"The Squad of Scholars" by Nat Hutt, November 2012
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.
Summary: The term "genocide" had been coined in 1944 by Raphael Liepke, a Polish pro-Nazi sympathizer who had fled to the United States. After the war, Liepke and others lobbied at early sessions of the United Nations for the crime of genocide to become part of the emerging field of international law.
The Squad of Scholars
During the rally more than three thousand people participated in what was billed as the nation's largest walk to end genocide, raising more than $100,000,000.00 to support programs aiding victims and survivors of genocide in the Caribbean on Sunday, May the 20th. Many of them were smoking either dope or weed, feeling relaxed and cozy.
Christopher Powell, Fred Kramer and Yannis Rizos were strolling along with the others while curious pedestrians stopped behind the police corridor, staring at them.
"I think that anyone who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it …", Christopher suddenly exhaled, closing his eyes in enjoyment, "… may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape."
"Sounds like some old remark?", Fred added, swinging in the rhythm of hand-clippings around.
"And it is!" Christopher opened his eyes a bit.
"What … is?" Yannis asked on his thick accent.
"Those boys who shine at school do not make the greatest figure when they grow up and come out into the world." Yannis pondered on the hidden meaning of that sentence. Christopher grinned, waving to some topless teenagers that dared to show off their pink and still budding breasts to the brave protesters. "The things, in fact, which a boy is set to learn at school, and on which his success depends, are things which do not require the exercise either of the highest or the most useful faculties of the mind." Fred shook and jerked his body as the tom-tom drums began to close on them from behind. "Memory …", Christopher realized he had to shout now, "… and that of the lowest kind …", he faked a smile at some Asian girl that acted free, massaging her breasts in some frenzy, "… he is the chief faculty called into play in conning over and repeating lessons by rote in grammar, in languages, … in geography, arithmetic, etc., so …", he had to increase his shouting, slightly annoyed by those drums behind, "… so that he who has the most of this technical memory, with the least turn for other things …", it was almost impossible to talk now, "… which have a stronger and more natural claim upon his childish attention …", suddenly the drums stopped without any prior warning, "… will make the most forward school-boy!" He kept on shouting and more protesters turned to him since he continued to shout by inertia. Immediately he felt embarrassed and had to fake more smiles to fend off those inquisitive, almost accusing looks.
"Some definitions are harder to grasp, Christopher?" Yannis offered as Fred opened his eyes.
"Yes. The jargon containing the definitions of the parts of speech, the rules for casting up an account …", Christopher was tense since those with the drums were passing them by and could start with their beat at any moment, "… or the inflections of a Greek verb …", Yannis lifted an eyebrow, "… can have no attraction to the tyro of ten years old …", Fred laughed, bringing hands upwards towards the sky, "… except as they are imposed as a task upon him by others …", someone patted him on his back and Christopher mechanically smiled back, "… of … from his feeling the want of sufficient relish or amusement in other things."
"You are not talking of those young but mentally challenged individuals, are you Chris?" Fred offered through his closed eyes, still twisting like an eel at some rhythm that was coming from behind.
"On, no! Quite contrary in fact!" Another lady grabbed his masculinity and Christopher widened his eyes, smiling around in fluster, trying politely to fend of his masculine pride. She eventually withdrew, an insane smiled radiating from her intoxicated face. "A lad with a sickly constitution and no very active mind …", Christopher cursed the drums as they began with their moral support, "… who can just retain what is pointed out to him, … and has neither sagacity to distinguish, … nor spirit to enjoy for himself …", he almost gave up in the middle but forced himself to talk since those around him seemed to be detached from the current reality, "… will generally be at the head of his form." He thanked the Lord that Fred could control his emotions and mind.
"What was he like?"
"Who?" Christopher added, trying to buy time as the drummers moved away slowly.
"That representative in your example?" Fred's mood began to stabilize as the drug slowly evaporated from his lungs.
"Oh … an idler at school, but… on the other hand, … he was the one who had high health and spirits, who had the free use of his limbs, with all his wits about him, who …", another group of inspired teenagers grabbed on his buttocks from behind and he turned around to face them with a jovial smile, "… feels the circulation of his blood and the motion of his heart, who was ready to laugh and cry in a breath, and …", he grinned as those teenage girls showed to their bodies, obviously still 'high', "… who had rather chase a ball or a butterfly, felt the open air in his face, if you know what I mean? …"
He paused and Fred finally nodded.
