The Sniper 07

“In your mind, imagine a person, someone we all know and encounter every day. Most people pay little attention to this person who seems to speak a foreign language and seldom intrudes, just hanging around in the background. Most of us agree on what this person looks like, acts like and most other sensory data. However, it’s only natural that no two of us have exactly the same impression.”

Frankly glanced at Joe with a faint smile, then turned away to scan the terrain again. “But what if just a precious few of us humans bothered to get to know this person and learned to speak that other language? Our experience with that person would make a radical difference; we would actually have a relationship with that person.”

He let that sink in for a moment. “That person is reality, Joe. Reality is alive, has a unique character and will. It treats no two us exactly alike because no two of us are alike. When most of the world takes reality for granted, it creates a rather bland and lifeless impression with only minor differences from one person to the next. But those of who get up close and personal with reality find a vivid variation.”

After another pause, he went on. “You can’t rely on mere sensory data to tell you much about reality. And if you try to reason out what little you think you know, it will always be highly limited. When it comes time for something that demands reality to act, your sensory data and reasoning will fail. You will neither understand what they’ve done, nor will you understand what difference it makes. You may well decide nothing happened because you can’t process it. Until you get acquainted with the person, as a person, you have no idea what to expect and can’t interpret peculiar events. You may not even have any idea what that person actually does outside your active awareness. People don’t get to know each other by mere sensory data and reason. They share experiences and there is a depth that stands outside the intellect. Nor can you write it off as mere sentiment.”

Genuinely intrigued, Joe stopped the truck. “I get what your saying, but what do you call that other part of us where people become real to us?”

Franklin was ready for that. “You are familiar with the words: trust, loyalty, commitment. As long as you put them in the right context, you can say love and faith, but those words often come with too much false cultural baggage. It’s the same with the word ‘heart’ — our cultural image of that is just quasi-emotional but incomprehensible. In just about every other culture in history, especially the ones that once reigned in places like this damned place here, the heart was something entirely different. It was the seat of commitment and a higher form of moral awareness.”

As Joe started the truck moving forward again, Franklin added, “You can’t get to know reality until you accept it as a real person — a who, not an it. And you cannot rely on your senses and logic; there has to be that deep interpersonal connection. And it’s not just reality as all one thing, but every part of reality down to the smallest particle is a collection of persons, each with an individual will and intelligence. Every part of our reality knows us already, but we haven’t taken the time to get to know them. It’s not in our culture.”

A bit later, he added, “The society I belong to builds on that base, and we make every effort to know each other and the world around us on that level. It’s like living your whole life in sewers and discovering there’s a world of light above you. It’s blinding and even painful at first, totally unfamiliar, but once you’ve been there awhile and learn how to get around, you feel like life has just begun. More, you realize you never knew who you were, either. You have to get to know yourself as part of the massive living whole.”

Joe asked with a grin, “How does that help you deal with killing that woman back there?”

Franklin snorted. “The social mythology of chivalry belongs in the sewers. My commitment right now is you guys. Any threat to you is a threat to me. And you can bet the people in this country know about Western social mythology that includes chivalry. They take advantage of it all the time, sending women with bombs and kids with grenades. If a Western man kills them, it normally degrades him. Either he becomes a killing machine or he is tormented inside by the conflict. Until there is some higher moral purpose in dying, I’m going to take out every threat with whatever force seems appropriate. I could wish for a better world where nobody had to die, but I’m not in that world. I’m in this one, and folks who really want what makes for peace are few and far between. So that parallel society I belong to tries to make the most of a bad situation.”

The truck crested a rise and the camp came into view. Franklin added one last thought. “We know that the vast majority of the world remains blinded by false assumptions, and it’s not in our hands to change that. We can only change ourselves individually. We belong to the hidden reality nobody much seems to know. It’s the same reality, but we believe we see it far more clearly by getting to know it as a person.”

Joe had backed the truck in place. He turned to the sniper with an unspoken question still showing on his face. Franklin reached out his left hand and let rest on Joe’s arm. “The Coalition and corporations have decided to run this pipeline. The local people have decided to resist. I give both sides credit for being somewhat rational within their own context, and I offer them the respect due their actual authority to enforce their will. We cannot stop what they decide to do. I don’t waste time with envy at their power or anger at their choices for us. Only when their actions fall within our tiny little domain of free will can we apply our own leverage. I can’t keep the rebels from using women and children; it’s their choice to make them risk death. I’m committed to keeping you guys alive. All I can do is inject just a little sanity into the process. I’m doing that with all my heart.”

Joe’s face brightened just a bit as they got out of the truck.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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