Minority Report


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It’s just an ordinary downtown shopping crowd. Everyday stuff. But what about the young guy on the left, his arms folded tightly against his chest? Definitely not normal. His body and his face spell fear. What’s abnormal is not that he’s afraid, but that he shows it.

Fear is a normal feeling for ordinary people here, though it’s usually hidden behind a blank look, or a shy smile. They have good reason to be afraid. They have no special talents or skills to bargain with. They’re uneducated, and sometimes irresponsible. Many have no work, and even with jobs, they can barely earn enough to feed themselves and their families. They have no safety net. Any accident can leave them without means and without hope.

So they become totally dependent on the goodwill of those “above” them who have more money and power than they have; people who can help them or hurt them as they please.

Of course, they’re afraid of these people, and often dislike them, but to survive, they have to deal with them. So out of pride and caution, they hide their fears behind masks of “shyness” and “respect”.

Example: a young woman comes for an appointment with some official. She needs work, or needs to sell something, and this official has a reputation for being obnoxious and mean. So she knocks timidly, sticks her head slowly inside the door as though she expects someone to hit her. “She’s very shy,” the official thinks; but actually, she’s only afraid the man will throw her out if she appears too “forward”, not “humble” enough.

And what of the young man in the picture holding himself so tightly? Perhaps he’s a rich woman’s driver, waiting for her to finish shopping. Maybe earlier, she scolded him infront of her friends because of a little mud on one wheel of the car. He’s afraid she’s still angry with him, and now, he has to ask her extra for medicine.

He hadn’t noticed the mud because he was tired from being up all night with his sick child. He hated her for embarrassing him, but he just said “Yes, ma’am; I’m sorry ma’am,” and gave her an apologetic smile. As they drove away, she must have said to her friends, “These foolish servants will never learn. But at least, this one has respect.”

Shyness and respect; other words for fear.

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