And now the improbable happened. This nation, where peace and love had reigned supreme since time immemorial, split up into two fiercely warring factions; those who believed the official reports unconditionally and their opponents who, indeed, derided those ever more. The anxiety for the monster they considered all but hype and found it nothing short of ridiculous therefore to part with a precious sheep once every week.
A community that has never experienced a disturbance of its harmony and is completely unprepared for it, feels utterly inconvenienced and powerless when it, nevertheless, occurs. There were clashes. Some blood was spilled. Already, all kinds of material were gathered in sundry places for raising barricades, if push came to shove.
For the first time ever there were people who used the general confusion as a cover for mischief. Chaos is always the well-head to crime. As yet, the Silenians hadn't come so far as to be blind to the difference between a factious row and a crime, and though they failed to restore their former unity, evil-doers were run in and locked up, just as was known to be the case in other towns.
What was indeed remarkable of this whole tumult was that it never raised the question as to the nature of the beast at all. It was all and only about its appearance. Whether it possessed a spirit benevolent or evil, nobody seemed to care about, nor did anyone feel so much as concern.
Subject to the rules of polarization and escalation, the contrary opinions diverged ever wider and their partisans attacked each other ever more fiercely and brutally. A mutual crippling of trade was looming and society teetered on the brink of civil war.
Who saw this most clearly, and therefore deplored the state of affairs the more deeply, was the junior councillor, and just like he had warded off the earlier menace, so, by his words, he brought deliverance from this perilous plight.
At the council - where dissension ran rampant to such a degree that, aside from crime equally hated by all, decision-making had come to a complete standstill - his reasoning went as follows.
English translation by Ronald Langereis © 2009
from the Dutch, "Sint Joris" by Belcampo, 1983