As I wandered through the old house, the floors creaking a familiar melodic phrase under each step, I marveled at the collection of things. Things that would seem misplaced elsewhere appeared at home in this menagerie of gathered stuff. Collected here in this backwoods place were items from across the globe from places I could scarcely imagine. How had this old man come to acquire these things? Had he deliberately carved out time to visit foreign lands? I felt a sudden yearning to follow in his giant footsteps.
On an antique side table with elegantly bowed legs near the bedroom door lay a pile of age-worn books. I moved toward the table, noting as I drew closer they were not simply books, but journals. I picked up one tattered journal from the middle of the pile, flipped arbitrarily to an age-yellowed, hand written page and began to read.
It's a propaganda war. Somehow the vast majority of people have been led along a path of mundane feudalism to a land of unremarkable, workaday nonexistence. It's as if those who have false wealth or stand in a self-imposed, self-regulated position of authority are to be catered to without opposition. Civil obedience is the real scourge of modern society.
In the past, common men and women were forced through fear to obey the inane misgivings of those who would lead. In the past, men like Stalin or Hitler or the leaders of the industrial revolution and the dark ages and the Roman Empire and the industrialized nations used brute force to keep the sheep from wandering from the glass strewn path, citing the pain inflicted as the price of their salvation. It was those leaders who founded the idea that those who had few resources at their disposal were mere pawns in the fabric which they, the leaders, created in their own best interest, all the while dangling a carrot of false hope and enlightenment to those who followed.
Over time, the masses have become more intelligent; better read, more culturally diverse, more accepting of various viewpoints, more able to solve problems in unconventional ways, more knowledgeable of the workings of our world. Yet by and large they follow along with the self-indulgent, self-propagating rules of those who would be kings without any thought of stepping outside the imaginary electric fence. The imagined foot of self-indulgent kings pushed at the throats of the many and the many feeling the force of the foot without it existing.
He who has the hammer hits the nails.
Without thought, many follow along the well trod trail with a propaganda nose ring tugged fervently from time to time by flashes of hand selected mass media believing their only goal in life is to outlast the person next to them. My insularism from the world was a choice to remove the ring and step off the path; to watch in horror and rapt fascination as the remarkably unremarkable are tugged past by nonexistent strings. I watch as extraordinary people lead a quotidian life where the only goal, it seems, is avoiding adversity or cultural banishment and to simply survive the longest.
Civil disobedience is the antidote for the common man.
There are far too many among the throng who have cast aside their wands and given up their power for the effortless road; the road of complacency and mindlessness and ultimate uncelebrated death. Millions have been slaughtered by blind obedience in wars. Millions have died of poverty while the few look on citing the blasphemous monologue of hope if “they” would only become good citizens and play by the rules.
I have become an army of one, stepping off the path away from the herd to reclaim my identity. I have left those who would follow along blindly. I have left the deepening rut and the clogging dust of a billion dragging feet to smell the invitation offered by life. I have disentangled myself to begin a search for others who have escaped the web... who peer from the outside with abject horror and disbelief.
I have chosen to resist by no longer following blindly and to do what I know in my heart is right and just and honest. My chosen path is no path at all... to exist amongst those who choose to walk beside me for whatever time they choose... and to no longer be dragged by the nose.
I understand the enormity of my task; to whisper into the ears of those in the unending line with wistful hope a few will hear.
I set the journal more or less back where I found it. Somewhere in my mind, I knew Oz meant me to find the journals. I wouldn't be surprised if he knew the exact journal and the exact page.
Slowly, I turned and moved toward the window overlooking the front yard, the grey-graveled road leading away from, and to, this place and ultimately to the green valley beyond the road where the river followed a course carved out a thousand years before I gazed upon it. Even the river carved it's own path.
I wasn't so far removed from the path Oz described. I could still feel the gentle tug of acceptance and compliance. I recalled the story of a captive elephant who was tied to a stake with heavy chains. She tried to free herself of her bonds but to no avail. Eventually, she gave up the struggle and her owners placed lighter and lighter ropes on her ankle until, even though she could easily break the bonds, her mind told her she was trapped. The elephant lived and died within the confines of a length of cord when she could easily have broken free to choose her own way.
I unconsciously rubbed my nose as if to reassure myself the ring was no longer attached.