Out Focus

Photo prompt: © Ted Strutz


He wanted to take the glasses off but it was not allowed.

The penalty was devastatingly permanent.

True Focus was reserved for a selected few. A privilege. Stealing it would result in losing all sight. Both eyes.

He blinked and tried to calm the nausea that came with the distorting lenses. He never got used to the dizziness. Or the headache.

He didn’t think they were meant to.

“Loyalty above clarity; Fealty, not facts.”

It was chanted. It was law.

A disoriented population was the goal.

He grieved for the realities that had been ignored when freedom still had hope.




For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers



50 thoughts on “Out Focus

    • Controlling what one sees and HOW one sees and what is one ALLOWED to see (or ‘see’) is alas an oft-used form of tyranny.
      People have done that to control animals, put blinders on. They still do so to control women (think, the see-only-through-mesh burkahs in distorted regimes). They certainly control HOW people see when they feed – and demand people accept – false narratives and doctored videos and order people not believe facts, only propaganda.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Iain! It’s a time ripe for dystopian metaphors, ain’t it? May they not become too much more than metaphors … Even though I suspect some are in process already … I remain hopeful that we can turn things around and change the path of destruction into one of humanity.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Rochelle. I think that totalitarian and dictatorial and cult-like regimes are all the same in their need to control, curtail freedoms, and use threat and isolation as means to maintain compliance. They may think themselves novel, but they are all textbook icky.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If one looks at the Bible one finds that “an eye for an eye” (and from it, other body parts like hands for stealing and chopping slaves’ ears for not listening to one’s “master”) have been used … and expanded upon … through history and religious distortion as means to intimidate, shame, and control people through sanctified torture. It is no different, in some ways, than forcing women (under penalty of flogging, mass-rape, stoning, etc) to completely cover their bodies and faces and see only through a mesh veil, or throwing acid to disfigure women whose beauty threatens someone, or burning women at the stake for caring for other women’s health needs. Or burning people at the stake for having independent ideas or stating facts. Calling something ‘heresy’ and using that as an excuse to inflict impossible violence onto others in the name of supposed morality is not a new thing. It is also not something that has really stopped. Ostracizing, forbidding dissent, and calling anyone who speaks up about corruption or who won’t remain completely behind ‘party lines’ a ‘traitor’ and implying they ought to be put to death (“like in the good old times…”) is a similar kind of power by domination and intimidation. Cults do that. Some countries, too.

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  1. An excellent metaphor, Na’ama. How we see life, and how we understand society is critically important in avoiding totalitarian government. It’s one reason why poets, playwrights, novelists and teachers – particularly teachers – are important. And it’s why they’re first against the wall come the revolution…

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    • Yep. The clear their lenses and give a side-look to get a better perspective and they can often see through falsehoods and distortions. That’s also why often they are the first that dictators come after. Remove free speech and expressive freedom and call facts “fake news” and it becomes easier to control those who’d rather be fed piecemeal than chew for themselves.

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    • Indeed … and alas, well-oiled through history and current times.
      If enough people take the glasses off, it will no longer be an effective means of control. That does require a spine, however, which it seems too many in ‘power’ do not have. … oy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Keith … That out of focus thing is what grabbed me, and the realities we live these days were what led the rest … Oy vey …
      (I wonder if this explains why I keep my glasses’ lenses speck-less … the slightest smudge sends me for a wipe … ;))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The other day I had the bad luck to be in a waiting room that had Faux News running in the background. Those nausea inducing distortion glasses seem to have already been placed on half of the American population… That chant, “Loyalty above clarity; Fealty, not facts.”, is only good for the elite, the poor buggers in the population don’t understand that there is a choice about loyalty or that they aren’t getting facts – that distorted view they are getting is Truth and anything else is False News. Anyway, great allegory of today….

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ‘poor buggers in the population’ never did understand the chants they were made to chant when those were propagandaed from those in power. TRUE loyalty requires openness, demands facts, and welcomes critic.
      If anyone tells you to NOT do any of the above, then it ain’t about loyalty no more…
      And … thanks for this. Yes, alas some are fed such a constant diet of fake-news they don’t know there is more wholesome nourishment for their minds and soul literally if they opened their eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

    • For some (for too many), the black-is-white and up-is-down is what they follow, as cult-followers will, whether they admit to being in a cult or not. However, we also have many more people whose eyes are open, who refuse to acquiesce to false narratives or normalize lies or accept insults as a measure of power or leadership. If the people who refuse to have their eyes blinded by gas-lighting will put their choice behind their voice, we will be able to start the journey back from madness and emperor-like leadership back into a Union that puts humanity over brutality and truth over lies. These are difficult times, but they should not be seen as desperate time. Only those who see despair as a sign of vulnerability rather than a sign of something-wronged-needing-correction, find the despair of others ‘nourishing’ or call it ‘winning.’ More humanity. More compassion. More kindness. FAR less normalizing of what is not American or humane or normal. It all matters. Distorted lenses only work on those who have them on. I say, keep ’em off, then help others take them off without shaming them for having accepted those glasses before.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not sure if they voted in this new society, or goverment, but it indicates that there was some freedom before. And I like that your story highlights the fact that we sometimes don’t want to face the hard facts of reality and end up making bad decisions when trying to run from reality. True freedom is being able to embrace both good and bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, Fatima, I agree! I think that the society described had HAD freedom and chose poorly and then did not heed warning signs till real freedom was curtailed and false-‘freedom’ was touted and ‘controlled.’ And … yes, sometimes people prefer to not face reality and instead hold on to false-promises and fall behind cult-like leaders who demand fealty above facts.

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