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General News · 22nd July 2013
Once upon a time, there was a mythical island called Conquistador, a hilly place covered in green trees that floated in the blue sea. It was a wonderful place where deer and wolves and cougars roamed in the forest. On this mythical island were three magical villages: there was Dolphinville, Chipmunk Bay and Mansonís Take-off.

Mansonís Take-off was the place where settlers gathered to board spaceships on their way to colonize far off planets. Thatís how the village got its name. The settlersí claimed that the far off planets were empty of people and needed colonizing. (Still, thatís a different story all together.)

Now in the middle of Mansonís Take-off was a community hall that was built by the Northern Conquistador Community Association. (Mansonís Take-off was on the north end of the island after all.) The community hall was busy with dances and meetings and a farmerís market. There were lots of activities for community members to attend.

On the same land as the hall, there was a parking lot and then some empty land on the other side of the parking lot too (it was just behind a Skatepark). For a long time, the good folks in the Northern Conquistador Community Association had wanted to build something useful there. At one point they had plans to build a library, but people from the Very Intelligent Readers League (VIRL) had lots of rules and regulations about libraries.

So, since VIRL and the Northern Conquistador Community Association disagreed on what a library should be like, the plans to put a library there never came to be. (This is a yet another story than the one I actually am telling now. Still Iíll share a few more details because all these stories seem to overlap, as you may see.) It seems that according to the VIRL, Conquistador was supposed to have a big library with lots of books and a cement floor. Now even though the locals would have loved just to keep their small library with a wooden floor with only a few books ďon displayĒ, the very intelligent board from far away decided to close the small wooden floored library all together. They did this, they said, so that someday a big new library with a concrete floor could exist somewhere else because thatís what the people of Conquistador deserved. They called their decision ďintelligentĒ and ďrationalĒ.

Anyways, after the library idea fizzled, the Northern Conquistador Community Association came up with an even better idea (or at least they thought so). The new idea was to build a water slide. Not only was the water slide supposed to make the local kids happy, but it was supposed to draw tourists to come to Mansonís Take-off and provide jobs too Ė it would help the whole community.

Of course, not everyone agreed that a water slide behind the hall would be a good idea. The folks at the Skatepark thought it might take people away from that business. Other people didnít like the idea of having more tourists around, thinking it would spoil the natural, relaxed atmosphere of the village. So, as it is often done, it was agreed that there would be a meeting to discuss the idea of the water slide and that it would take place in the community hall in Mansonís Take-off.

Then, however, there were a few people who disagreed with the arrangements made for that meeting. They didnít want to have to go into the hall of the Northern Conquistador Community Association to disagree with the community associationís own plans. They felt that they should be able to disagree in a different place, so that they could feel more independent and welcome to disagree.

Then, lots of people disagreed with those people who wanted to move the meeting. After all, the water slide was being planned for Mansonís Take-off, and while people from Chipmunk Bay and Dolphinville were welcome to come to agree or disagree, mostly it was a local issue. Probably, it was people from nearby who would make up the majority of the participants, and to ask all those people to drive halfway across the island, wasting both a bunch of time and a bunch of gas, seemed unfair to most folks and more than just a little dumb.

Please understand that some Dolphinvillers loved to drive north to disagree with the Mansonís folk, and some Mansonís folk liked to do the same to the Dolphinvillers in return. They found that lively dialogue made for better decisions. Yet most often, people from Chipmunk Bay did not travel far from home to disagree. It was believed by many people in Dolphinville and Mansonís that it was important to people from Chipmunk Bay to try to avoid tension with their neighbours. (Öand boy thatís still another different story that isnít really the point. Moving on!)

Now, it had been agreed that the meeting would be presided over by a group called the Serious Rational Decisionmakers (SRD). These folks were a group of serious and rational people who liked to make a lot of decisions, and considered themselves very efficient at it. However, when the disagreement about where to hold the meeting occurred, at first the SRD couldnít decide what the serious rational thing to do was.

Members of the SRD argued long and hard. They called each other bad names. Yet, they were deadlocked. Then finally, the majority of them decided to move the meeting to the Dolphinville hall. Still, the Conquistadorian envoy to the SRD, a woman called Yesmoo, held out for the long standing tradition that meetings should always be held in the closest hall.

Many people on Conquistador thought that the SRDís behaviour wasnít a good example of serious rational decisionmaking at all. One woman started up a declaration that said so, and hundreds of people from all over Conquistador signed it. Some people who printed newspapers started writing that the decision of the SRD was actually silly and biased, and other people started questioning how serious and rational the SRD really was.

Yesmoo pointed out that the people of Conquistador had chosen to align themselves with the Serious Rational Decisionmakers, and that if they were unhappy with the level of seriousness or rationale that was being used by the SRD that they then could cancel the arrangement themselves. It would require a Derationalizement of Seriousness, but that could be done.

Lots of people were concerned by that possibility. What would exist then? How could decisions be made if seriousness wasnít rationalized? An old-timer pointed out that Conquistador had gotten along fine for thousands of years without any serious rationalizing (which was still less than fifty years old). He remembered the old times fondly Ö when he was a boy his father told him that you can know when you are wealthy because you can help your neighbour without worrying if you can afford to do so. (Oh, the stories there are to tell.) Some people started talking about organizing for a Derationalizement of Seriousness. (But that would be yet a fifth story that Iím not telling here.)

In the end, things turned out fine. The point of this story isnít about whether the water slide was a good idea or a bad idea, and it isnít about whether the water slide got built or not (thatís a sixth story Iím not telling). This isnít about whether attendance at the Skatepark increased or declined (although I hope it soared), or if most people from Chipmunk Bay believed in the old ways from when people lived closer together, and usually tried to get along with neighbours rather than be in conflict with them, or not. The point of this story is Ö that thereís lots of disagreement amongst folks about what makes a rational decision, and what doesnít.

On Conquistador, most people disagree a lot, like they do in all sorts of magical villages in all sorts of mythical realms. Still, on Conquistador, once people created an agreement, they worked together well and got a lot done Ė they were a real community. That was because so many people on Conquistador respected each other, even if they didnít agree all the time. They were tolerant of the differences they had and they tried to focus upon the similarities they shared, and the ways their differences could combine to create a great result.

In the end, most people were a little clearer that it was okay to disagree with one another respectfully. They were a little more suspicious of official organizations with acronyms for titles, who thought they were good at making choices for others and liked to do it frequently. They felt that keeping important decisions close to home was the way to go, because itís important to be close to the place youíre making decisions about and to have a connection with that place, instead of just believing you are good at making decisions about any place, even places you donít know about. Thatís the myth anyway.