Imagine a large fishbowl, with a lot of goldfish living in it. Then imagine a shelf next to the mouth of the fishbowl on which there is a large pile of grape Jell-O mix.

One day a fish, named Industry, leaped out of the water and, with aswipeof its tail,knocked a few grains of Jell-O into the bowl.

The other fish in the bowl thought that the purple grains of Jell-O brought new meaning and sophistication to their otherwise colorless existence. Some fish, close to the falling granules, noticed a sweetness in the water through which the grains of Jell-O drifted. In no time news of the discovery swept through the bowl. Before long a second fish, named Competition, leaped out of the water and, using a fin, deftly swept quite a few grains of Jell-O into the bowl's water.

A third fish, named Education, studied the moves of Industry and Competition as they continued to catapult themselves from the water, drawing more and more Jell-O into the bowl. Education founded a school and began teaching the younger fish the techniques of Industry and Competition.

As more and more fish became involved in sweeping Jell-O into the bowl, certain problems became apparent. There were fish bumping into others as they leaped out of the water, some fish were crashing upon others as they returned to the water. To remedy these problems a fish, named Law, was appointed to regulate the leaping and landing of all fish. Of course a fish, named Enforcement, also had to be appointed in order to carry out the regulations of Law.

For what seemed a very long time life in the bowl proceeded in what most of the fish agreed was a colorful, tasteful, sophisticated, orderly, and productive fashion.

But there was one fish, named Cynic, who seemed not to be very agreeable. Most of the time Cynic just remained, nearly motionless, near the surface of the water watching the other fish as they dumped Jell-O into the bowl and went about the other functions necessary to the efficient and orderly dumping of Jell-O.

Eventually things began to get a little sticky, but life in the bowl was becoming more colorful and ever more tasteful.

Some fish began to notice that it was getting difficult to breathe, but they were a hardy lot and continued to leap from the water drawing more Jell-O into the bowl for the sake of sophistication and productivity.

One day Cynic went to Law and predicted that, unless the fish stopped sweeping the purple grains into their environment, the entire fish society was going to find itself in a perfectly intolerable situation. Law was outraged that the slothful Cynic should dare to question the very basis of their colorful, tasteful, sophisticated, productive, and orderly way of life. Cynic was warned that his prediction amounted to treason, even blasphemy, and that if he repeated it he would be severely punished. Next some fish noticed that it was getting harder to move, and they couldn't swim as fast or jump as high as previously. Nonetheless they continued pulling more Jell-O into the bowl because that's what they had come to believe life was all about.

Then several of the weakest fish died of asphyxiation. Almost instinctively the others continued to whisk more Jell-O into the bowl. Prompted by the fate of the weakest, Cynic returned to Law and repeated his prediction.

According to his word, Law summoned Enforcement, Industry, Competition, Education, Tradition, Custom, Ritual, and together they flailed Cynic to death.

Finally the water in the bowl gelled. Law, Enforcement, Industry, Competition, Education, Tradition, Custom, Ritual, and all the other fish also perished.


No matter how tasteful or colorful, a society which cannot tolerate its critics must end.

Thomas -- 1987