The Guardians of Freedom Part VII
Greetings to all of you. I am Theodore Fluffington, or Superteddy, as some of you already know.
For those of you who do not yet know me, there are a few things that I will explain about myself. First of all, I am a living toy who exists just to make people happy. I was built by a race of beings who suspect that to be happy is all that any person ever really wants, though many people do not realize this about themselves because they do not consciously comprehend all of the complex, indirect and sometimes counterproductive ways in which that primal motivation manifests itself.
To help me fulfill that purpose for which they created me my constructors installed devices in my head that make it possible for me to see what is in the minds of other people, and also enable me to transmit my own thoughts into those minds. I am using those devices right now to communicate directly with every person who lives on this planet, to share with all of you the wonderful news that the last tyrannical government of your world has at long last been disbanded!
When I first arrived in this place several years ago I found a world in which many different gangs of people used various forms of force, violence and coercion to take whatever they want from the lives of other people, capriciously limiting the freedom of those victims in order to please themselves, which is the very essence of that abstract, conceptual thing to which I refer using human words like 'crime' and 'injustice'.
And also, to my shock and dismay I found that many of the people who objected in principle to this atrocious state of affairs actually chose to support it in certain instances. Even some of those characters who are called superheroes - who have pledged their lives to fight against such villainy - refused to protect the victims of this oppression when it was perpetrated by certain societal or governmental organizations.
In scanning the minds of you Earthlings I have discovered many different reasons why some of you have resisted the abolition of those tribal organizations that perpetrate such injurious, iniquitous, misery-inducing crimes against people. Most of you opposed this change out of a basic fear of the unfamiliar and unknown, or because you could not conceive of any way in which this change could be implemented without causing widespread turmoil and chaos, which would make this world an even more unpleasant place than it already is.
Others did so because you derived a psychological gratification and sense of pride from your patriotic support of one such state, or from your veneration of the founders of that state, whose original, personal intentions and choices in creating that country you wrongly assumed to have some inherent significance or bearing on how people in the present should live our lives.
Some of you had structured much of your ego around the notion that it is deeply and innately important for people to preserve and participate in the cultural traditions of your state or ethnic group, and so you initially refused to allow me to teach you to understand the baseless, insubstantial nature of such belief. And you blinded yourselves to all of the harm that such beliefs have caused to the people of this world. But most of you did eventually find the courage to face this reality, and after freeing your minds of such ideologies you joined the Earthly branch of the Sovocratic Alliance, which helped to free all the people of your world from the ancient tyrannies of those supposedly sovereign states.
Of course it has not been easy to transform the social structures of this world in such a significant way. And there has been a lot of controversy concerning certain aspects of this transformation, some of which still persists.
Perhaps the most difficult and controversial matter of all is the question of what exactly makes something a person, which is a most essential issue in any society that is based upon the idea of individual, personal sovereignty.
The Goo who created me understand personhood to be that quality which satisfies a particular equation which I do not know how to translate into any of the mathematical or verbal languages that you comprehend. One central element of that formula may be imperfectly and incompletely described by the word 'sapience', which refers to a being's capacity to think abstractly and consider its own existence, though it is not so simple as to say that a being is a person only when it is sapient. According to the parameters of this equation the quality of personhood continues to exist even when someone is in a deep, dreamless, temporarily non-sapient coma, and is present in a human-like being from the time that it is conceived as a single-celled, pre-sapient zygote
The majority of you now accept this idea that personhood begins in humans at conception and continues uninterrupted until the end of all sapient mentality, even though most of you possess a sensible skepticism of that unproven assertion - which makes me very proud of you, by the way, because none of us really knows whether or not that conclusion is correct - because you realize that you cannot be certain of when personhood does begin or end, and so you choose to respect the potential personhood of such a being at every possible opportunity.
This mention of the personhood of human zygotes has left some of you wondering what the Goo think about the act of terminating human pregnancies, most assuming that they must object to that practice because they believe that it ends the life of a fellow person. But that is an incorrect, oversimplified assessment of this complex issue.
To clearly comprehend this matter it is first essential to recognize that honoring a mother's choice to terminate her pregnancy by surgically separating her from the child is not at all the same thing as using some chemical or mechanical process to destroy the life of that child.
This basic fact has long been obscured and overlooked by people who refer to themselves as either 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice' - people who rely upon the incorrect assumption that each of these positions is the fundamental opposite of the other to mask their own anti-choice or anti-life inclinations, so that they can condemn a woman's decision to end her pregnancy in a manner that does not harm the child, or condone the practice of destroying a perfectly healthy, viable, partially-born baby just because she wants it to die. But most of you now realize the irrationality of that false dichotomy, and no longer tolerate any of its consequent atrocities.
