Once upon a time, there was a lovely little coastal village. Life was good and peaceful there but there was one little problem. The nearby coast was treacherous and unforgiving to passing sailors. It seemed like there were shipwrecks just about every week. And so the villagers all got together and decided to do something about this terrible problem.

They decided to pool all of their resources and build a tall and beautiful tower. It would stand on the shoreline and offer warning and guidance to all who passed that way. They formed a society to make sure that the light was always lit, that the foghorn was ready to go off in bad weather and to ensure that the tower continued to stand and do its job. It was a wonderful achievement that made them rightfully proud.

There were some other benefits of all this work. In those days, the Lighthouse Society was the most important and most active association in the village. Everyone wanted to be part of it. Meetings of the society became the most important social events of the year. They had fun together, talked about important things and raised the funding to keep everything going. They never forgot, though, that they only existed to offer guidance and protection to passing ships.

But time went by and it somehow became easier for the people to focus on the meetings themselves and especially on what they were getting out of them. The meetings were a comfortable part of some of the people’s lives and so they got upset when things happened during them that were unexpected or unusual. But then there were others who complained that the meetings were too boring if it was always the same old thing.

As the culture of the village changed, people started to have other options for social interaction than just belonging to the Lighthouse Society. Feeling that they weren’t quite getting everything that they wanted from the meetings, they started attending sporadically or even not at all. This led to a general feeling of discouragement in the society. Alarmed, the leadership began to focus on the meetings of the society to make sure that they pleased to greatest number of people possible.

This was not an easy thing to accomplish, of course. They spent a lot of time and a fair bit of money trying to come up with solutions. It was an all-absorbing problem and so you can hardly blame them if, in the midst of all that important work, nobody bothered to change the light bulb in the tower when it burned out. And when the foghorn rusted out, nobody bothered to fix it. They had other things on their minds.

Of course, it was a shame about the shipwreck…