Not the Parable (Part 4) – The Downfall of the Dragons

The Downfall of the Dragons

The Dragon family used to be an established and respected household in the neighbourhood. Their ancestors were inventors, artists, musicians, philosophers, and merchants. They worked hard in order to give their descendants prestige, wealth and most importantly, land for development, farming, mining and self-sufficiency.

Because of the family riches, they regarded themselves as superior to all the others in their neighbourhood. A few generations had been living off their inheritance and bygone glory. They became egocentric, self-absorbed and refused to recognize that their neighbouring communities and the world had changed in a drastic way.

The ancestors canonized a code of conduct for the family to follow. The family had to be loyal, respect and obey the elders as authority without reservation. The code was supposed to keep harmony with all family members and nature. That was the reason why the parents, especially the mother in this era, ruled the household like a tyrant.

It was extremely rare that women became the head of the household. It happened only once a very long time ago. The father who inherited the family land was called Wāc. His father died when Wāc was young. Since he was the only son of his favorite wife, Wāc took control of the inheritance and became the head of the household. Wāc’s mother died from a mysterious illness shortly after he inherited the household fortune.

Wāc was a weak man, physically and emotionally. He was an asthmatic and often sick. His mother knew she was the most favoured wife. She hired many servants to help her to raise Wāc. She made sure that Wāc had the best food, medical help and education passed down from the ancestors when he was a child. He never had to go to the field and laboured with his hands. He never learned how food came from the farm to the table. He did not even know apples were red and bananas were yellow because fruits were always peeled for him.

Wāc could not make a decision by himself because his life was arranged for him. He grew up indecisive. He was fearful of making mistakes because he would not want to upset his parents if he failed.

Wāc’s uncle Ipo, the brother of Wāc’s father, stepped forward and took over the mentorship of Wāc. Ipo had significant control over how Wāc ran the household. Most of his half-brothers did not agree with this arrangement but they respected their late father’s will because of the code of conduct demanded of them.

Ipo decided he would take total control over of the family assets. He arranged his niece Mercy to marry Wāc. Ipo thought Mercy would further his influence and control Wāc.

Mercy should not be the name given to this young lady. She should be named No-Mercy. Mercy murdered Ipo a week after the wedding and took control of the family business operations. The evening after Ipo was killed, Wāc was suffering from an acute respiratory failure because of his asthma. Wāc eventually recovered but Mercy became the de facto decision maker of all the family affairs. Wāc hardly show up for any family business meetings. Mercy always gave the excuse that Wāc was too sick to come. He would occasionally show up for festivals, cultural events and birthday dinners. He seldom talked to anyone except his overprotective wife. He looked pale and never smiled.

The family business was already stagnated when Wāc’s father was in charge. It deteriorated quickly under the management of Mercy. She never ventured out of the family-owned estate. Her only news source relied on her self-indulgent friends who cared only about fashion, jewelry, and fine dining. Mercy’s parochial attitude did not gain any friends outside the family estate.

Mercy noticed some of her friends were wearing fashions and jewelry which she had never seen before. They told her that those items were exchanged with Kenneth and Norman for the camellia grown on the farms of her friends. She wanted what her friends had and more. She then allowed limited business dealings with the Rice cousins.

Wāc read the Rice advertising of papaver through the family members. He tried it and it seemed to ease his respiratory problems. He also experienced seeing visions and vivid dreams when he was smoking papaver.

Soon most the family members were addicted to papaver. The family exchanged much of the food, produce, and raw material they extracted from the land for papaver to satisfy their addiction. Their riches were gone to the Rice cousins.

Mercy attempted to stop the family members to buy papaver. She sent her servants to burn down a warehouse where the cousins stored papaver. The servants did burn down the warehouse. However, most of them were also papaver addicts and could not fight their way out of the chaos and were captured. The well trained security force beat up the servants sent by Mercy and demanded compensation for her actions.

Mercy signed a debt obligation of four hundred and forty million taels of aurum. Also, they had to give up one of their children, Fragrance.

To be continue…

© Ngok Yeung Lai. All rights reserved.


Not the Parable (Part 3) – Business Plan

What a Business Plan!

