What if they were wrong?
Halfway through the lecture, a girl raised her hand. ”You mentioned that the United States felt it necessary to maintain a presence in Southeast Asia to keep the communists from spreading, correct?”
Matthew nodded, ‘That was the thinking at the time.” He added, “the prevalent line of thought was that if communism won in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos was not that far behind. After that, the pundits thought, it would eventually spread to Latin America and Africa.
She looked confused, “But it didn’t.”
He nodded, “You’re right.” He added, “The ‘experts’ in the government were wrong.”
Suddenly, the voice of the old man shot forward, “What if they were wrong!”
The girl looked thoughtful, “Sixty thousand American soldiers died and untold numbers of Vietnamese,” she visibly shuddered, “because someone was wrong?”
Matthew could think of no quick reply, instead, he went on with his lecture. “The debacle of Vietnam led to widespread loss of confidence in the government. Where once there was unquestioning loyalty, now there was cynicism.”
“This among other things would continue into the new millennium when the old bureaucracy would be swept away by the new corporatocracy…”
He stopped his usual lecture. Stared at the room, then looked at the girl that asked the question, “But what if they’re wrong.”
She asked, “who?’
Matthew said quietly, “them.” He was surprised to look up and see the young man that had not taken notes get up and leave. He quickly put it out of his mind. Matthew Looked at the class, ‘Your research papers on the sixties are due next class. Have a great weekend.”
Matthew looked at the ceiling. The question still bothered him; what if they were wrong. Then what? Could what had been done be undone? Or would they prove to be like governments since the beginning of time, resistant to change? His mind was racing.
“So we come to the crux of your crime.” Megan interjected, breaking his concentration, ‘In a position of influence with the leaders of tomorrow, you led them to question the very fabric of the government.”
Matthew was confused, “But isn’t it the right of the individual to challenge authority….” He looked at her and said with firmness, “To speak out?”
Madison shook her head, “The citizen has a responsibility to the state and the state has a responsibility to look after your best interests.” She looked him directly in the eyes, “Questioning that is sedition in its basic form.”
Matthew shook his head, “but if the government is wrong, we have a duty to question it!” he bellowed, “I should have the right to choose if I want to drive to work whenever I want without having the government look out for me!”
Madison sighed, “Such things lead back to the selfishness and waste of the twentieth century. Even if you don’t, the government has your best interests at heart.”
Madison gathered her things, “Think about what I have said.” She said, “I will look over my notes and render a judgment in the morning.”
He made a grimaced face as the nurse once again sedated him.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.