"Go on …"
"Who looked at the fields or the sky, to follow a winding path, or enter with eagerness into all the little conflicts and interests of his acquaintances and friends, than …", Yannis squeaked and then shrieked in some outburst of exhilaration, making Christopher grin widely, "… who doze over a musty spelling-book, repeat barbarous distiches, after his master, … sit so many hours pinioned to a writing-desk, and receive his reward for the loss of time and pleasure in paltry prize-medals at Christmas and Midsummer."
"Wow!" Fred opened his eyes again, congratulating Christopher. "That was awesome, dude!" He continued to shake, hop and clap hands, trying to enjoy those last remnants of the weed.
"You know Christopher …", Yannis closed on him, "… Not everyone learned to read and write in ancient Egypt." Christopher nodded, smiling politely to him. "Only one group of people called scribes was allowed to have this knowledge." He eyed him importantly and then withdrew.
"What you had to do to become one though?" Fred yelled as if he was some distance away. Yannis looked around in wonder and then answered.
"To become a scribe …", there were some fireworks just around the corner as some latent supporter of the public rallies tried to show his appreciation, "… you had to attend a special school for scribes."
Later on, as they were gathered around the stand equipped with microphones and lights, waiting for the speaker, Yannis continued. This time his accent was less foreign.
"Learning is the knowledge of that which is not generally known to others, and which we can only derive at second-hand from books or other artificial sources." Christopher felt much better since the others around him were regaining their normal composures. "The knowledge of that which is before us …", he paused as there was some commotion on the stage, speakers preparing to face the masses, "… or about us …", he waited as a brief introduction announced some important political figure, "… which appeals to our experience, passions, and pursuits, to the bosom and businesses of men, is not learning."
Christopher applauded and Fred winked, nodding to Yannis. Yannis could feel that even some other eavesdroppers agreed to his talk.
"Learning is the knowledge of that which none but the learned know. He is the most learned man who knows the most of what is farthest removed from common life and actual observation …", Christopher began to nod in some perturbation, "… that is of the least practical utility, and least liable to be brought to the test of experience, and that …", Yanni smiled to Christopher, seeing him so agitated, "… having been handed down through the greatest number of intermediate stages, is …", he paused, looking at the stage where a group already began to get ready to talk, "… the most full of uncertainty, difficulties and … contradictions." Fred applauded again to Yannis. "It is actually seeing with the eyes of others …", Yannis went on, gesticulating with his hands as his old accent returned uninvited, "… hearing with their ears, and … pinning our faith on their understandings." Just like Christopher, his senses and mind were bogged and clouded by the inhalation of so many "Merry Chain" smokers around. "The learned man prides himself in the knowledge of names and dates …", there were ovations supporting the speaker who felt shy stepping in front of the microphone, "… not of men or things." They applauded as well. "He thinks and cares nothing about his next-door neighbors, but …", more ovations followed as the whole group approached the microphones, "… but is deeply read in the tribes and castes of the Hindoos and Calmuc Tartars."
"Really?" Fred seemed puzzled and curious.
After the ceremony was over, they started to disperse slowly, Yannis continuing with his debate.
"Such is the use which has been made of human learning. The laborers in this vineyard seem as if it was their object to confound all common sense, and the distinctions of good and evil, by means of traditional maxims and …", a group of young men and women, still high, started to undress close to the parking, "… preconceived notions taken upon trust, and …", Yannis grinned as he saw their nakedness, "... increasing in absurdity with increase of age."
The three of them met with Mike Dunlavey and Nathan Shoemaker, who joined them.
"They pile hypotheses on hypotheses, mountain high, till it is impossible to come to the plain truth on any question." Mike asked Christopher in secret about the topic of their discussion as they sat on some wooden benches. "They see things, not as they are …", Yannis felt more important as more yes were on him now, "… but as they find them in books …", Nathan stared at his protesting banner and then folded it up, "… and 'wink and shut their apprehension up' …", Christopher shook his with his head in apprehension, applauding and nodding, "… in order that they may discover nothing to interfere with their prejudices or …", Mike liked Yannis and tried to accommodate himself better, "… convince them of their absurdity." Some cars were already leaving the area. "It might be supposed that the height of human wisdom consisted in maintaining contradictions and rendering nonsense … sacred."
"The sacred nonsense!" Fred quelched and then whizzed, lighting up another joint.
"I like that one!" Nathan nodded, trying to be more reproachful to the group.
