"No, I have another option open to me," I said to Palmerston. "I have a far greater option than the one you may dream of. You have nothing in your armor that would hide you from that. But I can't tell you what it is. You probably wouldn't understand." With that I reached my hand out for a handshake.
"You are treading dangerous waters my friend," said Palmerston, refusing the handshake. "My advise to you is to watch your back and to hope that the next man that comes to meet you will be your boss and friend, bidding you welcome into our fold, instead of being your executioner."
I just laughed. "If you execute me, you execute yourself. You know this perfectly well, and I know it. Your plan, if I don't stop it, leads to your death. You don't want this to happen, do you? This means that you need me, perhaps not in the way you think. But you need me to keep you alive in spite of your folly, by keeping humanity alive."
Palmerston's face became hard as he stood up once more to leave.
I reached my hand out once more for a handshake.
He made a gesture, reaching towards it, but then quickly pulled it back. "The days are over when one has to resort to war to destroy a country. We will get America to destroy itself from within," he said. "We will destroy it together with Europe. We'll get America to drain its own economic resources if need be. We'll get America to start wars if need be. There will be wars that nobody can win. There will be wars that drag on for decades and keep on dragging America down. Just look at Israel. That's how we destroyed Israel already. We lend them money to build Jewish settlements all over Palestine to cause tensions. That caused enormous tensions. The policy of tension is wonderfully destructive. The Middle East could be a paradise with Israel being the economic powerhouse behind it. And it would be if we hadn't intervened. Instead, Israel has been drained and its name been made synonymous with the devil all across the world."
"Haven't you been listening to what I've been saying?" I interjected. "If you destroy America you destroy your last chance to have a future. Of course if America gains itself the freedom to survive, your empire won't survive. However, you and your children will survive. This means that you need me, Mr. Palmerston. You need me and us all, especially America, to save the world for you. The bottom line is, you are bankrupt Mr. Palmerston. You are bankrupt beyond recourse. You are naked behind your facade. You have no power, not even the power to create the condition under which you can survive. Do you remember Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale of the Emperor's New Clothes? A few clever scoundrels convinced everyone that they could weave a fabric of such exquisite beauty that only a competent person would recognize it. So, they labored day and night on their empty looms, diligently producing cloth that everyone was taught to admire, and did admire, including the Emperor who marched in a parade proudly arrayed in new royal clothes that were tailored from the new fabric produced on the empty looms. The whole society sang the song that it was taught to sing, and so all admired the exquisite beauty of the Emperor's new clothes that was made of cloth that never was. Then a child stood up and piped out with a loud and innocent voice, 'but he hasn't got anything on!' That child's naive honesty rekindled the people's honesty with themselves that day, by which the wonderful world of reality was reestablished and everybody had a good laugh at their own silliness."
I added, suggesting to Palmerston, that I might just be that naive child, as he had said so himself that I would qualify for. I told him that his empire was doomed, because it cannot defend itself against the truth. "The little child in Anderson's tale is the humanity of mankind, Mr. Palmerston. It is poised to hit you on all flanks, and none of your flanks is strong enough to withstand the truth that comes to light in our humanity that reflects the Principle of Universal Love. When hope dwindles for humanity love opens a new window. With love we will prevail. So let me invite you to protect your existence. The door is open for you to come and join us."
Palmerston responded by simply walking away. This time he did not stop or hesitate, or look back as he did before. The street into which he disappeared looked as though it was made to measure for him. It was exceedingly narrow and dark, without a single light in it as far as I could tell. It appeared as dark as the path appeared that he and his men had laid out before me.
Unlike the men from the fondi, I didn't walk away into the dark. I remained where I was, still largely stunned, mentally petrified by what had transpired, and more so by my daring rejection of Palmerston's offer that I had thrown boldly back into his face. What I had done seemed utterly foolish all of a sudden. While Fred might be proud of me for having fought back, I couldn't feel that the fight had bought me any advantage. I felt scared. I sat down again and stared aimlessly into the dark of the sea, focusing on a tiny spot of light where the horizon and the island of Lido should be. I remained sitting there for twenty minutes and kept on staring at this tiny speck of light without coming to any conclusion as to how to proceed.
The man was right about one thing that he promised. He was right about the shame that I now felt. I felt ashamed for having come. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt ashamed also that I hadn't tried harder to educate him and his men about the Principle of Universal Love. The still greater daring that this would have involved might have created a brighter world for all of us, even for a man like Palmerston. With this I could have offered him a world far brighter than his fondest hopes and dreams of a world-empire offered. Oh, how I wished that I had Helen with me. On second thought, I realized that she might not have been able to help the man either.
I wondered if the Renaissance powers had felt the same way, that the Venetian Empire was a hopeless case in terms of awakening them to become human beings. I suddenly felt a great deal of compassion for the Renaissance people and their impotence that had caused them to make their historic mistake of turning the Venetian Empire into an enemy of mankind instead of uplifting it with the Renaissance spirit. I wondered if I had made the same mistake with the fondi.
On the way back to the hotel, walking through the empty streets again, crowded only by the ever-present pigeons, I felt a deep compassion for those 'boxed-in' people that had threatened my life that evening. They where already dead as human beings, as dead as they wish the whole world would be. Thomas Hobbes had killed them, as Antonio had pointed out without ever realizing what he had been saying. Indeed, it appeared that they had all drifted way beyond redemption. But what about humanity that follows so willingly in their tracks? Is humanity really beyond redemption? I found this hard to believe. And what about me? I had been deeply injured in his five-hour attack on our common humanity. I felt as if an icy fog had enveloped me and chilled me to the bone.
Yes, the man was right that the tectonic plates of the world had been shifting and would continue to shift, but should we not be able to alter their course? The fondi's tectonics were bringing up all the rotten dead people out from the deep of the bowels of the Earth, which were now rising up arrogantly to destroy civilization. Should we not be able to put them back to where they belong, buried in a history that should not be forgotten, but be hidden in shame, and bring forth all the principles of the great periods of renaissance that made mankind shine like stars in the heavens?
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