You understand that the real issue arises in only those cases where people lack the medical technology necessary to abort a particular pregnancy in such a way that it will not cause some kind of injury to the child. In such cases the well-being of the mother may genuinely oppose that of the child, creating a conflict that can be resolved according to the same principles that allow our society to resolve any conflict between the wishes or well-being of two different, sovereign people.
Ordinarily one person is not required to sacrifice its own happiness to benefit another, but when a person is responsible for harming or endangering the well-being of someone else the freedom of that first person may be justly limited in order to mitigate or undo the damage caused by that initial injustice. So when the mother is responsible for putting the child into that position in which its well-being depends on her continued support she is obligated to continue to provide that support until that danger to her completely innocent victim is past, which means that she would not be allowed to terminate her pregnancy until the child is able to survive on its own.
But that conclusion does not resolve this matter completely, because of the fact that the child might be better off dead. Almost all of you now accept the practice of euthanasia, because you are not so horrifically cruel and devoid of compassion that you could want to deny a suffering person relief from its chronic torment. And for a person who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about such things for itself the choice to benevolently end its life would fall to its personal decision-proxies.
So even when they may not choose to terminate a pregnancy for their own sake the parents of an unborn child might decide to kill it, mercifully, in order to save it from an entire lifetime of suffering. But someone else must make that decision, of course, if all of those parents are unqualified to bear the responsibility of making such a choice. And perhaps paradoxically, anyone who would create a child when it believes that the best thing for a child is to not bring it into this world is almost certainly too dim-witted or too irresponsibly selfish to be the decision-proxy of a mentally incompetent person.
I see that a few of you are now thinking that this endorsement of euthanasia is evidence of my own anti-life sentiment. And you are not wrong about that. You are quite mistaken, however, if you assume that a person must choose either to be categorically in favor of or opposed to such things as the continuation of life, or the freedom of choice, or anything else, without exception and regardless of circumstance.
That is all that I am going to say about this subject, at this time, until I have had the chance to given some more thought to the matter. So I am going to move on now to another topic, also quite controversial, which also concerns the creation of children.
I am referring to the issue of how to limit the population of your world to a level that may be sustained comfortably by the Earth's limited natural resources. The economic system currently employed by the people of this world requires anyone who uses these resources during a particular period of time to pay into a fund that is then divided equally among all the people who live here, giving each person the means to obtain a share of resources that is equal to the average used per person. Once you gave up that primitive pretense that certain people own certain things most of you readily agreed with the basic sensibility of such a system. But then some disagreement arose over the way in which to deal with those people who make more people.
Some argued that the people who are responsible for increasing the world's population by creating a child must pay into the resource usage fund an additional amount of money, beyond that which they pay for their use of resources, equal in total to the amount that that child will receive as its share of the fund. In this way those innocent people who bear no responsibility for the creation of that child do not have their share of the total monies spent on the use of resources proportionately diminished.
Others argued that they should be able to make as many children as they wish without in any way compensating everyone else for the drain that these children put on this planet's finite resources.
As the citizens of Earth debated this issue a new race of people emerged, as most of you recall, evolving from a group of mutant marmosets. This species of Marmo Sapiens possesses an average intelligence equal to that of human beings, but despite their substantial intellect most of them lacked the foresight and sensibility to not overpopulate this planet. And due to their incredibly fast maturation and gestation rates they are able to produce a new litter of offspring every week.
Over the ensuing months their numbers grew exponentially. Vast, sprawling slums spread across the face of your world as generation after generation of very short-lived human-like people cast hoards of helpless children into miserable lives of supreme poverty. Though they each took very little from this world, because they had so very little to take, the cumulative consumption of these people began to severely tax the planet's resources, not only threatening the survival of their own species but endangering the welfare of humanity as well.
And then, finally, when confronted by the imminent disaster of this scenario, the vast majority of Earthlings were able to recognize the imprudence of allowing those people who make more people to do so at the expense of other people who already exist. So you agreed that the people responsible for creating each child will have to pay for the share of resource allocation monies that that child will receive, which has encouraged people to be more thoughtful and careful about their reproduction, and helped to reduce the population of sapient beings in this world to a more sustainable level.
That ends this substantial digression from my original topic of discussion. But I am not going to return now to that previous topic, because it is no longer necessary for me to explain the nature of criminal government and to rally you Earthlings to fight against such institutionalized villainy, which pleases me greatly, quite frankly, because I was getting rather tired of going on and on about that. And I can see that many of you are tired of hearing about it. So the remainder of this story will deal with other things.