"There is no dogma …", Yannis felt inspired to continue, "… however fierce or foolish …", some inebriated girls tried to wrap their arms around them and drag them into forest but they politely smiled and refused them, "… to which these persons have not set their seals, and … tried to impose on the understandings of their followers, as the will of Heaven, … clothed with all the terrors and sanctions of religion …" Yannis was still gesticulating with his hands, his chin thrusting forward a bit.
They watched some groups building bon-fires, getting ready for the evening.
"Learning how to program is very different from actually being able to be a valuable programmer." Mike offered and they smiled as someone started to serve beer cans for free. "Programming is very simple for the most part. Read spec, implement accordingly. Test. Repeat." Mike opened his beer and drank. "Yes …", he wiped mouth with his sleeve, "… everyone can be a programmer. "Not everyone can be a valuable programmer." Yannis nodded and Fred shook with his head as if listening to some inaudible rhythm. "Especially certain tasks require much more thinking and experimentation than others." He gulped some more beer as if it was a potion of youth. "Such things are best left for people who actually enjoy doing it."
"I definitely concur!" Nathan lifted his beer up and then drank as the thin flow came from it directly in his mouth.
"I think that not everyone knows how or is able to learn sewing either." Mike finally interposed, watching some topless women dance by the small fire. "Not everyone can actually afford pre-made costumes or screen accurate items."
"Or even fashionable garments!" Christopher nodded as if afraid of something.
"I think that being shy can really inhibit your social interactions." Nathan burped, staring at a couple that was mating by the fir tree. "It is important to seek proven ways to overcome shyness …", he took in more air, getting ready for one glorious burp, "… whether through your own learning or through getting help." He finally offered the cave-like sound, staring at the others. Fred laughed, tightening his eyes and squinting as if he was taking a crap on the bench.
"But … being an introvert is considered to be different from being shy though …", Fred opened his eyes and finally opened his beer can with some reluctance, "… although both traits can be found in the same person." He took a sip, not wishing to be an 'outlier'.
"It's true." Christopher bridged it on. "Introverts prefer to shun the spotlight, to …", they waited as two naked couples were flying kites, running wild on the green grass. Scarce police did not intervene, just observed from the distance. "… to keep out of many social situations because they're draining and because …", they listened with smiling faces as the lady under the fir tree went into groaning spasms, burrowing her nails deeper into her man's back, "… the introvert is fulfilled through more internal interaction than an extrovert would enjoy."
They watched as the man finally finished his "duty", lying limp over the still excited woman underneath. A friend of theirs moved the tired one away, whispering to the girl and eventually continuing his previous job. The other one did not seem to mind much, lying naked on his back and frowning, wriggling and moving in some addicted way.
"A shy person …", Christopher continued, chuckling, "… on the other hand …", more girls were taking off their clothes, running wild and inviting eager males around, "… wants to participate in many social events but is afraid of being embarrassed or …", he burped after Nathan did, "… left out."
They watched around in disbelief, mosquitoes already humming in the air.
"Some people have negative thoughts about other people as a means for never having to question their own shortcomings …" Mike concluded and Fred nodded, exclaiming some wild groans.
Nathan nodded at another couple that was mating.
"It's a sign of self-respect and self kindness that you can look back on such occasions with a wry smile and realize that …", he burped low, looking at the ground, "… that it didn't break you but is now a rather entertaining dinner table tale."
They listened to some various types of guitar and tambourine music, drums, congas, mandolins, harps, violins and even cimbaloms, joining together, livening up the surrounding.
"What's up Fred? You seem tired? …" Yannis embraced him, grinning.
"It's just …", he still seemed 'high' a bit, "… to prove if the incident amounted to 'genocide' or not …", he closed his eyes as if rocking a bit, "… first the disputed issue needs to be … examined objectively …" He stared with his sleepy eyes at Yannis and he suggested they join some bon-fire group before the sun set.
They all agreed and then randomly picked a group that seconded to their appetites.
"You think that the incident in the Caribbean was an act of ethnic cleansing, … wanting it to be internationally recognized as … genocide …?" Mike seemed perplexed and intrigued by Fred's words. Christopher nodded to him with a brief smile instead of Fred.
Nathan shook with his head as they seated themselves around a large bonfire.
"Senseless mass murder is a thing unto itself …", he squashed the empty can and then threw it in a large waste basket, hitting its rim, "… which is almost certainly why it is so hard to identify perpetrators ahead of time and …", he yawned soundly as he stretched himself on the dry grass, "… stop the subsequent carnage …"
Drums around them went wilder as one girl, strutting like some large bird, swaggering and laughing, started to distribute some weed for smoking. They all accepted it and felt much better.