Creating people's geographies
A great anonymously written allegory, illustrating how “development” is a loaded term and concept. It also is a nice simple parable that illustrates the value of taking time to enjoy life as we pass through it, rather than relegating enjoyment to a retirement endpoint. Working hard and just getting by economically, as many of us do, does not preclude enjoying the scenery or the need to “follow one’s bliss” in Joseph Campbell’s famous phrase. I originally presented the parable as is but have since substituted nationalities for job identifiers at 99’s wise suggestion, since the story is certainly not meant to impugn the American (who happens to be the investment banker: its not as if Mexico doesn’t have investment bankers) as somehow supremely representative of corporate managerialism nor romanticise the Mexican as uniquely representative of an idyllic autarkic lifestyle (one could easily substitute other nationalities, such as Australian and East Timorese, for example); the characters simply represent systems of thought and practice whose interaction serves to question development orthodoxy and point the need for a more enlarged understanding. Indeed, the nationalities is a distraction and buys into the divisive separation of pitting one nation against another instead of solidarity and connection for what is a cross-border, transnational issue.
Part Two forthcoming: Is Geographic Space Developmental Time?
“Development”: The Investment Banker and the Fisherman (amended)
The investment banker (hereafter the Banker) was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.
Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The Banker complimented the Fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Fisherman replied, only a little while.
The Banker then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The Banker then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”
The Banker scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.
Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the Banker replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then?”
The Banker laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions … Then what?”
The Banker said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”