Narmes lived in The Kingdom of Narme. Naturally! The people of Narme were very friendly, not only to tourists but to each other. That is, if you lived on the right side of Narme.
You see, to keep everything in balance, Narme was divided in half. There was East Narme and there was West Narme. People in East Narme called themselves East Narmers. People in West Narme called themselves West Narmites. No-one knew why, it had just always been that way.
Even the capitol city of Narmeburg was divided in half by Division Street. If you traveled north on Division Street you were in East Narme. If you traveled south you were in West Narme. No-one ever crossed from one side of Narme to the other. They would not even wave or say hello to someone on the other side of Division Street.
But, if you lived on the right side of town people were very friendly towards you and would do anything in the world for you.
The peculiar thing about Narme was that each side tried to be different from the other by doing the exact opposite. If someone in East Narme planted flowers in their front yard, someone in West Narme would plant vegetables in their backyard. If a window was open in West Narme, the window across the street in East Narme would be closed.
If someone in East Narme had a dog, someone in West Narme would get a cat. If a West Narmite built a fence and put the pickets where the spaces should be, an East Narmer would build a fence and put the spaces where the pickets should be.
It was frowned upon to do anything the same as anyone from the other side did. If there was a dispute as to who did what first, they could file a complaint with The Narme High Council. East Narme was governed by Prince Uniteus. West Narme was governed by Princess Solitaire. Both were young but very just and fair.
When they had all the facts, they presented them to the ruler of Narme, the good King Dividicus, who would make a final decision. No-one in Narme had a harder job than his. He was well liked and respected for his fairness. He was so fair that even his throne sat half way into East Narme and half way into West Narme. His wise decisions were always accepted without challenge. King Dividicus always found a peaceful solution to their differences. As a result, Narme had never had a war. Until..
One day a little girl from East Narme and a little boy from West Narme were playing in the park on the teeter-totter that straddled the border between East and West Narme. They were having a lot of fun and were enjoying each other's company. Unaware of the custom that Narmes avoided contact with each other, the boy offered the girl a rose he had picked from the flower bed. She happily took it and politely said "Thank you". She would not have accepted one from anybody else. But, she liked this boy. They were friends. It meant a lot that this flower was given to her by him. A rose by any other Narme would not be as sweet. All the people in the park who saw this event were aghast!
East Narmers screamed "That boy violated our customs by doing a good deed. An act of kindness is an act of war."
West Narmites shouted back "She accepted the rose and even said thank you. An act of gratitude is an act of war."
For different reasons, they were both right. There must be a war. The only thing they had left to do was present their cases to Prince Uniteus and Princess Solitaire of The Narme High Council. They would take it to King Dividicus for a final verdict. This was a very difficult decision to make. King Dividicus thought about it all night and the next day announced, "I have no choice but to accept both your declarations of war. Our laws will permit nothing else. So, let the war begin and may the best Narmes win."
The leaders of both armies were summoned for a briefing of the rules of war. As there had never been a war before, no-one really knew what the rules were. Both men arrived at the same time; General Plotter, leader of the West Narmite army who was famous for his quote "War is Healthy" and Major Planner, the leader of the East Narmer army. He did not have a famous quote yet but he was working on one.
The rules of war were few and simple:
1. Only one army could attack at a time
2. Each side took turns
3. All attacks must take place after dark
(to protect children from the horrors of war)
4. The king
-selected the length of the war
-declared the winner, and
-set the conditions of peace.
To decide who had the right to attack first King Dividicus tossed a coin. If it was heads, East Narme went first and if it was tails, West Narme would go first. The loser of the coin toss would get the last turn in the war. King Dividicus tossed the coin and it landed heads. East Narme would attack first.
Now here is how war is waged in the Kingdom of Narme. It is very strange indeed. When an army attacks it sneaks across the border after dark and does something nice for the enemy. To counter-attack an army must outdo it's opponent by doing something even nicer the next night.
They continue doing good deeds back and forth until the end of the war. At this point the king weighs all the evidence and declares a winner. Who ever has done the most or kindest, nicest act wins.
East Narme attacked that very night and the war was on. When the citizens of West Narme woke up the next morning and stepped outside, they found all their lawns had been mowed, their hedges were trimmed and the sidewalks were all washed and clean.
As is the custom, the West Narmites lined up on their side of Division Street and saluted their opponent. After the East Narmers had lined up and returned the salute, the West Narmites clapped and cheered. "Bravo, well done, fantastic." Then, for the rest of the day they went about their daily business of ignoring each other.
West Narme was prepared to retaliate. And they did. The next morning East Narmers woke up to find that all of their houses and fences had been painted. One house even had new shingles on the roof. The East Narmers lined up and saluted the West Narmites. They complimented their fine efforts. Then, once again they ignored each other for the rest of the day.
For East Narme's next attack they fixed all the potholes and paved every street in West Narme.
When the East Narmers woke up the next day a hearty breakfast was waiting for them.
A long table was set up on East Narme;s side of Division Street loaded with ham and eggs, fresh baked bread and hot chocolate.
