about the story

The fictional story draws an analogy between gravity and social structures.

It is about a young person concerned with advancement of social justice who strongly believes that human societies always evolve in the direction of common well-being. Relying on moral values at the individual and social level is what guarantees this progress. Her approach is based on a couple of assumptions: (i) common well-being coincides with individual well-being, and (ii) moral values are universal and unanimously identifiable by everyone. Her approach reveals how much our view of humanity and morality is constrained by the social environment of our upbringing. This character was born in an environment where society seemed to be moving towards social justice. As we see at the end, this was not a corollary of human nature, as she believed, but a mere accident. The social improvements she believed to be manifestations of universal moral values gaining acknowledgement turned out to be a product of random organizational forces that, at some point, can be substituted by a different set of forces driving the society in a radically different direction. Even gravity turned out to be arbitrary.

The child’s naïve view is contrasted with her parent’s, who keeps warning her “things can change suddenly”. As we will see in one of the drawings (not in words), her parent has lived through a big social change (from a dictatorship to the settlement of a democracy), and s/he is particularly aware of the relativity of a society’s direction (after also experiencing an attempt of coup d’état and the fragility of an apparently stable society). The end of the story shows both the stubbornness of the younger character, who keeps believing that a stable, just society is possible and affordable, and the exclusion and detachment she experiences due to that.

An important message of the story blurs and questions the boundary between “us” and “them”, the people like us and the people with values and lifestyles that seem alien to us. In the beginning of the story, the optimistic lifeview of the main character invites the reader to sympathize and identify with her. However, as the readers follow the evolution of the main character, they see her unable to accept the things that changed around her, an obvious misfit who ends up disconnected from new reality. This conveys the message that “we” (the ones we feel are like us), and “them” (those people we cannot identify with, and therefore usually ignore and often despise) are not that different, and, moreover, that the line dividing us is often drawn by the random direction of the social development, not only by our individual character.

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