The Interview

[short story by Sha’Tara]

          Brian adjusts his lapel mike and checks his recording equipment.  He speaks, Brian Hinksley Interview with David Burnside, January 12th, 2038.  The man sitting across from him gives him a bit of a crooked smile.

          Good morning, David.  I trust your hotel accommodations are to your liking?

          Good morning, Brian.  Yes, the hotel is quite over-the-top decadent.  I sleep on the floor as you know.  And I would never eat in that $100 a breakfast restaurant, so I walked around to a deli and fixed myself up a nice meal that cost under $20.  I warned you about wasting your money. 

          It’s not my money David, so don’t worry about it.  I know your habits but at the same time I didn’t want to appear cheap and nobody over here  but me would understand your ways anyway.  Shall we start then?

          By all means, let’s.

          Direct question to get things rolling: How often have you thought about changing the world, David?

          As far back in my life as I can remember.  I was raised in a dysfunctional religious family remember.  Corporal punishment was the rule, not the exception.  It was mandated, and given on a regular basis.  However I tried to do what was asked of me there would always be at least one thing that would guarantee a whipping.  Some failure as a child to accomplish two or three things at once as ordered would necessarily result in at least one failed attempt resulting in a beating from either parents.  When I got old enough to leave home I didn’t go into denial about the way I was treated.  No, I used my home life as an example of how it is for most people in this world; how they are treated by their elites.  And I was driven by the idea that something had to be done.

          So, what did you do, David?

          Nothing!  Absolutely nothing.  Oh I wanted to do something, almost anything, and there were quite a number of moves I could have made to place myself into a world changing position back in the days.  Lots was happening around me.  There was student unrest at home; the flower children “movement” if one can call it that, the Hippies with their own dysfunctional ways of tuning out the world of their parents.  There was war and violent revolution in many parts of the world.  Suppression of popular movements in dictatorial “empires” like the USSR and China of course.  Out on the seas there were the Greenpeace boats and the Sea Shepherd society blocking oil tankers or attacking whaling ships.  I had lots of choices in entering the world changing scene.

          But why didn’t you, David?

          That should be obvious to anyone with a smattering of history.  Certainly that is a question you could answer for yourself, Brian, being a journalist and having travelled all over the world for your stories.  Isn’t it obvious that none of those quests to change the world have been entered into by individuals, groups, movements and armies since history was recorded and if anything they have only made things worse?  Oh sure there are a great many people, usually with some sort of vested interest, who argue against this claim of mine.  They’ll point at a great number of modern civilization’s accomplishments and bandy that about as proof that all these efforts have borne fruit; that society is essentially better now that it has ever been.  But you and I know this isn’t true, don’t we Brian?

          I’m doing the interview, David, so why don’t we agree that I’ll ask the questions? 

          Ah yes, interview – business – not conversation, huh? 

          Well yes, this is business, like it or not, and you did agree to do this interview remember?

          Yes I did.  Let’s move on then. 

          OK, so the ways and means people have tried to change the world, according to you, have only made things worse.  Could you elaborate on that?

          I’m not going to quote you statistics, Brian, that’s your department.  But I will tell you this: how many major charitable organizations have escaped unscathed from rulings of massive corruption in management since the new world-wide UN regulations mandate that audits be done by non-aligned, non-partisan UN auditors? Not one, Brian.  How much has the massive expansion of private security companies made the world, or individual nations, safer for their citizens and their visitors or tourists?  How have expanding wars and our yearly growing list of destroyed and failed nations brought about global peace?  And how much of this turmoil has been made possible by technology combined with the advent of computers?  How does that square with the oft-quoted line that “the computer revolution” has made life better for the world, I have to wonder – I am phrasing this so it does come across as a series of rhetorical questions, you understand.  After all, you’re asking the questions…

          I’ve heard your acerbic humour in other interviews and some of the documentaries in which you were featured David and point taken.  Let’s move on to the meat of this interview.  If none of the things previously attempted to make this world a better place have succeeded, or to use your view, have only succeeded in making it worse, have you, in your mental ruminations and experience discovered something that may be of use to us should we decide, let’s say, that our world does need fixing and all our efforts to date have not worked?

          I may have, Brian.  There is something available to man whereby he may yet save himself from the doom he’s placed himself under.  Mind, it’s not something I’ve discovered, it’s something that’s always been available to every person on earth having reached the age of reason.  It’s certainly not esoteric knowledge that requires special intelligence or wisdom, quite the contrary.  It’s so common place that it has been rejected out of hand as impractical.  People considering the idea have shrugged it off thinking that if it were designed to be so effective it stands to reason that the great leaders and rulers of the world would have latched on the idea long ago.  That the great teachers and way showers would have taught it as of first, if not of the only importance.  But it has been completely ignored while other concepts much more open to corruption or gross misuse have been loudly and dutifully promoted in its place. 

