As the curtain rises, Giblet sits at the kitchen table downstage left, looking morose and drinking a cup of coffee. After a few moments Dumpling enters, upstage right, and crosses to the counter, where a coffee maker sits, with several mugs on a sideboard. Dumpling grabs a mug, fills it with coffee and stands, considering Giblet for a few moments before crossing downstage and joining them at the table.
DUMPLING: What are you doing?
GIBLET (sarcastic and exasperated): What does it look like I'm doing? I'm sitting here drinking a cup of coffee.
DUMPLING: Actually, it looks like you're sitting, drinking a cup of coffee and thinking angry thoughts. And scowling. You're a great scowler, you know.
DUMPLING: What are you thinking about?
GIBLET: Some guy at the meeting last week shared something that I can't get out of my head and ... it's really messing with me.
DUMPLING: What did your sponsor say? Oh, that's right, you don't call your sponsor.
GIBLET: That's what's great about you, I don't really need to work my program, since you're always so ready to step in and work it for me.
DUMPLING: That is an infantile evasion to an astute observation -- my remarking that you don't call your sponsor is not very different from saying you don't take your insulin, or you don't take your vitamins, or whatever.
GIBLET: Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that.
DUMPLING: Wow, you are really a piece of work today. So what is it that this guy shared which has your snark turned up to eleven?
GIBLET: He was talking about having a hard time with his faith -- faith in God, faith in AA, recovery, his ability to "get" it -- and he compared the whole thing to a Cargo Cult, and the comparison is so apt it's kind of freaking me out.
DUMPLING: How apt is it? Remind me again what a Cargo Cult is, and most especially what it might have to do with a crisis of faith.
Giblet rises from the table while speaking, and goes to the counter, grabbing the coffee pot and returning, pouring more coffee into each mug.
GIBLET: Well, he told the story of the Cargo Cults -- it's part history and part fable, so don't get worked up about how accurate the history bits are -- it's the larger point that's working me. Okay, so during World War II the Allies' planes couldn't carry enough fuel to make it all the way across the Pacific Theater, so the military selected small islands along the way to build posts with fuel and supplies and such. Some of these islands were actually inhabited, and so basically one day, as far as the natives were concerned, this big silver bird comes down from the sky, and out of its belly comes men, with materials and things, and the men build a long flat road and hang lights, which then makes for other, even bigger silver birds to land, and from those issued all sorts of things -- not just men and supplies, but things that the natives had never seen before. Matches, chocolate, flashlights, cameras ...
DUMPLING: Okay, sorry to interrupt, but my God, could this fable be any more condescending to indigenous peoples? It's the typical Western arrogance manifest destiny thing which ...
GIBLET: You are everything I hate about highly educated people, did you know that?
DUMPLING: And yet you keep sleeping with me.
GIBLET: Congratulations, you are part of my cycle of dysfunctional relationships. Do you want to hear what's bothering me, or do you want to lecture me about western culture and crap like that?
DUMPLING: Sorry, sorry -- go on.
GIBLET: Okay, so the natives, they have no understanding of the war, or the world outside of their little island. They're just grooving on all the stuff that is coming along with the men who come out of the big silver birds.
DUMPLING: Chocolate and nylons.
GIBLET: Will you stop?
DUMPLING: Sorry, I really do want to help. Please, go on.
GIBLET: So the war ends, but that's all an abstract to the natives -- yet with the war over the military eventually closes the base and flies away. No more silver birds with stuff coming out of them. So the natives sit down, and with their best thinking try to figure out how to get the big silver birds to come back to the island so they can get the stuff again. So they think about it, and they think about it, and they hit on a perfect solution: Build another long road for the big silver birds to land on. After all, that's what happened before, right? So they tear down some trees and flatten a long stretch of land and line it with torches and congratulate themselves on their good thinking and their hard work and they sit down and wait. But of course no planes come, because although they mimicked what it took for planes to land on the island before, they were completely ignorant of what was really going on. From their limited view they took the right action to get the result, but in the big picture they couldn't have been more off the mark.
DUMPLING: Okay, wow, and this guy said all this in his share? Where does the crisis of faith come in, and what about all that has gotten your knickers in a twist?
