He’d always hated traveling, but sometimes it was unavoidable. He wasn’t quite certain how he’d managed to be headed away from home this time but chalked it up to getting older. His memory wasn’t quite what it had been–everything about him had diminished with age. Then again, it might have been that bottle of Jack Daniels he vaguely recalled consuming the night before.
Traveling in America was bad enough with the TSA security screening, but many other countries were worse. They did all of the TSA things, and then insisted on conducting interviews with each. and. every. traveler.
So here he was, standing in line, with some old guy (well, older than him, anyway) behind a podium, waiting to be interviewed. The line snaked forward until it was his turn. The old man looked down a list.
“Ah! Here we go. Would you please state your occupation?”
“Damned bureaucrats,” he thought, “always poking their nose into other people’s business.” Then he said, “I work for Homeland Defense, protecting America’s borders.”
“Ahhh,” commented the man behind the podium. “What’s your position on immigrants?”
“If they are legal, educated, employable, and speak English, I can tolerate them,” he replied, surprised that he was so blatantly candid.
“And if they’re seeking refuge from dangers?”
He looked for an ID card or at least a badge so he could complain about this jerk, but all he had was one of those stupid stick on “Hello my name is” labels with Rock written in sharpie. He realized that the man was waiting.
“If they don’t have a visa, they’re not allowed in. That’s the law.”
“What about natural born citizens?” the man behind the podium asked.
“No problem.” he replied, “If they have proof of citizenship, we let them right in.”
“But not the refugees?”
“Right. The law is the law.” He smiled inside, proud of himself for sticking to his values.
“Tell me,” the man behind the podium asked, “were you born here?”
“No,” he replied, irritated at Rock’s stupidity. “I was born in America.”
“So you’re not a natural-born citizen here” Rock replied.
“Of course not” he responded. This guy was a real idiot. The man behind the podium put his finger on a button that was visible on the top of the podium. “Since you are not a citizen here and since you have not completed the immigration process, I cannot let you enter.”
“Where am I going?”
“Some call it limbo, others call it purgatory. You can call it whatever you like.
“Once you complete your application and submit it through proper channels, we should get around to it in an eon or so. Next!” he pushed the button. A trap door opened and the man began to fall.
I have kept my stylus to myself lately, because I just cannot deal with your so-called systems of government.
Some rulers are interesting, such as Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great who conquered everything in site before he died at age 32. Some are bizarre, such as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (who hated being called Caligula) or China’s Jin Hui Di. Others were just evil, like Stalin and Hitler. Even with all their faults (maybe because of them) these leaders were, at least, interesting.
On the other hand, the current cast of the play, “Modern Earth and It’s Leaders” is just plain bad theater. It’s boring and the characters are all one-dimensional. I’m not so fond of the script, either, and recommend it be completely rewritten.
Please, for the sake of posterity, either rewrite the tale and recast the entire troupe or close the show. Farce does not work with these players, all of whom take themselves far too seriously for comedy. For the record, I’m not fond of tragedies.
I cannot write about something if it is not at least minimally interesting.
Death–at least for me–has its privileges. Because I’m dead, I now have a ringside seat from which to observe humanity’s foibles.
I love watching so-called leaders. Actually I don’t but after a millennia or two one learns to laugh rather than cry. I’ve seen them all–every Caesar, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, and so on, etc., etc., etc.
Leaders come. Leaders go. Each leader has some grand plan. They always offer a simplistic fix to a complex problem that sounds great but never works.
I’m used to lying, stealing, cheating, bribery, graft, and corruption. They haven’t caught my attention for centuries. However, in your world, the idea of some poor schmuck and their family crossing the border into your so-called “civilized” countries is something else. This throws supposedly modern, 21st century, educated people into a phenomenal panic!
Remember the last sabbath you celebrated? The God you worshipped then also left you with these:
Exodus 22:21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 10:19 “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”
Living for millennia, it’s easy to get bored (or is it boored?). In your era, give or take a couple of hundred years, such things as television and streaming data are easier for me to assimilate than printed material. I confess I love music, but it’s difficult to convert it from your plane of existence to mine. However, I do, somehow, manage (if you’ve got eternity on your side, it makes more sense). For what it’s worth, I particularly like Mozart and The Beatles.
On your television, in the original Star Trek television series there was an episode on a planet, controlled by artificial intelligence. Kirk introduces the android who is the hub for all the others to the concept of lying. Kirk tells him that everything Harry Mudd says [Gotta love the character!] is a lie.
Mudd then calmly tells him, “I’m lying.”
The android gets caught in a do-loop and self destructs.
Based on your television of half a century ago, I have to wonder if you reached that point before you got starships.
In my millennia, I have observed many cowards. Every one of them disgusts me.
I can understand the man, woman, or child who hides from a threat. That is survival. To confront every challenge without having the ability to prevail is foolish. Even a strong army retreats for strategic advantage. The failure to do so is “Winning the battle, but losing the war.”
I cannot contain my disgust with those who enter a school or place of worship in order to do harm. It’s a one-sided interaction. The aggressor is heavily armed, armored, and has the advantage of surprise. The victims are unprepared, innocent, intending to learn or worship–not to engage in war.
The perpetrators have no honor and certainly no courage.
If, when they arrived at their target, they were met with one–even one–other who was equally armed and equally prepared, they would run away because they would know they would lose.
Unfortunately, the media acknowledges their desire for publicity, showing their names and faces on the news. Their friends, family, and anyone else available are interviewed on camera. All of these images and sounds are played and replayed until the next big news story comes along.
For hundreds, indeed, thousands of years, I’ve advised people to see these losers for what they are. They are bullies–nothing more. If you want to meet one, just shovel out the stables. They will be what stinks the worst.
There is a phenomenon in which people who normally know and adhere to their values change when in the company of an emotionally charged group. Over the past millennia, I’ve seen it far too often. Call it “peer pressure”, “groupthink”, or “mob mentality”, it doesn’t matter.
Since most people in your time are not scholars of history, I won’t use an obscure example, but one with which most of you are familiar. Nevertheless, the same interaction has recurred time after time–the living do not learn, so it is up to those of us who are gone to explain.
In an ancient land with no BBC, no cable, no wi-fi, a man approaches a village. A murmur passes through the crowd. “This is the ONE that we’ve been waiting for! He is the one!”
The people run together and a crowd forms and welcomes him. “Hail to our hope! Hail to our future! Hail to military victory!”
But it is not Alexander, or Caesar, Hitler, or Stalin. It is an itinerant teacher who has asked for nothing; who has accepted only a place to sleep and a shared meal.
As he approaches, the people line the streets.
“You are what we’ve prayed for! You are the best–Holy, Holy, Holy (holiest, the third order of holy). We wave palms over your head! We lay our cloaks for you to walk over. You are THE one.”
A few days later, in the middle of the night, a kangaroo court is held to condemn the same man to death. The mob, this time, cries “Crucify him.”
Was it the same people?