It was a cold and blustery day – not too bad for this time of year, but still, it was winter and he didn’t exactly live in the tropics.
He and some friends had finally had enough, and were going to the border to join a protest against their neighbours who had cut themselves off from the rest of the world, effectively imprisoning their own citizens.
And worse, many innocent civilians had been shipped off to work camps in the country’s most remote and inclement regions.
Their “work permits” were “indefinite,” but most knew their chances of ever seeing their families and loved ones again were as remote as the flimsy steel shacks they lived in and the potato and beet fields that provided bare sustenance in the harsh climate.
There was a wall between their countries.
Both governments were based on pronouncements of freedom from tyranny, freedom for all, right down through the working classes to the most menial of labourers.
But that wall emphasized the difference between the two countries.
On the other side of the wall, freedom of religion was restricted to beliefs approved by the government. Restrictions tightened until only citizens who professed to share the government’s beliefs were “free.”
Anyone in disagreement with the government-approved doctrine received a work permit and was summarily awarded gainful employment in the northern territories.
Speaking out against the wall itself earned a ticket to work camps built on permafrost and broken dreams.
Naturally, it didn’t start that way.
There was massive dissatisfaction with the status quo. The citizens were angry, and they stood tall behind a new leader who could bring down the old regime and usher in a new and better way of life.
They were promised a new world, with renewed power in the world – and that power was to be held by the country’s citizens, instead of an established, corroded, and corrupt ruling class.
And there was even an election. The people spoke, and they got what they wanted.
Or so they thought.
That was before the wall.
It was before “unsanctioned” places of worship began closing.
And before some of their neighbours started disappearing.
It was before they realized that they had to carefully consider every word they said, in fear of the wrong ears hearing expressions of the wrong thoughts.
It was before the election rules changed – an expedience to ensure there was time to rework the system to ensure restoration of prosperity.
It was before their leader won his third re-election with 98.7 per cent of ballots cast.
At first, their neighbours stood stunned, cut off from friends and family by a wall and a warped ideology.
But no more. The rest of world was fed up with the political posturing, the human rights violations, and the obstinate economic and military bullying.
By the time he got to the wall, the protest had already started.
The “safe zone” had been breached, but he was both amazed and, admittedly, relieved.
Remarkably, instead of firing on the protestors, as had occurred so many times before in accordance with standing orders, the soldiers were abandoning their gun turrets, climbing down into the mass of protestors, and joining the chant: “Mr. Trump, tear down that wall!”