Absentee Colonialism: A Fable

Once upon a time, in the heart of your beloved country, there was a people that we now call the Others. History shows that this place had been their home since at least 1150 B.C. They lived here, loved here, built their communities here. This was home.

But your people needed a home, too. And so, about a hundred years ago, with the help of rich and powerful allies, you moved in. A more accurate term would be “occupy”. You occupied a land that had already been a home to the Others.

At various times, you’ve used warfare and violence to support your claim. Your military might, provided by allies, is unsurpassed. You’ve locked the Others into smaller and smaller areas, hoping they would just disappear. You’ve restricted their movements and their ability to earn a living. You’ve imprisoned them, and attempted to politically expunge them from the record of the world.

You’ve tried to portray their often violent protests regarding your home invasion, as outrageous, terrorist acts. How dare they be angry in any way? What gives them the right? This is your country, bought and paid for by powerful allies. Nothing else matters.

And yet the Palestinians persist. How annoying. How inconvenient.


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Dodo Bird Jobs

This isn’t the first time engineers have looked into automating one of my drawbridges, and it won’t be the last. People don’t like the idea of paying bridgetenders when they spend the bulk of their time “doing nothing.” These automation ideas generally do not come to fruition, because it’s very easy to get killed on a drawbridge. You want someone with independent judgment at the controls, so as not to crush the life out of passersby. Crunching million-dollar yachts tends to piss off the public as well.

But these recurring threats have made me very sensitive to jobs that are going the way of the dodo bird. For example, take the plight of Hamilton Beale. He’s been working as an elevator operator at Seattle’s gorgeous historic Smith Tower for 18 years. He’s 76 years old, and has kind of become part of the Smith Tower experience. And he’s about to get automated out of a job.

I can well imagine how sad his last day of work will be for him. When you have a unique job that people are curious about, trust me, it becomes a big part of your identity. You take pride in it. I’m sure he loves his elevator as much as I love my bridge. I’m also sure that Seattle will be losing something special when he is no longer on the job.

I’m thrilled to see that someone has decided to create a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to supplement Mr. Beale’s retirement. I hope you’ll spread the word and consider making a contribution, as I have. Do it for the dodos of the world.

Hamilton Beale

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