On the island of No there is a tradition. Every year on No-No Day the best, biggest and fattest cow is doused with oil and set on fire. It runs bawling through the village where it finally collapses and dies. No one is permitted to eat any of it. The fly-gods must have their fill of the sacrificial meal. This is the oldest tradition on No and is held to be sacred. This year no rains have come. No crops have grown. Water is scarce. One by one all the cows have been killed and eaten—all except the best one, which has been fed and fattened, worshiped and protected. The people are near starvation, and now No-No Day has arrived.
The big, fat, white and brown cow is brought out into the center of the village square. A thin, old woman, still somehow alive, brings out the sacred tin of oil. Then, suddenly, before she can pour the oil over the back and sides of the cow, a young man leaps forth and knocks the tin out of her hand and to the ground.
“No, no, no!” He shouts. “This cow can keep many of us alive, maybe for several weeks, and by then the rains may return!”
An older man speaks up and says, “No. This is sacred tradition! We must do it, or the gods will be angry with us!”
The young man counters with, “So, you would rather die than deal with anger? And why should a god be angry because we want to live? Do gods hate life? If they did, why haven’t they destroyed us already? I say, to Hell with tradition! Tradition that is stupid in the first place grows dumber by the hour!”
The crowd of villagers begins murmuring, the murmur rises to a roar, the roar takes shape and becomes a might “Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes!”
I think we have changed the name of our island.