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O Brother, where art thou?

O Brother, where art thou?

A long time ago, far, far away ...

On the whole, people could be happy and content. They had enough to eat, in winter it was always warm thanks to good heating, and on balmy summer nights people liked to celebrate life and enjoy togetherness.

Some people were driven by the urge to explore and broaden their horizons. They felt that one should not always accept the status quo. Instead, one should work to make the world a little better for everyone, step by step. And they were right in their belief, and their motives were good and sincere.

One day, a new world was discovered. Many explorers then set out to explore this new world. A motley group of explorers had already travelled a long and far way through the new world, over high mountains, through a desert, through dark valleys and through obscure forests.

They had even had to cross a wide river, but fortunately found a ford where this had been possible without danger. Nevertheless, their journey had been very arduous and they were tired. Many longed to return home.

One day, the explorers found themselves in a hot and barren environment at the edge of a large, deep gorge that seemed to stretch from horizon to horizon, blocking their further way. It was not possible to cross this gorge.

Their path through the new world had led them to a dead end. The only way out seemed to be to go back part of the way. Back through the confusing forests, through the dark valleys, over the high mountains? Through the dry desert, which they had almost died of thirst crossing on the way there?

Frustrated, they set up camp to rest before the difficult decision of how to proceed from the next day. They were checking their meagre supplies when they suddenly heard shouts.

On the opposite edge of the gorge, they saw other explorers waving cheerfully across. The other group had obviously chosen a path through the new world that had led them beyond the gorge. There, the plant growth was lush, there was plenty of cooling shade, fresh water and food in abundance.

The explorers on the other side were all in good spirits and were preparing a feast. They exchanged stories across the gorge about the experiences each group had had on their way. The people on the barren side had to realise that they had not fared nearly as well as the other group, especially on the last sections of their journey.

As darkness fell, campfires were lit on both sides. While some ate their meagre meal in frustration, they heard the cheerful singing of the side across the gorge. The one who thought he was the leader of the meagre side felt he had to justify himself: "We have almost reached the same place as the others". "Yes, and it's not far to the other side," said the cartographer, nodding in confirmation.

A former policeman wanted to know which of the numerous decisions on the way had been wrong. The philosopher remarked that no decision had been wrong at the time it had been made. A mathematician said that it was now very important to learn from the other group what criteria they had used to make decisions at crossroads.

A wise scholar, the oldest among the explorers, had so far only listened. Now he broke his silence and said: "The sum of our decisions has brought us to this place". He was silent for a moment to give his words even more meaning.

Then he continued, "If we want to get from here to another place, the way will be long for us, even if the other place seems very close. There is no short way to a place that is a station on another path."

The next day, the explorers set off early.