The Lost Country of Freeland
The woman drew her shawl 'round her head and gathered her children to her. "I'm going to tell you a story," she whispered. "A story about the most wonderful place that ever was. Come close now, and be very quiet so no one will hear us. I will tell you the story of Freeland."
Once upon a time, there was a country called Freeland. It was a beautiful country. It had mountains and deserts, plains and forests. It was a very, very large country with two ocean coasts. Far to the north, part of Freeland was in the Arctic Circle. Way off to the west, part of Freeland was in the Tropics. Not only was the country vast and varied, but so were its people. People from all over the world had come to live in Freeland
Freeland was a very special country, but the most special thing about it was its history. Freeland had fought many, many times for its freedom. That's why they called it Freeland. The first Freeland settlers had to fight to free Freeland from the people who were already living there.It took them two-hundred fifty years to conquer the Indigenous Warriors, but they did it.
One of the children tilted her head and looked at her mother in confusion. "Wasn't it wrong to take the land away from people who were already living there?" she asked
Her mother put her hand on the child's shoulders patiently. "The Indigenous Warriers wanted the land to remain undeveloped because sometimes animals crossed it, and they didn't want anything interfering with hunting. Does that seem fair that you can't have a farm because an animal might want to walk across that area a couple times a year?"
The children were unconvinced.
"Anyway, the settlers had to live somewhere. When settlers put down a homestead someplace the Indigenous Warriors tended to scalp the men, rape and murder the women, and kidnap or murder the children and then burn the place to the ground."
The little girl murmured uncertainly. "That wasn't in Dances in Wolves," she said and shuddered. "Maybe I should be grateful to my forebears who 'Won the West.' I wouldn't be around if not for them."
"Let the experience of the Indigenous Warriors be a lesson to us," the woman answered gently. "We need to be strong if we want to hold on to what we have. If we're weak, we lose, just as the Indigenous Warriors lost. Let's always be strong. You'll need to be extra strong tonight. Can you always be strong?"
The girl nodded and the woman continued her story
Freeland fought many wars for its Freedom. It had to fight against its English Colonial oppressors who choked commerce, prevented laws from being enforced, incited Freeland's enemies against it and quartered large numbers of troops among them, many of whom would commit murder and rape and not be punished.
The woman's son raised his hand. "This is the second time you've mentioned systematic rape as a motivating factor for people taking up arms against their oppressors. I'd never heard this aspect of history before."
"Yes," the woman said patiently. "The people who write history books don't mention it because it's an ugly issue, plus they're pansies who don't give a fuck about women's issues."
The boy thought for a moment. "But mother, isn't rape a low, base crime that is abhorrent to all people: men, women and children? I'd hardly call it solely a woman's issue."
"You know, you're right," the woman answered. "Thank you for pointing that out." She smiled. "I'm proud of you." The woman continued her story.
The people of Freeland won their independence, but there were more wars. Some Freelanders were kidnapping people in other countries and using them as slaves. Freeland fought the bloodiest war in its entire history to end that.
The girl spoke up. "I was taught that the Civil War was fought to keep the Union together, not to end slavery," she said. "I was told that the motivations for the Civil War were no entirely pure as the driven snow and that therefore Freeland shouldn't get any credit for ending slavery even if one million people died in the bloodiest war in Freeland's history."
The mother sighed. "Dear child, the only real issue leading to secession was slavery. If the Northern Freelanders hadn't opposed slavery, there would have been no secession. The war was ultimately fought over slavery."
"Really?" the girl said in wonderment. "But only a truly great country would fight such a bloody, protracted, 'brother against brother' war for a moral principle. Why didn't my teachers teach me something so important? Maybe I should stop paying attention to the hate-filled crap I've been spoon fed at school and start thinking for myself."
The little boy nodded vigorously. "I'm going to start thinking for myself too! But first, let's both let our mother finish her story." The woman smiled again, pride tinged with grief.
Freeland fought many times for freedom, but they didn't always have wars. For a long time, half the population didn't have the right to vote. That was unfair, and a lot of people worked hard and finally the 19th Amendment confirmed the right of women to vote. Many racist laws and practices were also abolished through social change and legal reform. Freelanders made those changes themselves, peacefully and without war. But there were other wars too, big ones and small ones, like World War II and Bosnia. They often involved effete, cowardly Europeans who were too busy pointing fingers and wringing their hands to stop genocides happening right in front of their cheese-eating faces. Freeland always had to step in.
So Freeland was a great country, beautiful, varied, moral and proud. Freeland grew wealthy and most people in Freeland lived lives of such luxury and safety that they didn't even know there was any other way to live unless they got dragged to a third-world country for a 'vacation' and discovered just how hellish existence could be in other lands. Open sewers, corrugated tin shacks as far as the eye could see, rampant disease and crime, jumbo-sized cockroaches even in the best of homes, scores of emaciated beggars and choking pollution leading to constant nausea were unknown to most Freelanders.
Most Freelanders were happy and grateful, but some became spoiled and stupid. They noticed that Freeland, being a country of humans, was not faultless, flawless and perfect. They thought, 'If it's not perfect, it's shit. I hate it!" although they'd use more sophisticated words that they learned in college.
And that's why, after a small band of crazy murderers attacked Freeland, the intellectual elite of Freeland eventually decided Freeland was not worth being proud of. Not worth fighting for. Not worth dying for. Nothing was worth dying for. Nothing is worth fighting or dying for when you're a coward. The traitors and cowards worked their way into the media, into the military, into the government. Anyone who gave offense to our enemies was hounded, hated and suppressed. Freedom died a slow death, but it died. An otherwise insignificant nutcase pastor in Texas was the first victim on September 11, 2010. The traitors broke him. Then they broke everyone else. Freeland gave in to the madmen.
The woman held her children close and the tears started to fall. The Fedayin commander took the woman's hand and gently raised her to her feet. They'd known each other all their lives.
"I know," she said. "It's time to go. Good bye, my children. I love you more than anything. I'll watch over you, always."
The man walked the woman out to his wagon, and absently gave his donkey a bit of carrot. "Thank you for letting me talk to my children one last time," the woman said.
"It was the right thing to do," the man whispered. He'd once been a police officer. Many years before, as a little girl, the woman had become lost in a store. The man had driven her home, to safety, in his black and white car. Now he drove her away from her home and toward what used to be a football stadium. It was crowded. He had been ordered to bring the children too, and to make sure they watched, but he didn't. He'd say he'd forgotten, beg for forgiveness and offer a small bribe. He would be safe. As safe as anyone.
"I'm sorry I have to do this," he said. "I wish you hadn't made waves, teaching your daughter to read, continuing to practice your own religion. And when the Elder came to"--he coughed. –"you, you should have submitted like the other women. Instead of shooting him with that illegal revolver. There is no reason for civilized people to have guns. We have to appease people of other cultures. We have to respect all cultures except our own."
The woman said nothing
"God is Great!" the man said tiredly.
The woman stepped into the pit prepared for her and men eagerly buried her up to her head. The crowd cheered.
Then everyone stood back. The cop, who used to look like a Norman Rockwell cop, but who was now dressed in dirty robes over tattered fatigues, wanted to make the end fast for the woman. He showed her pity. He threw the first stone. Pin It Now!
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