The old man stood up behind the podium and raised his snifter of brandy to the score of gentlemen seated around the conference table. “As Prime,” he said, “I welcome you to the 417th Annual Meeting of the Cacumen Society.”
As one, they all took a drink.
The Prime smiled, then stated, “Before we get down to business, I wish to welcome Jonathon Lowe, son of the late Benjamin Lowe, to our ranks.”
The men nodded to a young man at the back of the room who smiled and returned several nods.
“Jonathon,” the Prime asked, “would you care to make an introductory speech?”
Jonathon stood and, after clearing his throat, said, “Yes. Thank you, Prime. I would very much like to make an introductory speech.”
The Prime stepped aside and waved to the podium.
Jonathon smiled then holding himself straight walked up to the podium. He nodded to the Prime and said, “Thank you, Prime.” Turning to the room he began, “My fellow members. When my father explained to me that we were members of this illustrious Society that controls the majority of world affairs, I frankly thought he was telling a joke. But as I’m sure you all know, my father was not known for his sense of humor.” Several of the men gave smiling nods to that.
After a brief smile, Jonathon went on. “I reviewed the information he gave me, and I came to the conclusion that there is indeed a secret society that controls worldly affairs. This revelation surprised, pleased, disturbed and confused me. The disturbed and confused part comes from the fact that, okay, we control the world. But you have to admit, we’re doing a pretty poor job of it.”
There were a few grumbles from the room.
“On one hand,” Jonathon continued, “I understand how – by fomenting wars, for example – we can ensure a large profit from our companies manufacturing arms. But I have to wonder, can’t we make just as much money – if not more – by selling dishwashers and computers to the Third World instead of guns.
“I brought some of my ideas up to my father, who explained that by keeping the population worried about war and crime and such, it keeps them from trying to better their lives, keeping them better sheep for us to control. But to me, that seems like it would have the opposite reaction. If we want docile sheep, then we should make them fat and content. Instead of having them worried about crime, or losing their job, or where their next meal will come from, we should stuff them with quintuple cheeseburgers, give them movies filled with explosions and nudity and video games filled with violence.”
Jonathon looked around the room. “In my opinion, what’s the point of ruling over a cesspit of a world? Yes, we have our estates and private islands, but we have to keep bribing politicians and hiring security to keep them. If everyone lived like we did, there would be nobody for them to rise up against. I mean, with every assassination or rigged election, we run the risk of someone noticing our actions. If that ever happens, then the hungry, snarling masses will come after us. But if we just had them fat, content, and docile, we’d never have to worry about them again.
“Thank you for hearing me out.” Jonathon then stepped back from the podium.
The room was silent for a few heartbeats, then it exploded in laughter.
Wiping his eyes, the Prime stepped back to the podium. He put a hand on Jonathon’s shoulder and said, “Ah, the naivety of youth.”
“What?” Jonathon asked.
“Your thoughts are not new,” the Prime explained. “But in a few years, you’ll come to understand why we do things the way we do.
“Now, be a good lad and take your seat, so the meeting can begin.”
I first wrote this story in June 2013 under the title “Hmmm.” It began after I saw a comment online about how things can’t be fixed because “the ones in power” don’t want them to be fixed. I recently came across it and figured I should repost it. But I wanted to rework it first and one of the things I wanted to change was the title. It took me some time, but I think “Naïve Thoughts” works pretty good.