To top this East Narme gave the West Narmites new vehicles. All the grownups got new cars and the children got new bicycles and wagons.
Not to be outdone the West Narmites set up and decorated Christmas trees in every East Narmer's yard. It was like Christmas in July and there were presents for everyone.
And so it went back and forth for over a month, each attack outdoing the last. The two sides could not help but be impressed with each others skills at waging war. But, they were running out of good deeds to perform. King Dividicus declared that each side had one more chance at being nice and then the war would be over.
Major Planner had a brilliant plan. That night, even though it was their turn, East Narme did not attack. When the West Narmites woke up the next morning they wondered what was going on. Nothing good had happened during the night. The Narme High Council called a meeting to get to the bottom of it.
Major Planner explained his strategy as King Dividicus, Prince Uniteus and Princess Solitaire listened. "Your Majesty, as East Narmes final act of war, we surrender." The West Narmites were stunned and the Narme High Council was puzzled. "What nicer thing could we possibly do than surrender and let our opponent win."
General Plotter objected. "Although I agree that this is a wonderful gesture, there is a flaw in that plan. We cannot outdo such a noble deed. Therefore, by surrendering as an act of kindness, East Narme should win the war. As we have the last turn in this war we must admit defeat. We have no other choice but to surrender ourselves. "
In response Major Planner said, "You cannot surrender in a war that you have already won."
To which Gen. Plotter replied, " The war was not over. We had last attack and with it we chose to surrender. Therefore you win."
Major Planner: "But, if we win by surrendering, you would win by surrendering also."
General Plotter: "The only reason you want to surrender is so that you can win."
Major Planner: "The only reason you want us to win is because it means we lose."
General Plotter: "You cannot lose if you have won."
Major Planner: "We cannot win if we have lost."
General Plotter: " Can one win the battle and lose the war or lose the battle and win the war?"
They argued back and forth for hours. No-one was really sure which side of the argument either one of them was on. These talks were going nowhere fast. King Dividicus had heard enough and silenced them both. "This is all very confusing and it requires very careful thought. I do not know if you are both trying to surrender to be nice or surrendering so that you can win. Prince Uniteus, Princess Solitaire and I will discuss it and give you our solution tomorrow."
All night long they tried to figure it out. What a dilemma. Never before had they had such a difficult case. The loser wins therefore the winner loses. But, if the winner loses it means the loser must win. It was mind boggling.
The next morning everyone gathered for the Narme High Council meeting eager to hear King Dividicus' solution.
"Before I make my decision on the outcome of the war, I have another announcement to make. I have ruled Narme for many many years and I have grown old and weary. Therefore this will be my last act then I will step down as your King." This was sad news for everyone.
"Now here is my solution. Both sides have very good points. If by surrendering East Narme performs an act of kindness that cannot be outdone, they should win the war. But, if West Narme agrees with this and as their final act of war they surrender, this act cannot be outdone either, therefore they should also win the war. But neither side can win if they have surrendered. As I see it both sides are right and both sides are wrong. So, to be fair, I call this war a tie. I accept both East Narme and West Narme's right to surrender and both sides lose."
This was a stunning end for everyone. Then someone shouted out, "There must always be a winner in every war." "And there is one." replied King Dividicus.
Everyone muttered among themselves. How could there be a winner if both sides lose? And how could both sides lose if there is a winner? Maybe it was a good thing that King Dividicus was stepping down as ruler of Narme after all.
King Dividicus continued. "I declare the Kingdom of Narme the winner. Although everyone in East Narme loses and everyone in West Narme loses, together as the Kingdom of Narme, everybody wins."
Slowly everybody began to see that this was a wise decision. Everyone clapped and cheered.
"As a condition of peace, because both sides have surrendered, they are hereby ordered to give up their names. No longer will citizens from East Narme be called East Narmers and citizens from West Narme will no longer be known as West Narmites. From this day forward we shall all be simply known as Narmes no matter what part of the Kingdom we are from. There will be no more East or West Narme and everyone is free to travel anywhere in the Kingdom." This was a wonderful idea. Everyone liked it.
"So. Farewell East Narme. Farewell West Narme. Hail the Kingdom of Narme." Everyone shouted "Hail the Kingdom of Narme." The war was over and everyone was happy. General Plotter and Major Planner saluted each other then shook hands. They were no longer enemies.
King Dividicus had made his last decision as ruler. No-one could argue that this wasn't his wisest one yet. With that his job was done. So, he removed the crown from his head, placed it on Prince Uniteus, turned to the crowd and shouted "Hail King Uniteus."
He then placed another crown on Princess Solitaire and shouted "Hail Queen Solitaire."
Everyone shouted back "Hail King Uniteus. Hail Queen Solitaire. Hail the Kingdom of Narme."
Together King Uniteus and Queen Solitaire ruled the Kingdom of Narme wisely and fairly for many years to come. Narme never had another war. All the people of Narme were happy and friendly towards everybody else. They were always willing to help their neighbors and do good deeds for each other simply because it's nice being nice.