He Sold His Life

He sold his time, which was his life, for $9 an hour. He made crap to sell to consumers. He worked 10 hour days, came home and watched the same TV as everyone else. Then he passed out on the couch. The couch opened out into a bed, but he never got that far. None of this was anything special. Mark lived in the world as he found it.

Important people appeared on TV, moved numbers on digital spreadsheets, made big decisions. Mark lived with those decisions. Nobody wanted his opinion. They wanted him to make crap to sell to consumers. Mark did.

So did Ann, Jerry, Charles, Wajid, Yuan and a few billion others. Most made crap, but a few made useful things like food, clothing and shelter.

This system was sanctified for the religious and unbelievers alike. The world had to be this way and nearly all agreed that it was good. Sometimes a few heretics spoke up—or remained silent. It made no difference. As long as Ann and Jerry and Charles and Wajid and Yuan and Mark kept at it, all was good.

The dissenters were called agitators, traitors, commies. They weren’t important, but they made a convenient focal point for the masters, and they could count on Ann and Jerry and Charles and even Wajid and Yuan to join in the condemnation. Mark would too, but he couldn’t get up from the couch.

It’s a funny thing about words. Give something a name and we think we understand it. Lots of people think they know what gravity is because they’ve heard the word. But they don’t know what gravity is. They just know a little about how objects behave.

So using the words “agitators”, “traitors” and “commies” works really well. Throw in the word “terrorists”, and you’ve sealed the deal.

One day Mark fell asleep on the couch. Instead of going into his usual comatose state, he had a vivid dream.

“Hey, this isn’t right!” said the dream Mark. “We make all the stuff, use up all our time and energy, and for what?”

“I dunno. What?” asked dream Ann.

“To satisfy our overseers!” cried Mark.

“I don’t work for that,” said Yuan, correcting him. “I have to feed my family. Be practical.”

“That’s the way it’s always been,” said dream Wajid. “And always will be.”

“But why?” cried dream Mark, in despair. “Is there nothing we can do? No magic power to save us?”

The silence was long. The dream team, Ann and Jerry and Wajid and Juan worked quietly, making crap for consumers. You could hear a tear drop.

“There is something,” whispered a mysterious voice. “Maybe. Just maybe.”

Mark listened carefully. “What? WHAT?!”

The voice answered slowly. “Stop making crap. Nobody needs it. Don’t sell your life to make crap,” said the voice. “Make only food clothing and shelter and provide for yourself and your loved ones first. Or make nothing at all.”

“You’re crazy!” said Ann. “Who will pay us? We’ll starve. We’ll die!”

“You are not living now,” answered the voice. “You must take a risk to live.”

Ann and Jerry and Wajid and Yuan and even Mark were reluctant to risk even their pathetic lives based on the advice of an anonymous voice.

“Who are you?” demanded Yuan.

“I am you,” answered the voice. “I am the part of you that craves to truly live.”

“We should kill them,” said Jerry. “We must kill the overseers. Then we’ll be free.”

“No.” said the voice. “You will be worse than them. You are already no different than them—except for your circumstances. You must simply not work for them. They must join you. That starts when you stop.”

There was a loud noise. Mark woke up suddenly, shaken and confused. He stared at the ceiling and contemplated his dream. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

In the morning, he got up and went to work. His dream was forgotten. Just another day that he’d sell for $9 an hour.