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Beyond Civilization
 Study Guide

  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 436)...

    Yes, but how are the strategies proposed in Beyond Civilization supposed to eliminate pollution, overpopulation, crime, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, poverty, police brutality, political corruption, racism, child abuse, violence against women, homophobia, pornography, violence in film and music, exploitation of the elderly, date rape, judicial malfeasance, insider trading, road rage, and media bias?

    ...and the response:

    The Healer Who Left Something To Be Desired

    Once, in a land ruled by a wise and benevolent king, there lived a certain man named Badolfo, who was considered one of the luckiest men alive. He had inherited a fortune and had doubled and redoubled it through his business acumen. He and his beautiful, loving wife occupied a vast, handsome estate that was the envy of all, and they had a brilliant son who seemed destined to become a great athlete.

    But one year, his luck seemed to abandon him. A slight head injury from a riding accident left him with a excruciating headache that never went away and seemed invulnerable to any drug. He was unable to manage his businesses and was forced to sell them at a loss. But that was just the beginning. A river shifted its course and flooded his estate. His wife fell in love with another man and left him. A sporting accident left his son paralyzed from the neck down. As if all this wasn't bad enough, the wise and benevolent king was dethroned by his wicked son, a vicious tyrant.

    Badolfo's headaches got worse and worse. He went from clinic to clinic, hired specialists from all over the world, and finally admitted himself to the finest hospital in the land, where the most exhaustive tests would surely reveal what was wrong with him. Unfortunately, they didn't. By now unable even to care for himself, Badolfo remained in the hospital. But being what hospitals are, he soon ran through the remains of his fortune and had to be moved to the charity ward.

    One day he received a visitor, a stranger by the name of Smith, who asked permission to examine him.

    "Why not?" said Badolfo. "Everyone else has."

    After the examination, Smith said, "It's just as I thought. I once suffered an accident very like yours, which left me paralyzed with an unshakable headache."

    "You seem all right now," Badolfo observed.

    "Yes, over many years I developed a technique that banished the headache. I call it the Seven Tonic Tactics, which involve certain applications of pressure and certain stretches and twists performed in a certain order. I'll be glad to show them to you, if you like. Who knows? What works for me might work for you."

    Badolfo readily agreed, and five minutes later his headache disappeared as if by magic.

    "You mean I'm cured?" asked Badolfo, amazed.

    "Well, not with this single enactment, I'm afraid," Smith said. "Your headache will return from time to time, but if you repeat the Seven Tonic Tactics, it will disappear right away like a charm. Here, I'll write them down for you."
    When he handed over the list, Badolfo studied if for a moment, then shook his head in disgust.

    "What's the matter?" Smith asked.

    "Well," said Badolfo, "if you expect any thanks from me, explain this. How are these Seven Tactics supposed to get my wife back, cure my son's paralysis, bring back my fortune, reroute the river that's flooding my estate, and restore our wise and benevolent king to his throne?"

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