Jason forced himself awake. It took him a few tries before he smashed the snooze button. For nine semesters his earliest class had been at 10:00 or 11:00. Now, every Tuesday and Thursday he had to get up for a damned 8:00 A.M. Lit 101 course. It was a stupid course he needed to graduate, but one he had never found time to take in the past. In what his parents hoped would be his last semester, all the more acceptable afternoon classes conflicted with his other needed courses. He and his advisor spent two days juggling his schedule, but in the end he had to bite the bullet of an 8:00 A.M class.
Jason sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his eyes. Last night’s poker game hadn’t ended until almost 4:00, not that Jason minded; it gave him the chance to win back the $40 bucks he lost to Mark Tuesday night. But it made getting up at 7:30 a bitch. He would like to just skip the class, but the professor was a real bastard, giving surprise quizzes that counted for a good portion of the grade.
As he lurched along the sidewalk towards the English building, Jason passed a bulletin board filled with fliers for local bands, pizza places, furniture for sale, roommates wanted, etc. He almost walked past it, but a flier stuck on the end caught his attention. It was just a sheet of white paper with the words, “Tear This Down!” written in purple marker. Jason paused before it and stared at it. He read through it several times, but could not figure out the punch line.
He finally reached out and yanked it off the board. There was nothing behind it. Confused even more, Jason turned the paper over. “Do you always do what you are told?” was written in pencil on the back.
Jason was too tired to think about it. He was going to crumple up the sheet, when he decided to stick it back on the board. Sighing, he continued to class.
On one hand, this story touches on the question of whether having to do something you don’t want to do – getting up for an early class, going to work, paying taxes, etc. – counts as enslavement. True, I’ve never been flogged at work, but I have had my life slowly sucked out. Does that count?
Also, a question that has fascinated me for years is, “How do you make someone think for themselves?” It’s difficult to answer because if you make somebody do something, then did they do it themselves? To explore this dilemma, in the past I have put up fliers like the one in the story. I doubt anyone had an epiphany because of them, but I can hope that maybe – maybe – I started someone down the path to … something.