The breaking of the Treaty
Over the last one thousand years – longer, if you like, but reasonably a thousand – a Treaty was cobbled together. Its creation was a complex, onerous task, one that involved disagreements, fights, wars, one that counted bloodshed among its process and tears in its making. Trial and error were its parents, hope and fear its sponsors. Gods were summoned to endorse its terms, lawyers to enforce them. Vision was its guiding light.
Hewed like rock from a mountain, assembled as the stones for a dwelling, it slowly made sense of a rapidly growing and interdependent world where human beings, themselves evolving relentlessly, had to exist in reasonable harmony if they were to find purpose in life and enjoyment in living. Laws were the building bricks, trust the cement. These critical ingredients clung together, with some give and take, but a singleness of purpose that ensured the structure retained its integrity despite the elements.
Rulers were elected to personify the aspirations of the people and to ensure that the Practice of the Treaty reflected the Spirit of its Words. Chosen for their evident wisdom, they were honoured to the extent that they honoured the Treaty. If they didn’t they were dismissed, sometimes slaughtered. Great rulers were commemorated by statues built after their death to remind the people of good governance. Even poor people contributed a groat to this gesture of decency. They understood that history taught something about the future.
When wealth and voice were handed to the people they questioned the rulers rather than the rules because they could see the former on television and computer and only read about the latter in books which they didn’t understand. The people had become accustomed to computer and television as their source of education, amusement and just-within-the-law pornography. Their attention span for these media was estimated, by 2019, to be 2.8 secs for an entire episode, half a nanosecond for an establishing shot.
The rulers became confused. They had assumed that Wisdom, and sustaining the Treaty, would continue to be their jobs, that Building a Better Society was still the vision to be followed. Now they discovered that buffoonery and deceit were sure-fire winners and common-sense, always in short supply, was regarded as passé. The mantra for rulers, now known as politicians, became ‘The Greater the Lie, the Bigger the Majority’.
Buffoonery proved good for television viewing figures, but less so for communications between countries equipped with weapons to blow the world, possibly the universe, apart. So acrimonious became the exchanges that a new Treaty was quickly cobbled together in which everyone agreed not to attack everyone else unless they really felt like it. A major ceremony was held on the steps of the White House to endorse the Treaty.
Archie Goonflower, aged eight, was taken to this ceremony by his adoring parents. It was something, they said, that he would remember for the rest of his life. They bought him a flag with the President’s name on it but Archie couldn’t read words on a flag so it meant nothing to him. They found him a great place from which to watch the parade of missiles and submarines and nuclear bombs. The band played loudly, so deafeningly in fact that at first nobody heard Archie’s shouted cries of distress.
Later, during an opioid break, Archie shouted again. This time everyone heard him. His parents went bright red with embarrassment. They pulled him away from the crowd. His father, illegally, smacked him across the hand. His mother wept with shame that her son should be so blatant, so embarrassing and so public. Archie looked dismayed. His parents had taught him to lie, of course, but one of the teachers at school had said the truth conquers everything. Archie had been rather attracted by this novel idea.
That is why, when he saw the display of armaments, he had shouted out loud “But we have a Treaty not to destroy each other”.
Armed police surrounded the rebellious child. He was manacled by handcuffs and thrown in the back of a white van. Nothing more was heard of Archie for over twenty-five years. Then one day he was spotted again, this time standing at the door of the White House ready to receive the parade.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know what was paraded.