One day they came to a fork in the river, and a discussion was held over which direction to take. One fork led away into the far unseen distance through a landscape similar to the one they were used to. The horizon above the other fork, however, appeared to be a hazy blue-green in colour.
“Look!” some said, pointing to the North East. “There are green fields. That must be a verdant land to cater for all our needs. We will be able to take back control of our own lives by planting crops and animal husbandry, rather than relying on foraging what we can as we travel.”
“But how can you be sure?” Said others, as they pointed to the North West. “At least on this path we know where we are headed, and know that we can find food and shelter. Why take the risk into the unknown?”
“Listen!” The first group said. “Hear your experts! They do not know but they are afraid of change. They have no new answers for you. We have allowed our numbers to grow too large and now there are too many of us to be supported within this landscape.”
“But it will cause fighting amongst ourselves if you prove to be wrong and there is not enough food.” Responded the second group.
And so it went on, with each argument infused with greater fear than the last until a great confusion reigned amongst the populace. To them, it seemed, whatever they chose would cause War and Famine and Pestilence. There would be a great Suffering by all concerned and Disaster would befall their community.
Eventually they decided that each person would choose for themselves, as the leaders were so petrified of making the wrong choice, they would rather make none at all. The majority chose the North West path, as it was a landscape they trusted and knew how to eke an existence out of. But a few chose to travel towards the inviting hazy blue-green on the horizon.
Over the long days they found the distant haze slowly begin to take on a darker hue. The hopeful green shade diminished in favour of the blue, before becoming purple and black, until they realised that they were staring at a range of bare mountains, rising up from the other side of a deep chasm.
Their fork was throwing itself off their side of the chasm, falling with a deafening roar that echoed amongst the rock formations like giant flapping birds.
“What do we do?” some asked. “Do we turn back?”
“No. There is no turning back. You made your decision at the fork. You were brave and curious. You trusted your instinct for freedom over the control that the others would have forced you to bend to. Have we not too been able to feed ourselves since the parting?”
“Yes”. They replied. “But now what? There is no verdant land here, nor on the other side of the chasm. And we dare not leave the river for losing access to water”.
“It is simple. Do you not see? We throw ourselves over with the water and carry on following the river until we reach our perfect green and pleasant land.
“It will be for us only, because we will be the only ones brave enough to take the difficult path and it will be our reward for perseverance. And we will defend it from all comers”
The people were unsure, but since their leaders were so sure of an outcome which they all craved, they slowly formed up a line on the edge of the chasm, with the water rushing headlong down by the side of them, growling like a fearsome dragon. They all held hands with one other and closed their eyes in this leap of faith.
Until suddenly the cry went up.