Of Captains and Masters - perspectives in dystopia
There is no particular day that I can single out as being the day that everything changed. The timelines are too contentious to rely on unless I go back to the very beginning. Even then the intransigent mentality which now seeks to overrule human morality and dignity, once enshrined in human rights bills around the world, was not yet active in its pursuit to defile liberty, the last bastion of civilisation.
I am sick. But it is not the virus that is making me ill. I've already been through that shitstorm and it wasn't half as bad as it was made out to be. No, what is turning my stomach is a silent venom that has gone undetected, a seeping malevolence that has slowly pervaded every aspect of our private and public lives. And as humans, we sat back unaware that the temperature of the water was rising...constantly.
Fear. It's a simple 4 letter word but it holds more weight in the English language than any other. For it drives and motivates humans to act in ways that are incomprehensible to the rational-minded, and reprehensible to libertarianism and ethics. Seeds of doubt and mistrust were scattered on the wind, pariahs to our souls.
Rights once enshrined in statute the world over were simply cast aside in sacrifice to "the greater good". First, it was masks that were mandated by law. I could almost understand that, although still felt the infringement on personal liberty to be slightly more than a chore. This later progressed to the requirement of a double jab, vaccination to protect me and my loved ones from contracting the dreaded disease. Failure to adhere to this voluntary immunisation meant that one would face remaining confined to the borders of your homeland forever. Of course, you could leave and go to other countries that permitted your arrival as a guest, but not without the rigmarole and cost of pre-testing and post-testing, effectively maligning once patriots as prisoners of their nationality. Not just an inconvenience to the State but now also considered a threat. I kid you not!
Governments initially mandated that health workers be fully vaccinated against the virus or face dismissal from public and or private employment. Laws were promulgated and enforced. Not content with this alone, the requirement soon morphed into a full mandate across all professions for vaccination against the virus, and failing compliance, one would face a penalty of fines and later imprisonment.
And now...now they seek us out...actively pursue the unvaccinated. Those who choose to defy the orders of government; those who refuse to be bound and shackled to the manacles of irrationality, face certain incarceration, to protect others from their potentiality as carriers of Virus X. It is a nonsense. The statistics speak for themselves. We are no more a threat than the man on the bus in 2018 who sneezed and coughed and put me in bed for a week with the flu.
WE are no longer "one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". We are a broken society, divided by personal lines drawn in the sand, lines which remain devoid of mutual respect, now forever cemented in history.
It is in this future dystopia in 2035, that I am a human being in hiding. I will not give in. I will not enslave myself to another. I will retain control over my life and my choices. The government seeks me out along with the rest of the rebellion. It is decreed. And all I want is the freedom to exercise choice. My choice. This is one thing they will not allow me. They will not let me exercise free will. Even before the jabs became compulsory, they said I had a choice, but I didn't really. Exercising my free will left me with limited options as a citizen of the world; in reality leaving me with no real alternative if I wanted to retain the freedoms that my ancestors had sought to protect. And now even that has been taken from me. I do not understand why we are at war. Aristotle is turning in his grave.
"Hush now", I turn to my children, "wait until they pass". We watch as the tin hats march by. And then we scurry along, like rats in the sewers, living our lives between the dusk and the dawn.
Life is indeed good. It's the summer of '35 and I am sunning myself on a beach on the Costa del Sol. The kids are building sandcastles on the water's edge, bubblegum ice cream melting sticky through little fingers as they declare war on the sea. Laughter permeates the air. Their joy is palpable and pervasive.
I flick through the news highlights on my phone. More on the rebellion. Heavens, when will those people start taking this thing seriously? The only reason I am alive today is that I got vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, and when the time came for my children to be immunised, I was one of the first in line at the doctors' rooms, so grateful for the convenience and blessing of modern medicine.
They complain that their rights have been abrogated. What rights? Those enshrined in our Constitution? Don't they appreciate that we all deserve protection under the law? The Constitution only protects one's rights insofar as the exercise thereof does not infringe on the rights of others. Why can't they see reason and have consideration for others? Why can't they just get vaccinated?
