Solutions: The Dilemma for Men
Dedicated to those who feel trapped in the world around them.
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Escaping the Discontentment
Louis sat quietly hoping to eat the provided breakfast in peace. However, the growing frustration from the men protesting the absence of the scrapple sent Louis fleeing from the mess hall. As he dumped the unfinished tray piled high with what Cookie had prepared in the garbage can, he could not understand how they could complain since they were provided with more than enough food to satiate their hunger.
Free from the whining emanating inside, he looked above to the bright blue sky and screamed, “Why are they doing this?”
The response to the inquiry came from a whisper of the truth tucked safely in his heart. Louis knew the truth, but his comrades apparently had rejected the same. Time and time again they were reminded of keeping their faith alive in a system that challenged that very Faith. From their perspective, as he viewed it, they wanted to smother the Word so that peace could prevail in everything that could be experienced. He had to admit that the pleas that bellowed out each day fell on deaf ears, but not enough frustration had built up to look at them with any contempt; his hope was that they would return to walking by Faith and not by sight.
Louis, wrapped up in what he felt was a lack of understanding, contemplated what was faith? The answer was apparent. He had recognized a while ago that those doubts came from an entity that only desired to lead all in the path of destruction. The lies were contradictory to his God’s love, and lies that tempted his brothers and sisters with contradictions where none existed.
Louis glanced at the door but could not force himself to re-enter the fracas. His desire was for freedom that would lead to an escape from the cries of those who sought the things of the world. He looked ahead to one the shacks guarding the perimeter of the village. An idea, one that he had thought about now and then, suddenly provided the courage to approach the men that held a vigilant watch from within the confines of the shack.
“Good morning,” Louis offered as a greeting to the guards.
Neither responded. The guards seemed as if they were not interested at the intrusion.
“Beautiful day isn’t it?”
“What of it?” one of the guards responded.
“You don’t seem too happy. What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong? You’re asking what’s wrong?”
The other guard blurted out, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong. Not only have they taken away our pay and commissary privileges, now they took away our mess hall privileges.”
Louis could hear the two were struggling with something not unlike his comrades’ grumblings, but the lack of knowledge concerning what exactly they were referring to left him puzzled. He had only ever seen them from a distance and never had the opportunity to speak to them or visit them on the other side of the fence. The life outside their official work was a mystery.
“What’s a commissary?”
“In short, it means that we’re no longer able to purchase anything from the store.”
“He doesn’t know what you’re talking about,” the other guard said to his partner.
“There’s this place we can go to called a store. We can buy things we want there.”
“All sorts of things that you guys don’t have. That is until now. They want us to be appreciative of whatever they give us. Not only that,” the guard grumbled, “but we have to start eating the same grub you guys are fed. Goodbye good food.”
“Are you talking about scrapple?”
The guards laughed. “Yeah,” one spoke up, “scrapple.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Look buddy, what do you want?”
Louis felt the frustration from the guards and from what they must have viewed as pestering. They were behaving in much the same fashion as his comrades. He briefly contemplated continuing with the line of questioning but figured it was better to let it go unless the stirring up of disappointment resulted in physical confrontation. Louis looked beyond the shack where a road could be seen cutting through a thick forest of tall trees.
“Well, I know I’m not supposed to ask, but would you mind letting me through the gate so I could have a bit pf an adventure?”
“All you’re going to find is nothing but open space. There’s nothing out there that’s of any good.”
“I hear you, but would you mind if you let me through anyway.”
“What do you think partner? They pretend to pay us...” the one guard uttered.
“...so we pretend to work,” piped in the other. “Sure, go ahead.”
The gate opened. Louis smiled. He looked forward to a day of adventure that might relieve the burden of frustration shadowing the thoughts.
“Hey,” one of the guards shouted, “if you find anything good out there come back and let us know.”
“Sure,” Louis shouted back.
The road took on an ominous feel. Both sides were surrounded by tall trees. The leafy canopies of each meshed in together and blocked the sun’s beams from lighting the way. All Louis could see down the road was darkness. In all the roads that the crews talked about, the ones where they were led away to some distant destination to work, the road ahead was unlike any description he had heard.
All the other roads had a comfort to them, they had said. All were clear of any obstacles that blocked any light. All the roads they had travelled had come by the means and directives of the village’s council leaders whose purpose was clear. Now he found himself confronting the unknown for the first time in his life. He was in isolation, distant from the safety provided in numbers, yet he knew his Lord would never lead him astray. Whatever lay beyond the darkness was of none affect nor could it squelch the excitement of the escape.
A ways down the journey the open space spoken of by the guards appeared before him. The scene was nothing more than open fields with tall grass swaying in the wind and a scattering of trees here and there. He could not see any animals the work crews had claimed to see, but there were birds that glided high above and dived towards the ground trying to snatch things to eat.
