On grounds of female solidarity
Lisa, a psychologically disturbed young mother, tries to commit suicide. A miracle occurs, which should help Lisa deal with her problems.
If we create a new child-rearing system, both children and adults will benefit from it.
Lisa opened the window and climbed onto the window sill. Her clouded intellect has finally taken over the sensation of fear and the self-preservation instinct. She glanced back, looking around the room as if trying to find something that could hold her back in this life. Suddenly a baby began crying in the other room. Lisa closed her eyes and took a step into the void...
Six hours prior ...
The morning began as usual - the “little overlord” no longer wanted to sleep, and demanded food and a diaper change. It seemed that Lisa must have already gotten used to her new daily routine, because the baby had recently turned six months old. But that didn't happen. Lisa just lay there for a couple of minutes with her eyes closed and didn't move, listening to little David crying in the crib three meters away. Lisa's husband, Edward, also woke up and began shifting around on the bed and sighing to remind Lisa that it was time for her to get up and start her daily rounds.
Lisa (in her head) Crap, why are you yelling like that? Why are you crying? What's wrong again? God, I'm so tired of all this... I wish I hadn't woken up at all today. I can't take it anymore...
Lisa: (in her head again) But I have no choice, I am a mother! How can I even say that? How can I not love my own son so deeply?! He's a part of me. He is a small defenseless child who needs me so much, and I am a weak and selfish skank! Come on, get up, quick!
Fighting the negative thoughts and fatigue, Lisa got out of bed.
A couple of hours later, Edward woke up and went out into the living room to eat breakfast before going to work. Lisa, held the baby with one hand and made sandwiches for Edward with the other. Then she put the food on the table and sat down.
Lisa: (begging) Let's go away, pack up, drop everything and get the three of us out of here... what do you say?
Edward took his wife by the hand with tenderness and understanding.
Edward: Honey, I know how hard this is on you. Do you want me to take some time off from work and take care of David for a couple of days, so you can rest? Alright?
Lisa shook her head.
Edward: Try to change your attitude to this. Don't think of it as a problem, try to see new opportunities and something positive in it. Remember you told me about the girl who runs her blog about how she is raising her little daughter. She manages to raise a child, keep a blog, do sports, have fun and travel, too. Look at all of this from a different perspective. I think you're just fixated on problems. Millions of families around the world are raising children, some even have two or three, and they’re doing just fine… And they are still happy. Children are pure happiness, aren't they? They are the meaning of our lives.
Tears started flowing down Lisa's cheeks.
Edward: Lisa, being a mother is every woman's natural function. It's normal. Just think – soon this little helpless human will turn into an independent adult. And it's up to you who he becomes and what he will be like. Isn't that amazing? And he's also an extension of our family. He is our flesh and blood. Just think about it.
Edward shook Lisa's shoulder gently.
Edward: So, have you calmed down? Call your mom, see if she can give you some good advice on how to deal with it. Okay?
Lisa started nodding obediently.
Edward went to work, and Lisa continued her daily maternity marathon. Little David decided to take a nap, after crying and playing for long enough. Grateful to God for that, Lisa quietly tiptoed towards the sofa, sat down and closed her eyes. But her happiness didn't last for too long. The baby started crying again. In an angry outburst, Lisa darted towards the crib.
Lisa: (grabbing the baby and shaking it furiously) What's all this whining again?! What-what-what-what's wrong again?! I wish you hadn't been born at all!!! Why weren't you born dead!?
When Lisa heard her own words, she suddenly snapped out of it and cried.
Lisa: God, what kind of rubbish am I saying!!!.... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, my baby, forgive your useless mother!
Lisa firmly pressed the baby to her chest and started kissing him. Half an hour later, Lisa calmed down a bit. She was sitting on the floor, and little David was crawling around her. The phone rang.
Lisa: Hi, Mom.
Mom: Lisa, darling, how are you doing? Edward called, he says you're not doing well again. Do you want me to come and help you?
Lisa: No, Mom, no need, I can handle it.
Mom: Lisa, sweetheart, look, you should see a therapist. I've read that many modern moms encounter problems of this sort. You know, your behavior isn't normal. It's a mental disorder. A mother must love her child, and that...
