Palentalia (or) The Divorce

by David Schell
based on a re-re-re-re-reposted message some friends posted. 

THE divorce was complete.

Hardly had the ink dried on the separation papers before the great migration began. “Liberals” from the east coast were moving west, and “Conservatives” from the west were heading east. Both had decided that the other could not be saved. A conservative law student named John J. Wall had written up the terms, and after some discussion, the conservatives and liberals had agreed to them. The text was as follows:

1) Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

2) We don’t like re distributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we’ll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

3) We’ll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We’ll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO’s and rednecks. We’ll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

4) You can make nice with Iran, Palestine, North Korea and Venezuela and we’ll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we’ll help provide them security .

5) We’ll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N., but we will no longer be paying the bill.

6) We’ll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

7) You can give everyone health care if you can find any practicing doctors. We’ll continue to believe health care is a luxury and not a right. We’ll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I’m sure you’ll be happy to substitute Imagine, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

8) We’ll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we’ll keep our history, our name and our flag.

I read and re-read the article on MSN, occasionally checking my computer’s clock to see if perhaps I had made a mistake and it was April Fool’s Day. It was not. I heard loud celebrating in some places and mourning in others. The police had been called out, and most of them looked as if they were feeling rather foolish as they announced over megaphones that yes, the divorce was real, and liberals had thirty days to gather their belongings and leave.

The local police force was growing gradually as police officers from the west arrived for their new posts in the east. They were good, corrupt, righteous, and unrighteous. The homeless were rounded up and put on buses toward the west coast. The Bibles on the west coast were ruthlessly gathered up and mailed east. In spite of the paradoxical nature of the trade-off, NBC and Hollywood, though both were classified as “greedy corporations,” were sent to the west. Walmart stores (in fact, most stores!) in the west became empty shells.

When the homeless people arrived on the west coast, they found many large, empty former stores, no longer owned by anyone, where they could live. The small Subarus and Hondas were exported to the west, leaving those who could not afford gasoline for the larger vehicles in a state of confusion. (The state of inability to afford gasoline didn’t last long; the Eastern Divided States moved quickly to attack Iran and quickly became the proud owners of more oil than they could possibly use).

The doctors, all of those who had taken the Hippocratic Oath and felt that they were bound by it, that is, were forced to move to the Western Divided States. The names were adjusted per the agreement: the Eastern Divided States was renamed “The United States of America,” and the Western Divided States was renamed Palentalia. No one knew why.

Slowly my daze lifted, and I realized that I would have to decide: the USA, or Palentalia. I’ve always been “proud to be an American;” I love my Bibles, all of them, and I shop at Wal-Mart all the time. Sadly, though, I drive a Honda, so I would have to give it up. I love the history of the United States of America… but strangely, I found myself attracted to Palentalia. The discussion seemed more open there: The USA had only one religion, Jerry Fallwell’s brand of Christianity, while Palentalia had at least three: Scientology, Islam, and Humanism. I figured one more in the mix wouldn’t bother them. Besides, Muslims, Scientologists, and Humanists need Jesus too. Palentalia just seemed more kind.

Palentalia also seemed needier. It would need some Christians to salt their earth and light their world – a world without Jesus just seems so dark and… strangely attractive. I wouldn’t be going to be a missionary per se – I’d only be going to be a light in a dark place. Somebody would have to love on all the homeless people who got sent to Palentalia. Someone would build a mission, surely, but who would work there?

As I packed up my car to leave for Palentalia, I kept thinking about what was going on, still barely able to believe it. Suddenly, an eerie thought came to me. Palentalia wasn’t the only place that was going to need Jesus. The USA would need His love, too.

I stood out there by my car, with all my belongings packed in it, shivering in the autumn chill. Leaves scritch-scratched down the pavement as I stared into the open trunk, weighing the options in my mind. Who would need grace more? Who would need love more? The USA was now a rough and harsh place, filled with CEOs and businessmen and police, with trigger-happy rednecks and SWAT teams, and with strong militaries and bombs. Palentalia was also going to be a little unkind, especially to someone who said he knew Who the truth was. It might not be as well-protected since it had no military, and since capitalism was gone, poverty would be rampant.

I braced against the coolness of the air and closed my eyes, asking my Father what I should do. Four letters appeared in my mind: WWJD? What would Jesus do? I remembered then that Jesus spent a lot of time among the poor, the oppressed, and the hurting. Sure, the powerful hurt too… but they’re not as honest and open to admitting to it. I knew what I had to do.

I closed the trunk, got in the driver’s seat, turned the key in the ignition, and headed toward Palentalia.

Be careful what you wish for.

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