I haven’t written anything by hand for a long time, so pleased forgive this scrawl.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I used to think I knew what that meant. I used to believe that freedom meant not having to live in fear. I went along with all the Constitutional Modifications because I believed they were a worthwhile idea. For a while, the efforts of the Security Bureau bore fruit – many, many Latent Terrorists and Potential Disrupters were weeded out and dealt with accordingly.
The Latent Terrorists were either executed or deported to their country of origin, if it was still capable of supporting life. As we know, after the War a lot of things changed. It was explained that, for a while, it would be necessary for society to be more closely monitored. That’s what Eternal Vigilance means. Juno, my daughter, was born around that time. Today she will be drafted into the Adolescent Edification College that has been allotted her.
I still keep my online journal, of course. The bots report anyone who does not log on and file a report on their Blog at least once a day, and all text is scanned. But I am finding it harder to do, to keep writing the same things in a different way, to show that I am a good citizen by reporting on the actions of at least six of my neighbours every week; the bots report anyone who uses the same text string more that twice in one week. It is even harder to smile as I go out every day, after filing my Journey Proposal, and to nod at the neighbours, knowing that they also are watching me. But I am now writing this journal on paper, the way we used to, because after Juno told me about the garbage bins, I found it hard not to feel terrified every waking moment.
“Daddy,” she said – she knows she is supposed to call me ‘Father’ or ‘Pa-parent’ – “Daddy, on our street, seven waste receivers are now missing. I just counted them.”
Just that. I grabbed her roughly, for which I am ashamed, and for which I could be reported, and said “Juno, you must never, NEVER been seen counting anything! You know what happens if the cameras see your lips moving in a public place!”
Seven bins. Seven families. I know, I counted them too. I know that I am responsible for one of those missing bins, not placed on the yellow laser scales at eighteen thirty every Tuesday like all the others in the street. I just thought that the Carsons should be a little more circumspect about the music they listened to. It wasn’t on the approved list. They were sent for Re-Edification, which is a good thing, but they should have been back weeks ago. No one returns anymore.
I am worried. I thought it was our place – the people - to be vigilant, in order to guard our freedom. But it seems the guards turned their vigilance inward for too long. I am beginning to wonder if the price of that vigilance is eternal slavery.
This is as much as I can write – it’s far too dangerous to continue. I believe the new street cameras can detect the sound of pen on paper (writing in private is disapproved), as well as monitoring for Undue Motion after twenty-one hours.
I hope that whoever finds this note understands and explains to my daughter, if she still lives, that my subsequent actions were not those of a terrorist, that I was a freedom fighter despite what the history blogs may dictate.
Read by Matt Ward…