Lisa: Mom! Stop it! I love David! I just didn't expect it to be so hard, I just didn't know... (Lisa started whimpering again)
Mom: Lisa, listen to me, I raised three children, you and your two brothers...
Lisa: Mom, let's not talk about what a heroic mother you are, and how you managed to work and bring us up, let's not, alright? You and I are completely different people, with different worldviews.
Mom: Well, see, you don't even want to listen to me. It's all because you're selfish!
Lisa: I am selfish?...
Mom: Let me talk! Look, Lisa, I know what you mean. This is a very different time. Young girls have been brainwashed by all kinds of nonsense from the Internet about girls having to realize their potential in life, about being strong and independent... I'll tell you what: don't argue with nature! A woman's main task in life is to breed and raise offspring. The rest is the work of the devil! You need to get all this stuff out of your head and realize that you're a mother now. And now your main task is to keep the home hearth and raise your son so that he grows up healthy, happy and in need of nothing. Can you hear me?
Lisa: (sobbing) I hear you.
Mom: Lisa, it's time for you to get your act together. It's time you grew up and put all those stupid dreams about spaceships and stars out of your head. Believe me, they'll figure it all out without your input. You'll never be a great scientist anyway, because you'll be beaten by stronger and smarter men. I know this is hard for you to understand, but you'll get used to it.
Lisa: Get used to what? Forgetting about my personal life forever? Not listening to my heart and doing what I have to and not what I want? Pretending that I'm doing well and acting like a happy housewife? Lying to my husband and son that I love them very much? Living my child's life instead of my own for as long as I have left? Do I have to get used to that?
Mom: Don't be like this, Lisa! Why turn everything upside down? Honey, you have no idea how wonderful being a mother is. It's an incredible, beautiful life experience. You will watch your little son grow, start walking, say his first word, go to first grade, have his first girlfriend. God, it's gonna be so much fun... Lisa, it's beautiful! It's a real miracle! Being a mother is a real gift. Yeah, it'll be hard sometimes, but it's all worth it.
Lisa: I don't think I'll ever understand it. (sighs)
Mom: It just seems this way, sweetheart. We've all been through this. At some point, I had my ambitions and wanted to conquer this world, too. But when you were born, I realized the true meaning of my life.
Lisa: You didn't understand anything. You were just broken, just like I'm getting broken now.
Mom: Lisa, stop saying that! Nobody is breaking you. It's not like anyone forced you to have a baby.
Lisa: What? I actually wanted to have an abortion! You and Edward talked me into giving birth! You've all been going on and on that abortion is no good, and that I have to give my child a chance at life!
Mom: Anyway, there's no point in talking about that anymore. Whether you like it or not, you'll have to change your life and become a mother! And the sooner you get over it, the sooner you'll feel better...
Lisa's expression suddenly changed. She put the phone aside without even hanging up. Her mother's voice could still be heard from the phone, as she tried in vain to say something to Lisa. Lisa gazed into space and sat like for a while. She didn't even notice that little David had crawled into the next room. She sat there until the baby's cries brought her back to reality. But this time she didn't feel any irritation. Something inside her has calmed down. She stood up quietly and went about being a responsible mother.
Soon the baby fell asleep again. Lisa leaned over the baby dozing off in the crib.
Lisa: I'm sorry, baby. I'm a worthless mother. I love you very much, but I can't live like this anymore. I hope that when you grow up, you'll understand me. I could just run away from all this, but I can't live with the thought of leaving you. I only have one way out of this situation. I'm sorry, honey, I'm sorry...
Lisa sat down at the table in the living room and started writing a note.
"Edward, I can't take it anymore. I'm tired of these mood swings. Believe me, I love our son very much, but I hate him at the same time, and it depresses me the most. How can you hate your own child? Maybe Mom's right, and I really am selfish. I guess I'm not ready to sacrifice my life in order to raise our baby. But I can't live with that thought anymore. Forgive me for everything. Lisa."
Lisa opened the window and climbed onto the window sill. Her clouded intellect has finally taken over the sensation of fear and the self-preservation instinct. She glanced back, looking around the room as if trying to find something that could hold her back in this life. Suddenly a baby began crying in the other room. Lisa closed her eyes and took a step into the void.The wind whistled in her ears. But suddenly something happened. Lisa felt a sharp jolt and opened her eyes. A bright flash of light blinded her, and she passed out.
