“What was that you said, Marcus?” The stern voice of Principal Williams reverberated in the massive office.
Marcus hesitated. To remain silent only reinforced the loss of principle, but to speak meant being lashed with suspension for defiance. He couldn’t afford that, not this close to finals and graduation. His parents were worn out with his insistence that principle is more important than the principal, worn out with being called from their jobs to meetings at the school, worn out with pleading for his continued attendance. “He’ll graduate soon and be out of your hair,” they’d said, again and again.
“I’m sorry, Principal Williams.” Marcus spoke clearly this time, even managed to look eye-to-eye with the man seated across the vast, gleaming wood desk. Marcus wondered again at the extravagance the principal invested in the material items of his office. There was the maple desk with cherry inlay, the paintings on the wall – all originals, he’d learned – the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the park-like campus quad and a forest of well-kept trees beyond that.
“Your parents really cannot come in today.” He leaned forward, pointed his fleshy finger at Marcus. “But they are displeased. There will be repercussions at home, young man!” He leaned back. “I’m going to let you go back to your classes now. I hope our next one-on-one encounter is when I hand you your diploma.”
With that dismissal spoken, Principal Williams swiveled his chair away from Marcus and began typing on his computer. Marcus caught a glimpse as he stood to leave. Looked like Facebook to him.
Just like the rest of this school, Marcus thought, hypocritical, their code of conduct flies in the face of what should be their goals.
He shuffled along the hall now filled with students switching classes. They seemed oblivious to the repression of their right to free speech, to express personal opinions about topics discussed in class, about answers in opposition to the ones forced down their throats by tenured, obsolete teachers.
Three more weeks and he’d be on his own, headed for a summer of trekking around Europe, then on to a year with the Kindred Klan. He hadn’t thought much beyond that, hoping he’d figure out how best to fight for his beliefs while exploring the world away from the crooked attitudes of everyone in this town.
“Hey, Marcus – saw your little speech out on the quad this morning! That was good. Do you think anyone else will boycott eating meat in the cafeteria this week? I’m with you, man!”
“Thanks, Terry.” Marcus could always count on Terry’s support, at least in words.
Marcus had been reading about life in the Twentieth Century and honed in on the communal farms, organic gardening. Some of the techniques were just beginning and didn’t blossom until the early part of the next century, but people had a choice.
He wished he could time-travel back to that time. He knew, in principle, that food could no longer be trusted to the elements. Global Warming had severely affected farming, animal husbandry, and the supply of nutrients. Scientists responded by creating alternatives that contained what the human body needed but were artificial.
However, a few years ago, alternative communities began to spring up, growing their own vegetables, raising livestock and chickens from a small colony found in some remote part of Canada. Someone had snuck out old seed stock from a guarded cache and this infuriated the government. “Their defiance is unprincipled!” the media, all government stooges, had proclaimed.
“It’s the principle of the thing,” Marcus said, as he walked with Terry down the hall. “Citizens should be allowed the right to choose what they will eat and to demand real food. The government is wrong to call communities like Kindred Klan traitors of the world.”
“Is that still going to be your topic for your final presentation in Social Studies?”
Marcus grinned. Yes, one more round of defiance. After all, it’s the principle of the matter that matters.
instilled by parents’ dreams,
children behave, grow prosperous
hunting season strikes
fear throughout forest families