Occasionally they squabbled over whose beliefs were best but generally they lived happily together, side by side. The sun shone, the crops thrived and there was enough food for everyone. The villages prospered.
Then one day, something very troubling happened. An unfamiliar shape appeared on the horizon. It was difficult to make out exactly what it was. Some of the villagers said it was an evil robot with super-human powers, others that it was a savage monster with insatiable demands, and still more that it was a wicked genie with cunning tricks.
But whether they called it "Big Day-Tah", "The Konsuma" or (the foulest name of all) "Kay-Gen-Tse" they all agreed on one thing – the creature appeared to be coming straight towards them, in a menacing fashion.
In the first settlement, the people were consumed by terror. The Panickers (as they were known) stopped what they were doing and pointed at the horizon, wailing and screaming. The village elders embellished the beast, inventing terrible new features and imagining terrible new powers.
The commoners hurriedly wrote their own obituaries. Parents scared their children, and traders warned merchants not to visit. One day, their frenzy of fear reached such heights that the entire village died of fright.
In the second settlement, the people were made of sterner stuff. The Talkers (as they were known) also stopped what they were doing and pointed at the horizon. But they spoke eloquently, instead of wailing and screaming.
The village elders gave great orations, preaching the need to be brave and urging people to stand their ground. The commoners flexed their muscles, in public places. Priests delivered rousing sermons and bards wrote stirring sagas. Words flowed but actions were less forthcoming. One day, the torrent of rhetoric reached such a volume that the entire village was drowned in a deluge of good intentions.
Finally, in the third settlement, the people didn’t flinch – or waste their breath on empty words. The Creators (as they were known) just kept on making stuff – bigger, better, faster, smarter, funner, cooler stuff than ever before. Stuff that could disarm the most ruthless robot, satisfy the most demanding monster and charm the most cunning genie.
The village elders smiled, as they had seen off similar beasts before. The commoners beamed as they made full use of their imaginations. Artists rejoiced at all the new canvases they had to paint on, while craftsmen embraced their many new tools.
One day, they looked up from their work and they noticed that the beast seemed to have completely disappeared from the horizon.
Looking back, nobody knew quite how this had happened. Some said the demon had felt defeated and had gone off to haunt another land. Others that it had never meant any harm and had gone on to settle peacefully in the village. Still more that the whole thing had been a figment of their imagination. But everybody agreed on one thing – the best way to deal with such threats in future would be to keep on creating, rather than panicking or talking (especially in the form of laboured metaphors).
Andy Nairn is a founding partner of Lucky Generals