By Donald Meinshausen
Sometimes a flower can tell a story and teach a moral lesson. Even more it can be a prophesy for our times. There is this red and yellowish white flower with green leaves called the Cantuta, which was the sacred flower of the Incas and it is the national flower of Bolivia and its legend from Inca times is so profound that it inspired the Bolivian flag.
The legend associated with the Cantuta flower is the tale of two kings named Illimani and Illampu, and the sons of each and their common state of tragedy. Both of these kings were powerful and wealthy rulers in ancient Bolivia and their kingdoms were next to each other where one of them was symbolized by a golden star while the other had a symbol of a red star, much like the United States and the old Soviet Union. Both of them had a son that they and the people loved and held in great esteem. But as the years passed they became irritated at each other’s success and became jealous of each other even though the star/kings had everything they could want.
So one day one of them attacked the other and started a war, which is common and usual with jealous rulers. During a fierce battle both kings were mortally wounded by their counterpart and carried away to their respective homes. Both of them were now on their deathbeds, miles away from each other and called for their respective sons. When each son dutifully came to his dying father, each star/king made their own son make a vow to avenge their deaths. This was doubly hard on the sons, since they had each counseled their fathers not to go to war in the first place and both loved and respected their father.
However they were both bound to these deathbed pledges to their fathers and their states and a second war was begun even though they had held no grudge against each other. History then tragically repeated itself, as wars often do, and both sons inflicted a fatal wound against each other in combat. Would this vendetta continue forever?
But instead of harsh words they generously forgave each other and asked that their servants to place them side by side in the green grass of the battlefield. Then the Earth Mother, Pachamamma, who is the Goddess of Fertility, appeared and then told the young kings before they died that they shouldn’t have suffered from their father’s unjustified enmity. They were placed side by side in the same tomb. In order to punish the fathers the Pachamamma had the two stars fall out of the sky in order to become the snow covered mountains that are still named Illimani and Illampu, which are the highest peaks in that region of the Andes.
If there were a chain of burial mounds of all the casualties of the 20th century, which was over a hundred million men, women and children, it would likely be as big as a chain of mountains like the Andes. Such mountains are like the state in its visual impact, overwhelmingly powerful and frightening to confront, with its mountaintops of icy indifference and hostility to life, with blizzards of snow in its job to stop people from reaching its summit. And when people do manage to get to the top they find that while it has a tremendous view no human being can really live there. You can get fame from going to the top there, but not much else and all that fame tells you is that you must risk your life all over a gain and climb yet another mountain to get more.
They say that the rivers of the snow slowly melting from the mountain are the bloody tears of regret and these fertilized the valleys and made them green. The Cantuta bloomed as a symbol of the people’s unity and represents the blood shed from both sides and the sunlit snowy indifference of the fathers and the green of hope that grows from below.
Kings may rage and stamp their feet as they have always done, to plunge us into the slavery and misery of war, but why do we, even their children, listen to them? Even flowers tell us a better story but will we ever stop and listen to the call of the flowers?