At this time I believe that I can amuse most of you by relaying the tale of Samantha Becket. Of course I will stop transmitting this narrative to those of you who do not wish to hear it, as soon as I see in your mind the desire for it to end.
The first significant event in Samantha's life occurred on the day that she was born, when her biological parents were murdered. She was subsequently raised in a series of foster homes. In one of those homes she formed a very close friendship with another orphan. Then a little orphan boy with homicidal tendencies killed that friend, shooting her in the head with a slingshot stone right in front of Samantha.
In the years that followed this incident she did not see that killer again. During this time Samantha dedicated her life to the task of developing her physical and mental abilities, honing her skills as a detective and martial artist so that she would be well equipped to spend her life fighting crime. She studied and trained obsessively, neglecting all else, until she had pushed her body and mind to nearly superhuman levels.
Then she made a black and gray costume with a cape and pointy-eared mask, dressed up in that impractical attire, and set out into the night to fight the villains who prowled her city. From a rooftop perch she soon spotted a woman being mugged. As the assailant ran away she sprang into action, leaping down to land right in his path.
She hit the ground as she had practiced, in a way that would minimize the impact of that fall. And in doing so she shattered the bones in both of her legs. Then I happened to walk by and found her lying on the pavement. I called an ambulance and accompanied her to the hospital.
After the doctors were done operating on her I went to see Samantha and observed in her mind the belief that her obsessive training and complete devotion to the cause of heroism would somehow enable her to perform actions that exceed the basic limits of her human nature. She had picked up this notion from exposure to those intrinsically inconsistent stories where such things happen, which are told in many comic books and cartoons.
Some of you really like that kind of story, because it excites you to think that people just like you, without any extraordinary power, are able to routinely accomplish such dramatic and fantastic exploits. But unfortunately for Samantha, that author from whose mind I have scanned this particular story is one of those people who find it unamusing, somehow disappointing or even vaguely disconcerting when those characters who are supposed to not possess any superhuman ability are able to act as if they do. So he has set this tale in a reality where that does not occur.
When I shared this information with Samantha she initially resisted the understanding of its implication, saying to me that nobody knows exactly what it is possible for a human being to accomplish. I immediately responded to that objection by agreeing with it. Then I explained to her that even if it is true that we are living in a universe where nothing is truly impossible, there are still some possibilities that she just does not know how to manifest as reality through the operation of her human body and mind.
Then she allowed herself to comprehend what I was saying, and became very upset. So I tried to cheer her up by reminding her that she can still be a hero as a normal human being. She can even be a superhero, if that is what she wants to call herself. She just can't be a superhuman hero. So she must find some other way to fight crime, using whatever abilities she actually does possess.
After that she asked me to leave, because she wanted to get some rest. And then she was taken to undergo a new, experimental form of medical scan, during which a sudden power surge caused the machine to emit an unusually high level of radiation that excited the molecules in the contrast die that had been injected into her body, causing that chemical to mutate her DNA and restructure her neurons, giving her an incredible superhuman ability.
I can see that many of you find that sudden, extraordinary occurrence to be quite farfetched, and almost absurdly contrived. And I certainly do agree with that assessment. But I also recognize that this preposterous occurrence does not contradict its own basic premise in any way. So it does not disappoint or disconcert me at all. In fact, I find such a ridiculously implausible and comical turn of events to be quite amusing.
On the day after that accident Samantha picked up a cup of water from the table next to her bed, bringing it to her lips to take a drink. As she sipped from that cup it slipped from her fingers and spilled all over her. In that instant she instinctively wished that she could somehow stop herself from having that accident. And then a rainbow of swirling colors obscured her vision while a quiet buzzing sound filled her ears. She smelled and tasted something that reminded her of blueberries, and felt as if all of her skin had been wrapped up in a cocoon of silky, soft fur.
That odd experience ended after an indeterminate period of time. Then Samantha noticed that everything around her was precisely as it had been in the moment before she lost her grip on that cup. The only noticeable difference in the state of the universe between these two moments was that this time she possessed a memory of having that accident, which enabled her to avoid it.
Samantha then tried to repeat this strange experience, and succeeded. After a bit of experimentation she concluded that she has the power to rewind time, returning everything in the universe except for her own mind to a previous state.
But she does not really have such immense power. In fact, her capacity to affect the condition of reality is no greater than that of a normal human being. But there is a very significant difference in how her mind works, and how she perceives her existence, which is the basis of her incredible ability.
