by Max Reif

     It's 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 cause!" But

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 on a

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 to purge

me; my own, highly emotional rebuttal; and my walkout. But instead of the

characters continually going back to the beginning and starting the whole

scene over, yet another time, something new begins to go on inside me

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? So

maybe—this sounds nuts—maybe they were just my means of getting the

only, pathetic kind of pleasure I'm able to experience: the pleasure of feeling


      What if I have a disorder that keeps me from sharing in the social

process, and from participating in group decisions where everybody wins,

and where we wind up as friends, not enemies? How much simpler it would

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 fine—if all the members of

the Committee are the upstanding, goodnatured people they would have you

believe they are!

     They smile, in a practised way, like all of us who are engaged in any form

of this game of politics called life. I see them again around the table: Ericksen,

Lendoff, Suarez, Livingston, Peppes. They have rehearsed for years to make

their smiles look offhand, guileless, trustworthy. But what do they think and

feel—who are they, really—behind 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 the

wonderful souls their smiles advertise? Or were they always schemers;

plotters; maybe even demon-infested, behind those masks?

                                        continued on page 2

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