Trouble in Bahteh Wallow
By Jim Poling
Published Oct. 12, 2017
Bahteh Wallow was a democratic society founded on the idea that all animals are created equal. It had evolved from a revolution and a civil war as a homeland for elephants, but other species were welcomed.
Immigrants from far off came to Bahteh for a better life in which animals of different shapes, sizes and colours might live in harmony under a guarantee of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Bahteh was not a perfect society but it was admired and respected. It grew into a leader among global communities and its advice and generous aid were sought by many.
As time passed it became apparent that the principles on which Bahteh was built were not as easy to sustain as its founders believed. Differences in beliefs and social status widened, creating rumblings of discontent. The rumblings warned of an approaching storm.
There was no single reason for the growing discontent. Some blamed immigration, saying that different animals brought differences that disrupted the structure and culture of the traditional society. Immigrants were blamed for robberies and rapes and there were calls to block them from entering Bahteh.
Others cited ascending communities that exhibited growth and strength and were taking away from Bahteh’s influence in trade. They said Bahteh should withdraw from the world, adopt protectionism, and focus on making itself great.
Also, Bahteh’s climate was changing, resulting in more wildfires, floods in some areas, droughts in others. Arguments broke out between those demanding more environmental protection and those who said environmental rules were ridiculous and killing prosperity.
As a global leader, Bahteh often became tangled in conflicts in distant places. Its youth were sent to fight in communities that did not fit the pattern of Bahteh’s
However, it had not won any of those wars in more than 60 years. Some Bahtehans saw that as a embarrassment and a humiliating loss of influence.
So it was a combination of factors that made Bahteh an increasingly unhappy place. Unhappiness soured the social order, turning it more aggressive and less tolerant.
The young complained that no matter how hard they worked, their lives were not as good as those of their parents. They believed their future to be bleak.
Older, conservative Bahtehans were especially annoyed with the way the society had changed. They said it had become soft, liberal and too tolerant.
Some elephants sought comfort and escape by chewing hallucinogenic grasses and leaves that grew nearby. Community leaders encouraged the practice and changed laws, making hallucinogens legal, and taxable.
It started as recreational dosing but soon Bahteh was fighting a full blown drug epidemic. Elephants were found passed out under the trees, many dead from overdoses. Families broke up, crime increased and there was a general breakdown of society.
Some of the older bulls said Bahteh needed to toughen its approach to governing. It had become too dependent on a matriarchal approach in which governing was done by consensus. It needed to return to the patriarchal approach, which was governing through power.
They found a leader, a wealthy old bull named Mazeka, who promised to make Bahteh great again. Mazeka trumpeted against everything Bahteh had stood for in the past.
He promised to drive out the immigrants, tighten Bahteh’s borders, tear up treaties with other communities and stop environmental and social improvements at home.
Bahteh society became more disordered and divided than ever before. Mazeka’s trumpeting sparked arguments that caused stampedes in which reasoned debate was trampled into the dust.
Many began to fear they were witnessing the most dreaded occurrence in elephant society – an old male gone rogue. That happened when an elephant broke away from the society’s norms and became excessively aggressive and violent. A rogue often stampeded others, creating chaos and destruction.
An intense debate developed over what to do about Mazeka. Would it be best to drive him out or try to live with him and his erratic ways? Either choice could have dangerous consequences.
Meanwhile, other communities around the world watched nervously, waiting and wondering whether Bahteh Wallow would collapse under another civil war or another revolution.