Challenge #00774 - B043: The Careful Calculation

Person #1: Fear is easy. Fear is cheap. Instead of fear, we’re going to give the people hope.
Person #2: Fear vs. Hope. Hardly an even match.
Person #1: That’s because you think of hope as something light and fragile. My version of hope has calluses and dirt under the fingernails and isn’t past bringing brass knuckles to a fight.

The board meetings of Cinderella Dreams were interesting. Around the Boardroom walls, circling the ceiling, was the company motto: omne quod est, semper fuit. They were words to be taken seriously, and only those who spent every day there knew what they meant[1].

The winners of the tri-annual Cinderella Dreams reality show always had an interview in this room, with the words neatly framed behind their heads. The Board lived for that part of the show. They adored the irony.

This year, as the life and times of last years’ winner was winding to a close, The board were considering the profiles of the potential next winner’s circle.

“Of course, we must be careful. We will keep the best of the plebes going with lucky chances. They must never be aware that they were pre-selected to win.”

“The entire year of selection is a ruse,” explained an elderly member of the Board to her successor. Tompkins to her granddaughter. “We give the plebes the hope that the people like them are going to win. Right up until the last moment.”

“That’s why the final circle for the year of games has to include one member of each hue, one member of each gender, one member of each minority, and one visibly disabled person,” said her neighbour, Jenson. “Of course we select for as much overlap as we can.”

“But the winner,” said the CEO, “is always white, abled, heterosexual, skinny and pretty. They haven’t noticed this in over five hundred years.”

“Why?” asked the junior Tompkins. She was thirteen.

“We’re very good at this,” explained the senior.

“No. I mean, why does the winner always have to be all that stuff? Why not pick one of the others?”

Tompkins patted her successor’s head. “Because all those other kinds are far too smart and won’t let themselves be manipulated. Nobody cares when another pretty white person vanishes from public notice. We have so many.”

“Hope is a very careful balancing game,” explained the CEO. “Too much, and they fight for it. Too little, and they surrender to despair. Just enough… and you can keep an entire planet tractable for generations.”

“That…” said Tompkins Junior. “That sounds kind of evil.”

“You’ll understand when you get older,” said her grandmother. “It’s for the greater good.”

[1] “All is as ever was” in case you wanted to know.

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