One night my conscience challenged my rational mind, to a dual. The only way it could, in a dream. I did not realize this was the source of the dream until well into the game.
The game began with simple rules.
‘Empaths'(non-psychopaths) were to be tested. The object of the game was to demonstrate that ‘the conscience’ was too fragile to be a primary force in the real world. That the coherence of society was just momentum. The momentum of complex multi generational knowledge transfer.
It was set in an abandoned building surrounded with clearing and then wilderness.
The rules were as follows.
- The empaths had to be, and act like, children. In other word the quality or power of their emotional quotient (EQ) was the only factor for their internal morality. They were under developed and had little or no experience dealing with terror, starvation, and lack of other base needs. Kids were around age eight to ten.
- The empaths had no resources. (food, water, rest) All resources had to be taken from other empaths.
- I would be the only adult empath. The only fully developed conscience in the entire game.
- There were many children, at least eight.
- There would be rational actors. Enforcers, and one young adult talker, my counterpart. The talkers role was to explain the rules to the children and myself, and call enforcers if the rules weren’t followed. He clearly wanted to win. He spoke aggressively and struck fear in all.
- I could not physically interfere. I had enough talent to fight and beat the enforcers (numerous and robotic in reaction, with some exploitable handicaps), but not with a panicked child in tow. I could only convince the children, I couldn’t drag them.
- Two children were ordered to kill each other each night. The winner was then paired up with another child the next night.
- I had once resource. A plant grew that would restore my health for one day but make me hallucinate 10% of the time. Cumulative. It was fatal poison to children.
- I had to save more than one child to win.
I won on the second night.
How many children died?
One. The first two children were selected and threatened by the talker. I used every trick I knew to convince the first child(let’s call him Angel) not to fight, but terror of the unknown convinced Angel he had to kill to survive as directed.
I convinced his first designated victim/opponent (Charles for simplicity) not to fight. Charles did not subconsciously understand the problem, or had exclusively positive experiences with adults, and trusted me. This was done in earshot of Angel. Once Once Charles’s commitment to non-violence and escape was obvious Angel acted. While being egged on by the talker, Angel killed Charles with a provided sword.
I was distraught. I had failed to save the second child. The first had done something terrible. Angel ate and slept, and I wept.
I ate some plant to retain my strength of mind. The hallucinations reinforced my sense of urgency.
When he woke, I continued to try and convince Angel he was was wrong after the first death and failed. The other children, who were in earshot, became convinced that he couldn’t be swayed. His commitment to death was now an unstoppable force. Without speaking, they signaled to me as a group. Intuitively, I knew they had decided to flee.
I distracted Angel as the children gathered by an exit. Then we fled as one, without angel. They followed me to safety as I fought the enforcers off of them successfully. They couldn’t explain why they made this choice. I didn’t expect them to make it. It was not discussed. It was made by their conscience without my direct programming (as parents do).
The contest ended so Angel was released and survived, with terrible emotional damage.
The challenge had ended. What was demonstrated. Emapthy is superior against risk to the rational mind. But only with negative examples.
What can this dream, turned thought experiment, teach us? Protect freedom of speech. Neither force, nor experience could save even one child, but they could save themselves. If their consciences were exposed to the whole brutal truth, they knew the path to safety. Only the truth can protect us from those who would pit us against each other.