LISTENING to her teenage daughter’s recorded screams, the distraught mother could not contain her grief. With heaving sobs, she stood to leave the courtroom, only to have her weakened knees buckle and collapse onto the courtroom floor.
Gasps came from many spectators (some others she’d suspected to be but voyeurs), as the bailiff, district attorney, and even defense council, rushing to assist the bereaved woman. Slowly, gently facilitating the trembling frail woman to her feet, the three courtroom officials somehow misperceived stability in her pale expression and gradually pulled away their hands. But she was so shaken by the prosecution’s key evidence — that of the accused’s own trophy audio-video of her only child’s last tortured hours alive — she fell hard, flat unconscious.
The night she was kidnapped, the desperate mother had locked her daughter out of the house in an attempt to correct the otherwise average girl’s increasing tendency to breach curfew. It was the first (and tragically final) time the mother had, still with much reluctance, attempted such a tough-love measure. Only it had gone the most horribly wrong.
By all accounts, the mother had been a fine parent, as was the girl’s father; although he, until then healthy, had died suddenly of a massive coronary less than a month after his “little princess” had been prolongedly tortured, then murdered in the worst way.
The girl’s assailant had caused her all the real hell any parent wishes against their child ever having to nightmare about, let alone actually instinctively enduring for the sake of surviving the atrocity, only to be snuffed out at day’s end anyway.
And that appeared to have been the last straw. …
Suddenly everyone on Earth was aware of an unprecedentedly profound Great Change, and one that would become a far better existence than just moments before. The planet-wide awakening was a massive shift that would finally find favour for the most materially, physically, mentally and spiritually poor people of all.
For starters, every fortunate person was forced, as though by true magic, to empathically share in the anguish suffered by the greatest life-sentence affliction that Fate can cruelly, yet with cold apathy, reserve for a parent — a child lost to a torturous death. Now all bore a tiny portion — thus one sometimes imperceivable — of that enormous emotional turmoil otherwise suffered solely by those individuals who’d received the lottery-jackpot-odds lousiest of parental luck.
In rehabilitative return, those most unfortunate parents who’d suffered such unjust extreme loss, inexplicably felt very great relief from their overwhelming affliction. Their trembling hands slowly left their tear-streaked faces, for their heavy hearts no longer suffered the agony alone.
With the supernatural change, however involuntary, when all shared in such a terrible personal toll, it became a literal — rather than just the common figurative — sharing of grief. It was analogous to a fiscally imprudent national government that had invested a large sum of treasury funds into an eventually losing deal; but with the shortfall shouldered by the large collective citizenry, the burden on the individual taxpayer was so much greatly lessened, if not unnoticeable.
Rather than being specific thought invasively transmitted and received, it was loosely comparable to an expecting husband’s sympathy pains suffered for his greatly labouring pregnant wife.
Even academics agreed it was akin to everyone having been spontaneously cerebrally re-hardwired to literally share in others’ dreadful suffering, like so many undisturbed antennas suddenly receiving the immensely distressed signals from a few isolated agonized antennas.
Most assumed the change was implemented by a kindly sentient omnipotent source. This was defined by monotheists as God, and by polytheists as multiple powerful spirits; while others believed greatly advanced caring alien-race monitors were responsible. Many secular humanists theorized it was simply the good within humankind itself psychically coming to long-overdue overpowering conscience terms with the disproportionate injustices suffered by some but not by most others.
Of course the change was also well received by many other worldwide examples of disproportionate suffering, notably that of desperately poor citizens of developing nations wanting for the most basic of life’s necessities. Indeed, great empathic relief was felt long before the arrival of overflowing shipments of water purification devices, as well as the exponentially larger quantities of food and medicine than ever before — all gratefully given by the prosperous nations because the planet’s privileged people were abruptly enduring what had consumed the world’s most needy for far too long. And in return, the fortunate givers felt physically and mentally so much better.
Although initially the otherwise fortunate felt indignant by the change, that they’d done nothing personally wrong to justify the unfavorable empathy, soon it no longer felt like an imposition but rather a universal effect in which all were naturally wanting to treat all affliction, just as though it was in fact one’s very own turmoil. And contrary to the usual human-history pendulum swing of ideological and political mood, the Great Change was a permanently solidified authentic sense of others’ upheaval, therefore no chance would remain of all reverting to the unjust existential norm of yore.
[Frank G Sterle Jr, 2008]