When he arrived, he told his wife of his desert vision. "We will collect all the grain bags in town after they have been emptied, and we will fill them with sand. When the waters threaten to overflow their banks, we will shore up those banks with these 'sand bags.'"
"This can never work," his wife said. "Sand cannot hold back water. Isn't sand on the bottom of the ocean, and isn't it carried along by the current of a river?"
"These things are true," the man said. "But when the density of the sand is increased by packing, they will be as large bricks, a wall against the current."
The next time the floods started, the man protected his city and his farm with these bags. The people celebrated with a great party. They made him mayor for a day. They composed songs about his prowess, brilliance, and compassion. Shortly after, an organization was formed: the first sandbaggers association of Mesopotamia. The man wasn't happy with the organization; he believed any person could make their own sandbags, but the organization did good work, so he went to his grave content and prosperous.
Not many generations later, the first sandbaggers association of Mesopotamia came up with a list of by-laws. These included the requirements to be a member of the association. Among the requirements was the stipulation that any sandbagger must acknowledge that the first sandbagger was the greatest sandbagger. Indeed, he was god of sandbaggers. Additionally, they were made to swear that association meetings combined with the confession that the first sandbagger was superior were both required to be an official sandbagger.
Many years later, a young man who grew up in the town showed up to work along the banks of the rivers when the spring rains threatened to swell the rivers beyond their banks. The sandbagger foreman asked to see his membership tablet.
"I am no member," the man said. "I simply desire to help."
"You must first swear that the first sandbagger was greatest," the foreman said. "And then you must agree to regular meetings, at which we will all proclaim together that he was greatest."
"Can't I simply help stop the river from overwhelming the city?" The young man asked.
"No," the foreman replied. "If you don't acknowledge that the first sandbagger is greatest, then you are not truly sandbagging."
The young man was greatly saddened. He thanked the foreman for his time, walked down the river a few miles and began to make his own sandbags.