Son of God
ACT ONE, SCENE ONE:
//The speech that changes everything
Scene: Torrential rain in the late afternoon, on the steps of a city library. Cloudy. Cold. Dreary. Almost dusk. There is a canopy hung over the landing at the top of the steps, its red white and blue stripes the only splash of color in an otherwise monotone sea. A single microphone on a black metal stand is at the apex of the landing, its cord snaking over to a mixing console and then to a rather large and imposing stack of speakers. At the base of the steps stand another large bank of speakers with still more to the far sides of the outer lobby and even more further back near the other side of the street, which has been roped off and barricaded and is patrolled by multiple policemen and several other men in plain black suits and nondescript ties. An occasional helicopter flies overhead, their searchlights scanning the crowd.
Beginning at the base of the steps and continuing across the quad, on to the far side of the street and up to the buildings on the other side a massive ocean of citizenry stands quietly in the downpour. Despite the terrible conditions, not one of them seeks shelter. Resolutely they stand, soldiers in the storm, sure they would rather be here, now, than at home in their dry warm beds. Their faces reveal the certainty of their purpose. This is an event so special, so personal, that none would miss the opportunity. A little rain will certainly not keep them away.
Far back at the library doors, a local high school band begins to play, somewhat disastrously, the star spangled banner. A few minutes into the song, a thin but confident figure steps to the microphone and begins to speak. The band, and the crowd, quite immediately to a hushed whisper. This is why they are here.
ANDY: "I appreciate ceremony as much as anyone, but if we don't move things along it seems we may all be going home in boats rather then cars. I see so many of you here tonight that I feel an obligation not to keep any of you waiting for me any longer. My thanks to the band and to your Governor, who I am sure was planning a typically political flowing introduction for me, but typical politics is not why I am here."
As one the crowd seems to fill with excitement, erupting in a mutual cheer that drowns out the thunder rolling overhead. Suddenly the rain seems to subside, slowing to a steady but sedate patter.
ANDY: "I believe, and from what I can tell so do many of you, that typical politics will only drive us further down the path we can no longer afford to take. I believe, and I feel that all of you believe, that the age of typical politics must come to an end, here, today, if we are ever to be able to insure that future generations of Americans don't serve as political proxies of a corrupt and power-hungry ruling elite. Because that is the path we are on. That is the goal we are currently aspiring to. Not a utopian vision of technological wonders and peaceful integration of all peoples, but rather rule by a heavy-handed group of feckless thugs and brutes whose sole aim is to enslave the potential of the American people and force their view of society on not just our brave country but the rest of the developing world as well. These people see us only as potential consumers of goods, a world full of customers. We must show them who we truly are. We must prove to them what an American really is."
His cadence is mesmerizing, his articulation impeccable, his intelligence obvious - but what drives the emotion of this event is none of those. It is sheer force of will, an indomitable strength of spirit, spearing outward into the assembled throng, igniting the deep fires of integrity and responsibility within them. This secret sacred fire spreads through the crowd as if it were kindling, each person in turn feeding off the glow of the next, until that inner light rises to the surface of them all - a mutual crescendo of civic inclusion. The speaker continues undeterred, his fire fueling the common flame. He is the light bringer, the speaker of truths.
"We live today in an America where private armies fight wars for profit. We live in an America today where private security forces patrol our streets. We live in an America today where private schools teach our children and private hospitals care for our sick. Where has the public gone in public service? Where is our sense of shared purpose? Where is our community? We lock ourselves in our homes and never meet the man across the street - our neighbors are strangers to us. We live in seclusion from the whole, within small groups of trusted others. Our compassion for one another has eroded to a circle of one. Those we do not encounter cease to exist to us. We have stopped caring for our fellow man. Americans starve and die in our streets. Americans are jailed unjustly or held outside the limits of the law. Americans are faced with such despair that all hope is extinguished. The light of promise has died in us, and we cannot re-ignite it by ourselves. We have denied our responsibilities to each other for so long that we have come to believe this is not a failure. I am here today to remind every one of us that a failure is exactly what this is. A failure of spirit, of vision, and most disastrously of potential."
"Scientific progress has eroded within our universities and think-tanks. Other countries are making the breakthroughs that our best and brightest citizens laid the groundwork for. Our morality, our competence, even our sanity are being questioned by every other nation on this planet. Where once we saw before us the path to a new golden age of enlightenment, we now find that same path riddled and scarred, twisted and distraught. We have before us a clear delineation, a fork in the road that is the future of our great nation. We can choose to conspire and manipulate one another, or to inspire and create with one another. We can no longer afford to fear our own success, or to trust the realization of that success to others. We must accept the task of righting the wrongs. This is our responsibility not only to our countrymen, but indeed to every other living human being on this planet. Am I my brother's keeper? Yes, Mr. and Mrs. America, you certainly and irrevocably are."
