Be Who They Want You to Be

Start studying the things they tell you to study. Don’t look outside that sphere. Your interests aren’t important to the function of our lives. Put your head down and study, this will be important for your future – our future. Our collective interest is all that you should be concerned with. If it is then we will reward you and if it isn’t we will punish you. That’s what’s at stake here. Here in this classroom full of people with individuality. The entirety of society. You wouldn’t want your parents or your siblings or your grandparents or – heaven forbid – me from suffering would you? Then sit down and learn the things you must learn to ensure no harm comes to them. If you don’t then everything could collapse down around you. The walls, the roof, the very fabric of things that holds us together.

slap. A hand comes down upon my desk. Were you listening to me? I wasn’t. But she can tell lies that slip from teeth and the punishment for lies is worse than the punishment for silence. She informs me that a day of writing out platitudes awaits me this afternoon instead of playing in the fields, playing outside. That’s certainly one way to ensure someone bays to your instructions. Meekly and wordlessly I accept my punishment of detention for the afternoon. Gazing down at the notes I’ve taken so far in class I try to distract myself. I’m bored is all that I think about. That’s also all that is written. This class is boring me. I’m bored. And now I’m punished. I guess you could say that I am boorish. As in bored and punished. I thought it was clever – so clever in fact that I jot down boorish in the corner of my notebook while the teacher continues.

It’s some time before the exercise of listening to this megalomaniac is over and the whole time all I can think about is boorish. Bored and punished. Funny. Definition of boor, by the Merriam-Webster dictionary 1989 edition (the only edition I own) 1. A yokel 2. A rude or insensitive person. The second definition makes sense, but what is a yokel? I doubt I’ll ever know. The USSR was still around in 1989 wasn’t is? I wonder if any KGB agents converted any yokels to the side of communism. Maybe that’s why it fell in 1991, too many yokels. I wonder what was taught in schools under communist rule. I doubt it was so different from what I am taught as to make a difference. The difference is that I know that a yokel is a boor, and I am a boor. Then I think about Cletus from The Simpsons and how he is a yokel and I laugh.

slapping upon the desk again. What are you laughing at? is the question that I am immediately confronted with upon my return to this classroom from the lands of the Soviet Union of 1989 – the land of yokels and Cletuses. I didn’t realise I was laughing was the only reply I could muster. I was just writing down notes. And then I showed her my notes that were full of scribbles that could maybe be construed to represent the things she was teaching at that time. Not good enough was the interpretation that I interpreted from her various screams and condemnations. I guess I would be staying behind for more than just lunch. I had gone too far – my imagination had gone too far. It had imagined things outside of her field of view and she hated me for it.

So I stayed on for the rest of her class – at the back of her class to be precise. The place where all dissidents were sent. The bell rang and all the other students were silently happy – gazing at eachother and sending messages of where to meet up and what to do telepathically. They were all dismissed and merrily they went to their lunches and their designated areas of control as though they were lions. But meekly I shuffled off after the teacher who still had lessons to teach me. I was to spend the period of time reserved to play learning. But, not exactly learning. There was nothing new for my mind to consume, analyse and confront. No, it was something that all knowledgeable beings knew instinctively. Except for me ofcourse. For some reason I had to have special lessons to learn this lesson. And so I wrote and wrote and wrote the message that was so utterly important to our advancement in education. It was so important that anyone who veered from it found themselves writing it out until they eventually believed in it – and they always ended up believing in it. That was part of the appeal of the statement – no matter who you were you would eventually believe in the statement.

And so I wrote it out and as I wrote it out I found myself believing in it, as things are supposed to be. It made sense and only now, upon reading it for an hour, do I understand why it makes any sense. Then I began to think of other people and how they all needed to learn this thing the same way I had learnt it. I begun to think of my past self, of only a few minutes before. Or was it hours? It didn’t matter. That person was behind me. I had evolved beyond him and had learnt through the repetitive writing down of this thing.

In my next class I was far more malleable to what they were teaching me. Even if I disagreed with it. I didn’t want to go back to that place that had me write out line after line after line instead of spending my time outside. That’s how they got me to be who they wanted me to be. And I was happiest that way.

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