Kenneth and Norman were visionaries in business. They were sons of the poorer brothers of the Rice clan. They witnessed their fathers struggling to buy food. Both cousins decided they would not let their children go to bed hungry. They started to work as “delivery boys” for the family grocery business before they were even teenagers. Their fathers, who were the youngest brothers of the clan, started their grocery business selling local produce. Their business was totally dependant on the weather. Flood, drought, frost, or any natural disaster would devastate the local farmers and their business. They had to buy food from other villages. When food shortage occurred, their clan might not have money to buy the imported food. They might not be able to buy any food from neighbouring towns at all. Other Rice families in the clan often blamed them for the high food prices even though the cousins had no food themselves.

The cousins were the first to see that the Rice household needed to secure the food supply. They also noticed their relatives loved to buy a drink, called camellia, and expensive clothes which they bought from the Dragon family. Their desire for such exotic items created a willingness to go to the extent of being in debt.

The cousins asked their fathers to travel to the Dragon’s family to negotiate better prices for the merchandise. When they met the mother of the Dragon family, they were laughed out the door. The matriarch viewed them as juvenile, puerile, and unsophisticated and was stunned they would even dare to talk business with her. The father of the family was lackadaisical to their visit.

The Dragon family was self-sufficient at the time. They had enough productive land and sea to provide all they needed. Most importantly, the entire family was so complacent they did not feel the need to improve themselves.

The cousins went to the other younger children of the family and bought some goods so that they could bring them back to their store. The amount they could trade did not warrant their journey. They needed to trade a much bigger volume of food, camellia and clothes in order to sustain their business.

On their return journey, they figured out a plan. They needed to break the self-sufficient cycle of the Dragon. They had to create a product that the Dragon family members needed to buy. Moreover, they had to be the sole supplier of that product. Also, those who used the product had to come back repeatedly for the rest of their lives.

The product was papaver. It was an extremely addictive narcotic. The users had to come back for more. The scientists and doctors of the Rice clan told the cousins the ill effects of papaver. The substance was so dangerous that the clan were not allowed to use or even process it. The restriction did not bother the cousins at all. They marketed papaver to the children of the Dragon family as a natural health product to nurture longevity, bolster sex drive, fight disease, boost the immune system, advance spiritual consciousness, etc. The Dragons loved anything natural and organic. They believed in natural healing when they were sick. They were also highly spiritual. Many of them practised meditation to their gods. They were too naïve to accept all the claims of the marketing slogans provided by the Rice cousins.

Using papaver soon became a fashionable phenomenon. It was a status symbol because papaver usage meant they were health conscious, spiritual, and most of all, wealthy. Many of the Dragon children became addicted to papaver. They had to buy papaver daily for their addiction.

The cousins definitely created a demand. They exchanged an enormous amount of food, raw material, and clothes with the Dragon for papaver. They traded food for papaver with the Browns. They then shipped the best of the food, raw material and clothing back to their own family and made massive profits.

The cousins did not trust anyone else to ship their merchandise, especially the most profitable papaver. They built their own merchant navy, logistic control, harvesting, manufacturing and processing facilities for food, papaver, textiles, and retail operations. The KN Enterprise was formed as the parent holding company to oversee all their businesses.

In order to protect their business, they trained and hired an extensive security force along the trade routes and all their other related operations. The security force comprised of well-trained men, fully armed and highly disciplined.

They could not finance all these expansions so they found another cousin who was well connected with a well-heeled financier. Together, they formed the Brass Lyons Bank as their financial partner.

The cousins were not totally satisfied with their successful trading business. They wanted to expand their business to more territory.

To be continue…

© Ngok Yeung Lai. All rights reserved.

Not the Parable (Part 2) – the Rice Clan

The Rice Clan

The Rice clan did not have a long history like the Dragon family and they did not own as much land. They were a gathering of numerous families with different heritages. Those families did not get along well in the beginning. They had their family infightings from time to time. They fought against each other and some of their patriarchs and matriarchs were killed during those disputes. After many years of fighting, they learned how to live together through intensive negotiation and compromise to accomplish mutual benefits for most of the family members. Those various families inter-married but individual families retained their own heritage. They tried to put aside their differences and unite as a powerful force among their neighbourhood. In order to make sure that individual opinions were heard, all members of the clan would choose their head of the household periodically. The Rice clan had many accomplished writers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, and most importantly, business minded cousins.

Since the Rice clan had limited resources, they decided to expand through trade. They needed to buy food and raw materials from other families. When they could not afford to buy what they wanted or needed, they would use the unethical tactics such as moving in to other people’s less developed properties and claiming squatters’ rights. There came a time when the clan had to buy too much from other villages to fulfill their needs but they did not have enough products to trade. Some avaricious members in the clan decided to increase their product lines for their capacity to trade and profit.

