Once upon a time, there was a country ruled by a mad king. Most everyone knew he was completely bats, but there were some who suffered from the same delusions as him.
They thought, “This guy’s great!” Well, as was destined to happen, a problem arose. So the people turned to their elected leaders for guidance.
The king said, “Trust me. It’s all fake news.”
The leaders who were followers of the king agreed. Others said it was a serious problem. The leaders’ responses confused and divided the people. That thrilled the king and the leaders who agreed with him.
Time passed, and the problem soon turned into a crisis.
Some people cried out, “We need to ask the scientists for help!” Well, everyone knows that through the centuries, scientists have accomplished great things - cured polio, debunked myths like the earth is flat and the sun and planets revolve around it, etc... But the king and his followers didn’t want to ask the scientists for help.
Anointing themselves geniuses, they said., “Just do what we say, pray, and everything will be fine.”
So, nothing was done, but things only worsened. Soon, those who believed the problem was serious demanded the scientists be asked to help.
And finally, when asked they said, “We can test everyone.”
Now, we all know scientists have vast experience conducting tests. And the proven accuracy of this test was well documented. But the king and his followers were also against testing. They demanded more discussions and studies. Eventually, over the king and his followers’ objections, plans to test moved forward.
When testing began, some people were eager to get tested, and some were not. And some people’s test results matched their expectations, but others did not. Some who received unexpected results were pleased, while others were not. And some found their results so shocking they committed suicide. The statistical results of the testing were published each day. They showed that classifying people based solely on their physical characteristics was grossly inaccurate. So, the scientists proposed a new, more precise, scientific data-based approach.
In response to that, the king and his followers railed, “Science and scientists cannot be trusted!”
This prompted the people angry about their results to claim the tests were flawed and the results falsified. Thus, the scientists were forced to defend their methods and results. And in an attempt to appease the angry people they even offered to conduct retests on request. But none were requested. Shortly thereafter, the scientists, lab workers, and their family members started receiving threatening phone calls and emails. Assaults followed, so many went into hiding or moved their families. Others, fearing for their safety, quit the testing program. Believing logic, rational thinking, and facts would prevail, the scientists reminded the people that the skeletal remains of humankind’s oldest genetic relative had been found in Africa. However, this fact, always conveniently ignored by most of the people, only further infuriated them. With so many people refusing to accept their genetic DNA ancestry results, the scientific-based solution was doomed. Pressure mounted until all the testing results were destroyed and the people could resume classifying others based on their physical appearance. The king and his followers were ecstatic.
They vowed, “No progress, change, or reconciliation now, tomorrow, or forever!”
Unfortunately, this left the country’s longest and gravest societal problem unaddressed. So the crisis continued to spread like a plague until it enveloped and destroyed most of humanity.
Author J L Higgs' short stories explore the interplay between human emotions and actions from a black perspective. He has had over 50 publications, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and resides outside of Boston.