One day Zeus called the God of Happiness and the God of Sadness into the academy of Olympus. He announced that he had prepared a test to see which of the twin brothers would forever dictate the lives of humans on Earth.
“You each have a blank paper at your desk. Happiness, Sadness, your task is to convince me in a list of 6 items why the humans should take after you and not your brother.”
At the end of the hour, the brothers turned in their papers. Hard lines formed in Zeus’ forehead as he read:
1. Whether you achieve your goals or whether you fail, in X years no one will remember.
2. You can make all the money in the world, but you can not take your money to the afterlife.
3. Often things don’t work out how you want and/or expect, and life moves on anyways.
4. Life on Earth is fickle. You can fall victim to chance and die at any moment.
5. Whether you play it safe and work a secure job or recklessly pursue that which you love, at the end of your life the outcome will be the same: death.
6. You are part of a young and insignificant species, circumnavigating a small pocket of the universe, doomed for inevitable catastrophe, and nothing that you do (or don’t do) matters compared in this bigger picture. (According to what Earth-inhabitants know as “science.”)
“My sons, your papers are identical save the name at the top of the page. Tell me my sons, which one of you cheated on your test?” Zeus thundered.
“It was I,” said Sadness, “I read from Happiness’ page. Your test was too difficult for me, so simple in nature.”
“And it was I,” said Happiness, before Zeus could interject. “I stole the answers from Sadness’ mind. This way the people of Earth would follow my dictum no matter who won.
Zeus’ eyes burned with the fire of the underworld, scorching the flesh of his sons’ faces, which waned until their skin bore no light at all.
“Cheaters.” Zeus accused. “You are unworthy of Olympus. As punishment I will send you to Earth. For as long as Earth spins, you will no longer be brothers but will face off in battle. Your lists are identical and so too shall your army’s be governed by these identical rules. When Earth ceases to spin, he with the largest and most capable following will alone return to Olympus.”
The sky vibrated and became impossibly bright, and when it ceased the Gods were standing at the corner of Times Square, each holding a sheaf of pamphlets containing the 6 laws they had created. Then, they did the only thing they knew how to do as a human, for it was the only thing they had known humans to do.
“Pamphlets here, get your pamphlets! These pamphlets have the answers to everything you’ve been looking for!” Happiness shouted at the crowd.
“I’ve got pamphlets, here! If you want to understand life, get these pamphlets now, now, NOW!” Spoke Sadness.
And so the crowd began to divide, some taking pamphlets from Happiness, some taking from Sadness, both groups eyeing each other suspiciously, holding their pamphlets close. How superior each group began to think they were—they had the true meaning in the palm of their hands. They had the winning cards. They knew what lay behind the vale of life.