It’s just the simple act of picking one of the many pieces of paper from a black box, one of which contains the dot that speaks of its drawer’s destiny… Question is, is it an act or a choice—or, if it were possible, destiny itself? But if one would stop and think—and lay aside the ironies of a tragic death through a single tragic mistake—and look into—and, similarly, look through—the eyes of Tessie Hutchinson, her husband Bill, her son Davy, and all the other people in their town, one would stop short to have found out that their minds are a clear mirror of one’s own.
Clearly, the story is but a simple twist in the nature of man that man himself has tried to magnify. In the beginning, the characters in the story are we, the bored, uninteresting people walking around and talking and showing up for a yearly event with nary a care in the world. Their eyes have seen people die, as we find out in the end—their eyes have seen their own wives and husbands and children slaughtered through pain, but their hearts only remember, but do not feel. And when the moment of truth comes out—as it always does—the bored people become aggressive, the seemingly unstained—but otherwise—hands take on an evil stance, the wives and husbands and children turn into something less than a stranger, and the pain and slaughter begins. In the beginning, the characters are we.
Also in the end.
It is, perhaps, an unexplainable terror to face head-on the inhabitants of the ordinary—not only is it ordinary as it seems, but also as what it really is—town and see them as our own flesh and blood, our own savage, twisted selves. But it only takes a little listening to the desires of our hearts and the dreams of our souls to unmask the truth that is clearly shown in the story, the truth that also rules our existence today. They are we. We are they. We are one with them—and they are one with us. We walk around and talk and go about our chores and go through the same routine over and over—we, the unsuspecting—and at the same time, the unsuspicious—with nary a care in the world.
It is a routine that we go through that who could have thought would come out the way it always does, a routine with an end of which we have often seen with our own eyes, but would also shock the undiscerning. And then the end nears…and we still don’t care. We draw our lot, and it is clean—as if our own souls are, that is—big deal, we put the piece of paper in our pocket and it is immediately forgotten. And then the end springs at us…we look the person who’s drawn the dotted lot—look him as if our own souls are anything but the piece of paper he has picked—with stranger’s eyes.
We stone him to death, we forget who he is—friend, family member, father, son, husband…and he dies. We go about our chores again and walk and talk as if our civil hands were clean and leave the slaughtered lamb with a triumphant smile because we have won again, we did not draw the cursed lot, he did. It doesn’t matter who ‘he’ is—as long as it’s not we. Our own eyes have beheld the same old scene, but the heart only remembers—and doesn’t feel. We do not care if it would be we who would die next year, as long as we are left living today. We see not nor expect the time of our own downfall—we caused the downfall of another one today and it’s what matters at the moment.
But time will come that we will be the center of the tragedy, too, and we will be looked on with hostile strangers’ eyes by our own friend, father, son, husband. Time will come that it is our own downfall with which they will stain their civil hands with blood. And their heart will not feel, only remember…and you will no longer see yourself in them but in that which you had killed, that which had died in your own savage folly. Amidst the pain you will be crying out, “Wait—it’s not fair! It’s not fair…!” And then you die.