Things were finally looking up.
We had four straight quarters of improving numbers, and it wasn't just statistical fudging either. People were noticing measurable improvements in their lives. There was a tangible feeling of optimism in the air, that everything was finally going to be OK. Granted there were still a few curmudgeons left over from the previous generation, always mumbling about complacency and eternal vigilance or something like that, but it was getting harder to take them seriously with each passing quarter. Eventually they faded away into nursing homes, but as long as the numbers kept improving, we weren't too concerned.
A few decades later, the numbers were still improving, but not as much as they used to. We figured that was just natural. You can't expect improvement without limit we were told. Eventually some people began to claim the numbers had plateaued, and perhaps were even going in the wrong direction. After a few years of denial, we were told that our lives were still leaps and bounds better than they were decades ago, and to be grateful for that. It was true though, and most of us did prefer to be grateful.
It wasn't until much later that we realized corruption had once again reached deep into our most powerful institutions and was attempting to re-establish a religion of Famine, an ideology in which it was OK to walk by the homeless, because they deserved it, because they wanted that life, because it was fate and Frog's will. Instead of stopping along the road to care for the fallen, the new religion convinced us to build pyramids for our new masters, elaborate tombs to commemorate their deaths, even as thousands of our own died from neglect.
It didn't go completely unnoticed though. Some among us attempted to rouse the slaves from their slumber. We gathered pitchforks and attacked our feudal lords in the dead of night.
This did not go over well.
We were accused of being agents of neighboring kingdoms. Documentation was found proving we were working for foreigners. We were declared enemies of the people. Some were imprisoned, others were hunted down and killed. In the neighboring kingdom, they were doing the same. They too needed an excuse to prevent attacks on their own feudal lords. Eventually these kingdoms, large numbers of them, all declared war on one another, while the kings and the lords sat on their thrones and ordered thousands of their slaves to their deaths in battle. They were all honored with glory and parades.
Unfortunately war was expensive. We needed weapons, lots of weapons, so the number of starving and homeless continued to grow. While we may have stopped building monuments for our lord, we now made weapons instead. Eventually some slaves began pointing out the futility of such wasted effort. War was no longer as useful a distraction as it once was. Our lord panicked, and reached deep into his arsenal for his final weapon. His agents visited places for the healing of the sick. They struck many deals. Soon after our lord was handing out free blankets to anyone that wanted one.
It started among the poor and the cold at first, but eventually the plague ravaged our entire kingdom. Gone were the thoughts of war and their related investigations. We were now completely occupied in surviving this new disease. Some accused our lord of some kind of conspiracy. They quietly disappeared. The plague wasn't something easy to control though. Eventually everything started collapsing. At first it was the smaller institutions, but eventually the most respected institutions in our society were collapsing as well.
Some came forward and began accusing our lord of a long list of misdeeds, of being a false prophet. Many of our lord's closest allies turned on him too. Maybe they finally decided to cash in their investments. The kingdom fell apart. The first became last and the last became first.
We began to organize assemblies to build a new society, one without all the abuses of the past. Some people called us utopian but we didn't care. We had plenty of people who truly knew what they were doing, who hadn't fallen during previous failed attempts at revolution.
Things were finally looking up. There was a tangible feeling that everything was finally going to be OK. This time we knew what we were doing. This was a new normal, a new phase in civilization. This time we would learn from the past. Our grandchildren will thank us: The Generation of Heroes. There were still a few curmudgeons mumbling about complacency and vigilance or something, but they faded away into nursing homes. We had four straight quarters of improving numbers.