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The Story Of Ug And Ugtoo

 

Ug and Ugtoo were struggling down the trail and dragging a saber-tooth they had recently killed. It was a hot day and both men were tired. They were pulling the big cat, each grasping a hind leg in his hairy hand.

A dead tree had fallen across the trail. It had broken into several pieces. One of the pieces, the one directly in the footpath, was about two feet long. Too tired to push the small log aside, Ug and Ugtoo stepped over, pulling their kill behind. As the cat's body was dragged onto the log, the log began to roll and, with the sudden reduction in resistance, both Ug and Ugtoo pitched forward onto their faces.

Ugtoo leaped to his feet, enraged, smearing blood from his nose. His glance fell upon the log, the source of his pain, and he kicked it, breaking his toe.

Ugtoo howled with pain, hopping about on one foot until he fell onto his rump. He sat cursing the log, the dead cat, the forest, all dead and fallen trees, the trail, the earth, and the gods. After a bit he crawled to the log, jerked it from beneath the dead cat and hurled it into the brush.

Ug sat watching all this, a peculiar look upon his face.

After a time, Ugtoo grasped one of the dead cat's hind feet, ordered Ug to take hold of the other, and the two proceeded along the trail; Ugtoo limping and cursing.

When they reached the tribal caves, Ugtoo made a great show of the fresh meat, of his courage in bringing down such a formidable quarry, of his broken toe, and of the peril and hardship he had suffered bringing food to his people.

At a council meeting that night, Ugtoo made a long speech concerning the alarming scarcity of saber-tooths in the area. He denounced other tribes for hunting them to extinction and upsetting the fragile ecological balance in the area. He spoke of the need to maintain the local infrastructure and to keep fallen trees off the trails because of the danger they represented to returning hunters. Men might well be discouraged from going out for game if they knew that, returning home from their heroic quest in the service of their tribe, a fallen log lay in their path awaiting an opportunity to injure them.

Ugtoo proposed creation of a trail maintenance organization with the responsibility of keeping the trails free and safe from fallen logs. Ugtoo volunteered his services as head of this new organization and proposed the organization be supported by a small tax to be levied against each member of the tribe. There was some opposition to the tax, but Ugtoo reminded the council the tax would be used to finance a public enterprise that would make the trails safe for everyone.

A vote as taken and Ugtoo's proposition passed by a majority.

Thus was born the first politician.

Ug did not attend the council meeting that night. He remembered the sudden lessening of resistance dragging the dead cat as it was pulled across the rolling log. Ug thought how much easier it would be to drag home a kill if there were some way to drag continuously over rolling logs. If such could happen, then two men would not be required to bring home a supply of fresh meat. One man might do such a thing.

Ug went to his cave and invented the wheel.

John Wood Campbell, long time editor of the science fiction magazine Astounding/Analog is credited with saying, "I don't care what people think so long as they, by God, think!"

Someone has speculated that our civilization is built upon the backs of perchance half a dozen men, men who dared to think of the new and untried, men who used their mind to create the critical devices upon which the rest of our technology rests. Save for the vision of these few men, we would still hunker in caves at night. Save for men of which Ug is a fictional example. Save for the man who discovered fire, a mysterious force that sometimes destroyed the forest after falling from the sky in a flash, could be domesticated and used to cook food and to keep wild beasts away. Save for the very few who used their minds to make the mental leap to discover and create the concepts and tools without which civilization could not exist.

A lot of lip service goes into insisting the social pie should be divided equally among the poor and disadvantaged; and there is a lot of hand wringing when some are perceived to grab more than their fair share. No one mentions that, without men who think, those who make the mental connection in their heads to form ideas that create the tools of a better life, there would be no pie to divide!

-Hanther