For Dinner: Wine and assorted cheeses,
grapes and other sliced fruits
Mood: Feeling very--different. Very alone.
Written in the Year of our Lord 3580, March 21th, Thursday night.
Location: The Fel arcology on the city Vagnar on the continent of Laufey, near the Ran ocean, on Loki.
I got up early, and opened the door, and saw both Tiafen and Eilfar there....Tiafen was leaving, Eilfar first showing up for her tour of duty. Tiafen had a small Lokiite child with her.
"You leaving, Redwine?" Eilfar asked.
"Not right now. I was seeing who was out here on guard. Is this Tiafen's child?"
Tiafen answered, "Yes."
"Would it offend you if I asked her name?"
The child answered, "I'm Utrod. You are very strange looking. Where are your lifelinks? And what's wrong with your eyes?"
"I'm not from here. Where I'm from, everyone looks like this."
"Yes. In your eyes, ugly."
"How do your children survive without lifelinks? Or the mothers, how do they survive? That's why I'm here. It's time for lifelinking."
"Utrod, hush! The human doesn't want to hear about our..."
"On the contrary, Tiafen. Utrod has come for the lifelinking?"
"May I ask---and please remember I don't know--I'm not trying to pry or violate any taboos...is the lifelinking--intimate? Or would you-- not mind someone else watching while you do it?"
Tiafen laughed. "No, I don't mind. Why should I mind? Do you want to watch?"
"Yes. Utrod, would you like to see an alien's apartments? You could come in here and be free to do the...lifelinking."
"Yes!" In that, she was like any other young kid, loving to see the new.
So the mother and child went into my apartments, and after oohing and aahing over some human-made products, went into the bedroom. They took the long connecting links between ankles and wrists, the chitinous "lifelinks" or "childbonds" and they intertwined the two, in an odd tangle. He didn't really see anything, but he knew the child's lifelinks were secreting a substance that the mother needed every so often---at least several times a week...or she would go into bad withdrawal symptoms, and in some cases, even death. The mother would need this "fix" every so often until the child was sixteen or so. The child sits placidly. Usually they only get a general peaceful feeling of well-being. The mother, however, was breathing heavier, as her hormonal balance was being "tuned up", with a side effect of increased sexual desire...which also gave a motive for the males to protect the child, also.
This was the secret. This was the essence of the difference between Lokiite and human viewpoints, between Terran and Lokiite biology.
Humans...for that matter, most of terran life--protects their young by something basically irrational. They are protected by the love of the mother for its firstborn, and sometimes the father. Maternal love is irrational yet fierce, and seen on animals with little intelligence all the way up to humans. It is an instinct bred into us so that new generations will be preserved, and the "selfish genes" passed on. A bitch loves her puppies, a cat her kittens, and will do almost anything to defend them.
Yet that love doesn't always work. On every world, and in every time, there are parents and relatives that abuse their children. I can think of no sin that I have more problem forgiving than that...the anger or sexual abuse directed by a parent at an innocent child.
Lokiite biology took a different route in protecting the young, allowing other generations to carry the precious genes. All higher Lokiite life on land are equipped.with the childbonds, and the children are absolutely necessary to the well-being of the parents. If they don't do the lifelinking several times a week, the parents will become irritable, develop bad symptoms such as nerve spasms,, and eventually die. The genetic code should match as much as possible. If children accidentally die, if there are children of lifelinking years who are scions of siblings, oftentimes they can be used, though not as effectively, with some side effects. If there are no living relatives, they can try other children of lifelinking years....but though they won't die, they will have serious side effects, sometimes including blindness and deafness. If that happens....this society does not care for the handicapped. It might as well be a death sentence.
There is no love between mother and child, or any parent and child. Their bond is purely pragmatic. The child is necessary to the parent's well-being. Once the child passes sixteen, the parent has little interest in them.
They would not see God as a beneficent
Father--or Mother, for that matter. The word "father" simply means,
"he who impregnated my mother", for instance.
From this simple cause springs all the differences between our two races' viewpoints. I'm not sure if a Lokiite can learn altruistic, disinterested love. If they can, it's not necessary to the survival of the race. Whereas with humans, we are taught basically about being loved and doing things for others...by the example of parents who feed us, change our diapers, put up with our tantrums...for no other reason that they love us. Lokiites never experience that--they never have to. Every protection they are given as children is because the parents need something from the child.
Some have argued that the religious impulse
among mankind is due to memories of that unselfish love that a parent lavishes
on their children...of being provided for by mightier forces, not for gain,
but because they love one. Certainly many religions refer to the
deity as "Father" or "Mother". Obviously, I don't agree. I think the love
instead is a reflection of a mightier Love that birthed the universe, a
shadow or echo of the same.
But what does it mean if there is such a loving Creator--that he would allow a race without love or charity to be created? I have the fine beginnings of a crisis in faith here, and a theological debate to be argued over and over by seminary students.
Suppose I recommended, and the Church approved, that Lokiites did have souls, and needed to hear the message of God's love? How could a race with no concept of self-sacrifice and altruism begin to understand the Crucifixion? How would you even translate the New Testament into Naviscan, the primary Lokiite language...which has no words for love apart from lust, or father as an object of love, or to whom the concept of charity was unknown and, perhaps, unknowable?.
The lifelinks between Utrod and Tiafen were turning a lighter gray, as it reached the end of its cycle. Afterwards, they disentangled the links. Tiafen looked flushed, alert, more alive than she had before. "Well, Redwine, did you find it instructive?"
"Yes. Someday I'll explain why."
They left the apartments. As they were doing so, mother and child tossed insults at each other.
"Can't you keep up?"
"How often do I get to look in an alien's apartment? Give me a second."
This wasn't conversation between two people who basically liked each other, but couldn't resist a little goading. This was a conversation between two people thrown together by circumstances but not enjoying each other's company.
But there has never been a case of child
abuse in Loki's history...at least by the parents or by near relatives.
I am horrified by Loki almost daily. But I wonder if the Lokiites, if they
know about child abuse, would be just as horrified by us?
Return to Redwine at Dinner.