A Procedure

The Procedure is for Heads of State.

On the first day after he takes the oath of office, a great secret is revealed to the leader of our country. A delegation of serious looking men come to see him. The Head of State is told that during his tenure, he will be given three chances to look into the future.

He is told that this procedure has been in existence for many decades. Later he finds out that no one actually knows how long it has been in existence. He is told that it is very expensive. This is why it is not on offer to the general public - why it is a secret. Things that will (or must) never be made available to people are better kept hidden from them.

He asks how much the procedure costs. He is told that the price will be the life of one of his children.

He is repulsed. He is a religious man. A good christian...or maybe a good msulim. I cannot remember. He is scandalised that such an demand could be made of him. "How dare you ask me to make a human sacrifice?"
he bellows.

The leader of the delegation smiles. Then he says, "Now that you are on top of the tree you want to act as if you got there in the manner of a bird. If I ask you for a sacrifice, will it the first that you will make? How many were killed on your behalf to clear the path as you made your way up??"

His Excellency is silenced. The delegation leader continues, "We will not ask you to kill your child. This sacrifice requires no blood. What you look for is not material; what you ask for is knowledge. What you will give in return is a thing whose absence cannot be seen. For this procedure, the price will be your child's good fortune."

"My child's good fortune?"
the Head of State does not understand.

"Yes. You will offer the keeper of the road you wish to traverse your child's good fortune. He values such things."

"But why my child's good fortune? Can I not offer my own?"

"What is left of yours? Most of it has been used to forward your career. No, what you will give must come from a source that is still hardly touched. From a child. Your child because it is your future that you wish to see...to see three times, to see clearly."  

The last word is emphasised.

They are four in this delegation. All of them had once sat where he now sat; all were previous leaders of the country. Four out of the five still living. All had played a part in his rise. This one had given him his first pubic office, pulling him out of a mass of petty functionaries and making him the second-in-command of a produce board. And that one had swayed the votes in his favour when it looked like a better connected and wealthier opponent was going to be nominated as the party's candidate for state governor. There had never been a time when one or more of these men had not been in charge of his political destiny and so it was difficult now to reject their collective counsel.

"My child will not die?"

"You have known us all for a long time. To your knowledge, did any of our children die?"

The one speaking was his predeccesor, he is the only one doing all the talking. His Excellency will later find out that this is how it is done: The immediate past speaks to the present about it's future.

As far as he knows, none of them had buried a child while in office. He answers the question:  "No."

"You must make a lot of money. You may think you have a lot now but you will need to keep a lot of money for your child because it's life will be hard...it's life will be unbearable without money. You will keep a lot of money aside for it because nothing it puts it's hand to will work out. But you will never regret what it's sacrifice will buy you. If you make the right choices, you will never regret the cost."

"When can I look at the first future? Can I look today?"

"No, not today, but soon. Take a little time. Think carefully. Then look. But before you do, remember that you only have three. Choose well."

"You all have done this before. Advice me about how to choose."

"Do you know which child you will sacrifice?"

"Yes. One of my daughters has a five year old child. It can be used."

"It will be best if you look into a time when the child is close to the age that you are now. Look and see how you are remembered..."

"How I am remembered."

"Yes. All who have been where you are today sat here with their predecessors as you do with us now. In our time, we all had ideas of what we would do with the awesome power of the office. Each person has his own way of looking at things and, some of these ways are set. Meaning that each man can only react within certain parameters to issues that may arise. Right now, you are your own man, your character shaped by unique experiences. But when you look into the future...when you see how people of that time view your tenure, what you are will change. How you use power will change. We believe that this change is beneficial. What is coming will not change but, how you react may change. You may discover that those parts of your character that you think are virtues are what people will mock or curse you for in the future You may find that things which you think of now as negative...things this you will never consider to be options - are the best or only solutions.
the former leader smiles again, "I am more or less using the exact words that were spoken to me when I asked for advice regarding my choices."

The four delegates stand up. "We have said all that must be said at this point. I shall return to fetch you in three days time."

"Why wait? All that is to be decided has been decided. Let's do it now."

"No. That is not how it is done. You asked advice, it was given. You must now take a little time to make that advice your own decision. And you must gather your strength. Cleanse yourself. Do not eat meat from now until when we shall meet again and, do not lie with a woman."

That been said, four former leaders of our country exit the room, leaving alone our present leader who feels as if he just awoke from a vivid strange dream.