The knot of anxiety twisted upwards and climbed into my throat. Swallowing it down, I willed myself to concentrate. The search for answers had driven me here, seated across from this man, our polite exchanges finally exhausted.
His eyebrows raised in question. “Now that we have met face to face, how can I help you?”
Professors did not normally meet their students, but I was desperate. The online quest to clear my confusion had been fruitless and his credentials were promising. My hopes were pinned on his wisdom, and I couldn’t dig deep enough into that virtually.
I swallowed again. “Uh, I appreciate that this is beyond the call of duty.”
“No trouble at all.” He waved impatiently. “But I am curious.”
I hesitated before poking my toe in the water. “Um, I’m writing my thesis on the collapse of affluent societies in history.”
“A bold topic,” he interjected. “I don’t suppose you will surmise that our own great society will collapse?”
I shrugged. “My focus is mainly the time period before the advance of the Global Network. I’ve read that many countries in the 21st century were powerful in their own right and that the United States led all in resources and military might.”
He tilted back in his chair. “I am aware of that. They were the superpower at a time when each country was self-governing and multiple currencies abounded.”
Leaning forward, I warmed to the topic. My passion for that time in history when independent thought and cultural diversity were celebrated was unique. As such, my view that the globe now seemed uniform and dull in comparison was one I never shared.
“It’s so amazing to me that the world functioned that way. But certain things don’t add up and nothing I’ve found explains it fully. Before the Network’s rule, the U.S. was still the dominate force right?”
“Yes indeed. They were among the last to sign the Treaty of Union. After them, all of the remaining governments bowed and the Global Network assumed complete control.”
“Was it true that the U.S. economy was a major factor in their decision to sign?”
“It was. The Network began by lending to all of the world’s major organizations and governments. That was extremely profitable and within three generations the entire planet was in debt to them, from the top down. They also held control over all of the latest technologies, and so the world was beholden to them not only financially but intellectually. That position eventually allowed them to call the shots over every world government.”
“Did the U.S. not have its own financial giants and technology geniuses? What happened to them?” My mind despaired at the thought of that advanced society surrendering their liberty so abruptly. “It seems mysterious that such a nation would fall so completely under the power of another with little to no civil upset.” That was the crux of my confusion.
Without dismissing my frustrations, he frowned slightly. “I suppose it is a question of trust. By the time the Treaty was proposed, virtually every person was trusting in one thing - money. Those who didn’t have it would follow any who promised it. Those who had it would bow to any who would protect it. Those in the middle had both the fear of losing it and the lust for more. The Global Network held every debtor tight in its grasp. When it came time to sign the Treaty, each country was depositing its trust alongside their signature. The one in whom you trust, becomes the one whom you follow. Hundreds of years later we all trust in the Network, do we not?” His tone was wry.
“But the U.S. was famous for its independence; did no one balk at the loss of it?”
“Remember that history is written by the victor. There were pockets of resistance and indeed still are, if you know where to look.” That flared my curiosity instantly. Despite the prosperity the Network delivered, my heart was empty and longed for something that was absent in our society. Any who stood against the Network may have whatever was missing.
He reached deep in his pocket to reveal a tarnished silver coin, a relic of times passed.
“Look closely at this. The words there are the creed of those who still oppose the Network.” The coin slid across the table.
Squinting, I could just make out the phrase that would forever change my destiny.
In God We Trust.
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