It turns out that the accident in that scanning machine destroyed all of the connections between the cells of her nervous system, and made it possible for them to form virtual synapses by stimulating each other with pulses of some form of energy for which you Earthlings have no name. All of the mental functions that form the contents of her mind are now produced by this dynamic, immaterial brain-construct that is formed by the energy synapses created spontaneously, as needed, by her physical nerve cells. This extraordinary mind is able to create large quantities of thought very quickly, processing each second of experienced time in only a fraction of a real second.
Samantha's virtual brain does not receive any signals from her sensory organs, nor send any neural impulses out to the tissues of her body. Instead she experiences her existence using a kind of mental radar sense. At each moment her mind projects a portion of its energy in a pattern that represents her reaction to what she is experiencing, as a typical brain would transmit nervous impulses and release messenger chemicals into the body. And then that mental signal reflects off of the elemental waveform of all energy potentials that exist at that moment, which encompasses the unrealized states of every possible future that she might create with the actions that she could perform between the actual present and that future moment.
When the echo of this projection returns to her it carries with it all of the information that normal human senses would detect in the future moment that will come to exist if she performs the actions that are represented by the projections that she has made. As her brain receives this information Samantha's consciousness experiences the events of that potential future as if they are actually happening. And in each moment of real time the residue of all the energy that she has projected in the past stimulates her muscles and other tissues so that they carry out those actions that she believed she was performing when sensing this moment.
When Samantha wishes to change something that she has experienced her brain emits an interference pattern that nullifies some of the energy that she previously projected, so that it will not cause her to perform the actions that would result in the occurrence of that undesirable future. She then begins to experience the future that will occur if she makes some different choices, influenced by her knowledge of the consequences of those previously explored options, starting at the point in time to which she wished to return.
For the sake of convenience and clarity I have explained Samantha's actual ability at this point in the narrative, but I did not learn about it until the next time that I visited my native dimension, where it is possible to see many things that are not apparent in a place such as this. The temporal constraints of this dimension make it impossible for my mind-scanner to detect any thoughts, memories, or perceptions that were formed in her mind after she experienced the events of the present moment, which means that from here it looks to me as it does to her, as if she experiences each moment when it occurs and has the power to move her consciousness back in time to change past events.
After recovering from her injuries Samantha adopted the name Flashback, replaced her original costume with a simpler, less ostentatious outfit, and promptly resumed her life as a fighter of crime.
A few days later she and my friend Devon Walker - the hero called Monstrosity - went out to search for criminals to apprehend. Around midnight they discovered a man lurking in a dark, dead-end alley, peering into the bedroom window of an apparently unsuspecting woman.
Before confronting this prowler Monstrosity formed some of the amorphous tissue in his back into several insect-like creatures, each approximately six inches in length and possessing a large, round, translucent abdominal section. These creations crawled out from between the plates of his exoskeleton and flew into the alley, stopping to hover right above that suspicious figure. Then their abdomens each began to glow with the brightness of a 100-watt incandescent light bulb.
In the light from those giant fireflies Samantha was able to recognize that prowler as the person who had murdered her friend many years before. He recognized her, as well. Then, smirking, cruelly, he taunted her by asking how her dead friend was doing, pretending that he did not know that she had died long ago from that sling shot.
Flashback clenched her fists and began to slowly advance toward that man, followed a moment later by Monstrosity. As they approached he drew a knife from his pocket and threatened to stab them if they came any closer. The smaller, more agile Guardian lunged at him, deftly grabbing the wrist of the hand that held that knife, and twisted, causing the weapon to fall from his grip. At the same time the larger one created a little lizard-like organism from the tissues of his hump. The creature crawled over to that man and bit him in the leg while he wrestled with Flashback, injecting paralytic venom that rendered him immobile. Then Monstrosity created some very large spiders that bound him from the neck down in a cocoon of their webbing.
Once their adversary had been defeated Flashback walked over to the other end of the alley, picked up a rock, and advanced on that helpless murderer with the intent of killing him for his crime. As she did so her companion came toward her, reached out a massive, unyielding arm to block her path, and asked what she thought that she was doing.
"Just taking out the trash," she said, and then she ducked underneath that giant arm and ran toward her intended victim. In that instant Monstrosity gestured at his lizard creation in a motion that indicated that he wanted it to bite something, and then he pointed at Flashback. As soon as the lizard saw that signal it pounced on the ankle of its designated target and delivered a paralyzing bite.
When she felt her muscles seize up and saw herself falling to the ground Flashback decided that she did not want that to happen, so the events that I have just described to you with that last sentence did not really occur. They are merely one possible sequence of events that she experienced before deciding to not perform the actions that would lead to that undesired outcome.
