by Max Reif
been some time now, since the Committee got rid of me! Every
morning, when I wake up, my first thought is, "I'm a martyr for the
then it takes me some time to remember what the cause is.
It all comes over me in a little while,
like a suit of clothes: what I was
fighting for; who were my friends and my enemies; what they
did to me. Then
I spend the rest of the day thinking about the past.
Actually, that's not completely true
any more. For a few hours, every
morning after I remember, I'm consumed with wrath and chagrin.
"The system is rotten! They throw
you out if you speak the truth!"
My mind plays these lines over and over,
as though they come agitatedly
from a bullhorn only I can hear.
This stridency used to go on all day.
Lately, though, I catch myself
thinking, around noon, "My God, you're limited! If you were an actor
stage, your audience would long ago have walked out of the theater!"
I still see the whole scene being re-enacted
before my mind's eye:
Ericksen's humiliating speech; the faces of all of them as they vote
me; my own, highly emotional rebuttal; and my walkout. But instead
characters continually going back to the beginning and starting the
scene over, yet another time, something new begins to go on
around noon. I begin to question. I find myself thinking, "Maybe
you're not as
pure as you believed, Mr. smarty-pants."
I don't know where this new thought
is coming from. But after all, what is
easier than to get tossed out of something and spend the rest
of your life
posturing in self-justifying rage about what some persecutors did?
maybethis sounds nutsmaybe they were just my means
of getting the
only, pathetic kind of pleasure I'm able to experience: the pleasure
What if I have a disorder that keeps
me from sharing in the social
process, and from participating in group decisions where everybody
and where we wind up as friends, not enemies? How much simpler
be if we were all "reasonable men, reasoning together."
But are any of us reasonable men? What
about the energies of the
unconscious mind? The appeal to reason works fineif all
the members of
the Committee are the upstanding, goodnatured people they would have
believe they are!
smile, in a practised way, like all of us who are engaged in
of this game of politics called life. I see them again around the
Lendoff, Suarez, Livingston, Peppes. They have rehearsed for years
their smiles look offhand, guileless, trustworthy. But what do they
feelwho are they, reallybehind those smiles?
And for that matter, who is anybody?
You see? That is the question.
So my "political" ruminations are taking
a broader tack now. Who is,
what is, really "out there" in this world? Are my persecutors really
wonderful souls their smiles advertise? Or were they always schemers;
plotters; maybe even demon-infested, behind those masks?
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