There was once a small close-knit community of friends and family living in the part of the world we’ve come to call the Middle East. They lived in the highlands, where the air was clean and pure, every kind of fruit and vegetable one could imagine grew, and the water that trickled down from the tops of the mountains which surrounded them was fresh and invigorating. They wanted of nothing. They had it all.
These people stumbled upon the brilliant idea that they could grow their food themselves, harvest it whenever it was ripe, and enjoy whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. The fertile soil that stretched as far as the eye could see ensured their idea would be a total and complete success. And it was good.
One of the mountains, however, was only pretending to sleep. One day, about 5,700 years ago, the volcano woke up with a giant tummy ache. It rolled put of bed and the Earth shook. There was nothing to hold on to. There was nothing to protect these people from the sickly fury of the volcano right at their doorstep. When the ground wasn’t shaking and moaning, flames and fire shot from the top of the mountain hundreds of meters high. Snakes of fire slithered their way down the mountain and scalded everything in their path. The Earth split in places, and poisonous gases spewed from the apertures.
The loss was great. Many of these people perished, and many more of the animals they had learned to cultivate died as well. They could not explain how their gods let something like this happen. They were desolate.
But the volcano wasn’t done.
While the ground continued to shake and moan, and the mouth of the volcano continued to shoot fiery arrows into the sky, a different kind of snake rose upward instead of crawling downhill. We call this phenomenon a “lava spine” nowadays, an unusual but regular occurrence on volcanoes like Mt. St. Helens (2005) and Martinique (1902). Those primitive peoples, however, had never seen anything like it, and as the lava spine grew to an immense height in a very short time, two things happened to a portion of the survivors: 1), They realized they were forsaken. If they weren’t dead, they might as well have been. It wasn’t so bad that their homes, their families, their animals, and many of their own family members were destroyed, but their gods had deserted them. They were lost.
And 2), one small portion of the community, perhaps it was only one person, looked at the lava spine rising from the volcano, felt how utterly alone he was now that he was without gods, felt the power of the Earth’s core surging all around him, grew his first widdle hard-on he had had in a long time, and began having the first inklings of a very special, new story in his mind.
The volcano roared for a while afterwards. The lava flow from the crater ran down to the West, where the streams cascading down the mountains of that one-time Paradise met the sources of two mighty rivers. A lava dam was built, and the mountain streams began to back up.
The community had up until the eruption lived in a bowl between high mountaintops, and now that the stream outlets were bottled up, the bowl began to fill. All of the houses, all of the livestock, and all of the injured or aging people still in the scorched valley drowned.
The survivors straggled down from the highlands with lifeless eyes. Most of them. With a clear and piercing 1000-yard stare, one did not waste his time to look back. One had already forgotten what had been. One had just invented the word “destiny”. They entered the area known as Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. As the land fell away, and these people could see for the first time hundreds of kilometers in every direction, one in their number thought, “it’s all mine.”
It’s kind of a funny story, what happened between that first glimpse of the Mesopotamian plains and today. However, after millions of years of providing a home and food for all of its creatures who all did their best to live in harmony with Nature, the Earth now discovered one small group of humans amongst its many guests who had decided they had their own story to tell, a better one.
And whatever kinds of story you might like to read, this one will not have a happy ending.