But the Kingdom of IF was facing a crisis, unlike anything they had ever faced before, though to be sure they had faced and overcome many dire situations in their uncounted generations of existence. But now, the Indivisible Fiefdom was sorely divided between the Earth-dwellers and the Sky-dwellers both of whom claimed the right to influence the king. But as it turned out King Oban was heavily in debt to the Earth-dwellers (for his great-great-grandmother on his father’s side was an Earth-dweller of immense standing and she had quite a bit of money in very deep pockets) and this left the Sky-dwellers in high dungeon for they felt left out of everything. In fact, every decision the king had to make was considered from these two opposing camps, but he overwhelmingly favored the Earth-dwellers. The Earth-dwellers saw everything from a personal point of view. “It is my right!” was their motto and “Save the Earth!” was another favorite axiom. The Sky-dwellers, on the other hand, saw everything as a matter for long consideration in relation to right and wrong. Though there were a variety of different clans in the Sky-dwellers dominion still they tended to group around a vision of a “higher-calling” and this left the Earth-dwellers perfectly incensed for they believed that no one had the right to tell anyone else what to do (except of course when they were telling the Sky-dwellers where to go and how to follow their laws) but the Sky-dwellers were also in the habit of telling the general population how things ought to be done though they argued, quite honestly that they were not preaching a singular individualistic doctrine but the beliefs of their ancestors dating back time out of mind. Their favorite motto was “God really rules” (though there was some debate as to what God believed exactly) and they loved the ancient melody and lullaby “Tradition Still Has Meaning In Our Lives”.
But the real danger facing the Kingdom of IF was not simply their divided nature, for they were always arguing, but rather that they did not look very far into their own future. For it was the will of the people of IF that when the king chose a side, he must stick to that side at all costs and listen not a word to the other side – even if they happened to be making humongous good sense. So the population of IF was dwindling into sad chaos, in fact, it was only surviving due to the charity of a few who still believed in the ancient prophesy that the Kingdom of IF was the best of all the kingdoms put upon the earth.
But there was another danger facing the the kingdom that few seemed to realize – for there was an enormous kingdom to the east known as DOOM whose motto was “Conquer without battle”. And though they professed enduring love for the people of IF, they were secretly rubbing their hands in glee at all the in-fighting between the Earth-dwellers and the Sky-dwellers for they were observing that all the work of destruction was being done quite efficiently for them. Also on the sidelines were the tri-kingdoms of Kab, Bab, and Dan. These three semi-allied kingdoms (always together except when they were at each other’s throats) also professed an enduring love for the people of IF, though they would chant “Death to the King of IF” at every family gathering.
Besides the efforts of King Oban (who was himself a hard worker except when he was on vacation which was at least once a week or every day that began with a headache and that was becoming rather more common) there were organizations of “Centralized Order” with highly trained worker-bureaucrats toiling ever so hard in the dark, dank libraries of great wisdom (though their words were drier than the parchment they lay upon) to keep the kingdom financially afloat. They had at that time finished volume P of laws and rules for tax regulation though they were now working on volume Q, but it had become stalled when the president/ CEO (and DMD for he pulled teeth on the side) of Rule-Keepers had to have an extended stay at Sunny-Shade, for his nerves had become rather undone in all the hairsplitting technicalities of tracing contradictory laws and rules and regulations to their origin and rewriting them in modern jargon.
But the people of IF saw not their danger. There was only one small child who had written a poem for her mother one day, who seemed to grasp the implications of the dire times. She had learned in school of their noble history and her friends had all chosen sides. But one sunny day her little brother sat down beside her near a great old oak tree, and he asked her why she was so sad. Though she could not answer her sibling’s innocent question, she did think that a poem might relieve her pent-up feelings, so she wrote this quaint little prose, and she gave it to her mother who was too busy to read it. But you may find time in your busy life to read it before the parchment crumbles into dust – for even questions from young people will fade if given enough time to wither and fall.
THE KINGDOM OF IF
If only we remembered from whence we came
And delighted in the goodness from above.
If only we grew our strength
From the victory of enduring love.
If only we realized that everything we have is a gift.
And that gifts can be taken away.
If only we toiled for that which lasts
And not so much for the day.
If only we lived lives of hope and not of dreadful dread-
We would know lives of joyful fruit
And not live as if we were already dead.
So, though the Kingdom of IF still stands upon its majestic past, and faces its future quite blindfolded, still it will not last forever, for nothing in this world ever does. But there is a quaint little plea in the child’s verse that strikes deep into the heart – for history will record not only how well the kingdom rose but how badly it fell. Yet may our nation live long, inspiring hope and enduring faith in something truly great. If only….