After closing the door, he had made his way to the small cottage behind the guesthouse, where he lived. His thoughts raced from one thing to another, all under a pressing cloud of swirling emotions. Never had he felt this way. Everything he had ever believed in, in this new world, under this new life the change in government had brought, was being tossed aside. Things that he had always been taught were what made his homeland great, were now villified by the new leaders. That alone was enough to cause him to decide that he would have as little to do with his own homeland, under this new government, as possible. He had no desire to watch, and thought about how he would do what he could to not add to, or support those who were facilitating and aiding in the dismantling and destruction of the country he so dearly loved. That was the easy part. He didn’t need to go out much.
Having his world turned upside down by the changes in his country, the steps they were taking to ensure their position of power in ways that would make the grip permanent was bad enough. Complaining about it was useless, at this point. No, this had been coming for years, in easy, small ways. Now,everything was in place, they had the power from within, and the change had been made, quite easily. The sounds of the opposition would cease, quickly now, until they were reduced to fearful whispers.
Changes that would erase possibly forever the character of the country he loved wasn’t bad enough, he had to deal with the people he knew. And he really didn’t know how to deal with them.
After a couple of days, the guesthouse had acquired a growth of notes on it’s door. They ranged from angry, insulting curses, to those with simply a question mark. Some of the notes were from people he liked and cared about. A few were from people who had made it clear over the years that they didn’t care for him, but enjoyed coming to his place. Those, took the closed doors as an opportunity to finally show their true feelings. He smiled (and that didn’t happen much anymore) at the thought that it was his enemies, those who were the biggest supporters of the Germans, who were the most vocal and vicious in their attacks. How dare the old man shut down their meeting place. The right of an owner to open or close his business without government approval was just wrong, and was something that would need to be addressed. They would have to have a new law put in place to eliminate such attacks against the people in the future, he thought. The old man thought about how glad he was that he would not live long enough to see that day. But, he knew it would come. The new government had made it clear that there were ways for those in power to bend those who were non-compliant to their will. Some were subtle. Some, purposely not so subtle. Freedom was going under the knife for a face lift. The new freedom would be a better fit for the new day. This new freedom was much thinner. This new freedom had trainers to keep freedom from straying from the plan.
He felt bad, though. He had hurt his friends in the process of doing what he felt he should. He hadn’t yet been able to resolve that in his own mind. He had decided that he could not stomach the idea of paying the rent on his enemies place to meet and enjoy their lives, to revel in their victories. But, in the process, he had taken that same choice away from his friends. Even if they didn’t associate with the others, even if they spent their time with others who felt as he did about the loss of their country, that choice had been taken from them. By him. Selfishly. He felt really bad about that.
So, he was stuck. He didn’t know for sure what was right and what was wrong. Loyalty to country versus loyalty to family and friends. Most would say that he was overstating the danger to country that he felt. Most were people on the other side, so of course they felt that way, and the others, on his side, didn’t see the dangers and destruction of his country to the same degree he did. Most of them. Some did. But, he and they were in a small minority.
So, what did closing the door to his guesthouse do? Not much, in the overall scheme of things. Nothing to change the situation his country was in. It inconvenienced his friends as much as it had inconvenienced his enemies. That isn’t a fair trade, either. Hurting friends had much more weight than inconveniencing enemies. He had shut the door on many friendships at the same time he shut the door to his enemies. Bottom line-he had hurt friends more than hindered enemies, but he just couldn’t stomach the thought of his money providing his enemies with comfort. He couldn’t just go along, to get along.
This new life, under these new leaders had brought change. Change that many of his countrymen had supported, and invited with open arms. They had won. They had won, and there had been an equal and opposite loss. While the winners celebrated, he would spend his remaining years mourning the loss. He had seen enough to know that the only way his enemies would lose now would come from their own natural demise, and it could take many, many years. It takes a long time for the mistletoe to kill the mighty oak tree. But, time it has, and being a parasite is what it does. The mistletoe is winning he thought. He thought how strange it was that the owners of the giant oak tree were celebrating the abundant growth of the mistletoe, instead of saving the oak tree. Of course, that fit perfectly is this new world where everything had been turned upside down.
He mourned the loss.
The newspapers reported dutifully the successes of the new governemnt daily, and painted any failures or complaining voices as the cause of those who hadn’t “gotten with it” A truck with a speaker was driving by announcing victories, and blarring warnings to those who would get in the way of the changes coming. It passed by the guesthouse four times a day.
He closed the door of his house behind him and took a seat. He thought about the losses that had come, and even worse, those yet to come.
His country was a great win. A great win for the enemy. They were rightly proud. The mighty had been taken down so easily. Yes, it was a win that would eliminate their opposition for years to come.
It would be the loss he would mourn for the rest of his life.