Thursday, March 13, 2003

Resurgence magazine (March/April 2003. IssueNo. 217) has a theme of The Myth of Prosperity. I liked this story: (humble apologies for this, but it is not one of the articles in the online version)

Rich in Things, Poor in Time: Heinrich Böll
(retold by Wolfgang Sachs)

A tourist focuses in on a most idyllic picture: a man dozing in a fishing boat that has been pulled out of the waves which come rolling up the sandy beach. The camera clicks;the fisherman awakens. The tourist offers him a cigarette and launches into a conversation: "The weather is great; there are plenty of fish. Why are you lying around instead of going out and catching more?"

The fisherman replies. "Because I caught enough this morning."

"But just imagine", the tourist says, "if you went out there three or four times a day, bringing home three or four times as much fish! You know what could happen?"
The fisherman shakes his head.
"After about a year you could buy yourself a motor-boat," says the tourist. "After two years you could buy a second one, and after three years you could have a cutter or two. And just think! One day you might be able to build a freezing plant or a smoke house, you might eventually even get your own helicopter for tracing shoals of fish and guiding your fleet of cutters, or you could acquire your own trucks to ship your fish to the capital, and then..."

"And then?" asks the fisherman.
"And then", the tourist continues triumphantly, "you could be calmly sitting at the beachside, dozing in the sun and looking at the beautiful ocean!"
The fisherman looks at the tourist: "But that is exactly what I was doing when you came along!"

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