A man wearing a mud-brown suit and a shiny black top hat lived in a kingdom that sat in a valley. He was not wise, nor ignorant, and he was not poor as a servant, nor rich as a prince. He was a young man with a roof over his head and a kitchen of food. This man had few close friends and knew much of the kingdom by name. In a word, he was ordinary. Every day, the man would walk through the alleyway, down the right side of the road, and up a small hill to get to the bakery where he worked.
One day, as he made his way to his workplace, a carriage packed with tycoons and royals rolled down the road, making sure to stop traffic to show off the jewels and gold that outlined the bedazzled caravan. The carriage sped through the crowd of onlookers, not caring to steer out of the way of those who may have not heard the laughs coming from the royals inside. Pedestrians leapt out of the way, grass staining their clothes as they fell to the ground. It had nearly trampled several children. Men and women began to clean up the minor wreckage, and as the suited man helped, he could hear the mumbles and grumbles of an annoyed kingdom.
The underprivileged subjects spoke of “needing a change in the monarchy.” The man bit his tongue. The subjects spoke of “deserving better.” The man once again remained silent. Men and women and children alike spoke of “starving in the streets” and being “kicked around by careless leaders.” The man did not participate in the dialogue. He merely brushed off the excess dirt from the wreckage and walked into his bakery to begin work.
Inside the bakery, as the man kneaded dough, preparing it for the oven, he could hear voices beyond the counter conversing. Subjects of the kingdom were waiting for their morning scones and speaking in line.
“The king should be ashamed,” one said, and the others agreed. “They take the only pennies we’ve got,” another added, and the man could hear the agreeing voices getting slowly angrier. The man could have chosen to join in the fun, but refused, as he did not want to strike up more controversy.
It is better to be on no side at all, he thought, than to share your opinion to later find you have picked the wrong side. I won’t speak and forever hold my peace.
So the man did just that.
As the days went by, the man began to hear more and more tales of saddened subjects and felt for them, though he never shared. A few times a person would walk up to the man and ask his opinion, but he would turn them away and say he had better things to do than focus on the way things were run in the kingdom. The man kept a light head and a light heart, strolling through the valley as the rest of the subjects fumed in their shoes. Ignorance truly is bliss, he once thought upon seeing a group of three friends screaming their heads off over a newly-printed newspaper article. The man had not picked up a newspaper in weeks.
Things in the kingdom began to escalate. Left and right people were being executed and thrown in prison for crimes they had never been proven to commit. The rich feasted off of the poor and the man in the mud-brown suit and tophat wasn’t present for any of it. He stayed in his home, leaving only to buy supplies or to work at the bakery. When he spoke to friends or strangers the conversations were short and sweet, the subject being the weather or something of the sort. The man found the most happiness during his long dinners alone in his home, in which he sometimes heard fights break out or yells on the street, and he was content to be as far away from the conflict as possible. The man found his happiness in his self-created bubble. The man always had opinions, but found it best suitable to keep his word to himself and let the rest of the kingdom hash out their affairs.
Things took a turn, however, when one morning, the man had lost his voice, or his tongue, rather. He did not know where it was. He had no tongue to bite anymore, and he found that when he opened his mouth to speak, only a soft, croaking noise was formed. The man was speechless. He was shocked, and looked through the whole house for his tongue before giving up and going to work. He walked through the alleyway, down the right side of the road, up a small hill, and entered the bakery. Without even a croak, he began to knead the dough as usual, and a line of hungry men and women filed into the shop.
They set about, as usual, to discuss the local politics and injustices of the kingdom, being incautious of the volume of their opinions. The man simply kneaded the dough until he heard a comment he was dying to give his view on. Typically, he would just bite his tongue and hold his peace until the comment passed. But this time was different. This time, the man had no tongue. Since the man had no tongue to bite down on, he decided to speak. But nothing came out. He tried to share his opinion, and only a croak was heard from the customers.
They looked up, confused at what toad could have possibly made the noise, but the only one standing there was the man. He handed them their rolls and scones for the morning then headed to the store for some more flour.
Though the man had usually kept his thoughts to himself, he found it oddly unjustified that he was now incapable of having the simple choice to share his opinions. His pace quickened and his nostrils flared with each step as the thought ate him alive. A choice of his was taken away. A freedom. Even if he had not planned on using up that opportunity, having the option was something that mattered to him. He wanted to yell, yet he knew it was impossible in his current condition.
The man bought the flour from the store and could not even utter a simple “thank you” for his purchase. He started to walk back to the bakery to cook more scones, only to be stopped by a carriage passing by on the road. It trampled past at a fast speed, running into a small pothole of water which the man was standing next to and splashing mud all over his already mud-colored suit. His face turned red with fury and he found, yet again, that he could not voice the matter with a missing tongue. He thought of the disconnect the royals had caused in the kingdom. The costs they were making the penniless pay. The families they were forcing to starve. All of the opinions he had kept bottled in suddenly fizzed to the surface, causing the man reason to scream. Even so, no sound was made. This did not help his white-hot anger. Action must be taken against these ruthless and treacherous royals, he thought, but how?
So the man formed a plan to take down the royals. An airtight, step-by-step plan that he was sure would destroy the hierarchy. He ran through the village, running blocks and blocks, looking for those who opposed the royals. He found many, but each time he went up and tried to explain his plan to them, they either laughed or ignored him. Without a voice, no one would listen. The man ventured from sunup to sunset, and no one could understand a word he struggled to utter. Not only was his voice taken away, but the ability to even have an opinion be heard.
Soon after, as the man would learn, the kingdom would fall into a terrible situation, and a war would begin. Many lives would be lost, and in the end, the rich would prevail. The kingdom would remain a hierarchy, and until a plan was formed and shared, it would remain that way.
If only he had shared his opinion when the time was right.