Two cousins, Kenneth and Norman, whose families claimed squatters’ rights in the mountainous Brown county, realized a high profit margin product which could solve their trade deficit problem.

Being successful traders of the Rice clan, Kenneth and Norman executed an ingenious plan. The people in the Brown county were mostly poor. They were subsistence farmers who had been living there for generations. The cousins coerced the Browns not to grow food crops and switch to grow papaver, a plant from which juice could be extracted as an addictive narcotic. The cousins brought in food from the nearby valley region to trade with the Browns for papaver. The Browns were satisfied with the trade because they now had a steady supply of food and produce. The cousins then traded the papaver with a huge marked up price to the Dragon family for more food, produce and raw materials and sold them for even more profits to their own clansmen.

How could the cousins sell papaver to the Dragons for such a high profit? The answer could be described as a textbook case in marketing, monopoly, and vertical supply chain management.

To be continue…

© Ngok Yeung Lai. All rights reserved.

Not the Parable of the Lost Son or the Loving Parents (Part 1)

A long time ago, there was a family called Dragon with many children. The Dragon family used to be rich. They had land and ocean properties rich in natural resources to farm, mine, and fish. The parents lived off the inheritance left from the family fortune. The mother was a tyrant who was selfish and spent only on herself and would not take care of her children. She was insecure about her appearance. She bought expensive clothes, makeup, food, etc. The father was a drug addict who wasted his inheritance on drugs, prostitutes and gambling. The parents borrowed heavily to support their lifestyles but the children had hardly enough to eat.

Some of their children left home to other countries to find employment because they were starving. Some died and some became slave labourers in mines, household servants, farm workers, etc. They worked under horrific conditions. However, the parents demanded those children to send their wages home to support their lifestyles and repay their drug and gambling debts. Those children, since they were taught filial piety all through their lives, complied with their parents’ demands because they hoped their parents would change and help their siblings still living at home.

On one occasion, a creditor named Rice came and demanded payment. The parents could not repay the debt. They signed away a crumbled shed built on a barren corner of their estate and sold one of their baby girls, Fragrance, to Rice to settle the debt. Fragrance was born pre-mature and weak. The parents thought that she could not contribute anything to the household in the future. They also did not favour girls because women could not carry the family name. Rice promised to return Fragrance to the Dragon family when she grew up as an adult.

To be continue…

© Ngok Yeung Lai. All rights reserved.

The Mississippi of the North

After listening to the Saturday evening new on CTV news interview on the Cornwallis statue,, The Mi’kmaq historian Daniel Paul described Nova Scotia as the Mississippi of the North. This description reflects how I feel after living her for 38 years.

Many locals see anything different or foreign is a threat. There are few noticeable advancement in opportunity According to the Labour Market Statistics in 2014, visible minorities unemployment rate is consistently higher that the overall general unemployment rate.[1] Although the median employment income of immigrants with a postsecondary education is higher than non-immigrants, fewer immigrants worked full-time, full years compared to non-immigrants. For the recent immigrants (immigrated, 2001 – 2009), only 53% worked full time, full year. The median income was lower than that of the non-immigrants.[2]

In my experience, despite well-intention diversity talks, most workplaces, including government and major employers are not that welcoming. Talks about “tolerance” are just not enough. No government or institution can force one to accept another culture into their midst. True acceptance has to come from personal experience and humble encounter.

Speaking of government, despite of political parties, Nova Scotia is also chasing its own people out of the province. CBC has a good monologue on this issue.

A province with its small and declining population base, rule by a few elite families and political class, the future is not bright.

[1] P. 16,

[2] P. 17, Ibid.

Movie Review of “The War Room”

Review of “The War Room”

“The War Room” is by far an improvement of other Kendrick brothers’ movie. I am not to going to reiterate the plot and cast. One can easily find those information on the internet. I am going to express how I felt about the film.

It is a faith-based Christian theme movie on the power of prayer, family, and all that healthy God-fearing stuff.

African American family backdrop

The Kendrick brothers centred the plot on an affluent African family. When I researched over the internet, the Kendrick brothers said, “it would be a different movie if we change the races.”[1] I am wondering what would the different be. Is it just political correctness? What would happen if the story were focused on a Chinese family or a Muslim family and converted to Christ because of fervent prayer?

