The Flies and the Honeypot

While technology may change, human behavior does not. At least, that’s what reading the collection of Aesop’s Fables suggests. The characters and motivations in the parables, attributed to Aesop after he died in 564 BCE, remain relevant today.

Aesop 2021 projects these well-known (and not-so-known) stories into an age only a stone’s throw from our own. When cynicism and pessimism abound, hope becomes a rebellious act against the tyranny of the default. Each story recasts a fable’s lesson from our upcoming solarpunk future as a software tale.

The Aesop 2021 project is part of the Never Break the Chain March Writing Challenge. The original sources were translated by George Fyler Townsend and provided under the Project Gutenberg license. Addition reference provided by a Library of Congress interactive book adapted from the public domain book “The Aesop for Children: with Pictures by Milo Winter,” published by Rand, McNally & Co in 1919.

Below is the latest installment.

A picture

Concordance Day, 2121, dawned bright and arid. It was a holiday to celebrate the Grand New Deal and repent for the sins of centuries past’s ancestors. Achieving consensus, some might argue enlightenment, had come at great expense during the Billionaires’ War. The day’s gatherings, music, play, and more - marking the moment to remember what might have been and expressing gratitude for what had become was no small undertaking.

It began with sunrise services, during which people were encouraged to ponder the sacrifices made to ensure humanity’s health and happiness. The meditative time closed with a blessing for sustainability and mutual respect for all, an allusion to “The Pivot” becoming “The Promise”.

Community productions and interactive retellings follow a hearty breakfast. Historians, ecologists, and storytellers of all skills portray the past’s excesses. They speak of bleached ocean coral, forests razed for palm oil, and children who went thirsty while data centers drank freely.

One of the most dueted stories each year is that of The Flies and The Honey-Pot. What once was considered a children’s fable has now become a regular highlight, as the recording of each truthsayers version is uploaded and added to, in near real-time; a modern world-wide story circle.

In the standard version, flies discover a jar of honey spilled in the storeroom. Ecstatic over their luck, they land and begin eating greedily, not realizing that their feet have become stuck in the process. Unable to release themselves, they lament their fate before suffocating - giving their lives for a passing taste of sweetness.

Or at least that’s the start. Some give the flies different voices. Others, as they are able, act out the scene. And still others animate or compose, assigning import to historical events. The fate that finds us, greed, and the ultimate consequences are told again and again so as not to forget just how precariously close humanity had come to a similar fate.

As the afternoon grows long, the tone shifts to celebration of the great change: uplifting praise of the collective action that closed holes in the ozone layer, universalized healthcare, and reforested vast swathes of Amazon rainforest.

As the bioluminescent lights begin to glow, people bid each farewell and retire to their homes. After Concordance Day, they’ll continue on the difficult but necessary journey towards a better world, one that is more sustainable, equitable, and hopeful. They’ll do so not with scorn or damnation of the past but with gratitude that they have the opportunity to learn.

Original Fable

A NUMBER of Flies were attracted to a jar of honey which had been overturned in a housekeeper’s room, and placing their feet in it, ate greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, “O foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves.”

Moral of the Stories

In software, as in life, indulgence in excess can lead to one’s downfall. The pursuit of immediate gratification may come at the expense of one’s well-being or survival.

Wrapping Up That concludes the March Writing Challenge and, with it, Aesop 2121. If you have enjoyed these hopeful tales of an alternative future and are in a position to give, please consider supporting The Sunrise Movement, a youth-based, community-focused group advocating for a Green New Deal.

Dystopia doesn’t have to be the default. Supporting groups, like the Sunrise Movement, is part of how we ensure viable alternatives take root. Donate today.

A picture from the Global Climate Strike March in Washington, DC, September 20th, 2019 A picture from the Global Climate Strike March in Washington, DC, September 20th, 2019