"The INs and OUTs" by Don Keltner

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"The INs and OUTs" by Don Keltner

Postby AE on Sun Jul 16, 2006 6:13 am

Captain's Log entry: 19 March 1981, Malmstrom AFB


I am not a well-traveled man, but one day last year I had occasion to travel from TO to FRO. Between the two, I came across a land filled with people working very hard in their fields. They were working so hard, I resolved to just pass through without causing a disturbance. However, I was soon hailed and invited to join them for lunch. While dining, I soon found myself asking questions about their life.

"Oh, we are the Outs," replied one.

"Is this the land of Out?" I asked.

"No, this is the land of Kruze," said another.

"What do you do here?"

"We work in the fields to produce." Further dialogue revealed several facts. One: the Outs were not exactly sure what they produced, but they were assured by the Ins that what they produced was very important. The Ins were the other group occupying the Land of Kruze--or rather, they occupied the village, for the main difference between the Outs and Ins was that the Outs worked in the fields and the Ins did not. Occasionally, an In would venture forth into the field, but he was loathe to do so. Second: Both groups paid allegiance to another, larger village, run by The Most High. However, the Outs pointed out that the Ins made the biggest "favors" to The Most High, while the Outs largely were indifferent. The word "favors" is the best translation of a word which implies duty to, obedience to, respect for, actual favors, and--with the right tone of voice--even brown-nosing. Third: the Outs desired only two outcomes to their lives, to either pass on to another land after a certain time (determined by the Ins) or to become an In.

"I should like to meet an In if I could," I said. A silence fell on the group, Then, an Out arose who appeared to be an elder.

"We would like to show you our culture, but we are afraid because the Ins become very nervous whenever Outsiders befriend us. They fear that Outsiders will report unfavorably and The Most High will hear of it. This causes his favors to decrease, and more laws will be added to punish us."

"How are you punished?" I inquired.

"Anyone," he continued, "who decreases the Ins' favors from The Most High is punished. Some are sent to the furthermost fields. Others who desire to become Ins are not allowed to do so. Therefore, we ask you to reconsider."

"I would still like to meet an In. Do they oppress you?"

"Oh no," said the elder. "They are necessary for our culture and some are even our friends, but ..."

"But," yelled a younger Out, "most worry so much about increasing favors to The Most High that they have become lazy and apathetic about our needs. Take this Outsider to Niemand if he desires it so much. Let him see for himself."

"Who is Niemand?" I queried.

"The Chief of the Ins," replied the elder. "I will take you to him if you insist, but I will tell you now that I detest him and wish that he would go to another land. (In a whisper) I believe he steals favors from other Ins and Outs and presents them to The Most High as his own."

"I will be on my guard," I assured the elder. Then I made the long (and tiresome) journey from the fields to the village. As foretold, Niemand was extremely nervous when he learned that I had first talked with the Outs rather than to an In--specifically, an In chosen by him. When I convinced Niemand that I did not know The Most High and had no intention of speaking to him, he relaxed considerably.

"They're all troublemakers, the Outs," he said. "But I tell them they must produce for the good of the people. I also tell them that I understand because I was once an Out--a time I would rather forget. If I were you, I wouldn't associate with them or believe what they say."

"Produce for the good of which people? Who really benefits from the Outs' labor in the fields?" I asked.

"Produce for me and my fellow Ins," came the quick reply. "If they produce well enough, then The Most High will return the Silver Chalice to me--that is the highest favor which The Most High can bestow."

"That's pretty selfish, isn't it?"

"It is the way of the Land of Kruze," Niemand responded unhesitatingly.

"What is the benefit of receiving the Silver Chalice?" I pondered aloud.

"The bestowal of such a favor on me and my fellow Ins will help us to leave this village and, perhaps, move to the larger village of The Most High."

"Tell me more," I urged. I discovered two more philosophies of Niemand's during our talk. Both struck me as strange, but he had a few other Ins near him who confirmed their ardent belief in them. First, and I quote, "Ins are never responsible for anything which is their fault. An Out will be chosen to take the blame." And second, "Outs are to be rewarded for good work and high production, but under no circumstances will there be any substance to the reward. Worthless pieces of parchment or vague promises of future rewards are best." When I told Niemand that in other lands this kind of treatment leads to revolution, he took me aside and said,

"I have heard this is true. But here it is tradition. (A quick look around, whispered) "Besides, after you take away the Outs who toe the line because they want to become Ins someday, and the Outs who just want to work their time and leave, you only have a few real troublemakers--and they can be handled fairly easily. (Thoughtfully) I just hope they ALL don't decide to do something about it. (Walks away, talking to himself) "That would be...terrible. I could survive if they don't do something to decrease my favors with The Most High. I couldn't survive if they quit producing...."

Having been left by myself, I decided it was time to continue my journey to Fro. I made a point of stopping by each In and Out I had met (except Niemand, who was reported to be shaking uncontrollably) and bidding them farewell. After this visit, I felt that I knew the Ins and Outs of the Land of Kruze and I decided to ponder further all that I had seen and heard. Perhaps I will write about it. Quite an amazing culture. But then again, it's just an imaginary one, isn't it?

~ Don Keltner
ILCS Class 31 / ALCS Class 90-2
490 SMS - 341 SMW/DOTI - 4315 CCTS - 4 ACCS - 2 ACCS
... and damned proud of every single one of my 476 nuclear alerts in SAC!
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