It is the wee hours in this small hick town nestled in the heart of Appalachia. The streets are empty, save for the occasional police car making its rounds and a semi trundling by every hour or so. As I sit hear in the quiet of my lonely apartment I found myself thinking of the mess this country is in with all of the incursions on our freedoms of late. I was trying to think of some way the common people could assert their independence in a sane legal manner when I thought of a story written way back in 1951 by a Science Fiction writer named Eric Frank Russell entitled … And Then There Were None. I think I might have given it the title The Gands though nobody asked my opinion then or since.
This Hall of Fame story concerns the difficulty the people of Earth have in contacting the ‘leaders’ of a planet the had been settled by humans three hundred years before, but out of contact with that species known far and wide as Earthers since that time.
You see the home planet had come to bring these poor benighted souls all of the advantages of modern Earth society. They were from the government and just wanted to help. Those bureaucrats had only one problem with their efforts in contacting those so called leaders. Whomever they approached to ask to be taken to those leaders received the cryptic response “MYOB” and the locals just went on with whatever they were doing. It didn’t matter who they sent as their envoys – Peacockishly attired military or somewhat less splendiferous ships crew or even nattily attired minor diplomats- each and every one was met with MYOB.
Finally an exasperated Ambassador sent one of the ships crew, a fellow with a bicycle of all things, as his emissary. This fellow was a bit more curious and friendly sort who wanted to get to know these strange off spring of mother Earth so he began by just attempting to engage them in conversation. After a lot of confusion caused by some evolutionary language difficulties, he did have some interesting talks. He learned that these people weren’t the least bit intimidated by the huge ship that had plowed a mile long trench upon landing outside their town. You see they had developed what they called the perfect weapon to ward off intrusive outsiders. It had developed out of their love of freedom, but it was an extremely effective weapon none-the-less.
When the ship’s engineering crewman asked about it he was given a little plaque upon which was inscribed F – I.W. and told that it contained the entire secret of this magnificent weapon. He was even informed that the weapon had been discovered on Earth many centuries before the great diaspora. By a humble man named Gandhi. He also learned that the MYOB they kept hearing was an acronym for Mind Your Own Business. The placard’s meaning? Freedom – I Won’t. You see Gandhi was a man from the then country of India who believed in peaceful civil disobedience. His disobedience took the form of him simply saying “I Won’t” to those intrusive bureaucrats that thought they had the right to infringe on his liberties.
The government says register your guns? I Won’t. The government says you must use their insurance? I won’t. The government says you must permit them to spy on you “for you own good”? I won’t.
The name they gave their planet? Gand and the people were the Gands.