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The boys were selected, weeded out. The Japanese taught us this with their apples. Figure out which ones were strongest, the best. Keep them to make the crop stronger. No use expending energy on halfway and under-done. No use spending money and time on anything less than the best. No use – the society was all that mattered. Not the individual.

The Winnowers could see the future of each person. They would know at a glance who was headed for addiction or homelessness or who was likely to rob or rape. Stealing is the same, after all, whether it is property or personhood.

Those souls needed to be weeded out – no use allowing the leeches to drain away from the community. All takers and no givers? A waste of time.

In the past, before the Winnowing came to be, women who were awake simply chose to not reproduce with those men. They wouldn’t date them or marry them. Maybe they awoke after they were married, so chose to be celibate or use other methods to ensure his genetic code wouldn’t carry. Divorce wouldn’t work – he might find a weak woman, one who is desperate for attention. She wouldn’t care, wouldn’t think about her duty to the group, the city, the nation, the world.

Nature or nurture? Both, it turned out. You could raise a boy with defective traits in a home that was awake and you had a 70% chance he’d turn out average. Never great. He had too much working against him. And that 30% was too high a chance to risk.

They based this on Matthew 5:27-30. “It is better that you lose one of your members than your whole body be thrown into hell.” Except they took it further. “You should purge the evil in your midst” from Deuteronomy. No sin at all – pluck the weeds before they grow up and choke the fruit. All too often a robber graduated to murder. A liar went to wife beating. Why waste time waiting for it to happen?

So they were culled, sent away, privately. All those missing people on milk boxes and flyers in the mail? That was them. The community made it look like they try to find them, but they knew where they were. Lost forever and soon forgotten. It didn’t take long for the outliers to fall off the radar. They weren’t missed, after all, and there were plenty of other more pressing issues to attend to. Who had time to waste on worrying about where some scofflaw was?

Privately, the Winnowers called themselves the garbagemen, because they took out the trash.

(Written mid August 2018)

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