The Tapestry; A Short Story

Once upon a time, an enormous woven tapestry was discovered by a wandering troop of people. They knew nothing of its origins, but they admired its intricate beauty. As they examined it, they realized they could feed themselves and find protection under its cover.

Generations passed and the troop become a village. The people forgot the discovery of the tapestry and how it looked in that pristine state. It became something they took for granted; they believed the tapestry belonged to them. Yet they still didn’t understand its origins.

More generations passed, and the village became a city. The people organized. They established a government. They assigned responsibility for the functions of the city to specialty groups. Some people grew food because the food they found earlier under the tapestry was no longer sufficient to feed them. Some people looked for ways to shelter their ever growing population. They learned that threads they could pull from the woven tapestry could be used to build bigger shelters. Some produced housewares and other items. Still others made a living in trading goods produced by others. A class system evolved. Most people in the city saw all this as a good thing.

To sustain all this “good life” more threads were pulled from the tapestry. This weakened the fabric, but it still held its shape. Generations passed, and no one could remember the original beauty of the tapestry or the important role it played in their lives. People continue pulling threads, believing it was OK, and it was their right. They thought “all my ancestors did so, so I will too”.

A few of the more thoughtful members of the community gave consideration to tapestry and asked “Where did it come from?”, “What is it? After some study, they learned it was a living thing. They learned that a complex community of life forms had been working together for billions of years, each contributing in a symbiotic conspiracy that resulted it the exquisite tapestry that first troop of people found so long ago.

No one could agree about how such a thing could come to be. Some believed it was an act of magic performed by some unseen higher being. Some suggested it was a happy accident. Neither side could say with certainty how the tapestry came into existence, but they all agreed it was a beautiful thing. Most agreed it was worth saving.

As the city grew, pressure built to produce more food, more clothing, more luxury, bigger housing, faster ways to get from place to place. Soon these modern amenities became the primary focus of the evolving society. Some of the people learned they could profit if they found ways to provide these things, thus affording themselves the means to accumulate wealth. If people did not show an interest in their products, these ambitious few learned they could convince the people that their lives could be so much better if they had one of their products.

All  this manufacturing required resources. They found these resources could be provided by pulling more threads from the tapestry. As more threads were pulled, the fabric became weaker and weaker. Those pulling the threads would not or could not see how much of the tapestry they had obliterated. All they could see was what was left for them to exploit. It did not matter the tapestry was disappearing. It was profitable to continue pulling the threads.

Today only remnants of the tapestry persist. No one knows when the tapestry will collapse. Only a thoughtful few will consider the possibility.