Episode 2: Solution to Debt
I was swinging once again, only this time I was doing it with a purpose in mind. Quite simply I was hoping that Ijustam might show up. I grinned as I thought his name, recalling our last words as we parted. We’d walked back to the playground after talking for hours in the woods and just as he’d turned to leave I’d decided to ask him who he was. He’d smiled and said “I am…I just am.” Then he’d given me a salute and walked off.
I’d been almost certain I would wake up after that, find that I’d dreamt the entire thing. But that didn’t happen, so either he was real or I had one vivid imagination. Well I did have a vivid imagination….but come on. No way did I imagine all of that.
I came back to the playground every day since then, hoping to see him, but he didn’t show. On the third day I went into the woods and left him a note inside the metal box, telling him I would be at the playground everyday just after noon. But it had been three days since then, and still no Ijustam. He’d opened up a door in my mind to a whole new world, a world where nothing is as it seems, and while I definitely didn’t regret it, I would really like some company in Wonderland. I entertained the idea that he’d gotten lost while chasing the rabbit, and that’s what was keeping him.
“She swings in the sun day after day, wondering when he’ll come back to play.”
Once again I nearly bounced out of my seat at the sound of his voice, squeezing my eyes shut against the dizziness with a sense of déjà vu, which increased when I opened them and he was-once again-standing right in front of me.
“So you found your way back?”
He raised a brow quizzically.
“I thought maybe you got lost while following the white rabbit.”
His lip twitched, “You have no idea how accurate that is.” He shook his head in bemusement. “So tell me, what’s been on your mind since I saw you last?”
I made a face. “It might be easier to tell you what hasn’t been on my mind. It’s as if a switch was flipped on and got stuck. But I guess we can start with how they’re training people to be slaves. If they succeed, what will the slaves do?”
He smiled slightly. “First of all, they’ve already succeeded, at least with the generations that have come before us. Think about your parents for a moment, your grandparents, what were their lives about?”
I frowned. “I don’t know…working, raising children…God.”
“Working for what?” He asked. “Raising children to do what? And God…are you sure, or would it be more accurate to say church?”
“Um, well working to pay the bills I guess, and raising children to…” My brows furrowed, to love?
He smiled faintly. “I know, it’s not something you’d normally give much thought to. But think about it now, why do people have children? To love them, you might say…” she nodded and he made a waving gesture, “I’m sure they love you, but is that what they raise you to do? Be loved by them, love them in return? No. They raise you to be good citizens. And if they’re church going then they raise you to be good churchgoers. To love God? Sure, but what is God? What would they say God was? A fatherly figure full of love…well if you do as he says then he’ll love you, right? Otherwise he’ll give you to Satan who will take you to a place called hell where you will burn for eternity. Does that sound loving to you? Does that sound like something an immortal creator would do?”
I hopped off the swing and started walking toward the woods, my mind turning these things over and over. Why do people have kids? Well obviously we’re biologically driven to do it, though at one time it was about increasing the population whereas now…well look at China. It would seem that we’re now aiming to keep our numbers where they stand. I stumbled over a root, then gasped as Ijustam grabbed my elbow and steadied me. I hadn’t realized he was so close, I was beginning to think he had some kind of stealth superpower.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
I glanced at him and warmth flowed through me at his genuine look of concern. “Yeah…I was just thinking about what you said…so why do people have kids now that we no longer need to increase population? What does being a good citizen mean?”
He smiled though it didn’t touch his eyes. “There was a time when it was useful to have a large population. There were roads to pave and bridges to build, electric lines to put up alongside telephone poles. During that era the slaves were doing exactly as they did long ago in Rome, only they thought they were choosing to do it and they were paid after all, slaves aren’t paid right?”
He flashed that humorless smile again before continuing. “Then once these things were established the focus shifted from manual labor type trades to other skills such as medical, law, teaching, technological- etcetera. Only back then they still needed all of these people doing all of these things so they made it simple and affordable. They always make it simple and affordable when it’s necessary-just look at law-enforcement, to this day you can become a cop without a degree. So once they no longer needed new people in these fields suddenly it became very expensive just to buy a title. And because it’s expensive very few people can afford it out of pocket so they loan it to you. The new slaves are debt slaves, or not even new anymore since it began with our grandparents…you can have whatever you want, buy now, pay later, but the interest is accumulating and you will never get out from under it once you start down that road…that is unless you simply walk away.” He smiled a real smile then.
I stared at him, enthralled, and took a few moments to absorb everything he’d said. We were still standing in the spot where I’d stumbled and I decided to sit down. “Walk away?”
As he looked down at me his smile increased, then he dropped down beside me. “That’s right, walk away. Drop out. Tell them you’re done being a slave, let them have the house you will never really own anyway, or the car that will be repossessed next week.”
“But then…what will you do? I mean for money, or for anything really?”
His smile faded and he shook his head. “Well unfortunately the rabbit hasn’t led me to the answer for a way out of money just yet. But a way out of debt? Yeah, that can be done, just walk away. Save your money and buy a piece of land outright. Or a used car. Pick up a mobile home or even a camper. Are you really going to be happier inside a beautifully decorated-impress your friends style of house when you spend almost all of your time working your ass off just to keep it? When by the time you get off the clock you’re so wiped out all you can do is flip on the TV and stare at it until it’s time for bed just so you can get enough sleep to do the whole thing over again the next day?”
I nodded slowly. “That makes sense. But…why do they want us to be debt slaves?”
He laughed. “Because our parents do all the work so they can do what I’m talking about only in much bigger style. They play on their yachts, in their lavish vacation homes, drinking expensive wine and talking about things the sheep are too tired to even dream about let alone think about. They have an all-expense paid vacation for life, and who bought it for them? Your dad, my mom, my uncle, your aunt, the guy next door, the woman down the street. Of course our elders would tell us that they chose to do it, it wasn’t forced on them, and in a way they’re absolutely right. But when these ideals are drilled into you since you are children it’s difficult to see what’s happening, how they’re tricking you.”
“Brainwashing,” I said.
He nodded. “Exactly.”
We sat quietly for a few minutes and I found myself dreading the start of school even though it was still five weeks away. How could I sit at a desk and listen to what I now knew to be lies? Lies that were designed to take away my personal power and turn me into a mindless robot. A slave. I thought about my parents and how they believed so strongly in all of the things he was talking about and experienced a wave of profound sadness. I wondered what they would say if I tried to tell them these things. I pictured my dad, who worked for the state, and thought about all of the years he’d put into it. Telling him these things would almost be like telling him he’d wasted most of his life. I thought about the old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and wondered if that applied to man as well. And then I thought about church. I’d been avoiding that one.
“What you said about church…you don’t believe in God?” I asked hesitantly.
He smiled faintly and got to his feet, holding his hand out for me. I took it and he pulled me up. “I have to go,” he said. “But I’ll see you again.”
I felt a stab of disappointment and bit my lip.
“You really have to stop doing that,” he told me. He looked dead serious for a moment but then he grinned and let go of my hand.
As I watched him walk away a thought occurred to me. “Hey!” I called.
He stopped and turned slightly.
“I just am too!”
He stared at me for a second and then laughed, his whole face lighting up, transforming it into something unbearably beautiful. He gave me a salute and I could see he was still chuckling as he disappeared into the woods.