THE PERSON’S REPUBLIC
by Chris R. Morgan
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Dear Mom and Dad
This is not what you think it is.
If you’re reading this, I might be here. Or I might not. I have planned for either possibility but have left the final outcome open.
I guess that’s not entirely true. For the past year I’ve arranged my life by exerting total control over it. More control than average, I’d say. I guess you have noticed yourself, this control, this gradual ceding of more and more territory staked by you, or by school, or by friends, or by whatever, back to me. So to say that I have come to this point—I hesitate to call it a conclusion—entirely unplanned, is mythmaking.
There’s a lot you already know. Or presume to know. You’ve aired concern. You’ve dropped hints. You’ve intervened actively. You’ve meddled passively. You’ve consoled one another when I was not around. You’ve scorned one another when I was present.
All the while you’ve made your theories. I suppose they’re charming to the armchair types you consented to take my time. How birdlike you are, chewing and feeding them back and forth to each other. But it’s quite clear I wasn’t interested in that.
Your attempts to reach me, to cure me, or to even understand have failed. You seemed unable to accept the truth all along apparent to me, that there is in all of us something of the dictatorial.
Just because it manifests so loudly in one form does not mean that it can’t manifest numerously in other ways.
Yes, some of them are large; they are robust and all-encompassing. They smother whole populations with their weight, or grip them unyieldingly with their strength.
Others, however, are midsize. They’re petty and shortsighted. If they last long it is never out a sense of security or prudence. Fortune maybe. Or a collective sense of dread as they are hurled toward the tired trope of indifferent collapse.
At least now you know there are small ones. I’m sure they’re far greater in number than any other kind, just not sure on the exact numbers. They don’t really interact with one another. Little hermit kingdoms, these things. Their populations range from minimal to the minimum. In all cases they are willfully submitting, dependably obedient, and unshakably loyal.
This is my state. I have streamlined entirely the waste that drags other societies to their collective knees before they’ve had the chance to take even two steps. I’ve cleaned it of those things truly unnecessary and entirely obstructive to the encouragement of its flourishing and to the empowerment of the well-being of its population.
That required a jettisoning of many things, particularly those things parceled out by outside entities; some might say would-be interventionists.
To these entities, I do not doubt that they considered their aid to be acts of care, even concern. But hooked to them were these conditions for acceptance, examples to be mimicked down to the slightest gesture.
Over time I did my best to make good on these conditions, to take the care given me with the appreciation that was desired, and for a time was given in earnest. Quite when I stopped appreciating I can’t say. Or perhaps I won’t. I will leave that to the worries of the givers if that is something they worry about. But at some point, a break needed to be made from those conditions, and soon enough from the aid altogether. None of it did me any good. And so I set off on this new path.
My revolution was a quiet one. There was no protest, no uprising, no conscious separation from the larger powers. If you’re looking for influence, for a prime mover, don’t bother. The search for Great Men doesn’t seem far off from times when I looked for monsters in the shadows of branches. I developed a belief, and made it a goal to drive to its logical conclusion.
From the moment of its founding to right now, each day under my direct rule has been more beautiful than the last. This beauty is at once my governing principle and my sole export. It was not long before this beauty, this new idea of myself, became frozen in certainty.
This was what I was going to be, this was the standard I wanted to exude. It was not a superior standard but it was mine, and had to be directed as only I needed it to be.
I devised something of a two-year plan to reach the highest possible standard I had envisioned. There was hardship, toil, doubt, and even some objections from within. Yet not only was it overcome, progress was reached in nearly half the time. In this I was given just censure for underestimating the resolve of the state.
After the revolution was solidified into a new order, its presence in the wider community was met with considerable iciness, perhaps even a very diplomatically reined in hostility. My intentions, however, were nothing of the sort. I had and continue to have no desire to interfere with or invade space other than what was rightfully my own.
But I refused to bend toward the whims of supposedly greater powers. What made them great beside their word? Their robust constitutions? Their ease with compromise? Their sophisticated but quick and unsettling flexes of might?
Wariness and displeasure came in all directions as a result, and soon I was without allies or even properly defined enemies. That is, until recently.
I feel with each day my power coming closer to the peak of its confidence. Seeing this has clearly unnerved those closest to me. For a time I was eager to coexist in good faith, to keep stability in our region.
That has proved impossible.
Sure, you’ve taken the dove route. Of a sort. You’ve proffered concessions you could not offer. You’ve negotiated pacts you had no intention of maintaining. You’ve imposed sanctions. You’ve executed quiet counterintelligence while barking threats of invasion.
In spite of the gulf that has widened between us, I don’t deny that I still know you, and know that you have no pretense behind your intentions. You exert aggressions and I must respond to them. My stance applies just as much to you as it does to everyone else: I will do nothing to harm you. Even if I could (and you don’t know for certain that I can’t) I would do nothing. I am not the destroyer you think I am.
Consider this not a note of exit, but a belated declaration and a preemptive monument. This is new to no one. There is no destiny inherent in this. Certainly there’s something we all could have done to avert this, if avert this we all wanted to. Whether this was born out of rage of the status quo, a hope for something better, or some confluence of both I can’t say. It matters only what I do with them.
What I’ve done is beyond your judgment, but not beneath your recognition.
Vested in my authority
and with love,