Lisa woke up in a strange place. She was sitting in an armchair. Across from her, in a chair just like hers... Lisa could not immediately understand who was sitting opposite her. Because of the bright flash, Lisa still couldn't see well and everything around her seemed blurry.
Lisa: Where am I? What's wrong? Am I dead?
Lisa started shifting around in her chair and looking around. That's when a distinct female voice sounded in her head:
“Don't worry, Lisa, you're not dead.”
Startled, Lisa jumped up in her chair. It was strange that she couldn't figure out where the voice was coming from. The vision returned to Lisa, and she saw that whoever was sitting across from her was not human. Surprised and frightened, Lisa climbed into the back of the chair.
Lisa: Oh, my God! What is this? Where am I?
The creature across form her tilted its head. Actually, it looked sort of like a person. He had arms, legs, a head, eyes and a mouth. But all the proportions were slightly different than those of an earthling. And its skin was of a different color. The creature's lips were motionless, but the soft female voice sounded in Lisa's head once again:
"My name is Mu. You are on my spaceship now."
Perplexed Lisa could not immediately gather her thoughts and ask the next question. Instead, she began to look around, surveying the spaceship’s elements and the looks of its owner (whatever sex it was). Soon the gift of speech returned to Lisa.
Lisa: What... what happened to me? I remember how I... God, what have I done...
The humanoid's lips were still motionless, but Lisa once again heard the woman's voice in her head.
Mu: You tried to jump out of a window and kill yourself, but I decided to save you. I apologize for not letting you go through with your decision. I acted rashly and broke many rules and restrictions. However, I have an excuse, which is more important than any rules and prohibitions - my inner self really wanted to save you and not let you die. That's why you're here. However, if we go deeper, we can find a more rational explanation for my action.
Lisa continued to look at the interior of the alien spacecraft in astonishment, while the female woman's voice kept speaking.
Mu: I may have saved you because of female solidarity, if I can put it that way, given the rather serious differences between our civilizations. I've been keeping an eye on you for a long time. And I may have figured out the reason for your tragic act even more precisely than you did.
Lisa: You were watching me? What for? Crap, I can’t believe it. (Lisa started rubbing her eyes and face with her palms as if she wanted to wake up)
Mu: I wasn't just watching you, but many other women on your planet. It's part of my scientific research. I'm a scientist, just like you. This fact also played a very important role. Psychologically, you were ready to meet me, and I think that our acquaintance would be good for both of us.
Lisa was quiet for a while, trying to get her thoughts together.
Lisa: Sorry, I still can't get used to this voice in my head. It's so unusual. How do you know my language? This voice has no accent at all.
Lisa looked at Mu. There was clearly a light smile on her face.
Mu: That voice you are hearing is actually your voice. I'm just transmitting thought forms into your mind through telepathy. My civilization has already mastered this kind of communication.
Lisa: Unbelievable... So what do I do now? I mean, what are you gonna do with me now?
Mu: I'll try to help you.
Lisa: Phew, I thought I was your guinea pig, and I was in for a series of fun experiments.
Mu: No, we aren't into animal husbandry or torturing other living beings. But the universe is home to many other civilizations, some of which have different views on the subject. And these civilizations are hard at work on Earth, too.
Lisa: You mean that all these stories about kidnapping, experiments and other horrors are not fictional?
Mu: No, they are not fictional. But don't rack your brain over it right now. You're not ready to talk about it yet.
Lisa: Why are we so interesting to you, why are there several civilizations watching us?
Mu: Well, Lisa, it's a very ancient and confusing story. It's going to take me a long time to get you up to speed. Let's save it for later.
Lisa: Shit, the time! What time is it? How long was I unconscious? My son is still there, at home! I have to go back and feed him. I have to see him right away, what if something had happened to him...
Mu: Calm down, Lisa. There's nothing wrong with him. We'll go over there right now.
As soon as the voice in Lisa's head fell silent, she felt that she was no longer sitting in a chair, but hanging in the air, held by an unknown force. Then there was another flash of light and Lisa miraculously found herself in her living room. A moment later, Mu appeared in the living room. The window was still open and the wind was blowing through the room. Lisa closed the window and ran to the bedroom, where a loud baby scream was coming from.
