Now that Ante had described the rock behind the church as Jesus' two fingers pointing to the heavens, Bjorn could not free himself from seeing it again as they passed the church on the way back to the car.
"He's quite a character, that Frederico, isn't he?" Bjorn commented.
"Yeah," Ante replied idly.
"That whole Golden Rule thing... It's a nice thought, don't you think?"
Ante did not answer.
"You know," Bjorn continued. "I think I'll try that citizen thing one day. I mean... its not like anything bad will happen if I do, right?"
"No, of course not. But it's a silly idea."
"You think so? Why? You think the Golden Rule is a silly idea?"
"No, no... the Golden Rule is a cute idea."
"Yeah. Quaint... Nice... I like it. But it's silly to pretend we're actually following it."
Ante looked at Bjorn with a skeptical frown.
"You're a border guard. How is that compatible with the golden rule?"
"But I'm not hurting anyone," Bjorn protested.
"Sure... But the whole point of your job is to impose certain rules on people."
"Against their will."
"Yeah... but... It's our country, they have no right to go there if we don't allow it."
"No? Why not?"
"Because it is our country."
"But what if someone in Neiden or Kirkenes wants to invite someone from Lundby over to work for them, or even just visit. Would you let them?"
"No... but that's a silly example. No one is inviting anyone over from Lundby."
"And why is that, you think?"
"Well... they don't know each other for starters."
"Because they can't, right?"
"Because people like you and me are keeping them segregated."
"It's a kind of apartheid, isn't it? That's what we're involved in."
Bjorn shook his head in mild disbelief.
"You're clearly talking too much with Thomas."
"Yeah," Ante admitted with a sheepish smile. "But I think he has a point, though."
"Yeah... I think he's right. We're actually the bad guys."
"He said that?"
"So what is he doing at the checkpoint? If he believes that, why is he still working for us? I mean... have you told Frank about this?"
"No, of course not."
Bjorn was shocked. The idea that they had a rebel in their ranks, someone who openly despised the system, was worrying.
"He's selling his soul for a decent salary, he says," Ante continued.
"He really is a grumpy old man, isn't he?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
Having reached the base of the hill, the two men headed directly for the knoll with the parked cars.
"Well, anyway," Bjorn continued. "I'm declaring myself a citizen right now. I'm hereby a citizen of the Fifth Empire."
"And who exactly are you saying this to?"
"To the world."
"But you know... The world doesn't care. No one out here cares one bit about what you say. It's not what you say, but what you do that defines you in the end. And the moment you go out to that glass box tomorrow you're no longer a citizen, no matter what you say."
"No. That's why it's such a silly idea for you to declare yourself a citizen, because you'll only be a citizen when it doesn't really matter, and the moment it actually makes a difference you're back to being... well... a border guard."
"But I'll be nice to my colleagues," Bjorn protested, putting on a humorous grin to soften his protest.
"Sure... as if you weren't a nice guy already."
Bjorn nodded, content with Ante's flattery, and fully prepared to drop the topic.
"You know, you can't fake this," Ante continued, concluding his own thoughts on the subject. "Because it is a promise only to yourself, not to the world. It´s not like you have to convince anyone else that you're a true citizen. There's no bureaucrat you have to apply to."
"It's not a typical application for a citizenship, is it?" Bjorn agreed.
"No. And what's the point in being a citizen if you have to call it off every time you go to work?"
"Well... If I wasn't such a nice guy," Bjorn said with a cheerful smile. "Then it might make sense."
"Yeah. But the idea must be to be a nice guy all the time, and to everybody, not only to your colleagues."
The men reached Ante's car where they stopped and took a quick look a the village square before entering the vehicle.
"It's a nice thought, though," Bjorn concluded.
"Sure. But we're not a part of it. And it's silly to think otherwise."