I had initially considered the possibility of telling these parts of the story with a verb tense that would have immediately conveyed their potential yet unrealized nature, but I decided that it might be less confusing and perhaps more amusing to relay them as events that seem to occur before Flashback decides to make them unreal.
In a flash of indistinct sensory perception she returned her awareness to the moment before that venomous little creature bit her. She then sidestepped the attack and continued forward until she had reached her target. There she raised that rock above her head, ready to commit murder. Just then Monstrosity launched a flying needle that impaled her in the side, causing her to drop that weapon and fall to the ground.
But that didn't happen either, because after experiencing the pain of getting stabbed by that living projectile Flashback decided to return to a moment before she picked up the rock. This time she casually crossed over to the immobilized captive, giving no sign of her violent intention, and waited until the other Guardian looked away for a moment. Then she brutally stomped that man in the head, repeatedly, until he was dead.
When Monstrosity turned around and saw what Flashback had done he was at first too shocked to speak. After several long seconds he managed to sputter out a single word, "Why?"
"Because that worthless piece of human garbage deserves to die for what he did," she answered, angrily.
"I do not think that you actually believe that," he replied, calmly, trying to sooth his sense of horror with an unemotional, analytical response. A moment later he continued by saying, "You understand as well as I do that what you have just said is not a factual statement. It is merely an excuse that some people tell themselves to justify their own vengeful desire to kill murderers."
Flashback frowned when she heard those words, because she did in fact comprehend that there is no known, objective, realistic basis behind the idea that certain people deserve certain things. But in the next instant she shoved that awareness out of her consciousness, choosing to pretend that she had killed than man because he deserved that fate, rather than admitting that she had done so to indulge her own malevolent desire to punish him for what he had done.
An entire minute passed without any response from Flashback. Then Monstrosity spoke again, begging her to undo what she had just done. But she refused, insisting that the life of her victim is utterly worthless, and should be ended.
In an attempt to convince her otherwise he began to tell her the story of another hero, called Void, who had also become a murderer after suffering a devastating personal tragedy. He told her about how I had discovered what Void was doing and used a drug to keep him asleep, so that he could not harm anyone else, and that I had periodically projected an image of myself into his dreams in an attempt to rehabilitate him.
Eventually Void decided that he wanted to be free of the chemical prison that kept him locked inside of his own imagination, which would not happen until he had given up his murderous ways. So I allowed him to wake, having seen the sincerity of his intent to reform. Then he used his ability to project fields of null-energy to alter his brain, targeting that power on the neurological patterns of all of the emotional responses that he had developed over the course of his life, annihilating those patterns in order to exterminate the tormented, malevolent, homicidal part of his psyche.
That returned him to a state of complete emotional innocence, in which I was able to teach him the pleasure of kindness and compassion by projecting into his open mind images of the happiness that people like me experience when we play with each other benevolently. Once he had learned that lesson he decided that he wanted to be a hero again, and since then has done many things to increase the happiness of other people.
After listening to that story Flashback told Monstrosity to quit wasting his breath, because she wasn't going to change her mind about what she had done, no matter what he said. Then she ran away from him.
A few days later she learned that the killer who she had killed had recently kidnapped another person. That sadistic murderer had locked up his latest captive in a large, airtight room where she would slowly suffocate to death. And then he had sent a note to her parents, telling them that their daughter was still alive but that nobody would find her in time to save her.
It then occurred to Flashback that by murdering that criminal she had helped to doom his last victim, because if she had captured him alive I could have looked into his mind and found the information necessary to rescue her. In that moment she admitted to herself that there is no justice or prudence in the act of killing killers when there are other means of protecting people from them, because the life of even the most vicious murderer can still have some kind of value.
So she projected a pattern of mental energy that prevented her from committing that crime. She refocused her perception as far back as she could, returning it to the moment of actual present, in which she raised her booted foot above the skull of the man who had killed her friend. In that moment she chose to not become a murderer.
Then she and Monstrosity brought their captive to me, arriving here to find me playing with an incarnation of my buddy Jakinda. I briefly scanned the mind of that man and found the location of his final victim. Then Flashback went to rescue her while Monstrosity carried him off to the nearest facility where dangerous people are detained in order to prevent them from harming anyone else. And after they left I turned all of my attention back to the delightful task of petting and pleasing my most beloved friend, who experiences exquisitely pleasurable feelings of exhilaration and joy when I tickle her, which I like to scan more than anything else in this whole world.
