“Let me tell you a story about how the world died, Michael.
The boy nodded distractedly.
“No. Always look at me when I’m talking to you. Look up, Michael. Look at my eyes, not my mouth. People will trust you more often. Your eyes tell the world what is in your heart, for all those who can look up to your eyes and care to see. Understand?
The six year old did as he was told, looking up from the coloring book he was working on with unwavering concentration. He had crayon pasted on his cheek, but his stare was hardened steel. And then, the sparkle and a slight grin. I let myself smile a little.
“As I was trying to say, we weren’t always this unflinchingly cold, but the moral of this story is that it takes but one man to topple the lofty castles of a quintessential human “weakness.” All he needs to destroy it is the twin edges of logic and reason. The man who taught me and the world this unforgiving lesson was named Michael, like you.
“This Michael lived inside a hermetically sealed container for the entirety of his life. The blood that kept him warm and alive was protected by an unbreakable seal of stone-faced will and a non-responsive stare. The people who knew him in his early childhood tried to call him Mike, trying to make friends with him, but he never let it catch on. Later in his life, many people would call him, ‘Michael the Blue,’ because he always seemed extraordinarily lifeless and pale.
“Nothing warm-blooded ever got under his skin, and nothing cold-blooded ever got out either. Immune to emotion and therefore, intrinsically not human, he had not aged a single year his entire life, seemingly. It was as though the vacuum in his heart translated to a blank slate on his face. He grew taller and worked on his body in precise, geared movements on the soccer field, but his attempts to create scars on his skin were as futile as the efforts of the people around him that tried in equal frustration to have an impact on his life.
“But where his psychiatrists and family failed, the unemotional world of technical manuals did not. He worked towards forced, cognitive feeling, but just like the intelligence of a personal computer never duplicated the machinations of emotion, he too fell short. There were no parameters anyone could find to describe the moody tilts of normal people, so he could even pretend to understand warmth. The manuals always had parameters.
“He never had a girlfriend, or a wife, or even a mistress. He never had an outlet for his obviously frenetic sexuality. Cold hard reason did not permit such luxuries. Cold hard reason did not permit the existence of God either. The facts weren’t in His favor. He believed in nothing but his own ability to move forward in life with his unique credentials.
“It only seemed natural that he would make the jump to politics. His legislation was as cold-heartedly analytical as his relationships through life were. The form of these innumerable bills that refined every little indescribable fact into law were modeled after the the tech-books that were his preferred reading. Slowly, as law became habit, people began to find ways to seal themselves off from other people too. As God died, so did a nation of human beings.
“Michael died an old, lonely man with no true scars or crow’s feet. The only scar he ever earned was the frown on his face that he left behind even after he was gone. He died fretfully. He hadn’t found any technical manuals that described what was on the other side. He felt nothing, but felt as though there was something missing right before he closed his eyes for the last time. He saw a faint glimmer of warmth, and at last, maybe, fear.
“He left no heirs but those he left in the wake of his heartless rampage through the only thing he could never understand – love. The most desolate thing about the entire whirlwind of change he inflicted upon guileless millions is that he thought that he had won. I will not lie to you. Progress has been made, but many say that it has been in the wrong direction. The worlds of math and science have brought us many comforts, but without the essential core of Humanity, what is the point of our unique existence? Man has sunk far from the social, intelligent animal he was, and his nose might not be above water. The hope that it is, is all that drives the few of us who know that the old world must return. We must go home.
“We are merely impassive machines now compared to the God-like creatures that witnessed the beauties of art, compassion and pain, Michael. We have lost sin miles ago in the dust, but we have also lost everything else along with it. We have burned the forest down to kill a few measly weeds. We’re all languid and bloodless, like the apathetic robots that the first Michael of this age taught us to be. But we will teach you how to feel. You will be the ceiling for our Sistine Chapel, and we shall mold you like Michelangelo molded the Renaissance statues of the Vatican, we will help you make sentences of your words like those that Camus made for his passionate masterpieces. You will draw laughter from people as easily as you draw tears. You are a special, special boy, Michael.
“You will be the new saint of a new age, and you will draw these guileless millions into light by the strength and the beauty of your loving, forgiving character. You will teach the world to feel again through impeccable example and compassionate leadership. The heirs you leave in your wake will call you, ‘Michael the Red,’ and Michael the Blue will be but a name in a History book.
The boy nodded again. Quietly, the voice that would change the world spoke.
You can call me Mike.