[The Sign of the Shepherd, 573 words, Genre: Experimental]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Why is it that, throughout time, men who become geniuses have been initially ridiculed as fools? Why was Gallileo burnt at the stake for making the claim that the Earth revolves around the sun? Why could van Gogh never manage to sell a painting? Why is it that something is claimed as stupidity, when it turns out to be genius?
It was the 1920s, the great depression had hit, Edward was desperate for a job. Everyone was desperate for a job. He had exhausted all possible options. He stood around with other unemployed people and listened to them bitch and moan. The state that the world had found itself in. The government was attempting to mask the problems that had begun, but like a Tupperware tea party, there were cracks appearing in all the tea cups.
Edward wracked his brains for a solution, some sort of breakthrough that would put him one step ahead of all the others. Something to make him stand out. Some sort of signal to notify his current predicament so that others, with the power to do so, could pull him out of it.
He came up with the solution. He would write on a piece of cardboard to signal his desperation. Now the others stood around him as he did this. They looked on to see what he was about to pull. It wasn’t that bad yet. He would be the first person to do this. As his vision became clear to all the others. They mocked and ridiculed him.
“We’re desperate, sure, but we ain’t gonna stand around with a sign to make arses out of ourselves.”
“Yer farkin’ idiot! They’re going to call you a looney.”
“Why would they?” Edward argued, “It’s reached that point. We’re all in the same boat, but I’m going to jump it and try to swim to shore. I’m going to use this sign as my own raft. Got more hope in a boat of my own than waiting around with you lot.”
“Now he’s talking metaphors and shit.”
“What a looney!”
“What a retard!”
Edward stood apart from the rest of the group. Who were all waiting for the factory to open so that they could be selected for the day’s work. The rest made sure to stand far away from him. Edward had written on his sign, ‘I have a family to feed, will work for food.’ All of this was true and he really would work for food. The others laughed at him. They made jokes and ridiculed him.
When the factory owner came to the gates, he looked around. He saw Edward with his sign. He called him over.
“So, you’ll work for food will you?”
“That’s right.” Edward answered.
“You’re in then.”
Some of the others were selected. Most of them were left to wait outside the factory gate. The next day, they all had signs, just like Edward.
It’s our preconditions that make us behave a certain way. An understanding of the world as conceived by the masses. What separates the genius from the rest of the pack is his or her ability to break these preconceptions and understand the world for how it currently exists. You’ll see others waiting out the gate the next day with their signs, signalling their own status as genius, following the one that preceded their action. Truth is, there’s only one shepherd, all the others are sheep.