The Children’s Crusade: A Fairy Tale for Our Times

We'll appeal to the wolf's conscience!

VOTF and the Children's Crusade

Once upon a time, in a land blessed with peace and prosperity, there were certain good sheepleherds. These boys and girls were bothered by things they had heard. Bad men who pretended to be good were hurting other children in temples everywhere and no one could stop them. Their leaders turned away and would not listen.

“This is not right,” the good children said. “We must help them.”

And so they got together to go on a crusade. “We will fight them,” they said. “We will stop the bad men. We will tell the supreme wizard who will make our leaders listen. Everything will be better, just like it used to be, once again.”

“Baaa-d,” the sheeple said, shaking their heads. “Don’t leave us! There’s only a few bad men and those other children are lying. They only want money. They’re the ones who are baaad.”

But the good children would not listen and so off they went. But arguments broke out among the children along the way. “The sheeple are right,” some said, “you don’t hate just the bad men, you hate the good men, too!”

“No, we only want to stop them,” the others said. “See our banner? It says we are faithful!” And they kept arguing until they reached the temple of the great wizard, shaped like a giant mountain. He came out, wearing white and a big golden ring, and looked down on them and laughed.

“Children,” he said, “don’t fight! Everything is under control. My magic has stopped the bad men.”

“How do we know for sure?” some children demanded.

“Come inside my temple and see for yourself.”

“We don’t need to see,” other children said. “If the mighty wizard said it, it must be true.”

“You are good children,” the wizard said, smiling. “I will give you help to keep the sheeple safe.” He let them kiss his magic ring, blessed them, and sent them home with his prize sheepledogs.

When they had left, he turned to the other children. “Now do you still doubt?”

“No, great wizard, but we must know,” they said stoutly.

“Of course,” he said kindly. “Go on in and see, and help yourself to the refreshments.” The great doors swung open, revealing tables laden with treats.

“Hooray!” the children shouted and rushed inside. He followed behind, pausing only to shut the magic doors of the temple. The wonderful treats suddenly vanished.

“You are very bad children,” he said angrily. “You did not believe me. Now begone!”

And behold, he set his remaining sheepledogs upon them like wolves. Howling and biting, they savagely chased the children out into the wilderness, and the boys and girls were never seen again.

Meanwhile, the other children happily went home with the sheepledogs. “Hoooooray!” the sheeple cheered when they arrived. “Goooood! Now we are protected! See, we told you the great wizard was our friend! Yaaaay!”

And they all lived happily ever after. The occasional disappearance of one of the sheeple or even a sheepleherd was disturbing, but generally blamed on their own bad attitudes. No one ever noticed how fat the sheepledogs grew. And everything was indeed again just like it once was.

THE END

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