Friday Fiction: 100 Word Challenge
Friday Fiction: 100 Word Challenge
A quote: “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” ~~ Aristotle
I’ll start with a story …
Winter had been lean, few sheeple ventured out at night. But as spring started and nights warmed, he was hopeful.
This night seemed unusually warm and, as he slipped down the street, it grew misty.
Ah! There! Down a narrow alley he spotted an overhead light and the silhouette of someone bent over a door lock. He hurried, hand reaching to his waist as he stepped up to claim his prize. But demands died in his throat as he realized the illumination wasn’t a light, shadow only illusion. Petals snapped closed around him.
Dawn found the alley cold and empty.
Now, it’s your turn.
. featured image, cropped, Adobe Stock standard license
There’s a tendency among history teachers to want to draw bright lines, to say here the earlier period ended and the new period began. The professional historian knows that this is a convenience for evaluating students. The events of any given era have deep roots, going back decades or even centuries.
The recent disorders may seem to have sprung up suddenly, but in fact they can be traced back through the social deterioration of the past several decades. Not just the erosion of tradition and cultic ritual, both of faith and of patriotism, but also a general coarsening of social interactions.
For instance, when I was a child, people still dressed up for special events, in the sense of dressing more formally, not cosplay. I remember stories of people traveling on what was supposed to have been a casual trip to visit family, only to have to buy a suit or nice dress for an unexpected funeral of an elderly relative, or a court appearance. In those days, one simply did not show up at such an event in casual attire, even what became called “business casual.”
We can argue no end as to how significant the relaxing of dress codes were, especially in an increasingly cosmopolitan society in which people were exposed to other cultures and customs on a regular basis. Perhaps it was less significant than the growing acceptance of vulgar language in public, the loosening of restraint on what was acceptable in mixed company, or even that such a distinction mattered.
To be sure, greater flexibility in expectations of gender role conformity did mean more opportunities for statistical outliers to find success, rather than being forced into roles at which they could only fail. But it can also be argued that it led to the erosion of essential boundaries of acceptable behavior, without which civil society cannot survive and devolves into a war of all against all.
I would not be surprised if historians in future centuries will still be arguing about the relative importance of various factors, and their weighting may well depend on how importance various types of do’s and taboos are in their societies. But in the present moment, our most important job is to reassemble a functional society before we lose too much of our tech base and are left without the tools to rebuild.
And one of the biggest questions we face is this: is it possible to train people in population thinking, and be able to deal with categories that have fuzzy edges, or is essentialism too deeply hardwired into our brains to create workable rules that acknowledge the existence of statistical distributions, rather than tidy categories bounded by bright lines?
“I love what you’ve done with these tulips, Emma. A commemorative? The spikes around the petals to remind everyone of the COVID years? How did you do it?”
“I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I have my suspicions. They were normal bulbs when I planted them. My grandson had a bottle of something he found on the ground outside the clinic. I don’t know what it was, but the label said something about MRNA. I told him to get rid of it so he dumped it on my flower bed.”
“Let’s hope he didn’t spill any on his fingers.”
Good pun. Bravo. Now to write something as well.
“So what is this, dear?” Grandma asked as she pointed at a flower.
“Tulip.” I replied. She and Grandpa found themselves raising me after my folks died. They never complained but I did at first. I had little in the way of internet connection and they had me learning things scorned as “old-fashioned.”
Such as flower language. “Which means?”
“Passion and love for red. Sunshine in your smile for yellow. Don’t know what pink means.”
“Remember those protesters that were trashing houses? They were warned.”
I grinned as she patted the shotgun at her side. “Good warning.”