Fandom: Wheel of Time
Trope: Telepathy / magical powers
Content Notes: choose not to provide
Spoilers: For books 1-4 and chapter 1 of book 5, mild, starting with the AN below
( Author's Notes )
( The story )
“What is love?” the teacher asked in return.
The student paused a moment, confused. “Everybody knows what love is.”
“You believe so? Then, if everybody knows, logically you in particular must know, correct? And of course, I must also know. But then, does not my job as a teacher often require me to ask you to tell me things we both already know? So, tell me. What is love?” The teacher waited patiently, finding a bookmark and closing it in the book.
The student stared at the floor a moment, and finally answered, “I guess I don’t know, because I can’t explain it.”
“Then,” the teacher responded, “come back when you have figured out exactly what it is you want to do, and I can tell you if it can be done.”
We are a technologically advanced people. We have become so precisely because we have evolved a class of wealthy masters who exploit us like cattle.
Economic development, which is normally measured and described in terms of production and consumption of goods and services, is ascribed to that social construct known as property rights. This includes the ludicrous notion of land ownership.
Most property rights are based on the libertarian notion that each of us should be permitted to enjoy the fruits of our own labor. To deny someone such a right is theft. But of whose labor is Earth the fruit? Who can honestly claim the right to exclude all others from a certain chunk of the planet?
And yet, without a system of property rights that confirms land ownership, we can have no such things as factories and airports and farms. And houses. To allow a standard of living substantially different from tent-dwelling nomads, we must have landowners. From then on, we become stratified.
The lower strata always both resent and covet the wealth of the upper. There is rarely any acknowledgement that, yes, those fat pigs are what have made human progress possible. Our gargantuan efforts to satisfy their gluttony are what have made us so keenly adept at fulfilling the widest variety of wants as quickly and efficiently as possible. The problem is that the masses have no taste.
We are the Goths and Vandals, angry at the Romans. They have used us and manipulated us and exploited us, and we want nothing more than to sack and plunder and destroy their empire. They play us against each other, and use us to fight their wars, so they may have better wines and more olives. We don't care about better wines. We don't care about olives. We want bread and milk and maybe some beef now and then. We want our children not to starve while we watch them throw cake to the swine.
But it is not the Romans we hate. It is the Senate. They use us to frighten each other, and they use us to frighten the poor Romans too. "You must pay your taxes, you must serve in the Legions," they say, "or we will be unable to defend you from them," and they point to us. They point to the Vandals and the Goths. They show you the Huns, and tell you to fear. And you obey the Senate, because you fear us.
They teach you to fear each other, too. They stress how you are different from each other. They constantly remind you to see yourselves in tribes, to be perpetually grouping in tight knots and small clusters and othering everyone else. If you can't see yourselves as one people, you can't act as one people, and you can't gain as one people.
But who would go back to following the herds? Who would give up bus routes, and hospitals, and baseball games? All of these things exist because we let the Senate harness us to their yoke, and whip us to death pulling, and keep us snarling at each other the whole time. So keep your gluttonous overlord pigs. But remember that bacon will do when you can't get beef.
“Right, see? But this time, well, I hate to say it,” he gloated, “but I’m the one talking sense. You can’t make a good decision without good information, so you need to send someone to scout the territory. I’ll talk to Aang, and Suki can see what she can find out from Mai when they’re sparring, and in a few days you’ll have a better picture.”
“What scares me the most right now is that I am almost considering going along with this, Sokka. I’m probably insane for even letting you know you were right about the part you guessed, because you’re just going to drag me into this – this – disaster, no matter what I do.” Katara squeezed her head in her hands, elbows out and swiveling like the needle her father used to find his direction on the ocean. Then she dropped her arms to her sides, limp, wrung out, and huffed. “Just do it, but I promise you, if anyone ever finds out I even talked to you about this, let alone gave you permission, I’ll freeze you in a block of ice for a hundred years. IF YOU’RE LUCKY,” she shouted at his back as he darted out the door.