"Your chains are unlocked". He says.
"I know". he says.
"You can move freely without the chains." He says.
"I am afraid of myself. My capacity for evil. My capacity for wrong-doing. The chains have to remain on me. It is self regulation." he says.
"No. Self regulation is for you to move freely with invisible chains around you. You have to always imagine these chains. They need not be there. Your imagination that they are there is enough. That acts as self regulation. Thats why I unlock the chains. You do not value your freedom? You do not want to be able to determine your movement? Your right to move?" He says.
"I have forgotten what is freedom. I do not know what it means anymore. What I know is that I am irresponsible. I am a wrong-doer. And thats why the chains are clapped on me. It is for my own good. What is freedom if I remain evil? Removing these chains will not absolve the evil in me. The presence of the chains reminds me that I am not perfect, I am not good yet. In your eyes. That is the point. Even if the chains are imagined, it is imagined on the presumption that I am still not good. Evil. Irresponsible." he says.
"Without the physical presence of the chains, it represents progress in you. Self enlightenment. It represents that you are on the path of good. It demonstrates that you can self-regulate. It demonstrates restraint, your capacity to battle against the evil tendencies in your heart. It is an improvement in you." He says.
"By transferring the chains into my mind. By imagining the chains on myself voluntarily, is it not a more insidious imprisonment? Is it not worse? With the weight of these physical chains on me, it symbolises my evil nature, reminds me that I am bad. There is no worse that can happen. If I imagine the chains, how can I know that I will not misjudge the weight of the imaginary chains? If misjudged, I live then in perennial fear that the real chains will clap down on my shoulders again. I have been dangled freedom. In truth, the removal of the chains into an illusory form will weigh me down two times heavier than the real chains ... Don't you understand?" he says.
"You are far from rehabilitated." He says.
"In your eyes, I am evil." he says.
"You don't deserve freedom." He says.
"Freedom is not something to be deserved." he says.
And the warden locks the chains again. And the prisoner goes on dreaming.
Quotes of the Day --
"To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law - a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security"
"Due process, they call it ... Due process of mass, state sponsored suicide. With all of society's blessings." ... Well, it's certainly better than letting them die horribly, by degrees ... It is? Better for whom? The street cleaners? Better to have your living corpses walk to a central disposal station while they can still walk? Less public spectacle? Less horror lying around? Less disorder? A few million corpses lying around might start a rebellion against those responsible. That's what you and the government mean by better, isn't it?"
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr.