Thursday, August 11, 2005

A troubled decision and trouble ahead?

Oh my.

The meeting did not go at all as I planned.

But it did go as I feared.

We started off with the official dedication of the fireworks factory.

There were a number of speeches praising the workmanship, the design of the building, and the new fire preventions systems (everyone looked at the North Polar Bear at that point!).

Then came time for the proposals.

Here were several about such things as new toy projects, expanding the greenhouses to produce more food because of our growing population, and creating a new quagnog tournament.

All passed easily.

Finally I rose.

“Thank you all for your wonderful ideas,” I began. “I too have some ideas.

“As you know, during our recent situation, a number of new people came to the North pole to help us. I wish first to thank them.”

Everyone broke into applause. The gnomes and dwarves, who were all dressed in their finest and were sitting in the visitor’s gallery, smile and waved and bowed.

“Some of these friends are staying with us now,” I continued, “and they have brought their own gifts and skills with them. I think they have added ideas wherever they are working.”

I saw a number of elves nod.

“One gift the dwarves have is with the building of tunnels. Gimlitin has already proposed connection all the buildings with tunnels to help during times of emergency and with getting about when the weather gets bad. I don’t have to remind anyone here what it can be like when we have a snow story with 40 miles and hours winds when the air is already 20 below zero.”

More nods, and play shivers.

“I therefore ask that we approve a study to determine if tunnels can be dug safely, how they can be protected so that we don’t have infestations of gremlins like we had many years ago, and how long such a project would take...”

Eomar stood.

“This would just be for a study, and not for approval at this time?”

“Just a study. If it is completed in time, we can review it at our February meeting.”

The proposal passed unanimously.

“I have a second proposal,” I said. “As you know, our visitors are used to different climates than our brisk north.”

A number of the elves laughed.

“In particular,” I continued, “the gnomes are forest dwellers. I dare say so are many of our elves, who, in the name of Christmas, have sacrifices their love of wooded glades. I am forever grateful for their sacrifice.”

Nods all around.

“So I propose a second study. Is it feasible to build a greenhouse large enough, yet hidden enough, to grow a small forest where all may go for a respite from the ice and snow?”

There were gasps.

Eidin rose.

“Why, such a greenhouse would have to be…”

“Yes,” I said. “Large.”

“But, the amount of work required to build a greenhouse just to raise food…and this, it would be beyond anything we’ve done,” he sputtered.

“Yes. And it may not be feasible. Or it may have to be small. That’s why I propose just a study at this point.”

Eomar rose.

“If such a forest greenhouse were built, would it be for elves as well, and not just gnomes?”

“Of course,” I said. “It would be for everyone.”

The study was approved. But not unanimously.

I then came to the third proposal.

“As you all know, some of our dwarf and gnome friends have come to live with us. I heartily welcome them.

“Now, our chief decision making bodies are this Assembly and the Council we elect.

“In light of the fact that they have committed to live with us, I propose that we make them equal partners in running the North Pole. Each of you is being given some proposed changes in our charter to allow the dwarves and gnomes to become voting members of this Assembly, and for each group here at the North Pole to have at least one representative on the Council.”

Eomar jumped up.

“The Assembly and the Council are for elves. It’s written in our charter.”

“I have proposed changes to the charter that will remove that problem," I said.

“The charter is what we have lived with for two centuries,” Eomar said. “It has worked well. Why change it.”

“We change with the changing circumstances,” I said. “When I began my ministry, I did it alone. I added a wife, and a few elves, and then a workshop in Bavaria, and flying reindeer, and finally our village here at the North Pole. Things changed as the world changed and the needs changed.”

“Yes,” he said, “and they are working well now.”

“Think of how much better they might become,” I said.

“Might. Might not. I do not see the need for change,” he said. “Besides, how do we know that the dwarves and the gnomes will stay? They left before. Only the elves remained loyal.”

Several of the dwarves objected loudly, only to be silenced by their fellow dwarves. The gnomes all held hands.

“Such displays are not appropriate for our Assembly,” Eomar said, pointing to the dwarves. “I will vote no for the sake of decorum and purity at the North Pole.”

The debate went back and forth with elves taking both sides.

I sat in my chair, stunned and saddened.

Finally, the vote came.

The Assembly voted to accept the gnomes and dwarves, but by only a small margin.

We then held a vote for the Council.

Gimlitin and Dwobnab were elected to represent their people.

Eomar was elected, too.

As soon as the meeting ended, Eomar and a number of other elves stormed out before I could talk to them.

I wanted to follow, but was caught up in the celebration to welcome the dwarves and gnomes to full participation

Gimlitin shook my hand.

“Thank you for this honor,” he said. “But I think there is much hard work ahead of us – and not just with tunnels or greenhouses.”

I fear he is right.


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