GIBLET: What if we in recovery are like the natives on the island -- what if anyone seeking a conscious contact with a Higher Power in general is like that? We have our little rituals and our writing and we pray and we this and that, but what if we're just performing a dumb show, and are as empty and misguided as those natives and will get an equally empty and dismal result. What if it's all bullshit stage business completely divorced from a real ... well, a real anything?
DUMPLING: You certainly like to torture yourself. All this is a just a ridiculously complicated way to simply ask "What if there is no God?" or "What if AA is bs?" Not to mention, there is so much needless drama, (conveniently ignoring the results we get from AA, by the way) with that line of questioning anyway. And that interpretation of the story. Personally, I can see a whole different point to your Cargo Cult fable.
GIBLET: Not everyone gets results from AA you know.
DUMPLING: I have. And you have, when you're not throwing yourself around the kitchen, wringing your hands and wondering when it will stop working or if it's all pointless. Not everyone treating their cancer gets results from chemotherapy, either. Does that mean that no one should use chemotherapy? It's a simple Program, sure, but addiction is not a simple problem -- so to reduce it to such a simplistic level is doing yourself, and your program ... and AA ... a disservice. Because it's such a reduction that it becomes a distortion.
GIBLET: Okay, maybe ... but the Cargo Cult story is still a good analogy for a group of people doing an empty ritual to no avail. They built a landing strip, but they didn't get what they wanted.
DUMPLING: Ah, but what did they get?
GIBLET: What are you talking about, they didn't get anything, that's the point.
DUMPLING: No, they didn't get airplanes with chocolate and trinkets, but that's not to say they didn't get anything -- they just didn't get the specific result they thought they wanted.
GIBLET: Right -- they didn't get what they set out to get.
DUMPLING: But that's not the same as them not getting anything.
GIBLET: If you are about to say they didn't get what they wanted but maybe they got what they needed I am going to throw up right here and now.
DUMPLING: Well go stand over the sink, because that IS what I'm saying. Your little fable ends too soon. It needs a Second Act, a Chapter Two, a ... a ... an epilogue!
GIBLET: And what would that be?
DUMPLING: Well, did they get airplanes full of crap? No. But in working towards that, maybe they learned other things, got other things.
GIBLET: I'm going to be sorry I asked, but ... what other things?
DUMPLING (shrugs): A greater sense of community. A new understanding of engineering principles. An insight that their leadership was screwed up -- the specific what-they-got isn't the point -- the point is that just because they didn't get what they set out to find doesn't mean they didn't get great stuff -- stuff that was ultimately of much greater value to them than chocolate bars and trinkets. Thus, it doesn't even matter if there's something at the other end, it's the doing that's worthwhile anyway.
GIBLET: I thought you said there was nothing on earth worth more than good chocolate.
DUMPLING: Shut up -- I'm making a great point.
GIBLET: Yeah, if you live in the Pollyanna Universe.
Dumpling slams their coffee mug down on the table and Giblet jumps.
DUMPLING: No. No, no no no NO. I hate that and I reject that. Just because something is a positive or uplifting interpretation doesn't make it any less valid or possible or important or substantive than your piss-all-over-everything negativity.
GIBLET: I'm not negative. I'm realistic.
DUMPLING (suddenly furious): My God! Have you met you? You are nothing BUT negative! You love to be negative! It's bullshit, is what it is, because you don't have the balls to feel hope and embrace optimism and look for the sunlight! It's easier and safer to just keep dragging around, acting cool and saying everything is crap -- then you never have to risk disappointment or rise to a challenge or actually do anything! It's much easier and more fun to ponce around the house talking about how life sucks, AA sucks, God's a fantasy -- and every time I say anything positive you just make fun of it! You know what, I don't need that! Being negative is easy, any child can stomp on a sandcastle. You know what's hard? Building the sandcastle! Keeping faith, even if you think it's silly or stupid or... or ... Pollyanna. What's so stupid about looking for the good, anyway? What's so unrealistic about that? It's such a cheap trick, equating the negative with realism. But you know what's really hard? Constantly listening to your faux sophisticated cynicism...
Dumpling stops abruptly, suddenly hearing what they've said, realizing they've gone too far, and covers their face with their hands. Giblet opens their mouth to respond, and then closes it. Slowly Giblet rises from the table and stands, looking down at Dumpling. Dumpling lowers their hands from their face, looks up at Giblet and seems about to say something. With a roar Giblet whirls and throws their mug against the wall, where it shatters with a crash.