Sunday, January 14, 2007


Once, long, long ago, when the Romans conquered Egypt, one of the generals saw the Nile, and recognized how helpful it would be to his empire's expansion to travel upriver and control the source, not just the product, and claim the riches found therein.

The general put together an expeditionary team, 42 men besides himself (who would be leading the team and not actually rowing), taking turns in twelve man teams, would row upriver to claim all the land. The four remaining men would relieve those who became ill or overtired from working. In addition, they hoped to recruit local Egyptians to assist the rowing teams. The teams would have to work hard, though, because the river did not yield.

So the teams packed their provisions and set off. They did not know where they were going, nor how long it would take, but they trusted their leader. They made what appeared to be good progress for the first bit of the journey, travelling up a long, peaceful stretch of river with the Roman-friendly Egyptians anxious to help them by selling supplies and other necessary items. After they got out of the heavily-populated areas, though, the Egyptians were less friendly, there was less security, animal attacks were more prevalent, and dangers that had been ignored before were now more visible to the rowers' eyes. Yet they continued to row.

Soon after, they came up to a rapids, and the teams rowed and rowed and rowed, but made little progress. The men were weary, and the locals were less than helpful; unwilling to row for their new leaders, these invaders who they did not trust or like. Those who were willing to help found the Roman way too difficult to understand, and were unable to be of any real assistance.

During this trip, the General assured the rowers that they were almost there, that the journey was nearly at an end, that the locals were supportive, and that the attacks were acts of desperation from people and animals that feared the new path their country was to take.

After months of rowing, the Roman soldiers were beginning to doubt their general's insistence that they were "almost there," and fatigue had set in. Even those who had switched out for sick and injured were exhausted. The general had heard from individuals in the area that ahead, the river forked. He knew that he had to do something to galvanize his soldiers, to keep his dream of reigning over all of the Nile from falling apart. So he gathered his troops. He told them that he had not planned everything perfectly, that mistakes had been made. He then informed the soldiers that they had to continue forward, because if they didn't, then they would have failed, and Rome cannot fail. He then told them of the fork in the river, and informed them that after consulting his maps and charts, they would be going up the right fork, and to ensure that they succeeded, he would have six reserves join the teams. This was necessary, he said, because of his poor planning, the original teams were insufficient to succeed in the task, and that by adding the reserves, they would be able to get the extra push necessary to go up the right fork of the river. He would not be rowing, however, because he needed to remain at the helm. He then invited anyone to come up with a different plan to speak up, and warned them that their different plans had better be convincing, though did not offer the use of the information at his disposal.

Over the next couple of days, several soldiers proposed plans to the general, and conversed among themselves as to which path they should take, left, right, or back downriver. The general then addressed the soldiers and told them that nobody had provided him with a viable alternative, he being the one who needed convincing, and thus they would take his plan and follow it through. He then ordered the men, including the reserves, back to work as he adjourned to his cabin.

We'll see how this story ends sometime later.


nuje said...

Well, at least you didn't make a Hitler comparison.

Steve said...

That's because I didn't concede the argument.