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Recondo Diary: Orega
There is a little tang fire here most days. Much of it is well in the distance; some of it is closer. I only hear it late at night, the head of my bed arranged against the one wall with a window, glass slid open to exchange the air outside (heavy with the smell of ion exhaust) with the air inside (heavy with the smell of a sweaty recondo).
I long for the salt-scent of the sea back on Tero.
Each morning, I ask the watch what transpired in the night here close to home. I have to ask, because it isn’t reported during the morning briefing. It’s not important to the Big Picture. You see, the fighting is far away from here. The bomb-dropping and the tang fire that kills people of one group or another is located many kilometers to the northwest and northeast. Too far to hear—or even really to consider.
The gunshots that erupt in the night here are different. You would be more familiar with them in New York or Agemno or Rivas or Toren. They are the violent explosions of criminals and impassioned lovers in quarrel or families in feud. Sometimes there are even bombs, homemade or stolen. But they are in parts of the colony that are too far away for me to hear. And because of their cause, they don’t worry me at all.
Sometimes I leave my pistol in my room, tossed casually on the nightstand. It’s awfully heavy to carry on my hip constantly.
The war here (like all war) is a sham. Once again humans are killing other humans because they have been indoctrinated into one group or another and those groups have been pitted against one another in a competition for resources. Every war throughout history has been for this same foundational reason. But the men and women fighting don’t understand this. And they don’t get to keep the resources that result from victory. It’s a futile battle that will rage forever, I am convinced.
Am I a pawn in a game of chess on a massive scale? I can’t help but feel insignificant in the cosmos. Looking at the history of our species—especially of human civilization—is it possible that most of us are manipulated by the whims of a very few? There may have been a time, perhaps when modern civilization began about 15,000 years ago (or even before, if you—like me—put faith in the Toba catastrophe theory of a population bottleneck that produced our Great Leap forward and put us intellectually ahead of our peer-competitors, the Homo Neanderthalensis, Homo floresiensis, and a handful of other hominids that existed alongside us back then), that we had a stronger sense of connection between us all. We were a magical species, lightyears ahead of any other, able to reason, to contemplate our lives and to understand and fear our eventual deaths. And it is perhaps that ultimate and most basic fear that is our downfall, the driving force behind our likely genocide against our fellow hominids. And today, it seems like we are driven apart by a whole host of fears peddled by power-mongers who benefit from our labors.
In spite of the blind luck that ensured I was born on Tero, I’m not convinced that we are free in any absolute sense. Once Homo sapiens sapiens wandered out of Africa into the Levant and, later, Europe, I think we began a process of social stratification that forced the many to bend to the will of a few.
There are many facets to the manipulation employed by the few to control the many. They have labels, and the point of the labels is to push people into groups. And once in a particular group (or perhaps several different—but related—groups), people are convinced to fear other groups. And that’s really at the root of the whole thing: fear. By manipulating people through fear, the few exercise absolute control.
Planetarianism. Colonialism. Otherism. Consumerism. Debt. The list goes on, each one a result of the few corralling us into groups. They lull us into forgetting that there is only one real group, humanity. And anytime anyone comes out of the shadows of the many to shed light on this fact—to show the world that loving each and every one of us humans on earth and across the interplanetary and that there are no groups—he is dealt with swiftly, and often violently, by the few.
History on Tero alone is replete with examples of this. Jesus, whether one man or an amalgam of many, spread a central message of love for one another. In the early information age: Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. John Lennon. In the following centuries, too many to mention: Martin Esper, Roth Kinkaid, Gilbraith Akmedian, Ramah Dekk, The Shepherd.
Preaching the principle of love and togetherness, a rising tide is snuffed out.
And in its place? Fear. Fear expressed as hate, as violence, as want, as vice.
I think the story of Jesus is a compelling one. Putting aside the superstitious and mythological aspects, the story tells of a man who went about the world telling people not to be divided, but rather to embrace and love one another. His was a loud voice, and it of course caught the attention of the few, the rulers, who silenced him through murder. He was brave to have done it, and his message was compelling enough that it echoed far. But once enough time had passed, and his story faded into the realm of myth (as have all stories of great men and women), the rulers (in this case, the Romans under Constantine) took advantage of the fundamental appeal of his message and met in Nicaea to create a textbook of control. The rest, of course, is history. The religious zealots and the divisions between them help fuel a particularly strong fear that perpetuated our separation into groups aligned one against the other. It was the penultimate cause of the first great schism that led to our final unification under The Shepherd. We were ostensibly (finally) one group: Humans of Tero. A planetary unity. Then of course, we went and started separating ourselves on planets across the Galaxy.
Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that I don’t believe the groups opposed to me don’t want to kill me. Of course they do! They have been raised and indoctrinated with the explicit desire to kill members of the group(s) they believe I represent. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t express any desire to be a member of any group. The few have created an environment where groups are integral to how we view the world and how they control it. We almost can’t see past the groups anymore. A united humanity is something we only glimpse here and there and can never really grab onto:
The woman who taps the extra credit on the touchless pay kiosk when you’re short at the register.
The guy who stops to help you change your drive coupler on the side of a busy causeway.
Those who risked their lives hiding escaped slaves in early America or fleeing Jews in old Europe or desperate Korians in the Kuiper Belt.
The brave men and women who rush into burning buildings or space crews that sail to damaged stations to save fellow humans.
Those are the glimpses of true humanity.
But I don’t know where to start to change the way things are. Are loud voices always silenced? Does an individual have no chance beyond himself? Can an individual live his life as an expression of true humanity? Embrace other like-minded people? Be a “Good Samaritan” where he can? Eschew as many of the slave trappings as he can? Promote unity? Teach his children the truth?
All I know how to do is fight…
It’s getting cooler in the evenings here. And even a little cooler during the day. I can imagine a noon where the high only reaches 37—if I had any booze I would certainly celebrate. I bought a little blue cloth hammock made by the colonists and will hang it between the blast barriers that ring our living quarters if I ever find any free time. In the meantime, it taunts me from the corner of my room.
That’s the news from here. Next time I’ll try and write something more substantial, something of depth. Until then, keep your chin up—you’re going home soon.