The young man lay dying. He knew this to be a fact, he knew he was mortally wounded.
An older man approached him, this surprised him as everyone he knew was either dead or dying, and this man was in perfect health.
“Who are you?” the young man asked.
“I am you.” the older man answered simply.
“How can that be, I am dying……I won’t live to be old.”
The older man settled down beside the younger man, and made himself comfortable before replying.
“Because in a different life you made a different choice.”
“You’re crazy” the younger man replied “How can that be, I am right here, and I know that I am done for.”
“See, what you don’t understand is that you have had this choice before, and you chose differently.” The older man appeared to be lost in remembering.
Then a great saddness came over him, an almost visible weight that made him appear even older………
“Because in my lifetime, you chose to live. You decided that being alive was more important than being true to yourself. You decided that it was better to believe whatever you were told, instead of thinking for yourself.” the old man replied.
“I don’t believe you.” the younger man answered “I wouldn’t do that.”
“You decided,” the older man continued as if he hadn’t heard, “that no matter what you had to do, you would live.”
The older man was quiet for a moment and tears came into his eyes.
“You betrayed your friends, your morals and even your family. You turned a blind eye to what was really happening, as long as you could live. You watched as the world turned upside down, caring more for yourself than for anyone else. Your fear of being different, of being noticed, of what “they” could do to you was more important than finding out the truth. It was more important than acting on what you knew was right. It was more important than protecting your friends and your family. It was more important than taking responsibility for yourself. Of standing for something. “
The old man stopped for a moment. Wracked by sobs, he was having trouble speaking.
Finally he began again, “So you lived a long time. But you lived without your friends and your family. You were totally alone, but you were alive. It took a long time for you to realise that there is so much more to really living than just drawing breath. All of your life it was others who told you what to do, where to go and how to live. Finally, finally you realized that what you had bought when you sold out was existance, not life. As a result you became a slave, a certified numbered, poked and prodded piece of chattel.”
The old man shifted his position, wiped his eyes and cleared his throat.
“Then you began to remember and to think. You remembered your family and your friends. You finally felt regret. You finally remembered that standing up is better than being led. That being alive doesn’t mean a damn thing if you sell out. “
The old man shifted his position again so he could look the younger man in the eye.
“You finally remembered that you had a choice, that your life didn’t have to be an empty and meaningless series of days and routines. So you went back to that moment when you made that choice to sell out, to save yourself. You and your friends decided that to sacrifice yourselves to save your families was the only moral and meaningful decision. So, here I am………… here I am again, but with a different choice. In my lifetime all this was swept under the carpet, because I sold everyone out, and no one knew what happened here.”
The old man shook his head and pointed, “Look around you; you and your friends gave your lives to save others, to save your families. This time this will not go unnoticed, things will begin to change, because with your sacrifice you gave people hope. They will see that change is possible, and necessary. Oh, not all of them, but enough.”
“So what are you going to do?” the younger man asked.
Quietly the older man answered, ” Do what I should have done instead of being a selfish coward. I will die here with you.”