‘A Timeless Lesson’ by Aoife McCann, year 11, Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast

Behind Belshazzar’s black door the noisy feast continued. Expensive wine splashed out of the golden chalices engraved with ‘sovereignty of the people’ ‘social contract’ and ‘Demos Kratos’. Belshazzar raised his chalice in yet another toast to the “little people” with loud laughter and clinking chalices. Elsewhere ‘the people’ slept exhausted after another day of Fake news and struggle.

Outside an unusual protest group gathered to write on the walls of this bastion of Indulgence- motivated by injustices unleashed by Belshazzar on his long-suffering people. Simon and Garfunkel sang “The words of the prophets Are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence” into the velvety night sky and sleeping minds of the people. This was followed by Bob Dylan with ‘Blowing in the Wind’ as Aeschylus wrote: “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Buffalo Springfield sang “There’s battle lines being drawn Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong Young people speaking their minds Getting so much resistance from behind” as Karl Marx wrote “Workers of the world unite you have nothing to lose but your chains.” He was followed by Socrates writing justice is a virtue of the soul and only good men allow it to manifest in their daily activities.” 

Labi Siffre sang “The more you refuse to hear my voice The louder I will sing You hide behind walls of Jericho Your lies will come tumbling Deny my place in time You squander wealth that’s mine My light will shine so brightly It will blind you” as Jesus chose to write the Beatitudes.

Diogenes wrote “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth” and WB Yeats wrote “I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” Blindfolded Lady Justice was guided by Sophocles as they wrote “The golden eye of justice sees and requites the unjust man.” Mother Earth and Gandhi chose to write “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed…  “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” Chief Seattle wrote “All things are connected like the blood that unites us, we did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.”  

Death silently wrote in red ‘Receipt for Covid 200,000 + souls. Finally, a hand apparition wrote “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” The group vanished having provided wisdom for Belshazzar to mend his ways.

Belshazzar and his entourage staggered outside and read the writing on the wall. “What piffle!!” he concluded met with prolonged laughter. In the underworld Hades clicked his fingers and deployed the Furies to bring Belshazzar and his entourage to the underworld. The hand reappeared and wrote on the now blank walls: Under New Management: The People.