Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Microstory 727: Credos, Convention Three: Cooperation, Chapter One

The wandering child look around at the remaining canisters, and realized there must be a reason that they were in all shapes and sizes. The first two canisters were the right size for his hands, while the next two were perfectly shaped for his feet. And so he stuck one foot in the third canister, and waited for the lesson. His mind was transported to an impoverished neighborhood on another world. Fully unclothed toddlers were sitting on the edge of streets. He could see the bones through the skin of children his own age. Feral animals were scavenging for what little food-adjacent things they could find in the garbage lying all over the ground, some of which was smoldering. In this world, no one was rich, but there three neighborhoods in total, each with residents at various levels of comfort. The worst off lived in a part of town between the other two, and were known as the lowers. The middles lived to the West, and the uppers to the East. Middles were constantly traveling eastward, hoping for better opportunities in the upper neighborhood, only ever to be met with disappointment. Fuel was so precious that traveling around the lower neighborhood would be impractical, so they passed through, able to see the poverty they were desperately trying to avoid. Lowers would beg for money and food; some would give, others would not.
One day, a couple was for the first time trying their hand and hunting for a job in the upper neighborhood. They had recently won a marginal lottery prize, and thought they would have a good chance of moving up in the world if they just bought some nicer clothes to impress potential employers. Never before had they strayed from the middle neighborhood, nor had they ever given to charity, for they did not feel they had any to spare. They had heard stories of beggars, but were shocked to find them to be entirely true, and their recent windfall had gone to their heads. They were horrified and disgusted by the lowers, many of which lacked sufficient clothing, and many more lacked access to running water for cleaning. “No, they said. We will not give you money. No one ever gave us money, so why should we?” An honorable and charitable man from the upper neighborhood witnessed their disrespect, and confronted them about it. “Do them no harm, travelers. If you cannot help, then please move along. Thank you for your cooperation.” “Do not insult us,” the couple said. “They are of the lower class, as we are presently lower than you. Why do you care for them? They do not contribute positively to society.” “If I do not help them,” the charitable man said, “then how am I contributing to society? I give what I can, for I do not need as much as I have, and it is my responsibility to support my community. If I give them money, they can spend that money. They can fill their bellies, and they can replace their tattered clothing. Perhaps one day, they will move to the middles. Maybe someday after that, they’ll even move to the uppers, where I will be able to see them every day.” The couple frowned and asked, “how is it that it is your responsibility to do this for them? You are not the reason they are poor.” “The responsibility falls on each and everyone of us,” the charitable man said. “A city is a cooperative, and we all play a part. The difference between me and you, is that I recognize my part, and I seek to improve myself through the service of others.”

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