The inhabitants of two villages, we’ll call them A and B, had been warring with each other for so long that nobody could remember what their beef was all about. Some claimed it was a question of honor, others suggested stolen property, abducted wives or daughters, and so on, but no one knew for sure. And since a dispute without a known cause can never be resolved, the animosity and fighting between these two villages continued on down through the generations.
These were poor communities who couldn’t afford the burden of constant warfare, and over time a convention had evolved: A ceasefire was observed, with the exception of one appointed day each year when the men of the opposing villages would meet at a field designated for the purpose and fight tooth and nail from dawn to dusk.
On these annual occasions, after the appropriate insults had been hurled between the two sides, the fighters would charge head on at full speed and set about beating each other over head and body with clubs made from the roots of Acacia trees. These brave fellows would bash away until no one had the strength left to lift his arms, at which time they would resort to the previously mentioned tooth and nail, as well as fist, elbow, knee, boot and what have you.
Considering the fierceness of these hostilities it is a wonder that no more than a handful of contestants actually perished, and though limbs were maimed and lost, bones bruised and broken, and a considerable amount of blood spilled, neither side ever scored a decisive victory. And so it had always been, year after year.
God had looked down on this senseless struggle now and then and it irritated him to no end. What fools I have inhabited this earth with, he would say to any angel that happened to be within earshot. But there was a lot of other stuff going on in the universe, and God would soon occupy himself elsewhere and forget* about the two warring villages.
But then it happened one year that God tuned in on a particularly hopeless muddle of bashing, clouting, clubbing and slamming, and he decided to put an end to this silliness once and for all.
God had no favorite between the two villages. True, the inhabitants of Village A prayed to him regularly and had built a nice little church in his honor, but the inhabitants of Village B made him generous offerings and strictly observed his rules on zoophilia. It was a toss up. So he asked an angel to randomly, by the flip of a coin**, pick which of the two villages he was going to bless with a decisive advantage.
The coin toss went the way of village A, and a container-load of a heretofore unheard-of technological wonder, a real showstopper, the AK-47 assault rifle, was airlifted into the lucky warriors of that village on the eve of the next annual battle. That will put an end to this tomfoolery, God had told his angels, and the following day they checked in to witness the outcome of this heavenly intervention.
Just imagine God and the angel’s dismay when, instead of the expected clear cut victory for Village A, newly armed with their deadly Kalashnikovs, what they saw was the same bashing, clouting, clubbing, gorging, biting, and slamming that had been going on all through the years, only now, village A were using their new AK-47s as clubs in place of the traditional acacia roots. When sundown came, the results were the same as always — a senseless and bloody draw.
If God could swear***, we wouldn’t have wanted to hear the terrible words that might have crossed his lips on that disappointing day. From then on he let humans carry on as they pleased and diverted his attention to the birds, mice and jellyfish, which were much more sensible creatures.
* This is allegorically speaking, as God, as we know, cannot forget anything.
** Asking an angel to throw the dice was a technical necessity, as God himself, and this is scientifically and theologically substantiated, can do nothing at random.
*** Naturally there is no profanity in Heaven. And furthermore, it is semiotically not possible for God to take his own name in vain.