The next day was Donation Day, on which those residents of Earth who are fortunate enough to have more than they need are asked to give a portion of their monetary resources to the Social Services arm of the Sovocratic Alliance, so that it can employ people to carry out its many different functions, such as paving roads and putting out fires, catching criminals, and assisting individuals in times of need. I have received a substantial income from my employment as a temporary caretaker of those who cannot take care of themselves and from my share of the donations that fans have given to support my band Flufftopia, and I have very few material needs and expenses, so I donated a rather large amount of money to fund that organization, which I am happy to do because I understand that its existence makes my life much easier, safer, and generally more enjoyable.
After that I went to visit Clarence Dillwater, another friend of mine, who had come to live in this dimension after the traumatic experience that had briefly turned him into a violent, crusading religious zealot. He had come here to get away from the environment in which he had suffered that trauma, and also because he wanted to be able to frequently converse with me about what he had gone through.
Since arriving here he had started taking medication that stopped him from hearing that disembodied voice that had urged him to kill certain people, after I reassured him that if it really was the voice of an omnipotent God who wanted to talk to him then a few little pills wouldn't be able to stop It from doing so. Then those symptoms subsided, and he was able to recognize how his sick, fearful, delusional mind had tried to appease itself by creating those troublesome beliefs about a bloodthirsty deity named Reginald.
When I reached the apartment building where he lives I found Clarence outside, trying to calm down a very drunk, agitated and belligerent woman who had been assaulting someone on the street. The woman attacked Clarence when he tried to talk to her, and he quickly subdued her, binding her hands behind her back with a pair of cuffs that he brought with him from that future era in which he will be born. But even then she continued to struggle, trying to pull her hands free of those restraints, which caused them to deliver a shock that stunned her, mildly. In her inebriated state she was undeterred by that shock and continued to struggle against the cuffs, triggering an even more powerful stun pulse that dropped her to the ground.
A few seconds later she recovered from that second jolt, rose to her feet and rushed at Clarence with the intent to bowl him over. Before she reached him he had a thought that triggered his hat to send a signal to the cuffs, causing them to deliver an even stronger pulse which knocked that irrationally irate woman unconscious. Then some police officers arrived and he turned her over to their custody.
As the two of us began to walk back toward his apartment I heard a woman in the crowd that had gathered to witness this spectacle proclaim that it should be illegal to create or consume any alcoholic beverage. With a scornful shake of her conceited head this woman - who had made the personal choice to abstain from drinking alcohol - said that people who drink for recreational purposes are a bunch of weak-willed degenerates who need to be protected from their own immoral choices. Then she went on to encourage everyone within earshot to support a campaign to enact and enforce a law that would call for anyone who is caught in possession of that substance to be locked up in a little cage alongside some truly violent criminals.
She did not have any genuine concern for the well-being of those drinkers, despite her adamant claims to the contrary, as is evident from the utterly insensitive, potentially very harmful nature of what it is that she suggested that her society should do to them. But she tricked herself into believing that her intentions really were benevolent by myopically focusing on the idea that alcoholics would be better off if they were forced to stay away from that drug. And she willfully ignored her own awareness of what history can teach us about all of the bothersome, tragic, and sometimes even horrific consequences that drug prohibition has, directly and indirectly, on many people, both users and non-users.
Just then the original victim of that drunk lady's ire - a man who uses alcohol responsibly and in moderation - walked over to the one who was speaking, pointed at Clarence, and interrupted her diatribe by saying, "I sure am glad that there are people like him to protect people like me from people like her." At that point he nodded toward his assailant, and then he looked right into the eyes of the woman to whom he was speaking, holding her gaze for a brief moment with a piercing, intense glare before concluding, "And from pompous, meddlesome fools like you, too."
While he said that I transmitted many images into her mind, showing that woman what her despotic, domineering thoughts looked like through my metaphoric eyes. I showed her how her belief that morality and propriety are real things is just one excuse that she uses to justify her own selfish desire to act in ways that please and gratify her at the expense of other people. And I showed her that she is not only a perpetrator but also a victim of the harm caused by such beliefs.
I also projected into her psyche some of the images that I have seen in the minds of those who abandon that kind of thinking. I allowed her to see the delightful sense of liberty and inner freedom that people find when they release themselves from the shackles of their miserable, prideful, hurtful, tyrannical beliefs. And I showed her the deep sense of satisfaction and joy that a person like me finds in its choice to believe that the real, simple happiness of people matters more than any philosophical code or concept of righteousness.