Mu watched with interest, while she fed and cared for her baby.
Lisa: Forgive me, sweetheart, forgive your stupid mother. God, I'm such a fool...
The voice started up again in Lisa's head, and she looked at Mu.
Mu: Lisa, you shouldn't blame yourself. The problem is not just in you. I'd even say it's more of a social problem. Do you want to talk about it? Maybe I can help you.
Lisa: I'm not even sure... I'm totally confused. I didn't want to have the baby, but my family talked me into it. And now I'm being torn apart by contradictions. On the one hand, I really do love David. Even though my love may not be as powerful as the books describe a mother's love, I definitely have tender feelings when I look at my baby. Of course, I also feel responsible for this child, responsible for his health, his upbringing and destiny. But at the same time, I am depressed by the fact that this child has completely changed my life. Now I can't do what I want. I really love my job. I study deep space. But because of the pregnancy, I had to stop my scientific work. It turned out that I'm not ready to give up part of my time to raise a child. Maybe Mom's right, and I am selfish.
Mu: It's healthy selfishness. The people in your society usually use this word only to hang a negative label on a person. They never think about the deeper meaning of the concept itself.
Lisa: Very recently I finally understood why motherhood is so hard on me. When I wake up in the morning and it's still dark, I can't tell my son "let's get some more sleep," because the "little master" has already had enough sleep. When I have some bloodwork done, and all the indicators are off, I can't get a full workup because it would take time. Time for myself. But I have to forget about myself, because I'm a mother now. When my throat hurts, I can't lie in bed under a warm blanket. When I'm hungry, I can't eat a meal in peace. When I need to go to the store, the bank, anywhere, the stars must come together perfectly, so that the baby is full, well-rested and in good spirits, so that the trip goes without a bout of screaming. Every day is like the previous one, I am tense all the time: make sure he doesn't fall and doesn't get bored, eats and sleeps on time.
Lisa put the baby in the crib and started rocking it.
Lisa: I became afraid of my son's cries. When he cries, my soul splinters into thousands of pieces because I don't know how I can help him. I think he's suffering, so he cries and screams. At times, when I felt incredibly bad, I imagined that I was the nanny, and this was not my son. That's how I tried to fool my brain so I wouldn't react so painfully to the crying that literally ripped my heart out. It was as if I was slowly going crazy. I felt guilty towards my son and lived with the feeling that I was doing something wrong. I seemed like a terrible, worthless, incapable defective mother to myself. But what scared me most was another feeling...
Mu: Which one was that?
Lisa: The feeling of hatred towards this child. Yeah, I get that feeling for him a lot. The hatred that stems from the fact that I had to give up something I love because of him, something I wanted to devote my whole life to. He has transformed me into a robot that simply performs child-rearing functions and satisfies his and my husband's needs. Of course, I realize it's not the tiny baby's fault. I know my actions are wrong, but there's nothing I can do about it. I even hit him hard recently, and then I cried and apologized to him. This emotional instability torments me the most.
Lisa started crying again. She pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket and started wiping her face with it.
Lisa: (through tears and sobs) I know perfectly well what's going to come out of all this. These outbursts of hatred will definitely take their toll on the kid. In the future, they will only grow stronger and more sophisticated. The child will suffer, and we don't know how all this suffering will affect his future life. I don't want to take that kind of responsibility. I can't... Anyway, I don't know what to do next...
Suddenly, Lisa had an unusual feeling as if someone was gently stroking her... not on the head, but on her consciousness, so to speak. She felt calm and peaceful, and stopped crying. All those negative thoughts that kept torturing her suddenly became vague and ambiguous. They stopped bothering her. No, they didn't disappear, it's just that they no longer evoked any emotion in Lisa.
Mu: Are you feeling any better, Lisa?
Lisa looked into Mu's huge inhuman eyes.
Lisa: Yes, I'm better... what did you do? It was you, wasn't it?
Mu: I only allowed myself to soothe your mind a little. Now you can look at all your thoughts from the outside without any excess emotion. Emotions don't always help us see the truth. Emotions are needed for other things. Right now, they are only obstructing your view.
Lisa: It's an amazing feeling...
Mu: Some people on your planet can work like this with their consciousness on their own. They achieve this effect through meditation. Okay, now we can finally talk in peace.
