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Fitting the Mold 2010

Janet Kuypers
(poetry converted to prose)

    He told them repeatedly that the government has to get an employee into this division, so he was willing to sit in his colleague’s office, and they kept the speakerphone on as they started conducting telephone interviews; knowing that person made a difference for public speeches for this branch of the government for this position, Gerald sat in Stephan’s office silently as Stephan pulled the first resume sheet dialed the number and started the interview
    Gerald listened, and heard the first applicant discuss that he understood government spending in education, health care, helping the poor, paving roads, keeping water safe to drink, fighting pollution and the like but he wasn’t in favor of money going to religious groups, or even helping corporations who have previously failed so miserably. He said he was against the expansion of the Patriot Act (that’s a blow against him for this government position), but he was in favor of holding the military responsible for illegal acts committed while in service.
    And oh, we just heard another issue that’s a strike against him: he claimed that abortion is nobody’s business but the woman (and secondarily the man).
    Well, he was sounding good, but we have to make sure some topics are not covered when he’s making public speeches while at work...
    To close the phone interview, Stephan asked what religion he was the first applicant said confidently that he was jewish and after he gave his answer Stephan thanked him and ended the interview. With the phone off the hook, Stephan said under his breath, “well, we’ll have to find someone else, we’ve got two more phone interviews”
    When the second man answered his phone, Stephen immediately started asking questions, and this new candidate had a lot of intriguing opinions. He understood that taxation existed to secure the people’s view of a good society, but people who are taxed can’t control if the money is spent efficiently. But he also made a valuable point: that nothing guarantees that people are correct in assuming that what they want is what they need. Americans, through taxation, display faith in the government to accomplish what we need. Government spending gauges where our values lie. Choices of spending money to house orphans or to subsidize industry, on education or incarceration are a direct reflection of what the people want.
    Gerald listened to this interviewee, thinking that this person could be molded into whatever they needed for this new position.
    Not knowing what he’d say about the wars and combat, Stephan guided the questions to the military. he responded by saying that a common defense is the most enduring and universal symbol of all successful human societies. Treaties and alliances effectively stop people from continuing to build their arsenal. So, he’s also in support of finding more allies after the war Bush was walked us into, to cut our costs down as well. Makes sense. so Stephan closed the interview asking what religion he ascribed to, and he replied that he was muslim
    Gerald and Stephan both looked at each other with wide eyes when they heard that, so Stephan asked if he was Muslim from birth. No, he replied, I was raised Christian, but I became Muslim was I was probably around twenty-five.
    Oh, well, thank you, Stephan said, thanks for letting us know.
    He then graciously said thank you to Stephan as they ended the interview and hung up the phone
    Stephan then looked up at Gerald.
    Well, he finally said.
    Yes, Gerald answered.
    I don’t think that would work out well for us, Stephan said.
    I don’t know what the ramifications would be, Gerald answered.
    Well, one more interview to go as Stephan looked at the last application and phone number to dial.
    Before Stephen dialed the last number, he said that this one’s a woman, well, we should listen to her anyway Gerald pointed out that if the President can bring a black woman into his cabinet, this might not be a bad thing, so Stephen relented and dialed the phone.
    After greetings, he started asking her questions, and she answered honestly, though she tried to back up every answer with facts and details that made her answer seem like the most plausible choice. She believed it was a woman’s right to have an abortion since the woman is the one who has to host the fetus until it can become a life on its own, but she also felt that if people were looking to adopt, and doctors can keep premature babies alive well after their first trimester, she had less of a moral argument for late term abortions. She said that even though she was a woman and in a minority, she didn’t believe in laws to assist women, or people in minorities in getting jobs because people should only be hired on merit and talent, not on the color of their skin or whether they’re male or female.
    She believed taxation was appropriate to keep the society functioning, even though some are unwilling to pay higher taxes while wanting more things done for them. She then pointed out that these same people want to gamble some of their money away at casinos. This made her wonder why gambling is not more prevalent, and taxed heavily, so the government could get money for work that needed to be done.
    Stephan asked her about the military, and she responded by saying that war is always a gruesome thing, people are realizing that now because television cameras are now on the front lines, showing them details of the gore... But one thing she noted when the gulf war was going on in the early nineties (though it wasn’t technically a war, people use the term “war” flippantly whenever there’s a conflict or an invasion now, even though congress hasn’t declared a war since world war two), but what she noted was the staggering ease America had in attacking the middle east, how casualties were low, and how a lot of amazing technology was used to fight the first gulf war. the country is filled with amazingly intelligent people, she said, and that intelligence will keep our numbers of injured or killed low when in battle again.
