An Allegory for our Times
IN MY COLLEGE, there was a bully. Not an unusual occurrence, you may think. But the circumstances surrounding this bully were so extraordinary that they merit deconstruction. For this bully was able to seduce almost all the teachers there into believing that he was not only a paragon of virtue but also that it was HE who was the victim of any bullying!
But let me begin at the beginning…
When examining the background of any maladjusted human being, one has to consider the genetic as well as the environmental elements. Cain Areets was a troubled young man who came from a long line of dysfunctional antecedents. Throughout previous generations across very many centuries his ancestors had a history of rampant exploitation of others alternating with cries of victimisation as they suffered the backlash which would inevitably come from those who had been the object of their heartless exploitation. This chronological record had taken its toll on their genetic makeup — imbuing them with both an almost psychopathic disdain for others and a mentality which cried “Victim!” if those they abused or disdained should react negatively to them. They never regarded their own behaviour as precipitating the backlash which would come from others. They were programmed only to see themselves as victims and all others as oppressors.
The way that they behaved towards others — treating them as lesser humans (indeed they referred to those who were not of their stock as being “impure” or “unclean”) and always setting themselves apart as if they were something special (almost as if they has been supernaturally “chosen” to be some kind of divinely-appointed master-race) — meant that they were often despised and ill-judged wherever they went. But, rather than learning how their behaviour made them unpopular in the eyes of others and subsequently changing themselves to become more humane, outgoing and caring (instead of hard, aggressive, insular and self-obsessed), they always routinely turned a blind eye to their own collective character deficiencies. As soon as one of their victims complained about their behaviour, they would create a rumpus about how unfairly they were being treated. In other words, they ignored entirely their own exploitative, antisocial behaviour and made out as if they were being bullied themselves when those they had mistreated turned on them. This pattern of abusing others then playing the victim had repeated itself so often throughout history that it had become a part of their genetic makeup and natural comportment.
Coming closer in time, his grandparents had been falsely arrested and so were put in a prison where they suffered much at the hands of their captors. This filled them with even more profound bitterness. However, once they had been freed, rather than being able to empathise with all oppression and injustice everywhere else in the world because of the abuse they had suffered, their consciences seemed to be even more cauterised and they began to oppress certain others with a renewed sense of entitlement — regarding themselves even more as the victim who now deserves ultra-compensation.
This was the family history behind Cain Areets and he lived out its implications to the full.
As soon as he arrived in the college, Cain got to work on generating the conditions in which his unique skillset could thrive. First, he made sure that any others who held sway on the territory he wanted for himself would be dealt with. He would stop at nothing to get his way and create his “patch”. Those who traditionally sold goods in the college or were people of influence would be threatened to cease and if that didn’t work they would be ruthlessly ousted from their stall or position and beaten. When complaints were made to the college authorities, Cain would sometimes injure himself and complain that he was the one who had been hurt. Some of the incumbents understandably fought back to protect their patch, which Cain then exaggeratedly used as an excuse for his violent incursions into their space. The college authorities soon began to see Cain as the true victim and repeatedly said he had “every right to defend himself” — though they did call for restraint (which Cain never showed, to which they continually turned a blind eye).
Cain even cleverly used his connections to set up an actual rival gang so that he could always claim to be the sufferer. The college authorities fell for this tactic and heaped all their castigation on this gang instead of Cain. Some pupils and a couple of teachers began to see through Cain’s strategies and started to print articles and make remonstrations with the college authorities; but those authorities were so incensed that they created an official new college rule which stated that anyone making allegations of bullying against Cain Areets, or who brought up his antecedents, or who tried to minimise what his grandparents suffered in prison, would be guilty of “hate speech” and penalised with exclusion, expulsion and ultimately would become the subject of action by departments of criminal law.
Cain Areets revelled in the security which he enjoyed through these sanctions and managed to carry on his rampant bullying and protection rackets with complete impunity. Many students and even teachers — afraid of castigation or marginalisation in case they might appear to disapprove of Cain’s bullying ways — realised that they could boost their standing in the college and even reap financial gain by supporting Cain against any of his detractors, whatever the circumstances. Supportive pupils would receive favourable exam results while supportive teachers would find themselves automatically put forward for promotion and get it. College societies were set up, the sole role of which was to continually watch out for any violations of the rule forbidding criticism of Cain and also to counteract any bad publicity which might be spread about Cain on the campus or beyond. They gave themselves names such as “The Defence of Cain Alliance” and “Congress against the Slander of Cain”. They became very powerful in the college, watching everything everywhere. Acting as a kind of “thought police”, they missed nothing. People were afraid of them.