The story bores me now. It has been the same old thing for years. When they failed to listen to reason and complained of inequitable treatment under the law, those who supported vaccination listened, disagreed, and implored them to act responsibly. But year after year our hospitals were overrun, budgets were stretched and lockdowns ensued. the media reported it all. Finally, enough was enough. We wanted our lives back, and we had to take a stand. A call to action was made. The camps were divided but it was a matter of life and death. Yes, people were actually dying here! The government finally took the necessary action and life got back to a new sense of normal for the rest of us law-abiding citizens. I am now free to roam the world and go and do as I please. I am in control of my own life. I have the papers to prove it, although having to carry them everywhere is a chore.
I used to pity the rebellion, but no longer. Now I just wish they'd stop fighting and surrender to that which will bring back normality for everyone.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," source
I am the 49th President of the United States of America. Leader of the free world. Free only because we have finally got the virus under control. But I have no understanding of my people. I can hear them mocking me already.
Mandatory annual vaccinations ensure that less than 1% of the population die each year from this dreaded disease. My people do not understand how difficult the choices have been over the years. The billions of dollars that our governments have invested into Pharmaceutical R&D to protect them, to ensure the survival of the human race.
I am new in Office. To be honest, it's been nothing but a rotating office door here in the West Wing. No single President has maintained a tenure beyond a single term since ...well since it all started. The people have been too divided on too many issues, including the one which is most pervasive in our present times. This damn virus!
Under POTUS 48 the military became a henchman, singular-minded in pursuit of the rebellion. Like my predecessors, I too am clueless as to what to do to bring my people back together, to reconcile the needs of the many with the few, to protect the rights of all. To bring equality back to the table.
Speaking of that, I have a number of amendments lying patiently in wait on my desk in the Oval. Some will make things worse, some may make things better. Some will bring the rebellion to account, others will free them from their life underground. How do I as one person make that call? So many competing agendas.
All I know is that I am the current captain at the helm, guiding the ship of government, trying to do my best, and unsure in the end if that will be good enough.
I toss and I turn. I cannot sleep. Is it too warm in here? I turn on the fan. Maybe that will cool things down, I think. I glance at my phone. The night-time hours have ticked over into the next morning. It is still dark but global warming means that even the night air in 2035 is now warm in the summer. This is the least of our worries though.
The voices are still loud in my head. Always loud, always keeping me awake. I ponder. When all is said and done, where will I stand on the side of history?
We have all lost so much, whether we choose to admit it or not. Rightly or wrongly, we have been defeated in so many ways: by the virus, by the government, by social stigma and discrimination, by the breakdown of society, the loss of morality, rationality, and community on both sides of the divide. It seems that nobody can agree on the right answer to controlling the virus, and maybe in some ways, that is because, when one truly stands in the shoes of another, each perspective becomes very real, each perspective holds water. We all want the same thing, we just disagree on how to achieve it.
The bigger picture seems to have been lost on so many. The choices made thus far have only succeeded in tearing humanity apart, and for better or worse, depriving individuals of their basic rights of privacy, liberty, and justice for all.
I re-plump my pillows.
So, in the end, who remains Invictus? You? Me? The Government? The virus? Don't we all lose? Are we not all defeated by our failure to come together? By our failure to stand together as "one nation under God"?
How long will it take for us to reconcile, to become one again? How long before the war will end? I don't have the answer to that question, but the eternal optimist in me looks to the Heavens, says a prayer, and trusts that the years will bring healing to old wounds.
I lie down again. Maybe, I think, maybe it is Time that is Invictus? Or maybe what is Invictus is the quinta essentia of Aristotle, the 'invisible light' that guides us back to a perfect state of equilibrium? There is still hope ...
I close my eyes.
...but that is a question for another day.
I do not profess to support any one of the single views provided above and it is not my intention to create discord among my fellow Hivers. If anything, I find some element of truth in all of them, and I guess therein lies the rub. They are all but competing perspectives reimagined in a dystopian world which has become my creative canvas upon which to paint my entry for this week's POB-WOTW "Invictus".
All photos are sourced in CANVA Pro.