The Greatest Lesson | Teen Ink

The Greatest Lesson

May 12, 2019
By ethanstephan SILVER, Novato, California
ethanstephan SILVER, Novato, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Yesterday, it had been said that humanity cemented its own annihilation. Not by the detonation of nuclear payloads or a ravenous disease feasting upon the many crowds of fleeing civilians, but by the death of one man, understood by most to be a prophet.
So yesterday, this man was put before a clamor of scrutinous cameras and broadcasted live to the world to bestow his realizations upon all of us. By late morning, I, one of the billions watching the program, saw this man come out between those cameras. Whilst he was dressed as if he were some kind of common resident of ancient Babylon, his face and the manner to which he walked, spoke, and smiled seemed no different than my next door neighbor. After some small conversations he had on screen between an official or two, he finally took to the podium and spoke;
“Hello people of the world! I know why you are here! I understand you all and I will begin. But before we can take the first steps to reform this world into a better one, I must be honest and reveal to you all how I found myself here. 
“You see, I was once like all of you, a humble, young man, fresh out of college. I spent my days hopping from school to school, teaching and making what money I could. For the past few years, I’d been making my way upstream, traveling along the Mississippi. During those years, I, like every one of you, have failed, have lost. Sometimes I would be fired, other times I’d fail because I never felt content with where I was. 
“But what was always similar about each failure was that every time, it always brought me to the river. There, I could clear my head. But one day, when I was at the river, the night was especially dark and the wind howled the loudest I’d ever heard it howl. Then, I saw this, a woman. She approached and tapped me on the head, and next thing I knew, I was awake on the riverbed.
“When I awoke, I didn’t find it odd that I woke up there. Instead, I was surprised to find myself enlightened to the universe and its mysteries. I immediately went to town and talked to the astrophysics professors there and they were able to confirm some of my more trivial teachings and were stunned by my middle of the line explanations. One man told me...”
This prophet faltered mid-sentence. For a moment, he clutched his chest, and when all that was happening, I dreaded the prospect of this man falling dead on my TV screen. Luckily, he continued, but still, with a significant deal of anxiety.
“One.. one man he said to me... that these prophetic speeches could get me... k-ki-kill.. Hurt.”
As this man stuttered, a guard behind him gestured forth a rag to wipe away his sweat, which he declined. Then, everything started to deteriorate. This man seemed to collapse in on himself and right then and there blabbered out a multitude of words, phrases, and sounds. His insanity persisted for a great deal of time, until one guard behind him too, became infected, and with sudden impulsivity, unholstered his baton and struck down the man with horrible ferocity.     
Miraculously though, every man and woman, unsure of who’d begun to beat who, pounced for the guard and seized him before another blow could be made.
Just minutes later, the poor prophet was dead and the world mourned his loss. I too mourned, for I’d heard some of his “lesser” teachings and found great value in each, but a significant percentage of people came to agree that the end was to come and I was one of a few who looked back at all that’d occurred and couldn’t help but disagree. 

The author's comments:

The piece itself was more or less inspired by a commonly self-loathing view people tend to have on humanity at times. I wrote this not as an all-out retaliation to the idea, but more so to invoke optimism from the reader because as much as there can be evil in some, there is always good to match it.  

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