A young boy gazed down on the sun-stained, dust-strewn plaza of a dying city from the comfort of a lofty terrace.
Thousands of people were seated quietly far below him. From where he stood, leaning lazily on a carved stone balustrade, it was impossible to see them a(more)s individuals. But it appeared that they were holding hands, and a soft murmur climbed upward through the desert air like a thin column of smoke from a crucible.
The boy turned back to his father, who sat beneath the shade of a canopy, pouring tea from an ornate carafe. "What are they doing, father?" he asked.
His father looked up, an eyebrow raised in mild interest.
"They adhere to the old ways. You see, a long time ago, people believed love was stronger than hate. These people seek to demonstrate their grievances and bring about change without bloodshed."
The boy looked perplexed.
"Of course, you and I know that hate is stronger. It takes years to build a house, a city, an empire, out of love. But it's the work of a few short hours to tear that same labor of love back down to the barren earth in a fit of rage."
The boy turned back to the plaza. "What will we do with them, father?"
"We will kill them, of course." He smiled at the boy and mussed his hair before turning away and disappearing within the castle walls.
The boy was conflicted. He was young, and had not experienced much tribulation in his life. He had not been forced to learn, as his father had, how to take personal credit for all successes, yet blame all his troubles on the world around him.
In that moment, the boy was moved. But he was also his father's son.(less)