I have good news and bad news: Much like Billy Pilgrim in “Slaughterhouse-Five,” I am unstuck in time.
I died today in 2041 and shortly afterwards was born in 1982. Now, I know what you’re saying, doesn’t knowing what will happen affect the future? By having insight into events that remain mysterious to all other people, shouldn’t I be able to navigate my way around my own untimely demise? And the answer is no. No, no, no. To try to live any other way but this would be folly.
This is why I find Professor Wesley Scroggins’ successful effort to get “Slaughterhouse-Five” banned from public schools in Republic, Missouri so hilarious that I must tell you the results of this decision in joke form. WARNING: TIME TRAVELER SPOILER ALERT! What has no curiosity, will do nothing interesting with in life and will one day die? All the young people in Republic, Missouri.
I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just trying to save everyone a lot of time and energy. I write this knowing that it will change nothing, it is the curse of those of us unstuck in time.
Neither the banning of this book nor Scroggins’ efforts at homeschooling his own children (Scroggins’ petition to ban the book was to benefit other children, his children’s education is carefully manicured) will have any effect on the lives of the young people in Republic, Missouri.
Now for the really funny part. The folks that work at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, who apparently have not read “Slaughterhouse-Five,” are attempting to alter this chain of events by offering to send free copies of the book to high school students in Republic, Missouri. If anyone should understand the ineffectiveness of trying to alter events, it is the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.
By telling Billy Pilgrim’s story the way he and I experience time as unstuck people, Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” clearly demonstrates the inevitability of what happens to us in life. Billy Pilgrim knows what will happen to him and accepts it. To give these young people a copy of “Slaughterhouse-Five,” which they won’t read anyway, could only alert them as well to the futility of their efforts to do anything to change the world around them. If these young people try to change the world (SPOILER ALERT: They won’t) this book will only make them self-aware that whatever the result, it was going to happen anyway. Much like Billy Pilgrim, the kids of Republic, Missouri will go to war, they will work jobs that do not inspire them, they will marry people they are indifferent to, have children who resent them and they will perish. There is nothing they can do to change that. Whatever path life has in store for them, they are locked into it.
Let me give you an example to help illustrate my point. I am going to die, as I mentioned before, in 2041 attempting to prevent the United States from devolving into a civil war. Now, I can only assume this death will change nothing, as I do not know what will happen after my death, but I can tell you that my actions leading up to my being shot will not change the bullet passing through my brain. Knowing THAT, I think it is safe to assume my protest will be futile. Having read “Slaughterhouse-Five” and as an unstuck person myself, I will still protest and die but I will do so knowing my actions accomplish nothing.
This is why I am urging you not to donate money to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s campaign to send out free copies of “Slaughterhouse-Five” to children in Republic, Missouri. Do not write the school board.
I am urging you to give up and go on enjoying your lives, spare these children the enlightenment that their lives are unalterable. I beg you to do this, knowing it will change nothing. If you do donate money and write the school board, don’t feel bad, you had no choice in the matter.
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