April 16th 2013
Life is an uphill battle for Victor Heller. Born in a small settlement in the Tyrol system, his father and mother are both members of the notorious Screaming Galsons pack. As a child, all he knew of the universe was violence and anarchy.
The opposite is true for Len Weeng. Born to a life of privilege and security, his parents are long-standing Citizens and entrepreneurs in Croshaw.
These two young men, both seventeen now, have one thing in common. They are both on the road to Citizenship, but they will have two very different experiences.
Current laws stipulate that each case for Citizenship is to be reviewed independently of the applicant’s background, focusing instead on whether the Civilian is actively contributing to the good of the society. However, the disparity these two young men will face highlights the flaws in the system, because we all know the truth:
Where you come from absolutely matters.
Victor assumed this. His parents had over sixty counts of piracy, theft, assault and robbery between them. He knew that the UEE would regard his desire to become a Citizen with skepticism.
“I get it, I do. I mean I’d be leery too,” Victor said at a small café outside of his university. “So when I decided that this was something I wanted to do, I knew I would need to make sacrifices.”
Sacrifice is putting it lightly. Victor severed all ties with his parents and enrolled himself in an outreach education program. He worked three jobs to pay the rent on his tiny share. When he wasn’t working, he was studying or volunteering. For years he struggled to avoid anything that might adversely affect his case.
But that might not be enough. Marjorie Lowe is a lobbyist for the United Civil Liberties Organization.
“It’s worse than you think. The government has intentionally created arbitrary obstacles and an atmosphere of dense language and cryptic bureaucracy to give itself plausible credibility whenever it chooses to deny Citizenship.” Lowe believes that there’s something more nefarious at play. “These methods are really a thinly veiled attempt to keep down the number of independently minded Citizens.”
Lowe believes that there’s a powerful elite on Earth that wants to keep the number of Citizens down in an effort to minimize the number of people who can elect Senators and participate in imperial elections.
“If more people vote, there’s more of a chance that the established power-base will be replaced by more politically independent thinkers. Over time, enough of these outsiders might tip the balance toward reform.”
Conversely, Len’s path to Citizenship is going to be more of an afterthought. When we met at his home in Croshaw, he seemed to be a well-spoken and polite young man, but compare if you will his preparations for his Citizenship hearing.
“I’ve been studying a bit. I took a prep course a few weeks ago and they gave me a breakdown of the process and a list of the likely questions.”
Len has also volunteered at a shelter once a month. I asked him if he thinks that this is enough to obtain his Citizenship.
“I don’t know,” he said with a smile and a shrug. “I think so.”
Each side of Len’s family have been Citizens going back almost a hundred years. Again, the review board isn’t supposed to take that into consideration.
For this story, I attempted to contact the supervising committee for Citizenship at the UEE, but was met with deflection and silence. I finally found a public Solicitor, familiar with the process, who was willing to speak on condition of anonymity.
“I wouldn’t say that coming from a family of Citizens in good standing necessarily guarantees Citizenship. I’ve seen situations where it hasn’t helped the candidate. They just take it into consideration and are more likely to overlook … less admirable … qualities.”
With the potential obstacles standing in Victor’s way, it seems that fate has just dealt him another. Relays indicate that two weeks ago, Arina Heller, Victor’s mother, was killed in an ambush by local bounty hunters.
While the story has been making its way around the Spectrum that yet another brutal pirate has been killed, thrusting the sins of his parents back into the public consciousness, Victor tries to remain optimistic.
“I’ll do all I can. If it doesn’t happen, I won’t give up. Just keep my head down, keep working and try again.”