The boss spoke, Alex listened.
- Civilization is dying. People have gone mad. For the sake of money, they're willing to do any meanness and murder. Morality? - Nothing to talk about, a waste of time. The church is not able to talk sense into sinners. Their ranks multiply, growing like mushrooms after the rain. Parishioners come to the service in the temple of God, listen to sermons, place a candle, praise Him, but the next day everything repeats again. They confess that they have done wrong, lied, harassed, stolen, raped... just to atone for their sins, only to come back the next week with the same sins. Everything is subordinated to the pursuit of fame, money, possessions. Love is a venal bitch. How can she save the World? Kindness dwindles like shagreen leather. Father's experiment, as I see it, has failed. I know many think so. I have the authority to terminate it, or rather, to make a recommendation, to send a message-resume to the Heavenly Office, but, frankly, a little hope remains for now, not completely lost.
- You're in a gloomy mood today, Boss...
- I guess I am. I'm disappointed if that's what you mean. I can see that you, too, are tired of your hectic life. But who will protect, stand up for the Good that's still left on earth? Who but you and me? These people think they are all-powerful and proud, and arrogance is one of the greatest sins.
- People need to be tougher on them, Boss, I agree. They're out of control. They're destroying their own habitat, cutting down the branch they're sitting on. They're making a mess of the planet. Endless wars. It's impossible to see it all! Man-made disasters, accidents, floods, droughts, earthquakes, nothing can stop them. Global warming? - Let future generations deal with climate change. And we will live the high life. We'll pump oil and pollute the atmosphere. Stupid selfishness with incredible ingenuity is killing human civilization.
- You're right. People are much more inclined to choose Hell instead of a righteous life. They do not distinguish Good from Evil and behave like unwise children or inmates of asylums. The purpose of G-d's plan was that man should gradually and continuously ascend to the heavens by his thoughts and deeds, figuratively speaking. And what does a man do? - Robbing the earth and its subsoil. Insatiable greed makes to consume, consume, consume. What to do? What would you do?
- I thought, Boss, that there were instructions for such a case, probably a road map, as they say, today, a program of action.
- Yes, yes, of course, there is. You and I are at the lowest level of cognition in the first dimension of the World. But I am very much afraid that this is where the people of the earth will remain. All without exception, including the Jews, even though they have a special mission as ordained by our Father. They do not cope with it either. And no "road map" will help. That is why I am sad and pensive.
They had already approached the square and sat down in the shade on the far bench on the side of the Palace of Pioneers.
- Do you know something about angels, sir? Guardian angels, I mean?
- Um... how shall I put it... Not much, practically... From books.
- I don't mean to intrude, but a little instruction wouldn't hurt. You ought to know. They didn't teach you that at school, of course. I'll tell you a story. You call it a parable. It's cautionary and allegorical, but it's useful in any case if you draw the right conclusions. Here it is. One far from poor, even, perhaps, rich man, an oligarch, as very rich people are called today, was watching TV one day, though it was not like him, he did not watch TV often because of lack of time, which was almost entirely spent on business conversations and reading business papers. But this time, something must have prompted him, or else God's providence intervened. And the man suddenly realized with horror what outrages are happening around, and he does not notice them, as if he were living on the moon. Murder, terrorism, torture and kidnapping, diseases from which people die because there is no medicine, tens and hundreds of thousands of refugees. He saw that the World is full of injustice and suffering. Then he asked himself: don't I have money to help the unhappy, the poor, the destitute, the sick? Can't I do Good if I owe my wealth to the Almighty? This man was a God-fearing man, it should be noted. This is important. I can help, he said to himself. The very next morning, he donated $100 million to the Children's Defense Fund. Everything he had. You see, he gave all the money he had kept in a secret Swiss bank account for a rainy day.
So what happened? Nothing happened... People kept dying. There were no fewer unfortunate children. There was no more food for the hungry; someone had stolen it along the way. He decided he had done something wrong. As a businessman, he expected results, but the World had not changed one bit. And since he was now watching the television news every night, since he had nothing else to do, one day he saw a story about unfortunate children with leukemia who needed a bone marrow transplant. So he went to the hospital and volunteered to take his bone marrow so the doctors could perform surgery on a child who might have died and was waiting his turn for a donor to show up. The surgery, fortunately, was a success. The child recovered, yes, but the man realized that he could no longer help other sick children.
He was a God-fearing man, as we said, and a man of duty, and he went back to the hospital and said, "Take my blood for a transfusion for those who suffered in the fire. The doctors gladly took from him one litre of blood and said there was no way he could get sick and die... When this man had rested and gained strength, he came back to doctors that he already knew and asked them: take something else from me: a kidney, a liver or even a spleen or a heart... He wanted to help sick people that he did not feel pity for himself. The chief doctor asked him: "Why are you doing this? Are you suicidal?" But the man replied that he had no one and didn't care what would happen to him, but that he really wanted to help people. To give everything he had left. He loved people so much that he wasn't sorry to give up literally everything. Then the head doctor called security and asked to take this man home, thinking that he was insane. He would not take him to the hospital for the mentally unstable because he had done a good deed. And this man, a former millionaire, despaired beyond words when he realized that he could not change the World, that his efforts were in vain. And he hung himself in his apartment in a high-rise building in a prestigious area of the city, in an unhappy and unsettled state of life. So I ask you, "Do you think he did the right thing?"
- Killed himself? Of course, for nothing.
- Did he?
- What do you mean by that?
- Only a fool takes it upon himself to solve the World's Problems... It's obvious. That's the conclusion to be drawn from the parable.
- But even Maxim Gorky wrote: "The folly of the brave is the wisdom of life..." Do you disagree with Gorky?
- I'm not very well acquainted with this proletarian writer of the last century, excuse me. But your shirt is closer to your body - isn't that what they say?
Alex didn't find anything to say. The boss was right. Absolutely right.
- So, let's move on, young man. Rule one: Never, unless it's a last resort, interfere in the course of events.
- So how did you... then... save me from the pigs?
- That's a separate matter. I had my eye on you. Watched you. Studied you. It was an opportunity, that's all. I repeat: It is strictly forbidden to interfere in other people's destinies.
- But there must be exceptions to the rule.
- There have to be, no doubt about it. When your ward or ward's - if you have one, if it's listed for you, the subject is registered in the Celestial Office, and it's in danger. Then you can act as you see fit. Participate or pass by. To help or to distance yourself. But it's a little early for you.
- Well, what's the second rule?
- Don't interfere with the course of events. It's not up to you to decide. Don't reveal yourself. You don't exist. You're a mirage in the desert. A dot in the sky. I hope that's clear.
- But I'm not a ghost. I'm not an invisible man. You're the one who can change into whatever you want at any time. What is my "protective" function, then, if I'm not supposed to interfere? It's a kind of non-resistance to evil with violence, isn't it?
- Punishment is my prerogative. My prerogative. I choose the way, the place and the time. Your job is to point me to that possibility. You see, Alex, may I address you as "you"? - people have to live their lives, control their own destiny, achieve everything on their own. That's Father's will. Yes, they often make mistakes. They go astray. But we can't be their babysitter and do their work for them. They were constantly guarding, correcting, protecting, instructing. There are so many mentors - in church, at school, in the family. Superfluous tutelage makes a person an egoist for whom the universe revolves around him or her. I, on the other hand, was sent by the Father to Earth as both a firefighter and a surgeon. As their last chance. Mind you, and people are different. Everyone needs a different approach. Experience will come with time... Don't doubt it.