Lisa: I read somewhere that suicides are quite common among young mothers.
Mu: Yes, that's true. My observations confirm that, too. Some people end their lives, and take their child along.
Lisa: People are extremely negative about mothers like this. They judge them and think they are psychos.
Mu: In most cases, these women are not psychos, they are simply victims of your social structure, the system in which you live. These women should not be judged, they need help. Also conclusions need to be drawn, so that it does not happen again in the future. Earthlings are pretty strange in this respect - you don't like to draw conclusions from your negative experiences, and history repeats itself many, many times. And your society is also very much prone to various stereotypes.
Lisa: Yeah, it's hard to argue with that.
Mu: You've achieved good results in technology, but your social culture is still stuck somewhere in the Middle Ages. It's far behind in technology and it leads to an imbalance.
Lisa: Are you talking about the woman's place in our world?
Mu: Not only that, but also child-rearing and the role of the family in society. Many earthlings still believe that a woman’s main purpose is giving birth to children, their upbringing and maintaining their homes, while the men are supposed to get food and ensure safety. These ideas have long outlived themselves, to put it mildly.
Lisa: I know all that firsthand. My mom's been talking my ears off about me being a mother and having to do this and that... I'm sure that Edward, my husband, thinks the same thing, but he doesn't want to admit it.
Mu: Your other distinctive feature is that you deify everything about children way too much. Children and motherhood are something of a cult to you. Everything about it is surrounded by a halo of holiness and divinity in your society. It is no wonder that your society sees the creation and upbringing of offspring as its main goal in life. For many women on Earth, there is no purpose in life other than to bear and raise children. That's why you give your children too much of your time and energy. You care too much for them, which ultimately plays a negative role in their future lives.
Lisa: It makes sense, because women have nowhere else to funnel their life energy. Alright, so they put every little bit of it in their children. But I don't understand why that's bad? Doesn't this increased attention help them develop more quickly and be happier?
Mu: Living beings come into this world to manifest themselves in a certain way, to manifest themselves as individuals. And this increased attention and care on the part of parents makes them dependent, teaches them to accept someone else's opinion instead of forming their own, teaches them to listen and obey older people's commands. As a result, a society like this has no chance of developing. It stagnates, or develops very slowly because your young generation has no freedom of action. They are bound by hands and feet by their parents' delusions and vices.
Lisa: It's true... and it's so strange that I haven't thought of it before.
Mu: And on the other hand, your approach to raising children in families limits the options for parents. When a baby appears, they are also forced to do things that they don't care for, too. They have to give most of their time to their child. In the end, everyone suffers.
Lisa: Yes, that sounds familiar.
Mu: The family in your society is also deified to the max, since it's the main source of children. Family must be the greatest virtue for all of you. Your entire social system is built around your family. And it's also a major obstacle to your development. In addition, the family is an excellent tool for manipulating society for individuals and groups with self-serving goals.
Lisa: Family really does mean a lot to us. Even to me... Isn't that natural?
Mu: Actually, it's all wistful thinking. Let's get back to your feelings. You're blaming yourself for not loving your son and for hating him.
Lisa: No, I love him...
Mu: You just want to think that because that's what the society expects. In fact, kinship relationships do not have to necessarily cause a feeling of love. It's a mistake. There are endless examples of this in your society.
Lisa: Are you saying that motherly love is fiction?
Mu: I want to say that motherly love is not imperative for every single person. And if you don't have some kind of supernatural love for your child, it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Lisa: So, what do I do now? (Lisa looked at David, who was sleeping quietly in the crib.)
Mu: Unfortunately, your society has no other child-rearing system. So you'll have to accept some of the inconveniences. But you still have to do what you want. You want to be a scientist, so be a scientist.
Lisa: What about David?
Mu: Nothing's going to happen to him. You shouldn't run to him as soon as he calls. Dump all those stereotypes about motherhood that have put roots down in your head. I'm not telling you to abandon the baby or put him in an orphanage. Just let him be independent.
Lisa: I don't really know what you mean. It's so complicated for me...
Mu: I've got an idea. Do you want me to show you how the parenting process works in my society?
Lisa: Show me?
Mu: Yeah, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
Lisa: What do you mean?
Mu: I'm inviting you on a little tour of my planet. It'll only take a couple of hours.
