Tail Wagging The Dog
Havelock Ellis, a prolific writer on sex and related matters asserted that, 99 out of 100, human beings knew about a particular device for self-gratification and the one who professed ignorance of it was a liar. Similarly, I venture to say that very few can feign ignorance of the game some pranksters play through what is known as ?chain? letters. I give below, for the sake of form, a description of the way the game is played.
You receive in the post an unsigned letter composed in three paragraphs. The first one is the reproduction of a universal prayer to God, cleverly piecing together the names by which He is addressed by people of different faiths. The second one tells you how and when the thing began in the remote past. The third paragraph promises you unexpected gains or spells of misfortune depending on whether you continue the chain or break it. To continue the chain, you are told to reproduce the entire contents and post the copies anonymously to ten different people, all utter strangers, within twenty-hours of your receiving the letter. The letter does not tell you how to pick the names and addresses of the ten people. Obviously in these modern days, a telephone directory would be a proper source.
When I received such a letter some decades ago, my first reaction was to disregard it. The clever ploy to play upon my susceptibilities as a human being to suggestions, I honestly admit, won. The ancient dictum that ?discretion is the better part of valour? kept writing itself on my mental firmament. I sheepishly abided by the instructions telling myself that I had saved myself from possible harm. I had to do it all slyly without others knowing for fear that they would ridicule me. It was only some time later when, by a strange coincidence, I received the same anonymous letter from ten different quarters, I had the courage to decide it was all a hoax. Even at that stage I might perhaps have again succumbed but for the cost factor. Postal rates had increased greatly during the intervening period and the cost of sending such communications at one and the same time to ten different people was prohibitive by any criterion. A case of tail wagging the dog.
I think that it is not out of place here to make mention of a friend of mine. He had two telephones in his house but they were unlisted. He used to destroy letters addressed to him after reading them. Again, he would leave blank the space for filling in the sender?s address. On being asked, he told me that he was against ?visibility? and it was best to avoid the misuse of his name by letting it fall into strangers? hands.
I am now fairly seasoned not to be a prey to the silly temptation to think that God is a politician needing sales promotion and lobbying.
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