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Cowardice asks the questions,‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks the question,‘Is it politic?’
And Vanity comes along and asks the question,
‘Is it popular?’
But Conscience asks the question,‘Is it right?’
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

~ The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Perfect World

Once upon a time, there was a perfect world, inside the walls. Well, not really perfect, but it was mostly happy; rules and systems were in place, and new inhabitants were welcomed warmly. Children were fed, and learned, and grew, and dared to dream. There was the world inside, the nearly perfect, happy one, and there was the one outside, which still posed dangers and threats (not all the things you thought you would be threats out there actually were, and not all the things you thought would be safe actually were).

One day, everything changed. One of the things you would have thought was safe became definitively unsafe. There had been news of similar incidents, some quite close to the walls; but it’s so easy to let down your guard when you are fed, and learning, and growing, and dreaming. It is so easy to think that you can go abroad freely, just because it’s safe inside the walls.

Things can change very, very quickly when you are walking down a main boulevard on a beautiful sunny day. It only takes one tiny tear in the social fabric, one loose thread; before you know it, you are standing amidst shreds and shards, wondering what happened and why and what to do.
One moment you are walking down the street, and the next, you are lying on the sidewalk, a booted foot shoving your face into the sidewalk leaving it a bloody mass, another boot belonging to another foot kicking your midsection, your arms twisted up behind your head in directions that arms are not meant to easily go. You are crying. Someone is shooting a video and shouting, while the sirens are screaming and more angry boots are on the ground, running.

You can see how something like this might change what happens next inside the walls.

As unexpected as what happened outside is what happens inside.

NOTHING. Well, meetings. A week later, a weak statement. Tears are shed, some furtively, some openly, inside the walls, some by people who surprise you with their tears or lack thereof. There is no help from outside, but there are rumors that help will come, someday.
The children are still fed, they are still being taught, the rules and systems are still in place, though fewer, it seems, are taking them seriously because, really, what protection have they afforded the inhabitants once they leave the walls?
The almost perfect world inside is shown to be a construct. The rules that the inhabitants try to live by inside– rules of courtesy, professionalism, responsibility– those same rules (which were adapted from the world outside the walls) are also largely a construct. They are billboarded on the sides of the vehicles with the sirens, but who lives by them?

I have a dream that the children inside these walls will one day live in a nation where they will be judged only by the content of their character. I have a dream that those who proclaim that their mission is to protect the children and help them to grow, and learn, and prosper, will remember what the mission is and not sacrifice it to undeserving gods. I have a dream that assault and unjust imprisonment will not be condoned with relative silence, because relative silence equals relative agreement. I have a dream that justice will prevail and that almost-perfect world inside the walls will look deep into its heart of hearts and see that its response is flawed.

I have a dream.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

~The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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