My Revolution: Part 4

I came of age in a time of no heroes. In a city full of streets and buildings named for people we thought were our heroes. Decades of men and woman came and went with no regard for what it truly meant to be the full-hearted salvation of another. As a child, I looked to the stories of my ancestors to find heart and inspiration for the life I would lead. When the fullness of adulthood came it was not what I expected. The heroes could not be found among those who ran our society. In the logic that adulthood afforded me I found that the people I looked to for hope of a brighter future, were only lit well in photographs, or boasted to an epic degree. Their stories guided my past. My parents used them to ignite a fire in me. I was to use the power of their legacy to break the bonds that enslaved us all. I was to use the false prophets for the greater good. I discovered early on I had a robust conscience for the truth. Perhaps this is the lesson I learned form their fiction. Their lies were not as important as the truth they pretended to be. I carried out of adolescence the truth of who we are and the truth of the one thing that guides every free soul in the universe. At the core of every human, even those bonded by their own hands, is liberty. It drives the soul and sparks the mind.

Setting out into this world, I needed to make my own future. I needed to rise up on my own feet and cast down the falsified gods history made them out to be. The first steps into the light had to be my own, and knowing the truth of all the heroes, I would fight for a future for all of us. It is my will to shed the past and become a true hero for those in need. When I left the bonds of my family I decided one thing will guide me. It’s a motto I will carry into each new experience and a source of my own power. ‘Burn the chair, stoke the fire.’ This gauge would be used many times to show me what needed to be changed and who was deserving of a routing. It was a road sign to keep me driving forward, shining a light on those who were not our salvation, but instruments of our collective disquiet. I would see the chair in a literal symbol or a complacent commander of men. The fire I lit myself and used it to light the truth for all to see.

The first fire I lit was the first in a long line of freeing sparks. They asked me to stop. They wanted me to find another way. But, showing people the library they fed on was itself a shield, was far more important.

One October morning I set out as I did every day. On the train I saw the mindless and the sleepless making their way to the city center. We passed Le’Donna Station, named for a one time liberator and often times murderer. The next station was mine. Ladies of Dayton Station, named for bakers who fed children starved from the cost of wheat. I exited the train with bag in tow along with dozens of other commuters; we spied our surroundings in the dark, dimly lit, underground station. Keep an open eye and a loud voice, a poster on the platform read. None of the passersby acknowledged the warning. They were all too busy looking out for themselves.

I exited the station to see a cloudy sky that would soon have a darker cloud added to it. However, I didn’t know that when I stepped onto Colonel Brightsmyth Boulevard. The building where I worked was addressed 90515 Eli Cooke Court. It was so, to commemorate the April day a mistake turned to a heroic moment in our lauded history a couple of dozen years before. My work day was full of the usual issues, and texts needing approval, as any other day. The event that would change my life awaited me but didn’t reveal itself until it was time.

As my work would often require, I needed to go to the city’s central library to look up historic climate records. I made my way out of the office building to Winston E. Huffington Memorial Library a few blocks away. It was interesting to name a library after a man who died defending the right to censor its contents. When I arrived I signed the usual book and handed my identification to the guard who could only dream of being remembered in engraved sign or stone. In the basement archives I stood amongst dusty folios and records befitting a computer’s database, if not for the restrictions on information. I needed records as far back as the room could hide them.

It was in a dark corner I discovered what would become the first steps I would take in my grand purpose. The wall behind the last cabinet was warped and molded. I remembered reading about the time when the library was built. Building materials were hard to come by and an open society was feigning its birth. I pushed a finger into the soft plastered wall and it gave way. The facade crumbled and poured down onto my feet. Buried and stacked into the wall, into every wall of the library, were all the books banned from reading. It was every book and religious text the library decided the populous didn’t need to know. There were all manner of insight and flourish of the human spirit.

The books were locked away like the minds of the citizenry in their encouraged stupor. The books we all thought were forgotten were quietly encased in a library of sanctioned and authorized media. To be seen destroying the status-quo-endangering books would bring too many questions from the citizens, like before. To ditch them in a landfill or an archive would allow them to fall in the hands of free thinkers. I clutched at several more walls in the basement to see more crevasses bursting with literature. I ran upstairs and came across a workmate heading for the basement. I stopped him since I knew he of all the people I interacted with on a daily basis would be able to hear me out.

“There are books in these walls,” I said.

“Yes, we’re in a library Matt,” he smiled back.

“No. Inside the walls are all the books we heard stories about. The things people created before the Reclamation.”

“What are you talking about?” He urged us both to the side so we didn’t draw attention in the large hallway.

“All of these books and computers here in the open,” I pointed to the central stacks and the people focused on their monitors, “are all ordered and made by the government presses. They are all the lies they have fed us for years. Inside the walls are the real books. The ones people spent years creating and that our government spent months hiding.”

He stood in silence for a moment then spoke the words I wanted to hear. “But what can we do about it?”

I did want to hear those words, but not his tone. He had a lack of spark. He wouldn’t continue on my purposed journey with me. Reluctantly, I told him what I was thinking.

“We need to show people the lie of this library. For all sakes, this building is named for the guy who got trampled because he stood in the way of censorship protestors. He figuratively and literally wouldn’t get out of their way.”

“I don’t know how we can do that. They have the resources now to hide the books. They could just close for renovation and remove everything. No questions asked.” He spoke with concern for my wellbeing. I was not going to last long with sedition on my tongue.

“Then we need to destroy the library and what it stands for, and what it stands on.” I said with more vigor. “If we burned the center stacks it will collapse the wood columns in the middle exposing the walls outside.”

My coworker, wide-eyed, stared at me with silence.

“The books might get destroyed but how many city libraries were built like this one?”

“I can’t do this. I have to go.” He started to draw away from me but I held his arm back.

“How many libraries?” I asked his heart.

“All of them built during the reclamation.” He replied.

We both knew I was right. The fire here would shine a light on the crimes against knowledge. People throughout the country would see the reports of the fire and live news teams would see what the firemen responding saw. A library with burned and crumbling walls full of books we let slip from our culture’s memory. They would go to their own city’s library and tear at the walls to see what they’ve been missing. I decided to act.

I lit that fire and many others since. In some cases I fed the voice of a crowd gathered around injustice. At times it was an actual fire of the government’s immoral documents or buildings of subjugation. Other times, the fire was already smoldering in the group that lay in front of the war department, where I added my weight. Each time I added to the revolution, I felt liberty growing in the hearts of the people who followed me into the dark with their lights. Whether by cell phone or flashlight, by vote or footstep, we all had a voice, powered by that one thing that was always inside our hearts and warming our souls, liberty. Our revolution born from the failed and flawed one before, was in our own hands. We liberated ourselves and our free society would be realized at last.