Are You Alienated (part four)
“I can dream a little, can’t I?”
“You may dream of stability. You and others of your generation. Your expectations have matured. Your generation’s influence on your nation’s politics and culture will be a mirror of your own experience.”
Minta and her mother-in-law had bought a discount tour package. The river, at this season, was neither bathed in romantic light, nor encased in ice. Its steady current pulsed silver, like many voices whispering a word in confidence. Emmett’s cryptic thoughts called to Minta’s mind his first remark.
“When we started walking, you said, ‘deviation from the norm’.”
“My three points. I told you earlier, that a public story is created to serve a public purpose. Equally so, if you have, unknown to your opponents, acquired information privately, and you find this information useful, you will keep the information, and your plans for its use, private. In 1960, as I had mentioned, two American encryptionists…encryptioneurs?…defected to the Soviet Union. The Soviets did not conceal this, by any of the many means by which they might have―compare the rocket accident at Baikonur of the same year―rather, they held a press conference to announce their triumph.
“The Americans responded by calling Martin and Mitchell deviants; by claiming the defectors knew little of value, and by saying that it was nearly impossible to avoid the accidental hiring of such people, given the deficiencies of the screening process.
“My second point is a minor one; but, it segues into the third point, which is really the gist—if your business is fear, then your factory needs certain raw materials in order to produce a regular supply.
“Now, the Fear Story is an odd position, when you consider it. It isn’t necessary. It doesn’t serve a public purpose. You may say that governments can’t do miracles. They cannot protect people against all threats―not even those which allegedly lurk within the walls of their own agencies. But much is encompassed under the umbrella of ‘awareness’. Returning to the public position, if I, for the sake of argument, have a thirteen percent chance of some danger, I have, as well, an eighty-seven percent chance of safety. The Fear Story is a fiction. And it needn’t be told in a particular way, so long as the punchline survives. I will digress for a moment.”
Minta raised an eyebrow; she tilted her head and looked up at Emmett, but before she could fully engage an expression of mock-astonishment, her phone provided its own digression. An elfin, gender-free voice emerged from her handbag to warble a single line. Baby, it’s been a long time… The music ceased.
“There’s Oswald,” Emmett said.
“I’m sure there was no ’90s band called Oswald. Give me a minute; I’ll think of it.”
Are You Alienated
(2015, Stephanie Foster)