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Chapter 3 - Released from Hospital - Page_43

But, whatever the pleasant aspects of day to day existence, Functionary developed increasing doubts about the society into which he had fallen by some random chance of spatial drift. However, grateful for his life, he could not help but become increasingly critical of the lifestyle he experienced. To Functionary, life on the Hospital Ship reflected, as though the heavily exaggerated  image of a concave mirror, the life he had left behind in the System and the Service to which he had belong. To Functionary, the Hospital Ship was merely a factory inhabited by thousands of souls who worked perpetually, often doing meaningless things, to return at night to their tiny rooms while being bribed by trinkets and a little time off. Looking around, Functionary could not comprehend how these beings could be happy. As ever was the case, he was a loner, an outsider.

He was aware that people saw meaning in their lives and function in the broader social system within which they existed. Cautiously questioning those he befriended, Functionary understood that the inhabitants of the ship saw themselves living within a free and democratic system. Personally, Functionary doubted that most individuals living within the regime of the Hospital Ship had much influence over the governance of their lives. But, it was the notion that the inhabitants had that they were free and capable of directing their lives, which Functionary found frustratingly delusional. An existence structured by endless often pointless work and brief periods of free time imprisoned within the limited confines of the ship was not what Functionary understood as freedom. How could anyone endure such an existence, he wondered, perceiving no potential answer. Yet, from long bitter experience, he knew that people could adapt to anything.

Insofar as the inhabitants would have accepted that they were not entirely free, they would have argued that they had given up some of their freedom in the interests of the protection of their welfare. After all, this was a hospital ship. If almost everyone was forced to work, everyone was looked after. If some lost their job, if some had a family, if some fell ill, if some were widowed, the system would always look after them. There was, as the inhabitants put it, a safety net beneath them and, if ever they fell from their metaphorical tightropes, the system would always be there to catch them and prevent a catastrophe. How could one possible argue against such as system? How indeed? To the inhabitants of Hospital Ship, the ship was the perfect society and if they knew what Functionary truly thought, they would have regarded him as incomprehensibly mad.

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