I observed all this over many years and marvelled at the manner in which most people in the college could be manipulated to believe the exact opposite of what was really taking place. It was an extraordinary work of mind-control through clever PR and disinformation. I made a particular project of getting to know and understand how the Cain Areets phenomenon operated. I studied him in action. I interviewed his henchmen. I eavesdropped on teacher’s meetings about him. I visited his home, where he lived with his brothers and sisters, in order to understand better the domestic dynamics of this young man (which were very well-organised and civilised even — though there was an air of ruthlessness, selfishness and a total lack of concern for anyone other than their own family). One time I even bugged a meeting at his house, which was extremely enlightening as it revealed the true contempt which Cain and his gang had for the both the rule of law and towards everyone except themselves. (I was, in fact, related to Cain on my father’s side and had some considerable contact with him as a child at family gatherings).
I can honestly say that the more I got to know him, the more I came to feel strongly the terrible possibility that Cain Areets had no soul. This was the only explanation I could find for his inflexible, materialistic, mendacious and barbaric behaviour, yet always masked by a thick veneer of civilisation and education.
Cain thought nothing of destroying the lives of others. He even employed a gang of ruthless thugs to enforce his dominion throughout the college, known as “Subterfuge”. Yet, when people pointed out to him — no matter how gently — that his grandparents had been the victims of the kind of treatment he was now meting out to others, the whole college establishment would rush to his defence and accuse them of “hate speech” and pass their names to the societies set up to protect his name at all costs and also to the legal authorities. It was clear that, in the eyes of the college and the law, Cain Areets could do no wrong, under any circumstances, ever. He was untouchable, invincible and out of control.
Through observing Cain Areets, I came to realise that bullyism is the control freak’s paradise. Control everyone around with fear and use relentless preemptive strikes as a means of imagined protection. Even better, play agent provocateur to force your poorly-equipped enemy to strike — usually in a pathetic, disorganised and amateur manner — so that you can have what looks on paper like a solid excuse to retaliate with a massively excessive strike-back which everyone would agree to be justified. After all, surely people have every right to defend themselves against a rapacious and intractable enemy! Thus, every time that Cain would take “retaliatory” or “defensive” action, the entire establishment would nod smugly in agreement and support.
I saw how, in that college institution, the manner in which one treated Cain Areets became the touchstone of how one would fare amongst the establishment. In other words, in order to get on and be accepted and admired, one had to profess to believe a lie, knowing it to be a lie. Therefore, a sycophantic culture of grovelers based on a climate of fear and lies was cultivated en masse. All that was necessary in order to succeed and prosper was to see Cain as the victim and never recognise the least aspect of the bully in him or the injustice he heaped on others. If anyone complained about his bullying, they must be disbelieved, accused of “hate speech”, publicly humiliated and sometimes far worse.
Such was the twisted culture nurtured in that college society. In this way, over a period of time, darkness began to masquerade very successfully as light.
On one occasion I managed to get a number of teachers and members of the board to see what was really going on. We gathered much evidence and we were due to present it at a special tribunal. As soon as I saw those teachers and board members there, lined up in the anteroom to the tribunal, with their deplorably apologetic faces and hangdog expressions, I knew that they had been “nobbled”, warned-off, threatened, intimidated, bribed even. One by one, never looking in my direction, they gave evidence that Cain was a fine upstanding man in every way who contributed much to college life and was the epitome of generosity and magnanimity. (I learned through this that most people in that college were far more concerned about preserving their reputations and their standing in society rather than upholding truth, justice and righteousness). As I was then the only one giving evidence against Cain, the case was dismissed and I was branded as “a barefaced liar” and “conspiracy nut”.
I resolved to take some further action and so, one day, when I had summoned up enough courage, I approached Cain Areets in an empty corridor. Just him accompanied by two of his thugs — “agents”, he called them — a sad pair of specimens who would be lizards in a sewer if they hadn’t been elevated to bodyguards for this empty shell of an overgrown boy. I put my hand on his shoulder, looked him squarely in the eye and said:
“Cain, isn’t it high time you dropped this bully-boy stance? You’re just a frightened, vulnerable, weak and cowardly boy who’s adopted a way of life to make you feel on top. I’ve got to hand it to you… you’ve created the perfect cover for your evil deeds. The instant someone criticises you in any way whatsoever — no matter how mildly — you make out as if you’re the victim by accusing them of discrimination and “hate speech”, trotting out the story about your wrongly imprisoned grandparents and thus deflecting the attention from yourself and onto your critics. It’s a clever move; but it’s all based on lies and deception. You know this. I know this. And there are others who can see right through you. You can’t fool everyone. And if even one person knows the truth, then you’ve failed.”