Being “male” is difficult

Similar to other Kendrick brothers’ movies, “Courageous” and “Fireproof”, being male is subjected to all kinds of temptations: infidelity, pornography, pursue of wealth, success, anger, etc. It is always the women who eventually found God and turned the situation around. Do they have to make male bashing a blood sport in order to sell the plot?

“One ‘C’ in math is not that bad”

When the Jordan’s daughter came home with her report card and confessed she had one “C”, Elizabeth, the mother, responded with, “one ‘C’ in math is not that bad”. Why do the storytellers have to stress that innumeracy is “not that bad”? They gave two stereotypes in just one line. First, the subject of mathematics in school is not that important. Secondly, mathematics is not that important with girls. What do the Kendrick brothers think of science and mathematics education, especially with women? Mathematics is the foundation of all science, engineering, technology, and above all, logical thinking. Do they want to instill a belief that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics”) is not important for Christians (or non-Christians) when they believe in prayer?

Prosperity, simple minded message

It shows an affluent upper middle class family with multiple-garage home will keep their jobs, prosper, have great obedient children if they just pray. Also, when they pray, they have to pray in the prescribed formula: a prayer closet, a list with boxes checked off, posture, words to say… God will answer “on demand”. The husband got sick so he was prevented to have an affair when his wife prayed. It seems that God is our servant rather than our Master. I am just wondering, what happened to those women who prayed and their husbands still had the affair. Did God abandon them? Does it mean that their prayers are not fervent enough?

Deleted Scenes

I watched the “Deleted Scenes” section. My favorite scenes “Dr. Bunji” and “Tina’s Revenage” were in the deleted section. Those are great comic relieve scenes for a preachy movie.


Losers are winners

We all want success, promotion, higher income, and bigger home…

This is the foundational success of prosperity gospel. We see mega churches where the preachers tell the congregation strive for more, pray for blessings, live with a positive attitude beyond reality…

Let us see who is the one they are supposed to worship.

There was a man who lived over two thousand years ago. Jesus was not well educated. He was a son of a tradesman. Some even called him a child from an illegitimate relationship (Mark 6:3). (Jesus was described as “Mary’s son” instead of “Joseph’s son” pointed to some snickering was going on.) He did not own any property. (Matthew 8:20) He drew no big salary. He had no fixed address. He and his followers were no political or business heavyweight. In fact, his followers and those he helped were mostly social outcast, lepers, women, tax collectors (traitors of the Jews), the poor, and the sick. He and his followers gained no favour among the rich, the powerful and the religious leaders. He died at a young age. He was framed for plotting against the foreign powerful occupying government. He was sentenced to a brutal death on a cross. He followers disbanded right after his arrest.

By today’s standard, this Jewish sect should never have survived. They lack money, political connection, social status, education, marketing skills… In today’s world, they would be labeled with a capital “L” for losers. Yes, they lost. Many of them were captured, slaughtered, fed to lions, burnt alive… They became martyrs. The term “martyrs” actually means “witness”. Those who died for their faith considered dying for Christ was the highest form of witnessing.

Yes, the witnesses of Christ worshipped a God who seemingly lost the battle. For a while, it seemed that there were no hope, no victory, no power, only defeat. It was not that surprising that a group of social outcast were defeated. History books were filled with names of high achievers, rich and powerful people, kings and queens, nobles, and all their conquests. Few, if any history books regarded the poor, uneducated, prostitutes, and lepers as heroes in their narratives. If they were even mentioned, those would be as losers, and people and situation we should avoid.

Time has changed. We want our church pastors to be well educated. Pastors want to be called with their title Dr. or Rev. The church wants to be associated with the rich and the powerful, or help the politicians’ elected to office. The politicians also want to gain votes from the congregation. It seems to be a symbiosis relationship that they cannot live with the other but they also cannot live without the other. The church today thrives on success. No more being fed to the lions as martyrs (witnesses). It tries to gain power and influence on whatever stage it can seek, pro-life, anti-gay, pro-choice…

Church history seems to tell us a different story. Whenever the church questions the establishment, helps the poor, heals the sick, love the neighbor, she wins. She gains effectiveness. The gospel becomes real. Whenever the church becomes the establishment, gains power, accumulates wealth and properties, she losses. Her constituents become oppressed by her own dogma. Her message becomes an empty ritual.

Jesus preached a subversive, anti-establishment message on power, wealth, and most of all love.