One Picture, One Story
“How is it that these flowers can stay so beautiful even though they are left out to the elements? How can we be so vain that we are worth more, yet we, if left out, would wither and die?” James spoke out loud, but directed his words at no one in particular.
The others in the room stared at him, puzzled as to what he was getting at and wondering if, by chance, he was speaking to one of them. They sat still, hoping by some measure to be unnoticed by James.
“We float like a cloud through the uncertainty that we have named “life”, but do not bother to look down upon those that we tread! Who are we to distance ourselves from all other creatures, both large and small? Have you not seen how a mother coddled her young, even if they be beasts of the field? Love is not merely human; joy is not only for man or woman! What can we say to this? How is it that a dog will feast with us at a table, treated as a member of our family, yet a swine will be destroyed and treated as commodity for our consumption? If we were left out in those same conditions we would surely parish before being loaded into the slaughterhouse.” James abruptly stood and walked out of the room, leaving the rest a little dumbfounded.
Minutes past and James did not return to the room and the rest began to relax and carried on with their idle conversation, paying little mind to the strange outburst that only moments before had them baffled. They ate their sandwiches, drank their coffee and laughed light-heartedly. James had become a distant memory, if that, and eventually they would all go their separate ways with little more than a passing joke about their encounter with some lunatic at the coffee shop.
James sat alone in the darkened hallway, jotting down his thoughts and resting his legs. He had walked many miles to get to this specific coffee shop; one that was touted as serving some of the greatest thinkers in the prairies. He couldn’t hide his disappointment with the muted and almost non-existent reaction by those who had been meeting there. He would later describe it as being “completely ignored like a child having a fit in line at the grocer”. He wrote feverishly in his tattered notebook, becoming more excitable as he progressed. “How could a room full of thinkers not at least pause to consider what he had said; even if just to judge the validity of the questions?” He stopped at that, closed his book and leaned back against the wall.
“Excuse me, sir.” A timid voice broke the rigid silence.
“Yes? Who is it that approaches?” James squinted to see the slight body of the young man as he approached.
“My name is Simon, sir.”
“Well, Simon, come closer and we will converse. I assume that is why you approach.”
“Why yes, sir. May I ask your name?”
“I am James. It is a pleasure to meet you, young man!”
“What is it that you would like to know?”
“Well, sir, what you said in there, what did it mean?”
“It’s meaning was meaningless, young Simon. Words only have meaning if they are heard by others and I’m afraid that mine were nothing more than elevator music to those who sat in that room.”
“No offence, sir, but your method of portraying those words was quite unorthodox and I fear the reason they fell on deaf ears was that they took you for a lunatic. I think any reasonable person would have thought the same.”
“Oh yes, young man! You are correct in that. I did consider the inevitable assumption that I was of a sub-par mental state. Consider this; most men who begin to spread uncommon idea’s, as sensible and logical as they may be, are seen as crazy at first. I was betting on their being at least one who would see past the absurdity and wisely consider the words that were said. I put them out there, a gift for the thoughtful, and hoped that they would be received and nurtured by those in earshot.”
“Well, you reached my ears and though I may not be of the same intelligence as you, I have seriously considered the ideas that you ‘put out there’ and I wanted to be sure that my suspicions of your sanity were true.”
“You are wise beyond your years, Simon, and I thank you for your faith and consideration. I do worry that wisdom is not the strong suit of your generation, but your presence here fills me with hope.”
“I had not thought about the differences in which we treat certain beings and frankly, I didn’t give a damn. What you said bothered me greatly. It seemed to ring of truth and the simplicity caused me to be ashamed that I had not thought it before. It is all so rational, where our culture is not.”
“We live in a time of technology and convenience and by themselves are not necessarily bad, but when we stop asking questions about what we are sacrificing to obtain the gadgets and fast food we become docile and lazy in our reasoning.”
Simon nodded thoughtfully and slowly turned to go. “Thank you, James,” he said as he walked down the hall and into the day.
“Thank you, Simon.” James whispered after Simon had left.