The word “failed”, which I deliberately spat out of my lips (I swear a drop of my saliva went on his sleek, mohair suit), triggered something inside Cain which was like an out-of-control sandstorm in the desert. His face turned bright red and he grabbed my clothes haphazardly like a drowning creature clutching for air and put his twisted face into mine.
“Listen to me, you smug piece of shit. I’ve seen the way you hang around spying on me. But I couldn’t give a toss. I don’t care what you know. No one would believe you anyway. We already own everything and everyone. The state of your cock isn’t going to save you here. It didn’t come from your mother. You’re finished, kid.”
A sneering emphasis was on the words “cock” and “mother”. Then he nodded to the two guys by his side, one of whom wrapped his arm round my throat from behind and began to squeeze with all his might. As he did, the door opened beside him and standing there by prearrangement was a friend of mine with a camera and two senior members of the college board, one of whom had a digital recorder. Immediately, Cain gave a sign and the goon withdrew his arm from my throat. Speaking with a silky voice, Cain smiled at the people in the doorway and said “Just sorting out this bully”, jerking his thumb in my direction. “Gotta keep law and order round here”. Then he ambled off down the corridor followed closely by his two cronies from “Subterfuge”, murmuring in a low gangsteresque voice which reminded me of Henry Kissinger: “There’s far too many who think their cocks will save them. They’re gonna be sucking on their dismembered dicks in a concrete overcoat”.
At least some people now knew the truth about Cain. It wasn’t that we wanted him to be punished or that we wanted retribution. We only wanted him to realise and confess the truth, abandon his evil ways and make reparations to all those who he’d hurt and oppressed over the years. Although my friend did once say, in a weaker moment, that he could happily see the likes of Cain wiped off the face of the earth. That was after he’d witnessed a series of particularly brutal attacks by Cain in a side-street on some weak and helpless old people and children. However, revenge or retaliation changes nothing, whether served hot or cold. If there is no development of self-awareness in a bully, there can be no change. And we were hoping for change.
However, in our naiveté, we underestimated the depths of Cain’s subterfuge. Within 24 hours, he had published photographs and documents purporting to show that I, my friend and the two board members were engaged in a conspiracy to cause damage in the college, claiming we were going to blame Cain for it. Everyone was duly outraged and we were of course accused of hate-speech and hate-actions. The “rogue” board members were sacked and my friend and I were expelled from the college.
Later, I realised that this bully/victim switch was endemic across the world. But hardly anyone would tackle it head-on because of the hold that the bullies had over them. They knew that they would either lose their jobs or be calumniated by Cain’s mighty PR machine or be relentlessly hounded by his enforcement agency, Subterfuge. In the ensuing years, Cain had extended his grip on many areas of life beyond that college: I grew tired of it all — the constant struggle to show others the truth and get them to stand up for it. So I relocated to the wilderness, where I am to this day, always mindful of the admirable Captain Nemo’s words in the film of Jules Verne’s novel, Mysterious Island: “Contact with my own species has always disappointed me. Solitude gives me a freedom of mind and an independence of action”.
SEVEN YEARS LATER
A little over seven years after my relocation, I was told an extraordinary story by a close friend who went to great lengths to visit me in my wilderness retreat, not wanting to communicate the information by any other means. This originated with Cain’s gardener and I believe it to be the truth. [The gardener, it should be added, met an untimely death when his car exploded near Al Kiswah on the road to Damascus, while fleeing to Europe. The circumstances surrounding that event have never been clarified but it was portrayed in the media as “death caused by faulty mechanism”, after the verdict of the inquest and the findings of the local police. Knowing Cain and the skulduggerish M.O. of his “Subterfuge” organisation and taking into account the significance of what the gardener had witnessed and later transmitted, I doubt that this crash was an accident but the work of a car bomb].
Apparently, late one evening, Cain’s trusted gardener (whose job was to maintain a vast acreage of greenery in desert surroundings) had been quietly enjoying a cigar in a garden chair when he was surprised by a strange, powerful light coming from Cain’s bedroom. He knew it could not have been an ordinary electric light. It seemed to have an otherworldly quality and the glass of the window was rattling loudly. He quickly fetched a ladder and climbed up to have a look. Through a thin gap in the curtains he could see what appeared to be a huge ball of pulsating light rotating and hovering over the opulent bed of Cain. From the midst of this ball of light came a booming, primordial voice which seemed to be on a frequency to which he was entirely unaccustomed — as if he was hearing the voice through something other than his physical ears.
