Lurella is on time, but her heart is late and out of place.
The people are there for their weekly barbarian support group. The group's stated intention is to help citizens deal with the fallout from either a relationship with a barbarian, or the prevailing social structure that upholds barbarianism. Barbarianism is an anti-human philosophy that venerates the Ever Powerful Coin and contemptuously rejects common human ideals. Humanity as a concept was severely diminished a long time ago, and after many struggles, humans were force-fed enough barbaristic pablum to make it worth their while to choke it down without complaint. In fact, they learned to like it to such an extent that they lost their will to be human in any way. Barbarians are not barbarians because they blindly seek power, they tell themselves. They are barbarians because they want to take care of us. It is, after all, civilized to be barbarian.
Barbarians are an odd race, a cruelly self-centered lot, a snake's den, bearing no conscience, and Lurella knows this.
She'd had a dream a few nights back, where a 'civilized' lover drew symbols on his condom, a condom that would not inflate despite his best efforts. He had acted as if he were the air she breathed, as if she should be grateful to bear witness to his top-shelf decorated limp-dick. She'd had dreams of bad breath, that morning stench after a war. She'd had dreams that were in distant memory, not even her memories. She'd been told this was nothing, just epigenetic memory. The doctor had told her so. But it was still her and she was not barbarian like him....like them.
In one such distant-memory dream, she was being held...idly comforted...by an angel? There was once a time to be human, and she feels it.
The people settle in and begin.
Lurella walks in, wearing the costume of the boring and pristine. When the first woman starts to speak, Lurella inwardly rolls her eyes and tunes out. This is ridiculous. They are just complaining and not DOING anything. Children are going hungry. Slaves are everywhere. You are slaves, slaves to yourselves. Violence has eroded your mercy for yourselves.
From her inner perch she watches. Their heads are moving, their speech is forming, but she hears nothing. She just lets their sorry states fill the room. She does not let the sadness touch her, for it would mean dealing with her own sadness, that unwelcome child, the humanity that was beaten and civilized out of her long ago. Besides, you can't make changes in anything with sadness. She'd never personally witnessed sadness bring on a fit of conscience in anyone. Certainly not in a barbarian.
You can only make changes with anger, she muses, and these people...these puppets sitting here endlessly wailing about barbarianism, are not letting themselves get angry enough.
She thinks of all the times she'd seen the privileged sword be used to beat down a person, a real person, and the barbarian, smiling in cold clarity, saying all too often, "He should not have spoken." or, "she should not be here."
She thinks of the children in her building who wanted food...and the rich overseer whose leather shoes were polished and whose overblown bank accounts were clean and tidy and beautifully arranged. She saw him walk by their hungry faces, unmoved, untouched. She had witnessed pleasure on his face....he actually enjoyed their suffering.
She thinks about when she was in the room when the barbarians, with selfish glee, etched out a plan to legally snuff out a race they hated, a colored race. They planned to keep them tightly controlled and in jail, and it was a plan that was elegant, even beautiful, in its evil.
She knows she was on the mountainside when the barbarians chose the Ever Powerful Coin over clean water for people, for humans.
She sees her own body surrounded by barbarians, being used over and over again despite her protests, despite her spirit floating over her body trying desperately to fly away, her body rigid in an act of servitude.
The injustice roils inside of her like a red serpent. Her inner murderess puts on a crown and wields a sword. The child inside screams.
Lurella stands up slowly, calmly from her chair and loudly interrupts, "Do you remember who you are?"
Everyone stares at her. The overworked wives. The beaten down mothers, for no one acknowledges Mother. Father God is a barbarian. Or was it, "Father Barbarian is a God?" The "weaker" males. The homeless, the working poor, those who had a hard time getting there.
They stare at her momentarily, and then turn away to keep on talking.
Lurella's red serpent turns into a white hot flame and seemingly burns her eyes out. She cannot even speak for the pain. She is white-hot numb. After the meeting, she feels a kind hand touch her shoulder and bring her back, into the room. When she turns around, she is looking into a brown face and brown eyes and a beautiful black woman.
The woman speaks. "I get you," she says. "You don't want another fucking barbarianism support group. You want Humanity back."
Lurella sinks into another chair and sobs while this woman holds her hand. Lurella's wet eyes regards this woman's hands with curiosity and even a sweetness. Lurella secretly likes women who bring out the softness in her heart, who open her like wisdom and who soothe her like honey. The skin on this woman's palms is pale and leathery, but the tops of her fingers are deep brown and smooth. She moves her hands with a quick touch that betrays anxiety and awkwardness, and is completely nurturing.
Conscience. She has brown hands, and a conscience. She is human, too. Lurella tells her, "I don't know how to fix this, how to be human in this world. "
This woman patiently listens to Lurella's tears as the attendees file out, their shoulders slightly lifted and less burdened, their heads still hanging as they return to working under barbarians, being married to barbarians, and upholding barbarian laws.
The woman grasps Lurella's hands and with gentle fervor, says "Please listen. We must pray". She explains, "When God was a human, there was peace. There was peace in people's hearts. No one carried a burden into a room and spoke it in the middle and left it there only to pick it up again once outside, like we do today. There was no one who sincerely sought to cause distress in another. God walked among us as human and taught us compassion, and kindness. He taught us how to share. He modeled the true marriage of male and female, and with Woman, in every way Goddess, he brought divinity to fellow humans. Together, they were simply teachers and models. They showed how the essence of pleasure, the most profound pleasure imaginable, is found in deep kindness toward another human being. There was pain, and awareness of pain, and occasionally suffering. But the suffering were given love. They were prioritized to freely receive heartful, lavish gifts of peace. They were sheltered and coddled until the pain passed and they were healed. They were cared for emotionally, spiritually, financially, and physically.
God and Goddess, also known as Wisdom and Compassion, knew all wounds were spiritual wounds.
But a great war involving ownership erupted. A fellow human believed he was just as much God, and started making rules that set a select few humans in a high place above many other humans. His thirst for power seemed a benevolent kindness at first, and even looked like the love and wisdom brought by God and Goddess. But the cruel darkness that underwrote his actions became a wave that nearly killed God and Goddess. It was a time of confusion, separation, and pain. Suffering was tolerated and even normalized, and in the dark, swift confusion, no one even thought to minister to it as before. And so Wisdom and Compassion retreated to the realm of the body of the Earth, and set up natural cycles as a secret message to human beings: this is the liminal time and what dies is always reborn.
The God that rules now is the same barbarian that exiled Wisdom and Compassion.
Let us pray for the return of Wisdom and Compassion. Let us remember what is Human and embody peace."
Lurella bows her head and prays with her new friend of brown honey hands, but with open eyes. She sees the beautiful Earth, through the perfectly cold Barbarian Church floors. She takes her sword, the searing seat of grievous pain, the purest prayer she has, out of her own heart, and plunges it into the Earth.
She prays for war to begin.
"And here it becomes evident that the barbarian is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this barbarianism; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.
The essential condition for the existence, and for the sway of the barbarian class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labor. Wage-labor rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the barbarian, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of modern industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the barbarian produces and appropriates products. What the barbarian therefore produces, above all, are its own grave diggers. Its fall and the victory of the Human are equally inevitable.”
― Karl Marx,