Lisa: What? A couple of hours? But how... ? What about David? I can't leave him alone again.
Mu: Lisa, David's gonna be okay. He's not going anywhere. You'll be home before your husband gets back from work. I promise you. You've always wanted to go to another planet and see how alien civilizations live, haven't you?
Lisa: Yes, I have... but I never thought it would happen in real life. This is all so sudden...
Mu: Give me your hand. We're going back to the ship.
Mu extended her hand. Lisa looked excitedly at the baby, who was asleep in his crib, and took Mu by the hand. That's when a flash of light blinded Lisa for a moment, and she was once again in Mu's spaceship, in a room with two chairs. Mu sat down in a chair, and Lisa began to circle the room and look around. Suddenly one of the room walls became transparent and Lisa saw Earth.
Lisa: Oh, my God, we're in orbit!
Lisa came up to the huge porthole and stared at the Earth.
Lisa: God, it's beautiful... simply unbelievable. We're getting away from it, aren't we?
Mu: Yes. We need to fly a bit to the side in order to use the leap.
Lisa: Leap? Are we going to fly through hyperspace?
Mu: Flying may not be the right word here. Our interstellar engines operate on their own space frequency. You're not familiar with this technology yet. If we want to avoid the complex scientific explanations, they essentially boil down to the fact that every object in the universe, be it a planet, a star, or even a certain point in space, has its own cosmic frequency. In fact, we're not going anywhere, we're just going to change this cosmic frequency and find ourselves somewhere else. It's kind of like a regular radio. You change the frequency with the knob on the radio transmitter, and eventually you can listen to different radio stations. Approximately the same is true for our engines. Only instead of radio stations we've gpt planets, stars and galaxies. Alright, we're far enough from Earth to make the jump. Are you ready?
Lisa: No! Wait... (Lisa started looking for something to grab a hold of)
Mu: Lisa, you won't feel much when you leap. Just sit in the chair and look out the window.
Lisa sat down in the chair and started looking. For a moment the image in the porthole disappeared and appeared again. But now a completely different planet was visible through the window. Lisa felt a little dizzy, as if she were riding the elevator.
Lisa: Oh, my God, we've leaped! It's a different planet! It's not Earth!
Mu: That’s right, Lisa. Welcome to Lalu!
Lisa jumped out of the chair and ran up to the window.
Lisa: Unbelievable... the beauty of it... Mu, I have so many questions for you...
As the ship was approaching Lalu, Lisa was bombarding Mu with endless questions.
Mu: Honey, unfortunately, I can't tell you everything. I think you can guess why that is. Besides, we don't have much time. I'm about to go into orbit now, and we're going to move to the shuttle. It will take us down to the planet, and I’ll show you my city. Lisa, please, follow me.
A passage appeared in the wall opposite the porthole. They passed through several corridors and found themselves in a small room with two small shuttles that looked like... flying saucers. There were four chairs in each one of them.
Mu: Lisa, come on in and sit right here. (Mu pointed to a chair)
Lisa: Wow... we're going down... (Lisa instinctively started looking for a seat belt)
Mu: Don't worry, Lisa, you won't be needing a seatbelt. You won't even feel us flying. You won't feel any overload or weightlessness.
The shuttle flew out of the spaceship and started gliding towards the planet. Soon it dove into the dense atmosphere, passed through the clouds and reemerged right above the city.
Lisa: Wow, it's a town, isn't it? (Lisa glued herself to the glass) I can't believe it... I'm looking at an alien city!
Mu: What do you think? Doesn't seem that different from your town, does it?
Lisa: No... but only at first sight. All of your buildings and structures have no corners! They're all round and oval! Awesome!
The shuttle descended further and further until it hung several dozens of meters above the ground. Ahead of it there was a weirdly shaped building that consisted of spheres and hemispheres. There was a lot of greenery and trees around it.
Mu: Well, this is where we'll start our little excursion. Lisa, I want to tell you and show you a little bit about how motherhood and parenting work in our society. About five Earth years ago, I was a mother, too.
Lisa took her eyes off the city and looked at Mu.
Mu: Yes, I have a child. However, in our society, being a mother is not the purpose of life or the object of admiration and worship. We have a perfectly rational approach to this. Having a baby in our world is like paying your taxes. It's a debt to society. We realize that we need to have children in order to preserve our civilization. But unlike you, we precisely calculate the number of children that we need to have and treat their education very consciously.
