An essay by Sha'Tara, local writer and friend.
The Personal Choice Ministry
[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]
Here’s a futuristic idea (and but a sketch of what I have in mind): the United Nations (for lack of something better) has finally graduated to become an established, fully recognized and empowered world government. Without entering into the political ramifications of what that could mean (Shudder! comes to mind) I want to focus on one particular (and totally new) ministry of that now all-powerful entity. This ministry is called “Personal Choice Ministry” and its mandate is to provide the means for individuals to meaningfully express their concept of what the world would be like if they had the power to make it so. Individuals apply to the ministry for the right to participate in an experiment to make their “perfect” world come about. They get to actually put their dream into perspective by living it out without interference. Their applications would be in the form of a written or verbal theme via mail, email, fax, phone and personal interviews. No one, regardless of financial or social status, health, gender, race, religious belief, political or other activities, would be denied the right to apply.
Successful applicants would be funded by the UN general budget to relocate to an island somewhere (location not made public for obvious reasons) for a period not to exceed five years, during which time these applicants would interact with each other to create the kind of world described in their applications. In this scenario, nothing is denied the successful applicants. Whatever they want, they get, but only as it applies to their island. Once enrolled in the program, they cannot communicate with the rest of the planet. They cannot seek help or redress from the outside world. They cannot share their findings with anyone outside except after they return to their old life. The Ministry maintains an office on the Island, but that is strictly to observe, never to intrude. The office is located in a secure, fully protected, inaccessible area. Two dedicated satellites continually scan the island and report directly to the Office of Personal Choice Ministry.
Before they relocate to begin their task of creating their “perfect” world, the applicants would be held incommunicado in a secret camp set up by the Ministry. Here they would get to meet each other and compare notes to see if their goals possess conformable and/or symbiotic qualities. Would their chosen ways complement the rest? And etc. This period of “adjustment” would last one year. During this time, applicants remain free to leave and return to their “normal” lives without any penalty regarding loss of jobs, position, income. During this time they become familiar with the resources that will be made available to them once they are relocated on their island. The island, of course, is completely uninhabited and “as is” for the would-be pioneers. The Ministry would take a complete hands-off approach as to applicants’ skills, trades, professions. For all of them, this would be a completely new start and their “normal” occupations would have little to do with their lives on the Island.
What criteria would determine a successful application? Only that which points to a change of social interaction; only that which promises to create something entirely new in interactions between individuals and groups. Would individual applicants be denied based on their past, i.e., criminal activities? No. Even prisoners of the World Prison Ministry could apply successfully, though this would in no way affect their particular sentence which would resume once their time on the Island is completed. The idea is that Island interactions would not be based on changing one’s “normal” life, but on creating new ways to successfully (or disastrously!) relate to one-another, as individuals and as communities. What anyone does with what is learned in the five years on the island is entirely up to the individual. The PC Ministry no longer takes any interest in the lives of those “discharged” from the experiment once they are re-established in their old lives.
Let’s say that the maximum number of people on the Island would be 500 at any one time. Would these strangers, left to their own devices, prove to be human or pseudo-human? Would they cooperate fully with each other following the mandate set by themselves in their applications, or fall back on the old selfish models by setting up competing communities or groups? Would religious types try to convert others? Would those politically minded try to subvert individual minds and create oppressive regimes? Would parents set up schools, or let nature, work and responsibility to the family unit teach their children? Would women find themselves freed from male oppression or would they still be sex toys and beasts of burden? Would money be introduced by some in attempts to live off the sweat of others working the fields growing food or building shelters? If there are criminals, and if they are allowed to have guns (nothing denied!) would there be violent crime? Would people be murdered?
I’m sure there are many “holes” in my set-up for this exercise, but please realize what the point of this is. I’m not writing a sci-fi or fantasy novel here, just presenting a what-if scenario for the mind to work with. The question is, would the people who spent time developing their theory of a perfect world and risked so much to bring it about take it to heart and actually attempt to make it work despite the odds? Indeed, how would it all go? A fun exercise for the mind. Comments?