          Let me give you a partial list of some of the concepts proposed that were meant to change man; to make him a better person and by that, to make his civilized world a better place for all.  Consider love as being at the top of this list of very popular ideas pushed forth to change man and his world.  On its heels, happiness, or should I say the pursuit of happiness.  Peace, another popular concept and definitely one that has always ended up near the end of the race.  Humility has also been proposed, but mostly to servants and slaves in relating to their masters, or their gods and by definition, their betters who it is understood have no need to display such a weak nature.  Kindness, usually relegated to women and their children, preferably girl children: what have red-blooded men and their male heirs to do with kindness when it can only weaken them?  Goodness, that being strictly attached to one’s own, one’s nationality, or towards “the poor” (don’t forget to put that in quotations, Brian) if in a carefully restricted way intended never to pull them out of their poverty.  Gentleness, again a virtue generally reserved for women in service to their men.  Ah yes, let’s not forget patriotism, and what a wonderful virtue that has proven to be.  Then there’s faith, particularly religious faith.  There’s a world changer for you but I doubt that except for the most brainwashed of individuals few would consider it’s effect upon this world to have been much of a salutary one.          

          So let me leave you with this thought, Brian: the one thing all of you need to think about seriously is the concept of compassion.  As you know  this has been the central point of my teaching, if one may call it that, and certainly the expression of my own life.  Once I made a decision to think and act in a compassionate way it behoved me to express the idea to others in such a way that they wouldn’t think of me as another odd-ball altruist; a religious self-flagellating crazy; a charismatic mystic dreaming of leading multitudes to counter the works of global social dysfunction or whatever labels your world would want to give me.  The “evil” (again I remind you to use quotations around that term when coming from me) within the Power workings of your world is adept at destroying the works of those who would counter it.  Any good it encounters it turns to some form of destructive evil, and claims its destruction as virtuous.  People are taken in because they believe they cannot see the future, or should not try to see it. 

          Here’s some re-hashed, modernized teachings the Matrix uses to keep people in mental lethargy as the pull of organized religion wanes planet-wide.  People are told to live in the present; that it is a present.  Unfortunately for those who become believers of this mindless exercise it’s a complete lie.  The present does not exist.  The whole teaching of it is an obfuscation; a forced denial of one’s life from one’s past and all the possibilities that are held in its future; a poisoned dart that kills the spirit.  There is nothing in the present, and here’s another lie of the Matrix: that having nothing in one’s mind is the ultimate wise choice for beingness.  That such a thought is both foolish and futile somehow never registers.  These vacuous concepts of now and present and nothingness create only powerless mind-zombies.

          But when you approach all of your life through compassion you find yourself energized.  You are no longer the innate selfish Earthian but a kind of angel of mercy to all those you interact with.  You become empowered to give; to heal, to understand but also to judge all things and know right from wrong, not from external sources but from within your own spirit.  You know what to say, and what to do and if there ever is doubt in a situation, you know to give rather than withhold, to free instead of holding on; to sacrifice yourself if need be; that your whole life is a transaction in giving and in which you are always controller and master; in which you express of your own and constant free will – by choice, a choice once made and endlessly renewed.   

          Well, thank you David.  An interesting view point, and not lost on many these days, based on the level of popularity you seem to have garnered.  Any final thoughts on that point?

          My personal popularity is one of the difficulties I have to deal with.  It’s not something I wanted but it is something I knew might happen if what I teach was to catch on.  I sometimes think of “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein and wonder about the parallels.  Fortunately for me I know the lures and the traps of such a path.  I seek neither popularity nor martyrdom, just to live an honest life within a difficult and demanding idea, or concept.  The goal for me is to be true to what I am.  What others see, what they get from it, what they do with it, that is entirely up to them, just as what you make of this interview is entirely up to you.

          You’re not going to hold me to writing what you said here word for word?  You’re allowing me the freedom to describe our interview as I see fit then?

          Absolutely Brian.  I hold no copyright on anything.  Write whatever you think is best for you.  Once I stop talking, the contents of this interview are yours, not mine.

          Thank you, David, and I mean that.  I need to ask, will you be staying the full four days at the hotel?  I need to know, for the paperwork. 

          Ah, no Brian.  Please tell them I’ve checked out.  From here I’ll be taking the bus back home.  And I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you about the accommodations but I had warned you I didn’t need them.  Thank you again.

          Oh, one more question I meant to ask, one that many have asked and you never answer.  How old are you, David?

          The balding man in the comfortable black work pants and grey sweat shirt smiles to reveal a mouth with very few teeth left in it.  He stands, as does Brian and neither men say anything more.  They shake hands near the set of automatic sliding doors which open wide then close with a definitive hiss behind the reclusive, nonagenarian David who walks out easily and casually into the morning sun towards the bus station.  