Lisa: Yes, we do have a problem with that. Women on Earth often give birth to children for completely different reasons: one may want to tie a man to herself this way, another may have just gotten bored and lost interest in living, and believe that the birth and upbringing of a child is at least something that justifies their own existence and provides some point in life. They also give birth to strengthen a family in crisis. A lot of the babies are just unplanned, Like mine. In our society, many people think that abortion is bad, and ruining your own and your child's life is good. Are there abortions in your world? Sorry, that must be a stupid question... I don't even know your physiology.
Mu: Our physiology is very similar to yours. Actually, that's why we are studying you and your society. We do not need abortions because we cannot get pregnant accidentally or carelessly. It can only be done consciously.
Lisa: You are very lucky...
Mu: Our women are involved in raising children until the baby more or less learns to walk on their own, hold objects in their hands and eat. It usually takes the same time as in your world - about a year and a half or two. Look, over there in the park on the alley, you see? Wait, I'm gonna put the image on the screen now.
One of the shuttle glass sections has turned into a screen with an image on it.
Mu: You see that woman walking in the park with her toddler.
Lisa: Wow... I see...
Mu: Look, the baby still can't walk very well... see, he fell down and cried, but his mother is in no mad rush to help him. She sat down on the bench and waited for him to stand up on his own and approach her.
Lisa: She doesn't seem to pay any attention to it at all... that's real composure for you. And what happens when he grows older?
Mu: Then the woman gets on with her life, and the baby gets on with theirs.
Lisa: What does that mean?
Mu: The baby goes to a special facility similar to your kindergarten. He grows and develops there among his kind. Kindergarten seamlessly turns into school, and this goes on until the age of majority.
Lisa: We call it an orphanage...
Mu: No, it's entirely different. In our children's institutions, children do not become angry because their parents abandoned them. They all grow up without parents.
Lisa: Don't their parents visit them on weekends or holidays?
Mu: No. They send the child to the institution, and they will never know who they grow up to be. No children belong to us or to anyone else in our society. We share all the children. And we share the parents.
Lisa: Who is responsible for child-rearing? How do they live without maternal love and attention?
Mu: They get some maternal love and attention in the first two years of their lives. Then they don't need that love anymore. They learn to be independent and seek their own life path. Adult attention would only prevent them from doing that. Adults have opinions on different aspects of life, and whether they want to or not, they would instill these opinions in their child. And that's a major impediment to the development of society as a whole.
Lisa: So, do children live alone in these institutions?
Mu: Of course not. They are assisted by specially trained staff. These are usually people who like working with children, who really love children and are willing to give up their whole lives to help the new generation find themselves and their path. It is a highly valued profession, or, should I say, a vocation. Similar to your football and basketball players. We understand that the future of our civilization depends on these people.
Lisa: Sarcasm appreciated. But I totally agree with you...
Mu: Sarcasm? Oh, sorry, that was all accidental... Besides, any adult can come to the institution and spend some time with the children, if they want to. He can play with them, read them books, tell them about his profession or about his life.
Lisa: Do adults often do this?
Mu: Quite often. We believe that you can find the truth by talking to the children. Interaction with children helps adults understand that everything around them is just a game and should be treated more lightly, just like children treat it. Kids play their games, we play other games, but it doesn't change the essence of it. Look, there are two adults playing ball with kids on the playground.
The image on the screen was updated. Lisa saw a dozen children and two adults running and kicking something that looked more like a lightning ball than a regular one.
Mu: They don't know if their own child is among these children. They're not interested in it at all.
Lisa: This is amazing, Mu! This is simply amazing! That's not how we usually... Blood kinship means a lot to most people in our world. Your child and someone else's child are completely different things to most people on our planet... unfortunately.
Mu: Among other things, that raises a problem: parents treat their children as their property. The parents force their children to become what they want them to be. From the point of view of our civilization, this crime is no less cruel and terrible than the Holocaust on your planet.
Lisa began nodding thoughtfully.
Mu: That is why we have created an educational system that protects our children from the negative influence of their parents and adults in general. We have children growing up as if they were within their own children's society. A society within a society, you know?
Lisa: How do they learn?
