“Why do we have a Master?” asked my fellow slave while we were walking to our place of work. The road we were walking on was almost a century old well trodden path. A century of walking had beaten the ground into this pathway.
The question sounded absurd. I wondered what made him think of it. “What do you mean? We have always had the Master. We need him.”
“Well the Master provides us with various things we need to survive: Food, clothing and shelter. He has even started building roads in various places. Who would do all of those things without him?”
“But the Master does not grow food, it is our fellow working men who grow it. The master does not stitch the clothes we wear nor has he built the hut we live in. Even roads have been designed and built by our fellow working men. What do we need him for?”
“Yes, true. But Master directs us to produce these things. Without his direction we would be direction-less: producing things we do not need and sometimes over producing things that we do need. Master manages this for us, he is the expert.”
“But what about this road? We have been travelling on this road for years. Surely there is a need to improve these roads.”
“Why? We walk here. We don’t need a cemented road.”
“Well, maybe we need a cemented road for some rickshaws. Maybe a few of us should be running rickshaws - that would really ease the journey that we take everyday”
A rickshaw would be good, I thought. “Well maybe we can petition the Master to direct some slaves here to run rickshaws.”
“But what if you and I got together to build a road here. Why can’t we do that?”
“And ignore Master’s orders? Besides, this road is the property of Master. We can’t do such an act without his permission.”
“How is this road property of the Master? He has never even set foot here. We, on the other hand, walk through here everyday! Surely we should be allowed to improve it the way we want.”
“But there are so many of us who use this road. How do we decide what kind of road is needed”
“At this point don’t you think any improvement would do? We can take a survey and find what kind of road is most popular. We could even build the road lane parallel to this one; there is enough unused space here. That would be our road, our fellow commuters can choose which one to use. This way we will know if what we are building is needed by others”
“Imagine if everyone started building their own roads. That would be chaos! We would have roads everywhere. No one building bakeries or huts. No, we need Master to tell us what needs to be built where and where our labour is needed. There is a reason you have been assigned to Tea Plantation”
“But why do we need tea? Do you know of anyone who drinks tea? We are not a nation of tea drinkers - we like coffee!”
“Yeah, we get coffee from other nations. They like tea so that is why we need to produce tea. Other nations will stop giving us coffee if we stop giving them tea.”
“But what if all nations started to produce tea? Wouldn’t we have no coffee? Then shouldn’t there be a Master that presides over all the nations to decide which master produces what good?”
“But who will take all that tea? Everybody can’t live on tea. There are nations that want coffee but are not good at producing coffee and there are nations that want tea but can produce good coffee. The nations good at producing coffee produce good coffee because there are nations like us who want better and cheaper coffee than we can ourselves produce.”
“Why can’t the same logic be applied within the country too? Surely if everyone started paving roads not everyone will get something in return. So we wouldn’t have so many road builders. Similarly people in our country who like tea will be able to get tea from those who can produce tea a lot better.”
“Perhaps you are right. Maybe we don’t need Master to direct our every action. But we still need him. We need him to protect us from Masters of other nations who may come to enslave us.”
“Why doesn’t the Master let those of us capable to fight foreign invasion form our own army guild? The Master doesn’t fight himself. The same army would still protect us as it does now, only it wouldn’t need the Master.”
“But we still need Master to settle our disputes.”
“Master himself doesn’t settle disputes, he has appointed men like you and me to settle disputes. Anybody with a rational mind can act as a judge. Why only yesterday you stopped a fight in the farm by settling their disputes. Master and his appointed judges were not needed. They trusted your objectivity so they listened to you.”
These questions were strange. Indeed whatever the Master does can be done by many others. Then why do we need the Master?
“Have you ever seen the Master”, I asked.
“No. But the watchers keep meeting him, so he must exist.”
“I don't think it matters in this discussion if he exists or not.”
We continued walking for sometime. Then I asked, “What made you think of this question?”
“Because my friend”. I realized he had stopped walking and had fallen behind. “We are still walking on this century old road and I don't want to go where it takes me”.