Once upon a time, there was a Map. It was given long ago to a group of people who promised to guard it and to follow it, and it was copied meticulously many times over the centuries. The people understood that no matter how much time passed or where they were in the world, they were to be guided by the Map.
From the Map shone a golden city, a promise to all who kept to the map. "Someday," the people said, "we will see that place of light." And they believed it with all their hearts.
For generations, it was accepted that more than one route led to the golden city. When he looked into the Map, each man saw all possibilities, though one in particular might stand out to him. Great scholars met to debate the merits of each route. Entire schools were born. On one point they were all in agreement: Even if their own eyes never beheld the sight of the golden city, living by the Map was its own reward.
And then it came to pass, a group claimed to have no need of the Map. They had lived in the land for so long, they knew it as well as the faces of their wives. The land could be navigated without the Map. Perhaps, the most rebellious ones said, the golden city did not even exist.
So they left, their arguments hanging in the air like dust. The Map had never been threatened by their own kind before. The elders agreed that more than ever, it must be preserved and protected. Mixed with their determination was fear.
Suddenly, the Map looked different to many of the people. Where once he had seen multiple routes, only one appeared in each man's sight. The possibility of another way seemed like a threat. Neighbor turned against neighbor. Scholars accused one another of not following the Map, and the schools divided. All revered the Map. All believed that only they knew the true way to the golden city.
One day, a young boy, just on the cusp of manhood, was exploring outside as young boys do. He had been told of the Map since he was born. He knew that when he became a man, he would be responsible for following the Map toward the golden city. That morning, he stumbled across two scholars, both highly esteemed by their respective schools. The boy paused to listen to the wisdom they would have to impart.
But the two men were angry. Their words were coated in vitriol. Accusations flew with their spittle. Each accused the other of betraying the Map. His adversary would surely not merit the golden city, both said.
The boy ducked out of sight and leaned against a tree, his mind whirling. If neither of these great men could believe each other, then the entire Map must be a lie. The golden city was undoubtedly a myth. After all, who had seen it? What fools these people were, he thought. He would never be like them and believe in something that wasn't true.
When the scholars had parted ways and gone back to their Maps, for once they saw the same thing: The golden city was farther away than it had ever been.