    Approaching the end of their interview, Stephen remembered the first prospective employee talking about keeping the government away from religion, he asked her what she thought of the separate of church and state.
    She pointed out that there is nothing in the Constitution that declares the separation of church and state, and she also knows that there are many people in this country who aren’t Christian, who have to deal with Christian holidays and churchgoers imposing their Christian mentality.
    Then all she heard was silence.
    She knew this Christian interviewer didn’t like her non-Christian answer, so she tried to fill the silence with justification since this country is a melting pot, she said, and people have had to accommodate differing languages of citizens for years, people should also be able to accommodate different religions as well, or even atheism.
    I see, Stephan said.
    I am not saying that Christianity should be out of the government, she said, it’s in our government’s roots. I know full well that most people who founded this country were Christians; they just didn’t want a government-sanctioned religion forced down people’s throats. People who complain about the separation of church and state don’t have a problem using our money, where every bill and coin says “in God we trust”.
    Stephan noted her beliefs about the inclusion of religious phrases in money, so he asked about the inclusion of “under God” in the pledge of allegiance.
    Well, she said, I believed it should have remained there if that is the way it had always been, but then I found out that it hadn’t always been that way. From the best I can gather, FDR added “under God” to the pledge to show how us Americans were better than those Godless communists.
    Does that mean we should pull the added phrase out now? she asked.
    The invocation of religion in Bush’s cabinet does make this middle eastern attack more like a holy war, whether or not anyone wants to believe it, but instead of pulling those two words, which would anger a lot of americans, I don’t see why children who are opposed to saying “under God” can’t just not say those two words while reciting the pledge and leave it at that. I wouldn’t say we should remove those two added words to the pledge, but I also don’t see why so many people in America want to search for problem to complain about. If I didn’t like something when I was growing up, I didn’t try to uproot the system, because the systems’ often far too powerful to overcome, i’d just found a way around the problem for myself and didn’t make any waves. We can’t get along as a country if everyone is complaining about little details they can just work around. People have different beliefs in this country, and one of our saving graces is that we’ve allowed those differences to help us thrive
    Stephan was coming around to what she was saying, and when he looked up at Gerald, he saw him smirking at the sense in her comments.
    Well, thank you very much for your opinions in this interview, Stephan finally said just out of curiosity, what religion are you?
    Do you need that, she asked.
    Well, we— Stephan was cut off.
    You’re not allowed to hire based on religion, she cut in.
    We’re not, Stephan answered, we’ve just been talking about religion, that’s all.
    She knew he was expecting her to answer.
    She panicked.
    She knew he was a Christian, she knew they wanted a Christian in this job.
    Everyone in the government has to fit what they see as the perfect American mold
    She knew she’d be flat-out rejected for a job if she told them she was an Atheist. her mind started reeling. She was born catholic, but she learned to think for herself as she grew older, so she knew better... Her morals were very Christian, and she was told more than once that she was a good gnostic Christian.
    All of this flashed through her head in about one and a half seconds and she finally answered, I’m a Christian.
    Oh, Stephan answered, what denomination?
    Excuse me? she asked, to steal herself a little more time.
    Oh, what denomination, Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Baptist, just wondering what church you went to.
    She gulped.
    People have told me I’m a good gnostic Christian but... I was born a catholic.
    Ah, keeping company with the president, Stephan said.
    No, I’m not a Roman Catholic but Catholicism does make a good portion of Christianity in this country...
    They both laughed in agreement as Stephan started to close the interview.
    After she hung up the phone she thought about how the cards are stacked against woman. Then again, they’re stacked against you if you are anything other than an Anglo-Saxon male, sorry Blacks, sorry Latinos, sorry Asians, sorry Native Americans. But now she was seeing that the cards could be stacked against you if you’re not a Christian. Sorry Jews, sorry Hindus, sorry Muslims, sorry Atheists. You’re screwed too if you don’t fit into the perfect mold.
    She almost felt like she needed to take a shower, to clean herself off from having to lie — wait, she didn’t lie, she just didn’t reveal the entire truth.
    Then she realized that if she got the job she’d have to get used to covering up the truth all the time.




Copyright
Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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