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Statues make the best idols

High up the the mountains, off the paths of normal travel and beyond even the journeys of most merchants, sits a small town. Through floods and winter storms, the town has stood for many years and is a source of pride for all its inhabitants.

In the center of town are the four statues of the founders of the town. A small boy sit on the ground and looks up at them. As he ponders the statues, his father walks over.

“Son, what are you looking at?”

“The statues, father. They… they don’t have faces.”

“Yes, that’s true. Long ago, when my great-grandfather built the statues, he decided to not include the faces.”

“But… how will we know what the founders looked like?”

“We won’t. But that’s not important, son. It’s not the person you look up to but the reasons they stand for.”

The boy thought about that for a moment. “But… who were they?”

“They are the founders. They are the men and women we try to be like, that we try to copy every day. They each represent a different idea.”

“Oh.”

“Didn’t you learn this in school? Miss Tempty should have taught you that.”

“Yeah… yeah!

"'Work every day, you will succeed,'
said the First, formerly a king.
'Be kind, quick to forgive,'
spoke the Second, once a queen.
'Speak truth, ignore the cost,'
wrote the Third, dead to winter's frost.
'Work together, it's the only way,'
yelled the Fourth, as the waters rose."

“Very good, son. Well said.”

The sun begins to sink into the distance. The shadows of the statues become longer in the fading light.

“Come on, son. It’s getting dark and I have dinner ready.”

“Okay, father,” says the boy as he gets up. “Father?”

“Yes, son?”

“Could I become a founder too?”

“No, son. That time is over. If you follow the ideas of the community, you will be remembered for only a short time. Maybe a few years or even a generation. It’s better this way. Don’t try to be famous, son. People will only remember what you did or said, not what you thought. Do you understand?”

“Yes, father. I think so.”

“That’s good. You are still young. There is still time for you to make a place in this world, still time for greatness. For now, let’s go eat up and dream of better days. Right?”

“Right!”

The silent statues start to fade. As the last light touches them, they shine for just a moment. Then, they too are lost to the darkness.