As she contemplated these images she realized that she had given up the hope of being truly happy in this life, and had sough solace for this wretched condition in the idea that there is a God who wants all people to sacrifice their own Earthly happiness for the sake of serving It. Through that belief she was able to take out her anger, bitterness, and frustration on other people, and also her feelings of jealousy, making herself feel just a little bit better by condescendingly condemning their fun and trying to ruin it. And then it occurred to her that when she chooses to allow such ideas into her mind they infect her with their unkind, anti-happy essence, leading to thoughts and actions that severely hinder her own ability to enjoy the pleasant parts of life, ultimately bringing her more misery and discontentment than they alleviate.
That opened her mind to the profound, life-altering realization that she really does want to think like me, Superteddy, which she then decided to do, because she finally understood that that is what is best for everybody.
Once that matter had been resolved Clarence and I continued on to his residence, where we sat on a very comfy couch and began to talk about his recent experience with delusional religious certainty. During that conversation he mentioned that he had been thinking a lot about Pascal's Wager, which is a philosophical premise that is based upon the idea that even though nobody actually knows if there is a God it makes sense to live one's life as if there is because the benefit of being right in that assumption is infinite while the cost of being wrong is nothing.
Clarence told me that when he had been a believer he had used this concept to confuse and dismiss his own barely-conscious recognition of the fact that he could not really be certain about such things, because it allowed him to acknowledge the existence of that uncertainty while convincing himself that it is reasonable for a person to act as if such uncertainty does not exist.
But since then he has come to recognize that this premise is seriously flawed, because it is based upon an unverifiable and possibly false assumption about the cost and benefit of that theoretical wager. He stated that we cannot be certain what the real price or gain will be for any of the various assumptions that a person might make about the existence of God, and then suggested that if a God does exist It might actually look most favorably upon a person who honestly admits its own ignorance of such matters and refuses to make such a calculated yet uninformed bet with its life.
"Or it might not even matter to God what we decide to believe about It," he concluded. After a moment of consideration he added, "If there is such a being, who cares about people even half as much as you do, Teddy, then It would probably also choose to do whatever It can to please us, ultimately, no matter what we think or do."
I told Clarence that I could not think of any plausible reason why It would make any other choice. Then my mind-scanner detected his desire to end that serious, philosophical conversation so that we could spend our time together playing the new Guardians of Freedom video game instead. And at that same moment - not in the least bit coincidentally - I decided that I would also prefer to play that game with him.
Meanwhile, just a few miles away, on the other side of the city the Guardian called Blooper patrolled the streets, looking for people to protect, as she has done almost every day since she abandoned her villainous quest for revenge against all of those scoundrels who played a role in the lawful abduction and subsequent murder of her friend Arthur. She is driven to do so by remorse for the innocent life that she took during that vengeful rampage, even though she understands that these heroic actions will not undo the crimes that she committed - as no Earthly action can ever undo that terrible injustice that was so rudely and insensitively perpetrated against both this child and that kindly, affectionate man whose playful company once brought her to heights of indescribable ecstasy.
Later that evening she spotted the large, crystalline boy known as Facet sitting on some steps at the intersection of two streets, in the company of two other people. Just then someone else walked by. Facet rose to his feet and came down to approach that passerby, followed a moment later by his companions.
"What's the rush?" he asked his prey as that man tried to dodge around him and hurry away.
"Yeah," one of the other gang members said. "Don't you have time to stop for a friendly little chat?"
"We might get the idea that you don't like us very much if you try to run off without making an effort to be sociable," the other one joined in, shaking his head and snickering with a predatory grin on his face.
Facet and the others continued in this manner, taunting that victim with subtle threats and sardonic commentary. Their stated plan was to steal whatever material goods he had in his pockets, but it was a desire for psychological rather than financial gain that really motivated this assault. Each hoped to bolster his paltry, feeble sense of self-worth by gaining the approval and admiration of his belligerent companions.
Blooper quickly approached that small crowd and told his attackers to leave that man alone. When she did that they turned their aggression and hostility on her, moving away from their original victim and confronting this person who dared to stand up to them.
One of them reached out to grab Blooper, mistaking her for a defenseless little girl who he could bully and harass in order to vent his own angry, shameful sense of personal deficiency, choosing to hide those feelings of worthlessness from himself behind a facade of powerful dominance. A moment later he regretted that decision, when she exhaled a cloud of very hot bloop gas right into his face. Then she turned that bloop into a wall that blocked those hooligans from reaching her.
Facet jumped high into the air, over that wall, coming down behind Blooper. He immediately turned around, raised his hand and blasted at her with a bolt of energy sparkles. As he did so she continued to exhale bloop, which she formed into a shield to deflect that attack.
