Thursday, May 7, 2009

Keeper of the Light

There once was a village located on a small tropical island. Long ago, the village had decided that it needed a lighthouse to protect them from the dangerous seas that surrounded their island. After building the structure, a keeper was called in from the mainland who was said to be knowledgeable on the subject of dispersing light. The villagers didn't like the idea of the lighthouse keeper looming over them from atop his tower, but it seemed like a necessary evil to keep them protected.

At first, the lighthouse keeper did his job well. Whenever a ship approached the island, he quickly shone the light on the approaching vessel. If it was a passenger or cargo ship, the keeper guided it safely to port. There were also rare occasions when a vessel appeared that was of ill intent – a pirate ship, for example. In these cases, the lighthouse keeper turned off the mighty globe and the ship was forced to turn away or risk splintering on the jagged reefs surrounding the island.

One night, the keeper leaned over the railing at the top of the lighthouse and peered down on the village (Incidentally, the villagers hated when the keeper walked the light deck because it cast his long shadow over the entire island, which is a pretty obvious metaphor for oppression). It was late at night, and most of the villagers were sleeping – all but the village scholar who was busy studying a new leather-bound manuscript he had recently received. His window was illuminated from the candles he was using to read by.

The lighthouse keeper was furious. It was his job to keep the island safe, and he felt that this light could spell disaster. What if a pirate ship were to see the light from the scholar's window? He made the decision to force the scholar to extinguish his candles. The next time the merchant ship carrying manuscripts and other scholarly things approached the island, the lighthouse keeper turned off his light, and it crashed into the coral reefs.

The next night the keeper again looked over the railing and spotted a glow coming from a window far below. This time it was the village baker. His oven was glowing from the fire that baked breads and pastries for the villagers.

Again the lighthouse keeper was furious. So from then on, the light was extinguished for any vessel carrying food supplies.

The following night, the lighthouse keeper felt confident that he would be met by darkness when he peered over the railing of his tower. Instead, he again saw a light, like a bright beacon coming from one of the villagers windows. It was the chemist, who was mixing chemicals that caused small explosions and bursts of light.

So his supply of chemicals, too, were sunk to the bottom of the reef at the hand of the keeper.

Each night, the keeper spotted a new light shining from below his tower. And with each one, he vowed to turn away another ship from the island. Soon the island was completely cut off from the outside world.

And it was all because of the lighthouse keeper.
Save to delicious Saved by 0 users
Digg Technorati StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

4 Responses:

Jen Farr said...

So true and so frustrating...I will be sharing this on Twitter and on my blog. The light keeper was my undoing as an administrator. I wanted to bring different vessels of learning to the workplace, but the lights were snuffed at many turns.

It saddens me that I have been able to share so much more as an independent consultant. However, as an eternal optimist I continue to look for enlightened schools with light keepers who are willing to listen and consider each spectrum of light and each vessel that approaches. I know those islands exist.

Thank you for your thoughtful posting.

Jim said...

So... which are you and which am I? Baker, Scholar or Chemist? I like food, so I call the Baker!

Nicely done, my friend. You frighten me with your smithy ways.

Chris said...

If the lighthouse keeper wasn't doing the job expected of him, he should have been redirected, reprimanded or removed. Clearly he believed he was doing his job and it doesn't appear that anyone let him know differently. This is not so much a problem of the lighthouse keeper as it is a problem of communicated expectations and oversite.

John said...

@Chris The problem is that the lighthouse keeper's tower is so high above the village that he is unable to hear the cries of the villagers.