Short Dramas and Plays
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (Act I Scene 1d)
Phineas: And what if you find the wrong answers?
Neville: The best way I can keep an open mind, is to not speculate on consequences. There are enough people in high places who are wringing their hands about consequence that I donít need to be among them.
Phineas: Wringing their hands? What could they possibly be wringing their hands about?
Neville: You really donít have an appreciation of your situation, do you, Mr. Galen.
Phineas: To the contrary, I think itís been made quite clear. Admit to the charges, and Iím finished, deny the charges, and they destroy me. Either way my life is ruined, whatís not to understand?
Neville: Thereís been quite a stir created. Not overtly, but murmurings, Mr. Galen. Palpable, definite murmurings.
Phineas: Murmurings? What are you getting at?
Neville: Being in your position, I donít suppose you have a grasp of the Big Picture. Being in my position, I canít afford to loose sight of the Big Picture.
Phineas: So, thereís a Big Picture.
Neville: Youíre an instructor in the discipline of Theology, Mr. Galen. What is the 23rd directive?
Phineas: The 23rd Directive? That was when religion was declared no longer an observance, but a science, to fall under the same category as, as, botany or micro- chemistry. The science of Theology was designated as the study of moral and ethical belief systems which permeate across a broad spectrum of behavior and the resulting effect on individual behavioral and societal models. In essence, a sub-Science of Sociology, but enjoying a wider scope of study in certain matters, but extremely narrow in others.
Neville: And what was the resulting shift in sociology, according to the official report from the then Science of Social Affairs?
Phineas: The populace at large could finally rid themselves of superstitious shackles put upon them by the traditions and teachings of lesser enlightened ages. General awareness of all things scientific was enhanced because people didnít view evidence and hard data through the prejudicial filters of ignorance and traditional predisposition handed down through the ages.
Neville: You quoted that like a textbook.
Phineas: Itís hard to break old habits.
Neville: Is it? Keep that in mind, Mr. Galen. Itís hard to break old habits.
Phineas: All right.
Neville: And are you under the impression that the general populace at large merely shunted these fettered chains of ignorance laid upon them from ages past? That they simply shrugged off these ďOld habitsĒ of observing religion?
Phineas: Well, I imagine there were holdouts for some time, change always meets resistance.
Neville: You imagine? You imagine rightly, Mr. Galen, but what you underestimate is the vast number and scope of these ďholdoutsĒ. Ignoring hard data, proofs, and prevailing models, they hung on to outdated belief systems older than the first theorems, when people lived according to instinct more than reason. They accepted those scientific models which agreed with the basic tenants of their observance, but kept a skeptical eye on those things the general populace enjoyed as ďTruthsĒ and kept to themselves alternative beliefs.
And now here comes their prophet who says ďI heard GodĒ and low and behold comes the murmurings, Mr. Galen, tangible stirrings within the fabric of our society model. You are not only the unknown variable in the equation, but you are also the catalyst put into the solution and no one knows what the reaction will yield.
Phineas: I think youíre putting too much into thisó
Neville: Why do you think youíre being locked away in isolation, Mr. Galen? Because you are a violent criminal? No, itís not violence they are afraid of, itís something bigger, something they canít contain, something they dare not let have a voice, and something they are afraid of, Mr. Galen. Wringing their hands, because of murmurings, all because of Phineas Galen and pulls a Joan of Arc stunt in his lecture hall.
Phineas: (pause) So, what might happen if details are circulated among the masses?
Neville: I already told you, I donít have the luxury to speculate.
Phineas: All right, then, give me the probabilities, thatís mathematical.
Neville: Insufficient data.
Phineas: Then give me the possible scenarios.
Neville: Insufficient data.
Phineas: Create some cause and effect models, then.
Neville: Insufficient data!
Phineas: Then give me historical precedence and extrapolate!
Neville: Historical parallels not available!
Phineas: Now whoís being evasive?
Neville: What you are asking of me is unprecedented.
Phineas: No. No, it is not, Mr. Neville. Rome had this very same problem in the early centuries. The powers that be arenít wringing their hands because they donít know what is going to happen, they are wringing their hands because they know very well what might happen.
Neville: (pause) And that, is the big picture, Mr. Galen. (sigh) I thought you were owed that, at the very least.
Phineas: Well, I thank you. Itís a little comfort, but not much help.
Neville: In my position, thatís the most I can do. I think I need to be leaving, now. My allotted interview time is undoubtedly expired.
Phineas: One more thing. You said these religious observers were underestimated in numbers and scope. Could that mean that there are such observers in the higher offices as well?
Neville: I think weíve done enough speculation this day, donít you think so. Good luck with your next appearance Mr. Galen. Remember, The Directive of Truth is upon you now, but nothing said between us just now can be used in evidence even to help your cause.
Phineas: Thank you, High Acedemia.
Neville: It was nothing. Remember that, Mr. Galen. It was nothing at all.
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