deity who ruled over Paradise – where the ship came from. The Civ called it “Submission”.
Submission was different from Liberalism. For instance, the former allowed for polygamous marriages and women had to cover themselves for the sake of modesty – it also helped to block out the overbearing sun. On the other hand, the latter only allowed for monogamous marriages and women were not required to cover themselves – darker skin was no longer a sign of inferiority, but something exotic and prized.
Also, the Sav had harsh punishments for things like adultery and theft, which the Civ saw as unnecessary. Even though every Sav agreed to these laws, the Civ thought they would be more free submitting to Liberalism, because Liberalism means ‘freedom’ and ‘freedom’ means Liberalism – you get the idea.
As the Civ began to prosper, they had more time on their hands to learn about their past. They eventually stumbled upon the wreckage of the ship and started to learn how it worked. As they grew more knowledgeable, so did the complexity of their tools they used for farming. As a result, production soared and they became fearful that the Sav might become envious and want to take their surplus, so they used some scrap from the ship and created a weapon to defend themselves. They called it “Gun”.
The Sav looked on from a distance, observing all this unfold. They did become envious, but preferred to barter for the resources. Knowing that the Civ were constructing technology from the ship, the Sav offered the black fluid under their rocks in exchange for some of the surplus. Both obliged and thus began a fruitful economic relationship between the two. They even built a small bridge to connect their islands so as to facilitate easier trading.
At this point, the Civ were still made up of eight people – four men and four women – and each had a role to play. George was the boss and he was married to Jane. Henry was the soldier and he was married to Anne. John was the farmer and he was married to Lisa. And Donald was the businessmen and he was married to Kim. Now, the women had roles too, defined by Liberalism as “be a man”. This freed them from the constraints of superficial boundaries and made them superior to the women of the Sav. However, the women only wanted to be like George or Donald, because Henry and John’s roles were not at all appealing.
At this point, the Sav were also still made up of eight people – four women and four men – and each had a role to play. Ahmed was the boss and he was married to both Khadija and Aisha. Bashar was the soldier and he was married to Mariam. Abdullah was the shepherd and he was not married. And Osama was the businessman and he was married to Haseena. Now the women had roles too, defined by Submission as “give men their due rights, but be rulers of your own domains”. This freed them from the constraints of men’s preferences and made them superior in their roles as caretakers of society. However, if the men somehow were unable to fulfill their roles, Submission allowed the women to take their place if necessary.
One day, George and Donald had a meeting to discuss their stagnating economy. Having already drained Henry and John of their surplus resources and left them with barely anything to survive on, George and Donald wondered if they could get even richer. Feeling particularly superior that day, they began to entertain the thought of taking over the smaller island so as to reduce trading costs and monopolize the black fluid. However, there was a problem. You see, during trade agreements, the Sav eventually wanted Gun and the Civ agreed because they thought the Sav were too stupid to know how to use it anyways. Unfortunately, the Sav did eventually learn how to use it after bartering extra with Donald. Donald then gave some of his profit to Henry who then in turn trained Bashar how to use Gun. And the rest is history, as they say.
George wasn’t actually angry at Donald or Henry, because he too received a cut. However, it now posed a problem. George was hesitant to send Henry over to conquer the Sav as it could result in unnecessary deaths for the Civ. Donald agreed and offered a much more pragmatic alternative.
What if instead they could convince Bashar to kill Ahmed and take power, thus destabilizing the smaller island and allowing for greater access? With a puppet like Bashar, the Sav would be under the total control of the Civ! All they needed to do was make a deal that Bashar could not refuse – unlimited resources and power over the smaller island in exchange for a monopoly over the black fluid. And to make sure there would be no need for Henry to stay, Bashar would have to rule by Liberalism, rather than Submission.
George and Donald agreed, but consulted with Henry first. Henry informed them that he knew Bashar was eying the throne and that he could convince him to stage a coup. However, finances were tight. Donald didn’t believe that funding Bashar directly was a good investment; he needed an intermediary. Donald remembered that Bashar had a brother – Osama – who had come to the larger island to learn business under him. In other words, he was not as devout as the other Sav and would agree to support the operation abroad.
So they agreed.