An argument against the bridge to the Temple of Knowledge

By BEN R. WILLIAMS

Hello everyone, it’s your old friend Algar again. Could I borrow the speaking conch for a moment? Thank you.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I am wildly opposed to the proposed bridge to the Temple of Knowledge.

As we all know, on the morning of the 18th birthday, every youth in the village must ascend the Mountain of Horror in order to find the Temple of Knowledge, where they will spend the next four years learning all there is to know in our realm. This is, of course, the only way they can ever hope to have a decently paying job. Otherwise they’ll spend their whole lives digging ditches.

No offense, Grobda the Ditchdigger. You’re good people.

Of course, the journey to the Temple of Knowledge is filled with danger. Many have died on the trip. Others have wished for death. And the journey only becomes more perilous with each passing year.

And now, some upstart, wet-behind-the-ears 38-year-old wise man has proposed that we build a bridge to the Temple of Knowledge, thus allowing our young people to arrive at the temple safely and quickly.

Really?

This is quite obviously a terrible idea. Frankly, I cannot believe we even have to discuss it.

Folks, just 40 short years ago, I made my own pilgrimage to the Temple of Knowledge. I had to wade through the Swamp of Despair. I emerged covered in leeches and I’m pretty sure the swamp witch stole my wallet. Then I had to wander through the Desert of Misery. I saw a scorpion the size of my hand! Then, of course, there was the horrible climb up the Mountain of Horror, where I narrowly avoided getting attacked by a centaur. It was terrible, I assure you.

If I had to suffer in order to ascend to the Temple of Knowledge, then why should the young people get a free pass? It’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to all the young people who have died on the journey and will die in the future.

I’ve heard all the arguments. Yes, over the last 40 years, the swamp witch has graduated from petty theft to cannibalism. Yes, the scorpions in the Desert of Misery have now grown to the size of oxen. And yes, the murderous centaur population on the Mountain of Horror has swelled from a couple of centaurs to about 3,700 centaurs.

Just because I haven’t gone to the temple in four decades doesn’t mean I don’t understand the problem, and probably better than the young people do.

However, if I was able to pull myself up by my bootstraps, then our young folks should do the same. It seems to me that this generation is just too weak, always whining about how they’re “suffering horribly” and “getting eaten by monsters.” How much of that can you take?

I understand the wise man has already allocated a large amount of gold to this bridge project. I propose that rather than using the money to build a bridge, we divide it up between the wealthiest people in the village. After all, if the wealthy have more money, they’ll create jobs that our young people can have when and if they return from their perilous journey.

I realize that it’s been some decades since the village wealthy actually created jobs, but this time I think they’ll really do it. They told me so themselves, and they didn’t laugh nearly as much as they did the last time they told me that.

In other business, I understand our village elder recently planted a tree whose shade he knows he will never sit in.

I wish to cut down this tree for firewood because cold weather is coming and I forgot to plan ahead.

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