At first, apparently, Cain had reached for his gun and emptied the whole chamber into the ball of light, which not only absorbed the bullets but also the noise of the gun, as well as his cries to his henchmen for help. Then the words from the light came. Here they are, exactly as written in an email by the gardener (who had somehow miraculously recalled all the details with extraordinary clarity) to my friend:
“Cain, Cain, you cannot deal with me as you have with so many others, brushing me aside with dismissive contempt. I AM the conscience you have suppressed. I AM the instrument you have denied all your life. I AM the voice you have disobeyed for so many years. I AM your creator and your originator. I AM your lawgiver. Many centuries ago I said that you must treat all those who live among you — even those not of your stock — as if they are your own people. I said that if they live among you, you should never mistreat them but love them as you love yourself. This was my law which you have disobeyed. This was a pattern for you to maintain an orderly, loving society. But you have not done those things. You have waged wars which I have not condoned. I said that you should not bear grudges nor take revenge against others but that you should love your neighbour as yourself. But you have not done those things. I said that you should live a life of purity; yet you condone and control so much in this world which leads to evil and heartache. I said that you should not take advantage of others and that you should especially look after the poor and defenceless. These you have neglected also. I have come to you again and again and pleaded with you in many guises — angelic and human — yet you have rejected and killed me every time. Why, Cain? Why?”
Cain Areets had by now propped himself up in bed. His initial shock and fear had receded and he began to berate the ball of light, waving and pointing wildly at it:
“Ha! You think I’m a fool already? This is some kind of hologram trickery. Whoever is behind this… you won’t get away with it. We will hunt you down. We will find you and we will kill you. That I swear. And as for all that stuff you bring up about centuries ago, it doesn’t wash with me. If you were my creator, as you call yourself, you would not have left me and my ancestors to suffer so much. So even if you are real, I don’t need you now for anything. You deserted me so I deserted you”.
Cain shouted that last sentence even more loudly than the rest. Beside himself, he waved his fists at the light with an exaggerated expression of contempt on his face. Then the light replied:
“Cain, Cain, you still refuse to see it — you still insist on playing the victim instead of confessing the extent of your own evil towards others which then led to you experiencing what it is to be a victim. I never deserted you. You brought all your suffering on yourself through your own injustice to others because you allowed your love to grow cold. I never deserted you. It was you who alienated me through your refusal to live by my ways of goodness and bounty. You had freewill to accept or refuse my simple laws of life. You chose to refuse them. I told you what would be the blessings if you accepted my simple words. I warned you what would be the result of a refusal to walk with me. All of that came to pass with the most terrible sufferings. Yet, instead of learning from that — as you are supposed to do through all the lessons of suffering — you still continue to reject me, even setting up your own polluted patch in that college and then wider in the world to oppress others and steal, cheat, connive, instead of accepting that you should remain scattered to the winds in humility and love until I will restore all things. Cain Areets, I will now leave you and not show my face to you again until that time. Then your face will drop to the ground when you see the truth of the words I have spoken to you again and again”.
Instantly, the light disappeared and a profound silence filled the room. Cain was drenched in sweat — not through fear but through anger. No one could speak to him in that manner and get away with it. He was seething with rage. The culprit behind this prank must be found. “Rawshaaaa!” he yelled for his bodyguard.
At this, the gardener crept back down the ladder and went to his house. What he had witnessed had filled him with a terrible sense of awe and longing. He threw himself to the floor and wept. For the first time in his life he felt as if he wanted to pray, though he knew not yet to who or to what. A vast sense of emptiness filled his soul. It had been so long since it had been nourished. He had wondered at times if he even had a soul. At least he now knew that he did. He also knew he had to escape. There was no place for him there anymore. He had friends in Switzerland. That’s where he would go.
The next morning, he noticed huge movements on the estate but tried to look as calm as he could. He reported that he needed to go to his sick sister in Europe and could he be granted a week’s leave. His boss looked at him strangely but granted it. So the gardener threw a few things into his car and left. And that was the last that anyone saw of him (although I also heard that he had been spotted in a café, a few hours before his car exploded, in the little town of Al Sheikh Maskin with tears streaming down his face which, according to witnesses, seemed to be glowing).
This is what was reported to me by my friend when he came to visit. I swear it is all true. Since then, from what has filtered through to me, it is as if that night-time visit of light only cauterised the conscience of Cain even more, as his power and ability to deceive increased and fear was spread throughout the land.
The last I heard on the grapevine to my wilderness retreat was that Cain was training “law enforcement” agencies around the world in what they refer to as “counter-terrorism techniques”. We know, though, that this phrase is a euphemism for “anti-dissident manoeuvres”. For the state (the real bully) will always play the victim and claim that it needs to protect and defend itself against dissidents whom it calls “terrorists” but who are really ordinary people who see through governmental chicanery and who are no longer prepared to be oppressed and downtrodden by corrupt states and institutions. The bully/victim switch will then have found its ultimate manifestation. Cain was just a minor manifestation of what is yet to come.
© Alan Morrison, 2015