Mu: The goal of our education and upbringing is not to stuff children with all kinds of knowledge and information, but to teach them to understand life, to look for their own path, to reflect on the meaning of their own life, to seek opportunities for self-realization. At the same time, all classes at the schools are optional. No one forces children to learn math or literature. They do it of their own free will. Look here (Mu pointed to the screen), there's a lesson conducted behind that window, see? And over there, the kids are making something and playing.
Lisa: You know, we have schools like that on Earth too! I heard about a school in England called Summerhill, I think... But it's more of an exception than a rule. I guess we're not ready for that yet.
Mu: It is not a matter of readiness, it is a matter of will and choice.
Lisa: And once again, you're right about this. We are weak-willed creatures... we only repeat whatever we see on TV. Even I could not resist the pressure of my family and society, although I was always sure I could!
Mu: Lisa, you're young, and there's so much still ahead of you. I don't think you're ever gonna let anyone else make decisions for you.
Lisa: I just realized that the best thing I can do for David is to send him to a school like this when he grows up a little.
Mu: That's a great idea, Lisa.
Lisa: I also really want to continue my scientific work! What I saw today just blew my mind! This incredible tour was like a breath of fresh air for me. Mu, I'm really grateful to you for that! I feel the desire to live again... the mysteries of the universe are enticing and life seems full of joy.
Mu: I'm really glad I could help you with something, Lisa.
A barely visible smile appeared on Mu's face again.
Lisa: We should get back, right?
Mu: Yeah, but before we do, I'm gonna take you for a ride around town.
The shuttle was gliding over the city. Sometimes at Mu's command it dove into the abyss of urban bustle with hundreds and thousands of similar shuttles and other flying machines, then soared up over the mountains, urban high-rises and quirky buildings. Lisa was in seventh heaven.
Then there was the quick trip to the spacecraft and an even quicker leap back to Earth.
Mu: It's time for us to say our goodbyes, Lisa...
Lisa darted towards Mu and gave her a big hug.
Lisa: Thank you... thank you for everything.
Mu: Goodbye, Lisa.
Lisa: Why say goodbye? Perhaps our civilization will make a leap soon, and we will see each other again, but under different circumstances.
Mu: Maybe. I'll see you then!
Lisa: See you later!
Mu dissolved in the bright white light and Lisa found herself at home. Lisa ran up to the window and looked up at the sky. Suddenly a feeling of anxiety and excitement came over her. She got dizzy and sat down on the sofa so as not to fall. She sat there and scrolled through all the things that had happened to her in the last three hours.
Lisa: It's impossible... simply impossible...
Lisa started to suffocate from the emotional tsunami coming over her. Her heart was pounding like crazy and everything went black before her eyes.
Lisa: Phew, Mu must have dulled my emotional perception somehow, so I wouldn't go crazy from what I saw and experienced. Like local anesthesia... and now the anesthesia is gone and I feel the consequences of what has happened to me... God, I was kidnapped by aliens... wait, wait... no one kidnapped me. That alien, Mu, she saved me... Oh, my God... aliens do exist... well, have I ever doubted that?... I can't believe this... What am I supposed to do with all this?...
Lisa put her fingers in her hair and started massaging her head. Soon she felt better, and started to come around. The apartment was surprisingly quiet and it alerted Lisa. Suddenly, she remembered David. She wanted to jump up on her feet and run to the bedroom where the baby was lying, but instead she forced herself to calm down, slowly got up, went to the window, looked outside and only then went to the bedroom. To her surprise, the baby lay quietly in his crib and fumbled with the toys hanging above him. Lisa picked him up and went back into the living room.
Lisa: All right, David, sit over here next to your mom. There's something we’ve got to do now.
Lisa put the baby on the sofa next to her, and opened the laptop.
Lisa: Okay, let's try to find it... Summerhill school... yeah, here it is...
Lisa took the phone and dialed the number.
Lisa: Hi, I would like to speak with someone about getting into your school. Oh, with you, wonderful... What's the minimum age for a child to attend your school? Yes, I see... that's excellent. Thank you. I'll be sure to call you again. I have to discuss this with my husband. Alright, goodbye!
Lisa took the baby in her arms and pressed him firmly to her chest.
David, you're going to be the happiest kid in the world!
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