Again a cacophony of voices rise to meet the words. The excitement in the air is palpable, a new and apparent entity. It is as if this speaker is standing right there, next to each of them, speaking directly to their needs and hopes, quieting their fears and inspiring great thoughts. The possibilities are suddenly limitless. Each of them sees in the other the light within that drives all human accomplishment, a shared epiphany of spirit. The rain slows more, falling to a drizzle. The clouds begin to clear and the thunder seems farther away.
ANDY: "The task I propose will not be the easy path, but often in the past we have taken that easy path only to find that perhaps the harder path was best. Because something is hard is not reason to shy from it, but is instead an opportunity to embrace its challenge. An opportunity to prove our mettle, an opportunity to help each other become more than we are. The finest steel is forged in the hottest fires, and I will not - I cannot - believe that we Americans are made of anything less than the finest steel ever formed."
"Of course, it will take men and women of steel to endure the fires ahead - of that I am sorely certain, so it is perhaps fortunate that we have tempered our resolve by enduring years of inept and criminal leadership. I can only hope that such a well-tempered blade will be able to cut through the web of backwash and deceit which sadly defines much of our governmental protocols and practices and reveal the light which I know exists within us all. This light is the spirit which informs our nation, the hope which gives us purpose, and the illuminary which will emblazon our return to greatness. "
"The path before us is wrought with danger and despair. There will be detractors to our actions at every turn. We will affect lives and stymie commerce, but the good of the people must be our primary concern. The choices will be hard to make and drastic - even revolutionary - to all concerned. These involve such tasks as raising the cost of oil and keeping it there, a hardship for us all to be sure, but the only way to ensure enough public investment in the issue to force real change and real improvements in the way we move ourselves across this great country of ours."
"As long as the consequences of our actions are remote we will continue to delay the inevitable at every turn, passing on a legacy of reckless greed to our future generations for resolution. We must accept the consequences of our actions today, and be brave enough to stand together and endure the harder path rather than the easy one. Our future is not the concern of the future but of the present, of the now. These are the times which demand the right choices be made, for all our futures."
"We will also place before us the task of raising salaries for all Americans, because this is the only sure way to promote an increase in spending and commercial viability. To borrow billions from other countries to pay our debts and then print money with no promise of security is not a solution, but a recipe for time delayed disaster. A shirking of duty, a delaying of the inevitable crash. This is not responsible government. This is not even responsible citizenry, and that is all of our concern. Each one of us must find and use our voice for the good of the whole, accept our place in the fabric of this American quilt, and embrace the changes which must come."
"This is not to say we will be alone in this endeavor, our government can and will accept the lead in doing all it can to help its people. We can achieve some relief by removing the burden of such common but costly expenses as health care and income taxes, transferring those to government oversight committees instead. The cares and concerns of the American people are what government is designed to facilitate, and these cares and concerns will become the shared responsibility of all of us, administered through and by the government and available freely and readily to anyone who requires them. We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, will accept this charge and rise as one to create a level field upon which every American stands head to head. No more divisions of income or geography or race or religion, but one common people. Each of us a true and proud American."
"We have before us the potential to create the most perfect nation on Earth, a shining example to all countries of the world that the spirit of human compassion can and will endure, a guidepost for the 21st century and beyond. We set before us nothing less than the task of re-engineering humanity, recreating community and society in a new image. Beginning the task of becoming one people, one society, one world - shared equally by all. Today we take that first fateful step into the breech, we begin our walk down the golden path, side by side and shoulder to shoulder."
"To take up such a daunting task as remaking a nation is not a job for the timid. There will be choices to be made that will rend men's hearts, crush dreams, destroy lives. These are the hard choices, the real choices we will face in our quest. Only together can we ever hope to face these tribulations and achieve our vision of America. A true America, strong and proud but caring and responsive. A just America, stern and correct but honest and balanced. A committed America, resolute and focused but intelligent and nimble. A better America, opportunistic and creative but equal and inclusive. We can only lead the world into its new golden age if we can first lead ourselves. The time has come to prove ourselves to the world. The time has come to prove ourselves to each other. The time has come to be our brother's keeper."
If indeed the thunder was still overhead no one in this crowd could tell it, such was the wash of approval crying out from the street. If ever there was a louder or more sustained fanfare one would be hard pressed to prove it by the people assembled here today, for as far as the eye could see these people rose as one and voiced a cry which echoed through the streets and shook the buildings encircling them. This is why they were here.
As suddenly as he appeared the speaker is gone, leaving behind only the shared inertia of the moment. The band strikes up to play once again and slowly, softly, the crowd begins to shift and then to dissipate. Soon all that remains is the glow, the light of human compassion, the memory of an event unlikely to be repeated. The rain at last has had its fill of falling and overhead the clouds give way to a clear and cogent night. The stars overhead reveal themselves, painting a canopy of lights across the canvas of the sky. It's going to be a beautiful night.