A ways down the road something strange came in site. He was eager to find out what it was. Louis started to run and before he knew it there was a sight he had never witnessed. Never before had he laid eyes on such a spectacular wonder. Water glistening from the beams of the sun stretched as far as he could see. Ripples of water washed over shoreline’s rocky perimeter. A breeze seemed to sweep of the waterand dissipated the humid heat built up from the walk on the road.
“Is this an ocean?” whispered Louis.
He strolled along its sandy bank in marvel of the vast creation. For the first time he could see the wonder of his Creator that his dad had told him about. He carefully stepped about the rocks and made the way to calm waters sheltered by a sharp bend, then reached the water’s edge. He could see pebbles just underneath the surface. A hand reached in and was soothed by the enveloping coolness of its face. Water was scooped and brought to the mouth to taste the freshness from the untamed depths. Handful after handful quenched the the thirst that had built up in the walk along the road.
“You are this great aren’t you my God? Dad wasn’t lying.”
Wrapped up in the splendor of everything that was seen, the hours sped by. Louis had not taken any notice of the sun’s position in the sky, but he knew it was getting late based on the grumblings of the stomach. He found it difficult to turn back and return to the village. Just ahead sat a mighty cluster of boulders which offered a perch well above the water’s windswept surface. The rocky formation offered a chance to sit and relax. It was an opportunity to take in all of what the majestic waters offered. High above the bank he looked down and saw schools of fishes swimming beneath. He marveled at how they moved about together with fine precision. It was as if the very movements were a choreographed dance to entertain any audience that happened along.
The village now was far removed from the thoughts. Louis contemplated the reaction of his comrades if he failed to show up at the assigned meal or in the assigned bunk. As far as he could recollect, no one ever had turned up missing. It was always assumed that there was no place to go or to wander off to. For the most part, everyone had been content with the life that was provided, but now just the thoughts of the lack of contentment turned into contempt for those rendering the decisions to taper off all the creature comforts that had long been provided. With that thought in mind, Louis figured to be the first one to leave behind the life he had been accustomed to in the hopes of something better.
For Louis, the previous day’s calm provided a cradle to slumber peacefully through the night. Panic should have sent him racing back to the Village, but the serene surroundings provided a tranquility that all but erased any fear.
Louis stretched his arms out and yawned deeply. The light from the Moon was fading, yet its crested top was still visible just above the horizon to the west. The soft glow from the unseen sun to the east announced it was rising to eliminate all the darkness of the night.
Louis stood and was about to jump off the high perch and drink from the ocean’s bank when a distant light stood out just above the horizon. He had to think for a moment while the grogginess from the deep sleep went away. He knew it could not be a light from the Village because its location was ahead and not behind. He doubted the light emanated from any nighttime activity by his fellow workers. The light was from an unknown source.
He jumped off of the cluster of rocks and onto the sandy shore. Looking behind, his obligation was to the Village, but looking ahead the curiosity called to continue ahead. Louis decided to forget about the Village and strolled towards the distant light before it disappeared in the light from the sun.
The difference between the downright protest confined to the village and the harmonious cooperation of nature was like night and day. As Louis walked the senses came alive with each passing step. Nothing around voiced its objection to an unwanted being hiking the sandy terrain. Not a peep from a bird or a growl by a forest hunter sounded against the trespasser. The air and water seemed fresher, the ground softer, and the natural sounds resonated with peace.
As he approached the unknown source of illumination fading from the light of the rising sun, familiar shapes appeared. Silhouettes of buildings came into focus. Sounds of machinery grinding and engines roaring made their presence known. Moving even closer the sun revealed what was in front of him.
It looked like a village, but then he wondered if it was the compound where all things processed by the villagers were sent to transport to various locations. Louis had heard about the compound but had never seen it. He only worked at the plant that processed the wheat into all its edible forms and had nothing to do with the shipping process. Some of the workers at the Village were truckers that transported the goods to the compound and had briefly described it with vague detail, so he could only assume that is what he was looking at.
It appeared as if the buildings started to move. The movement seemed to be that of large trucks moving together. They were lined up from front end to back end in what seemed like one, long, continuous line. Upon closer inspection, however, he recognized the shapes as a railroad locomotive and the cars as described by some of the truckers. Sure enough, he thought, this was the compound he had been told about. Among the mighty machines a man had just stepped out of the cab of the locomotive but appeared not to have noticed Louis walking steadily towards him.
“Good morning,” shouted Louis.
Louis thought the man looked confused. He realized his back was to the sun and the man had to throw a hand up to shield the glare. He appeared to be looking for the voice that yelled just beyond the fence of the train yard. The man stared for a moment and then waved.
Louis waved back and raced over to the fence separating him from the man still looking puzzled by his appearance.