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He lives in a sea. He is a bright beacon in an ocean of grey. Some swim towards him, hoping he will rescue them (not save - he will never call it Save). Others stroke against the waves, preferring to drown. They don't like the beacon. They don't think he's a beacon at all. They think he'll swallow them whole, even though he is only a man.
Maybe their fears would be more justified if he even knew he's a beacon. In his mind, all he does is walk through a hallway and say, "I don't believe in God and here’s why," at the appropriate times. But beacons don’t require knowledge of their status in order to be beacons, so he is a beacon.
There are some other beacons too, ones that say, “I believe in God and here’s why,” and “I believe in Allah and here’s why,” and “I believe in the Brahman and here’s why.” They have their own followers and swimmers-away. But they are also magnets, attracting their opposites (the non-beacons) and repelling those alike (the other beacons, the ones who can say “here’s why.”)
So he moves through the hallway that is the vast ocean, meeting eyes and greeting bodies and, on occasion, picking up a follower. But today is different in a way, because for the first time in a long time, he bumps accidentally into another beacon.
They size each other up, these two beacons. Neither of them know they’re beacons, but they recognize the other as equals, as set above and apart. Some of the followers even notice, whispering to each other that they are studying each other’s eyes.
“Hello,” the other beacon says, like any other would, but again she is different. Her words – any words – carry more weight and more authority. He returns the greeting with the same gravity.
They want to walk away from each other. They feel the power between them, pushing them away. They are opposites in what seems like every possible regard, from color to character to creed – most beacons are. They should not be standing so close to one another, or their followers – their broods – might be confused, might do something drastic. They want to leave, want to retreat to opposite corners of this hallway – to opposite corners of the globe.
But something prevents them.
They are different, they know their different, and everything anyone has told them leads to the conclusions that they are different. But in each other’s eyes they see something else – an underlying sameness, and underlying connection, underlying common attributes that interest them both and make them want to find out more.
Down the road, as they grow older and wiser, they might realize themselves for what they are, for the beacons they were born to be. But that might not be for a while, for years or decades from this moment in this hallway. Even more unlikely to happen soon – to happen at all – is the recognition that the sameness they see is a common value system, a set of internal rules that are essentially the same but are only cloaked in bias and ritual.
They’ll struggle to find this out for the duration of their stay in each other’s lives. That they do know at this moment in this hallway. But for now, interest binds them, and interest keeps them together.
So the beacon says, “Wanna sit with me?”
And the other beacon replies, “Sure. Why not?”