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“Harmony’s Victory” by Hillary Stirling

Harmony sat poised and ready on the edge of her seat in the Council Hall, fidgeting with the tablet in her hand. At least one holographic camera would be fixed on her despite the fact that another Councilmember currently had the floor. He droned on, all but predicting the end of the world if they continued on this course–the course she had set.

They had debated this resolution for months now, and it was coming down to a vote today. Harmony had waited for this moment her entire adult life. Finally the Councilman finished speaking. This was her last chance to turn back, to change her mind, to sit down and be quiet like she’d been told to do countless times. Deliberately, she rose and approached the podium before the Head of the Council. “I, Councilwoman Harmony Mock-Ripsom, request permission to address the Body of the Council.”

“Granted,” the Head solemnly declared, though there was a twinkle in his eye. He had to remain officially neutral, but he’d given Harmony quiet, invaluable support for years now.

Harmony took in the encouraging smiles of her supporters, the distrustful glare of Councilwoman Chaudhary (her most vocal critic), and the thoughtful frowns of Councilmen Zhang and Haddad, both of them powerful players and both still undecided. “I salute you, Council Members. You have come from the ancient nations of China and Egypt, the colonies of Mars and Europa – and everywhere in between.”

She felt a distinct impression to set aside her prepared remarks and speak from the heart.  Harmony faltered for half a beat and then turned her tablet over, trusting that prompting.  Gathering her thoughts, she said, “You have heard the dire warnings of our colleagues, and I have to admit they almost moved even me. There is a potential for danger in the course ahead, but what they have failed to address is the danger in not passing this resolution.”

Councilwoman Chaudhary crossed her arms, and Harmony gave her a small smile. “The danger lies in losing ourselves. We tamed our native world and weren’t content with even that, so we colonized the heavens. But now…”  She sadly shook her head. “Now we have grown timid. We have traded away our freedoms one by one. We’ve sold our birthrights for nothing more than empty security.”

Councilman Zhang tilted his head inquisitively, and Harmony pressed the point. “We fought for our moral agency once and it was a great and noble endeavor.” She looked directly at Councilwoman Chaudhary. “Not one of you – not one – can refute that.” Glancing back at Zhang, she continued, “If it isn’t a great and noble thing now, why not? What’s changed that we would back away from that principle?”

She paused as Zhang nodded ever so slightly and then her gaze darted to Haddad. “This regime constitutes the longest dictatorship in the history of our world. Its very existence is an affront to freedom. The arguments I have heard in its support have been focused on fear: fear of the unknown, fear of giving offense, fear of making mistakes. I hope–I sincerely, dearly hope–that is not what we have been reduced to, but the evidence put forth by our colleagues is difficult to deny.”

A freshman Councilman, his face contorted by strong emotion, shouted, “You’re wrong!” as the Head banged his gavel. “We’ve never been more free!”

Leaning forward, Harmony said to the freshman, “Free?  You call us free?” You poor, pathetic sheep. “Our words, our actions, our very thoughts are monitored by Big Brother. You call that free? The entire fruits of our labors are stolen from the hands of the laborer and given to those who don’t work. You call that free? ”

Her gaze raked over the hall, and every eye was riveted on her. “You are the elect, chosen to decide the fate of the whole of humankind. I ask you now to exercise the right that is yours: the right of moral agency. We have been under the sway of the current regime for our entire lifetime. Not one of us has ever breathed a truly free breath. Not one of us has enjoyed the full spectrum of our inalienable rights – rights we have been endowed with by our Creator. With this resolution, we are at a turning point. It is time to act from a place of courage and hope instead of fear or tradition. It is time to choose freedom!”

As she stepped away from the podium, Harmony’s heart thundered in time with the applause that rose around her, but she didn’t let it go to her head. There was still a hard battle to be fought.   She worked tirelessly throughout the day, encouraging her supporters, grappling with the concerns of the fence-sitters, and parrying the last-minute attempts of the opposition to discredit her. She’d tried to live her life in a way that would only enhance her message, so there was nothing which could be used to impeach her motives.

The vote itself was held in a special session later that evening. Harmony’s gut twisted with every vote of “Nay” but in the end, the resolution demanding abdication carried by almost two to one. Again, cheers broke out when the final tally was officially released. She slumped in her seat, stunned that a lifetime of labor had finally borne fruit.

The Council Chamber’s door swung open and in strode a luminescent woman. Harmony sighed with relief–Big Brother wasn’t going to personally step in.

The newcomer approached the podium before the head of the Council. “I, Mary Magdalene, request permission to address the Body of the Council.”

There were several shouts of protest, and the Head had to call the Body to order. Eventually, things settled down enough that he reluctantly said, “Granted.”

“I come on behalf of our King, Jesus Christ, to announce that he accepts the voice of this Council.  Though it pains him, he will step down from his millennial reign as requested.”

Harmony clenched her fist and exclaimed, “Yes!”

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