Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Dream Deferred

Alfred Nobel is primarily known today as the inventor of world peace but his greatest invention is, in fact, dynamite. As every man knows, the West was built on a foundation of dynamite, and so it is our duty to make dynamite the foundation of Johnny Outlaw. Dynamite is a powerful weapon if used properly, but unlike a gun, dynamite is not a toy. Nowadays we believe that every cowboy and prospector is entitled to his explosives. This is dangerous thinking. And things become exponentially more dangerous when we give this power to every video game playing Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Why believe me, though? Maybe I’m just trying to keep you from your God-given right to dynamite. Maybe I want to keep it all for myself. True enough. But before you go blowing up everything in sight, have a listen here.

Let me tell you a little piece of American folklore. It is a cautionary tale. It is a tale of dynamite’s power, the power that all men seek to wield. Let me tell you the story of Dynamidas.

Dynamidas was a bitter old man. Hated people. Didn’t want anything to do with them. Made sense that he’d head out West. Out there you could get by all on your own.

He was a poor man, though. He couldn’t afford dynamite like the real prospectors. He couldn’t crack open a mountain, and he certainly didn’t have the strength to dig for his riches.

What Dynamidas did was he panned for gold. Every morning he’d get up, bring his big old brass pan with him, head down to the stream, and start panning. Head back to his shack at noon for a meal, then it was back to work. Nothing really came of it.

That is, until one day, one magnificent day, he found himself some color. Gold. All the gold a man like him would ever need. He could live the rest of his days and never again have to break his back panning.

He celebrated long into the night. This would be the first night of sleep without worry, without a hard day of work to wake him. But as he was celebrating, a knock came at his shack door. It was a small girl; an orphan. In tattered clothes she stood there. Her family had been taken by the cholera and, who knows, maybe even the whooping cough. Now all she had left in this world was hope; the hope that when it was her time, she’d go quietly.

Dynamidas hated people, sure enough. He hated everything about them. But he didn’t hate this little girl, and he knew she deserved better than her lot in life. He was a full grown man, he’d worked every day, and y’know, he could keep working if he had to. So he gave her all his precious, precious gold and his best wishes.

As it would turn out, a magical being saw all of this transpire and approached Dynamidas. It was a spirit. An American spirit. The spirit was so moved by the kindness of Dynamidas that she promised him any gift of his choosing.

Dynamidas told her “Oh American Spirit, grant me the power of dynamite, so that I might be like the other prospectors. Give me the power to crack open the mountains so that I will never again break my back panning for gold.”

“Very well, Dynamidas. From now on, all that you touch shall turn to dynamite.”

Before she had even finished speaking, the magic was done.

He tried out his newfound powers. He touched the mountainside, and it blasted open! He reached down to touch a flower and when the dust settled all that remained was a crater.

The little orphan girl may have lived a life of sadness, but even she recognized how awesome Dynamidas’s powers were. They danced and cheered, celebrating harder than ever before.

Then Dynamidas, in true American fashion, went for the high five.


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