The Sylvan Archers of Sherwood, Oregon, U.S.A. win most of their contests with the Nottinghamshire Archery Society, U.K. But you probably don't know that. Their victory announcement is usually a note taped to a rock and tossed through the window of a grocery store or pizza market window. (Okay, there's no rock. The note will be neatly taped to the window.)

A glance at the history texts available at the Sherwood Oregon U.S.A. Public Library explains why the Archers have a right to be ashamed of their victories. A leading expert on warfare explains:

"Edward I, Edward III, and Henry V--as well as William the Conqueror--owed their victories largely to the bow.... [Nevertheless,] the bow was disliked because it was cheap, hence accessible to anyone and hardly worth bothering with as a status-symbol. ... True, the days set aside for a tournament often also witnessed competitions in archery. But those who competed with the bow were not knights. ... Ladies did sometimes use the crossbow for target practice or hunting --another indication of its problematic nature as a first-class weapon of war." --The Transformation of War by Martin van Creveld, The Free Press, pp. 81-82.

Today we fight wars with big, noisy weapons. But that happened only because all sides agreed to do so, Creveld explains. "In the future, war will be waged not by armies but by groups whom we refer to as terrorists, guerillas, bandits, and robbers." These folks already roam the world and they are not so enjoyable to know as Robin Hood and Little John are certain to have been. They stalk the countryside and towns "...considering anybody a legitimate target--civilian, military, foreigner or local. The incidence of murder, looting, and rape rising throughout the country: the utterly demoralized police force lacking any authority to counter the lawlessness." --paraphrased from the New York Review, August 14, 1997, "Heart of Darkness" by Misha Gienny, an article about Albania.

But come on. Get serious. Over the past few years, American television viewers may have been struck by the amazing similarity between the scenery of Yugoslavia and of Sherwood Oregon. But when the Republicans say they want to return the reins of government to local control... they don't mean that do they?

"Power to the States. Are they ready?" a recent (August 7, 1995) issue of Business Week screams. It is referring to the success that the Congress has had ceding "..control of everything from welfare to transportation and environmental policy to the states..." Virtually everyone is delighted. "While Congress is willing to give states more responsibility, it also is proposing that they manage it with a lot less money."

Why should there be any complaint from us at the local level? Utne Reader has reported that the disappearance of big central governments won't be so bad. "Cities are again moving to center stage," the magazine reports, "gaining a self-awareness and self-direction unknown since the middle ages."

The Middle Ages? Right.

What will the middle ages be like? Well, for one thing: Instead of frontiers organized along national boundaries, our off road vehicles will be met by "...the occasional roadblock cropping up at unexpected places, manned by ruffians out to line their own pockets as well as those of their bosses." --Creveld, page 197.

Other Works by Clyde ListRobin Hood Revisited
by Clyde List

Okay. We can do that. The new Sherwood/Tualatin area toll road is in the planning stages. Anything else?

Morris Dees, in his book, Gathering Storm, states that between 1994 and 1996 "...there were at least 441 militia units across the country. Every State had at least one within its borders." According to University of Oregon sociologist Dee Southard, 53% of Oregon is publicly owned and therefore full of homeless people, approximately a third of whom are paramilitary types.

Meanwhile, the newspaper reports that "Incidents of threats, violence, and intimidation against Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service workers has more than doubled since 1995," the year extremists bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building. One out of five of these crimes happened in Oregon and Washington. [ Portland Oregonian, Sept 2, 1999]

Just as during the Middle ages, walls are being built to keep all these riff raff out of our public spaces. Walled cities are called "gated communities" now. Such communities have been "..springing up around the country since the early 1980's. What we used to think of as "shared civic space" is turning into "communal residential space." the book reports. --Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States, by Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder.

So what will the Middle Ages be like? The former Mayor of Bordeaux, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) lived in a gated community in France. He has the following advice worth jotting down for future reference:

1. When you are standing at the wall of your city, never dive for cover when you hear the distant cannonade fire. By the time you hear the noise the cannons will have already reached their target and you'll only make a fool of yourself.

2. If the cannon ball knocks a hole through the city wall, make sure you know which way to run. Have the route carefully laid out in advance. Don't be like the fellow who searched in vain for the center of town only to observe the colors of the enemy host rising in front of him instead, along with the startled expressions on the soldiers' faces, before he skidded to a halt and scurried off in a more optimistic direction.

3. If the enemy breaks down the gate to the city and works its way into the heart of the city, you may decide to kill your family. This is a hard choice, but before you decide, be sure to visit an internet site devoted to SM&B with your family in order to discuss with them the things that happen to people when they are at the enemy's mercy in the heat of a battle. It may then be possible to admire a certain homeowner in Montaigne's day who dispatched his family with a sword, charged into the street with a crossbow and harquebus, killed two of the enemy, and then, mortally wounded himself, climbed onto a parapet and "plucked out his entrails with both hands... and threw them among the pursuers, calling down divine vengeance upon them all."

Oh yes, I can hardly wait until the Republicans have dismanteled the Federal Government and transferred its authority back to the local level. I wonder what we'll think of Robin Hood then. •

Business Week, August 7, 1995
Utne Reader, Sept/Oct. 1996

Sherwood Scroll • Nov. 1978

© 2002 by Clyde List       All Rights Reserved