The Allegory of The Eskimo: Illusion Is Beauty

“Merle Crowell tells a story about a Greenland Eskimo who joined an Arctic expedition. For his faithful guide service he was rewarded with a visit to New York City. Dazzled by the wonders, he couldn’t wait to tell the folks back home in Greenland. He described “stacks of igloos that reached the clouds” and “crowded igloos moving along the trail,” and “lamps that burned without seal oil.”

But the village people did not share his excitement. Instead, they listened with fish-eyed stares, tagged him “Sagdluk” (that is “The Liar”), and shunned him. By the time of his death, his original name had long been forgotten, and he carried the name “Liar” to his grave.

Later, Knud Rasmussen made his trip to the frozen North, guided by another Greenland Eskimo named Mitek. Mitek, too, was rewarded with a trip to New York. Although he too was dazzled by the city, Mitek, remembering Sagdluk’s fate, covered his backside by cooking up stories that his villagers could swallow. He and Rasmussen had only “paddled a big kayak on a wide river called Hudson, among plentiful flocks of geese and large herds of seals.”

Thus, Mitek, who was the real liar, gained a place of extraordinary respect among his home villagers. The man who had told the real truth was called “Liar” and died in ignominy.”

A Civil War Inside Us All

“Inside every one of us, there’s a war going on. It’s a civil war. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care where you live, there is a civil war going on in your life. And every time you set out to be good, there’s something pulling on you, telling you to be evil. It’s going on in your life. Every time you set out to love, something keeps pulling on you, trying to get you to hate. Every time you set out to be kind and say nice things about people, something is pulling on you to be jealous and envious and to spread evil gossip about them. There’s a civil war going on. There is a schizophrenia, as the psychologists or the psychiatrists would call it, going on within all of us. And there are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us. There is a tension at the heart of human nature. And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it.”

Martin Luther King Jr.