An offering from my second book, soon to be self-published:
THE QUIXOTIC PROPHET
They gather to mock the quixotic prophet: “What a fool he is! Cursing the darkness and tilting at the machine!”
They have lights for the night and the machine gives them food; but here is this madman condemning their welfare. He thinks he is a knight, with his Bible and tongue, out to slay a dragon that is really their friend. Even in their mockery, they pity him: “Next he will tell us that the earth is flat and the sky is falling! How sad to be so ignorant and insolent.”
But he pays no heed. The windmill churns and he steadies his lance for another run.“Look! Here he goes again! He thinks he can stop our machine! The fool!”
Headlong he rushes forward, and again he is thrown back – violently, callously, with brutal disregard. The people laugh. It is such a curious sight.“See him! He thinks he can stop science with his sacred book! He thinks he can stop progress with his sacred truth! Well, let him keep trying. It is certainly amusing to watch!”
He brushes himself off, and stands back up. He is bruised, bloodied, and beaten. But he is no less determined. Occasionally someone from the crowd approaches him sincerely:“You are wasting your time and injuring yourself. I feel sorry for you. I don’t want you to get hurt. Believe what you will, but you cannot destroy the machine. And the more you try, the more you turn everyone against you. Go quietly and live your life as you wish. But this fool’s errand is doing nobody any good. For your own sake, stop this madness.”
But he looks at them and replies:"Thank you. But perhaps if you will help me fight, we can indeed destroy this dragon. Will you help me please?”“No! I won’t join in your madness. I have tried to warn you of your error, but if you persist then I cannot help you. Be a fool if you wish, but I will not accompany you.”
Then they return to the crowd and shrug. “I tried to tell the fool, but he would not hear of it. And he even asked me to join in his folly! Imagine that!”
The crowd roars again with laughter. “Look! Here he goes again!”
He launches forth toward the machine, and again it slams him ruthlessly to the ground. Some of the people don’t laugh this time. They love the machine and they hate the fool, but now the machine seems needlessly cruel. But it is still their machine, and they must trust it in order to be fed. Surely what appears to be cruelty must really be love.“Go home!”
they say. “You are getting hurt. You will die if you continue this insanity.”
But slowly, once again, he arises and eyes the beast. And it is indeed a beast. And he is willing to die to reveal this truth – the truth that their beloved machine is actually a beast, a monster, a dragon, perhaps the devil itself.
So again he charges forth.“Here he goes! Watch! He thinks he can fight our education with his prayers. He thinks he can fight our politics with his prophecy! No wonder he is poor, broken, bloodied, and alone. No, we don’t feel sorry for him! He is bringing this on himself. We laugh at him because he deserves it. If he would only quit this madness and join us in our collective security, then he wouldn’t suffer so. We have tried to tell him. But he won’t listen. He is a self-righteous fool who loves to play the martyr, and so he deserves what he gets.”
And so he arose again and again, time after time, hurling himself into the jaws of the machine. Into the claws of the beast. Into the mouth of the dragon. Until he could no longer stand. Until he could no longer think. Until he could no longer breathe. Until his very life was spent.
And the masses were bored by his death. It was not amusing. It was simply pitiful. There was no joy or mockery to be had in it. After all, nobody wished him to die. The fool had entertained them with his zeal and foolish resolve, but his death was uneventful. And only a few had actually rejoiced in it.
But soon another madman arose from their midst. And although he was quite different, he was just as amusing with his conviction and faith. He launched himself against the machine just as the previous fool had. And the masses gathered, just as before, to mock his efforts. And eventually he met the same fate. The beast slayed him. And the masses took no pleasure in it, nor did they have any pity for him. A foolish life deserves a fool’s death they said.
And this is what continues to happen throughout the course of human history. The people love the machine (the beast), and the masses mock the few fools who presumptuously dare to fight it. They find great pleasure in joining together to ridicule the outcasts and the insane. The masses live by certain maxims that bind them together in universal solidarity:"A little religion is OK, but too much religion makes one a fanatic.”
“It’s fine to believe in God, but science and the state are the only real solutions to the real problems of humanity.”
“Morality is fine for individuals, but education is the only hope for all mankind.”
“Peace and nonviolence are great ideals, but sometimes violence is the only practical solution.”
And thus they believe and thus they live - comforted by their collective “wisdom” and their mutual condemnation of anyone who dares to challenge it. Until one day the fire comes. And the fire comes just as surely and just as thoroughly as the flood came all those millenniums ago. And the fire devours the beast and torments the masses who worshiped it.
And the quixotic prophets ride on the wings of angels and weep for those that mocked them.
ByGebre Menfes Kidus