When Blooper turned around to face Facet the other assailant - the one who was not curled up on the ground, clutching his scalded face - pulled a gun out of his pocket. He then stepped to the side of that protective wall and tried to shoot her in the back, not knowing that she could see what he was doing through her mental connection to the bloop that remained behind her. She formed some of that substance into a sticky, gelatinous ball that caught the bullet, and then she moved that mass to cover the gun and hands of the shooter, using some more of the stuff to bind his feet as well.
Then the shimmering, translucent one rushed at her, knocked aside the shield that floated between them, and with all of his prodigious strength swung his fist at her face.
The mask of bloop that Marcia wears while acting as a superhero solidified and pushed back against the attack, dissipating most of the energy from that blow as it shattered to pieces. Consequently, that punch did not decapitate my friend when it landed but only knocked her down and bruised her cheek. She then used her costume of bloop to lift herself up off of the ground and into the air. She also formed a net out of that exotic blue substance, wrapped it around Facet and then used it to carry him off to a place where the two of them could spend a few minutes alone together.
Blooper lacked my power to see exactly what Facet was thinking, but I had told her many of the things that I learned about him during our last encounter - about the awkwardness that he felt when socializing with other people, and his frustrated desire for any kind of friendship - and she was observant and astute enough to correctly guess the psychological motivation behind his malevolent behavior. So she told him that he does not have to act like a jerk to make friends, and explained that those people who hold him in high regard for how viciously he abuses others probably don't really care about him, which he already suspected to be the case.
She told him that if he could manage to really like himself for who he is and who he chooses to be then he would not be so desperate for approval that he is willing to settle for the shallow admiration of violent criminals. She then revealed to him that he is one of the most brilliant, beautiful things that she has ever seen, which mentally shocked Facet.
After a few seconds of stunned silence he bashfully confessed to her that he thinks that he looks really weird and ugly. That hesitant, courageous revelation touched her metaphoric heart, deeply, filling it with intense feelings of compassion and sympathy. Then she smiled at him, tenderly, and said that no matter what his physical appearance may be he can still have a nice, friendly, benevolent personality, which would make him beautiful, to her, in a metaphysical but not at all superficial way.
Facet thought that Blooper is very beautiful in a conventional, corporeal sense, and was deeply impressed by her kindness and faith in someone who had recently tried to bash in her skull with his bare hand. He felt a very strong inclination to impress her, and to win her approval, and also wanted to just be near her. So he decided to join her in this fraternity of heroes that we call the Guardians of Freedom.
After that they went to converse with the other members of that gang about the possibility of giving up their criminal ways. Then they came here and told me all about what had happened that night.
I subsequently returned to my native dimension, with the help of that friend who dropped me into this world. There I entertained some of the Goo with a bunch of stories about the wacky and bizarre adventures of you silly Earthlings, and learned what I now know about the power of Flashback. Then I came back here to tell this tale to all of you.
A few of you who understand the usual limits of my abilities are now wondering how I have been able to broadcast this story to every single person on the planet. The answer to your unspoken question is that I am utilizing that rare, extraordinary gem which we took from the tyrant called Empress when we defeated her in a parallel dimension, which is allowing me to temporarily borrow the strength of many other people. By lending me a portion of their vital energy these individuals have increased the power of the signals from my thought-projector and mind-scanner by many orders of magnitude, enabling those transmissions to reach every corner of this world, so that our message of freedom and happiness can be known to all.
And now that the message has been delivered I will encourage you all one last time to choose to be as happy and benevolent as you can be. I can see that many of you find this world full of irritating untickles, persistent pains and injustices to be very scary, upsetting, infuriating, and disheartening, but I encourage you to not let these things overwhelm you, or distress you any more than is absolutely necessary, because such feelings don't make anything better. Instead, make the choice to be a member of the Sovocratic Alliance, if you have not done so already, and encourage others to join us, as well, then take solace and hope from the knowledge that this organization exists to protect us all from such unpleasant things.
As for those of you who still choose to be miserable and cruel and villainous, I leave you all with my most dire warning that I will hunt you down, and eventually I will catch you. And then, when you are finally in my clutches, I will do everything in my power to tickle you, tirelessly and relentlessly, in whatever way suits you best, until you smile and laugh with irrepressible delight and decide that you really would prefer to be a nice, kindly, metaphorically fluffy person, as all the descendants of the human race will someday become.
Now I will say goodbye to all of you. And after completing this sentence I will turn off those devices that have allowed me to share thoughts with every person in this world, ending our mental connection so that I can stop draining energy from those generous and very helpful people who have given me the power to make this global communication possible.
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