Once upon a time, a great leader was in trouble. He'd gone over his spending limit on the country's charge card and gotten into a nasty fight with a big bully who once claimed to be stronger than the great leader's daddy.
He needed something to get the people's attention off of these things. One day - thanks to his great edja-kay-shun - he had a great idea! He got before the people and gave a great speech.
"I've discovered a menace among us," the great leader declared. "This menace is found everywhere, but is impossible to see. And everybody who has ever come in contact with it has either died already or will die someday! This menace is called 'oxygen.'"
The people all talked about the oxygen menace, wondered what they should do about it, and looked to the great leader for guidance. His poll numbers shot up immediately and he was very pleased.
But there was another leader who was referred to as "the loyal opposition." He made a speech too. He said, "Oxygen is nothing to fear. Oxygen has always been with us and always shall be."
That didn't sound very loyal, did it? Not at all. So, the great leader denounced the opposition leader, and said, "My oh-poe-nent is in the clutches of oxygen. He is beholden to oxygen. He is evil." And the other leader was vanquished and the opposition was in a shambles.
Then a very important medical doctor made a speech. He said, "It is true that oxygen poses no risk. In fact," he said, "we couldn't live without oxygen. Life would simply be impossible."
A journalist (who had no known links to the great leader's henchmen) did some invest-a-gaytin and discovered that this very doctor had distributed tanks of oxygen to hospitals and had forcibly hooked up frail, elderly people to these tanks.
The people demanded an end to this practice and after a long struggle (which included the shooting to death of the very important medical doctor who didn't believe in the right God anyway) the practice of hooking old people up to oxygen tanks was banned.
Meanwhile, the loyal opposition had found a new leader. He was very smart too, and understood which way the wind blows. The new opposition leader gave a speech. He said, "Those who talk about oxygen are hiding the real threat!"
That got the people's attention! "What could the real threat be?" they wondered.
"The oxygen you are forced to breath is only half the problem," the new leader continued, and the people listened so carefully that some of them even turned off their iPods and closed their cell phones. "Did you know that oxygen is also in water? Your 'great leader' never told you about that, did he? He said he'd rid the air of oxygen, but he never did anything about the oxygen in your water. If you ask me to be your new great leader, I shall fix that problem."
This was a very long speech (75 words!), so he lost a few people, but enough of the ones who actually vote heard him that he was swept into office with the support of nearly 26% of those who are eligible to vote.
And they all lived happily ever after. Except for the little puppies and kittens and other carbon-based life forms that require oxygen to survive. The end.
(© 2006, K.R. Goldstein - All rights reserved, you betcha)
Tags: oxygen, leadership, parables, political speech