I was surprised when they spoke, because they had such squeaky voices for such big heads! I had expected deep, resonant voices of cold authority, but no, they were squeaky and shaky. Somehow, it made the whole thing more intimidating.
The first one said, "The Ghost Dance was a movement in North America, beginning with the Paiute but spreading to the Arapaho and other nations. It is said the Ghost Dance Movement included a promise that the spirits could make men immune to the bullets of the European invaders."
The second one said, "The Boxer Rebellion was a movement in China, beginning when the Emperor began to fund previously anti-imperial secret societies like the Righteous and Haronious Fists, also called the Boxers. It is said the Boxer Rebellion included a primse that vieruous use of kung fu could make men immune to the bullets of the European invaders."
The first stone head then said, "These movements happened across the world from each other, within ten years of each other, about a hundred years ago. Both were unsuccessful and ended in slaughter."
Then the second one spoke a challenge to me, "Explain the mystery behind this, and we will tell you a secret."
I thought for a moment. I didn't know enough, and was not willing to look them up on the web, of course.
"I don't know," I said, "But I can tell you this. There is are some impressive movements today. Microbanking is a new market in which banks lend small amounts of money in developing countries, to help enterprising natives build up local economies. For instance, a bank might loan a person five dollars to buy a sewing machine in a town that has none, or new seed. In many microbanks, loans are not given until existing loans are paid back, so there is community pressure to pay back loans quickly. The result is profitable for the microbank, and makes purchases that might be trivial in industrial countries possible in developing counties, enriching the lives and communities of the borrowers."
The stone heads remained silent, so I moved on.
"Another movement worth note is Appropriate Technology. This involves inventing new technologies designed for use in developing countries. There is a new grinder that is reducing drudgery for women in agrarian societies, and a pump that increases farm yields. These are simple technologies designed to improve developing countries that do not have the financial, technological, or power infrastructures to use technologies found in western industries. Sometimes it's being done charitably, but just as much it's being done for a profit. This is the technological, capitalist answer to bettering developing countries, and it is working well. The important thing is to use the ideas of freedom and innovation to integrate with the economic and cultural environment, rather than imposing technology that is not useful and sustainable."
The stone heads remained still. Maybe I gave the wrong answer. Maybe, though, the secret they wanted to tell me was that silence.
Stupid statue heads.