15 thoughts on “The Interview

  1. We come from dreams ~

    Valentine Michael Smith: “Thou art God.” Jesus Christ! Don’t let the Matrix folks hear that! They might implode! And since I’m waxing a tad verbose, by “God” I don’t mean the Old Guy in the Sky with the Beard, keeping book on everyine so he can throw them all into hell; I mean that part of us which really is eternal and divine by virtue of the innate compassion within us all that the Matrix wants to silence.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Any genuinely self-empowered being is by definition a sort of “Jesus Christ Super Star” and any such being would never make that awareness public. As David says in his interview, I do not wish to become a martyr. Martyrdom used to appeal to me but after encountering the Teachers I saw it for what it is: a dead end. Of course in the process of sharing troubling ideas with the biased and bigoted one can get shot, or otherwise meet her demise: happens all the time, but it is not sought for, it’s more like an accident. Of course I wonder about those, such as Kayla Muller and Rachel Corrie, who put themselves in harms way and were murdered by forces of repression while attempting to help the helpless, thus dying martyrs’ deaths. But of course I do not wonder about a war mongering nation that chooses to completely ignore the sacrifice made by these two American women in their compassionate efforts for peace. Which proves the Teachers right again: martyrdom is a dead end street. Since Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer more of Palestine has been taken over, bloodied, crushed, conquered by Israel. Kayla’s death at the hands of ISIS did not stop the madness in Syria, quite the opposite.

      1. We come from dreams ~

        If I have never come out and said so, I have my doubts that “Jesus of Nazareth” existed. What is buried behind all of the smoke and mirrors of ancient Christian texts is the figure of someone who knew what was what. Except ye shall become as a little child, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven; faith and hope shall pass away, but love shall never pass away; there is no fear in love. I think we have exchanged enough by now to understand that your compassion is a parallel trajectory of what we here call love.

        Martyrs? Ask Iehanne; although she brought France together at cost of her life, was it ultimately worth it? “Mais non! Les imbéciles vont encore à la guerre!”

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Compassion and love: parallel but completely unlike. Compassion can only give; love however only works through deals of reciprocity. Where love is asked to give and not receive back it leaves, or dies. Lehanne was moved by conflicting beliefs: too much “Church” and not enough self-empowerment. Too much feeling and emotion, not enough foresight. The “Church” would never let an individual look into her past, as in past lives, nor into the future so as to see the results and consequences of one’s acts. But though she was fooled by dangerous spirit entities and betrayed, she remains my heroine. That is one more aspect of “me” that shall never change.

  2. janebasilblog

    I’m impressed. I’ve been preaching compassion for years, while others preach love. Love is not the point – different people have different ideas of love, mistaking desire (for possession, physical gratification or whatever) for love, when in reality it is a pure, unselfish thing.
    Compassion is the only answer. Where it leads, all the other good stuff follows. You know that, and you’ve put your argument clearly and intelligently in this work of fiction. Fiction is a great tool, because it captures a different audience than non-fiction – an audience that may otherwise not be encouraged to think about the questions you raise.
    Respect to you – this is a great post.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you for that amazing comment. I was beginning to think no one could get that about compassion, how it is not love. Thanks again, looking forward to sharing more good stuff with you.

      1. janebasilblog

        Can I reblog it please – I want to pass on the message the way you’ve written it – although it seems less people read reblogs.

  3. Sha'Tara Post author

    I am happy to say, of course you can reblog – and I’ll repeat again, anything on my blog that I write is “public” property, to be used by anyone as they please, or see fit. So… reblog away, and my thanks!

  4. We come from dreams ~

    I see where some of the confusion lies – I think. We give. Reciprocation? Not us.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Ah, the on-going “debate” about the difference between love and compassion. If one thinks “love” one has to think exclusive relationship(s) and that means attachments are not only unavoidable but necessary for love to join the interested or committed parties. God has his people. A man has his wife; a woman has her lover; parents have their children; patriots have their nation; believers have their saviour; the miser has his money and so on through the swath cut by love’s passage. Compassion is the exact opposite: it only works through those who are detached from all (that “all” is crucial to understanding this) exclusive relationships; who are self-empowered; whose choice to be compassionate has but one source: the compassionate self. And though one may speak of compassion it only becomes real from someone’s consistent way of living thus. Another huge difference between love and compassion: love demands recognition for “being there” whereas compassion exists of itself, for itself and remains ever immune to self-serving recognition.

      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        Thanks for that comment. That’s what love was meant to be, I’m sure, but few realize this. How often I’ve heard the line, “Don’t you think if he really loved me he’d remember my birthday?” (or “our anniversary?”) or another one, “If you loved me you wouldn’t have looked at that woman the way you did…” So many ways people reveal the fact they don’t know what it should be to love, how to properly express love. I remember reading in catechism, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? But love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you…” which indicates that love is meant to be unconditional. OK so {smiling!} not everything I went through in my Catholic indoctrination was a complete waste of time. It had its redeeming moments. Love works for you, keep on keeping on!

  5. Lisa R. Palmer

    I love the way you present your practices in the form of an interview. It’s engaging and interactive, but not demanding. And it fills the voyeuristic need so many feel today… 😉

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks Lisa… we aim to please… just kidding. I try different approaches so as not to bore people, and also to take my story-writing mind out for a walk and some much needed exercise. Glad you liked the story.


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