The first thing that you want to do is check your email and read the news. The world might have blown up while you were asleep, and you don’t know about it. You exercise restraint, take another sip of your coffee, and begin to write.
The primary thing you need to do is come up with a revision to your story. You will want to create a myth of yourself that is bright, positive, optimistic and great. The story of how you woke up and began to fill the earth is a good one to tell.
You were made to be expansive, and that’s just what you did, you expanded. You were of sound body and keen mind. You didn’t consume and take things in, but you began to insert yourself everywhere that there was news unfolding.
You saw tremendous opportunity everywhere you went. When you walked down to the Rio Grande, and saw the people afraid that their lives were going to be ruined by the other people crossing the border, you let them in on a little secret about the best jobs. The best jobs are all artificially made. The best money is all artificially made. There is more than enough of it to go around, and you just have to accept that a lot of it is coming your way. You walked on when they laughed at you.
You wanted to fill the entire country.
You wanted to stretch down to the Florida keys, and be a rum-filled bum, soaking up the intense rays of the sun and refusing to let them become carcinogenic. You smoked a cigar and wore a straw hat, and a Hawaiian shirt. You listened to a blues band. You floated up to the Low Country in South Carolina, and stood among the people whose ancestors had wrested the land away from lazy masters. You saw the potential for rice to be grown and harvested again from this country with the power of ultra-modern technology. You expanded up into DC, and rested like a warm, lethargic blanket over the angry, hungry politicians who were keyed up with a fervor to create a myth that was small and good for nobody, not even themselves. You destroyed their principle and replaced it with compassion.
You saw opportunity for new industry everywhere you traveled. People were locked up in their houses, devouring content off the Internet, and getting lonelier by the minute. You wanted to create a place where people could come and have dialogue with each other, and entertain and comfort the elderly and infirm. A place where nobody felt like they were going to be laughed at or screamed at for being who they were. A place where people put partisan and religious differences aside to ask how they could work together in their community to make art appear everywhere on the sides of abandoned buildings, and how neighborhood groups could make handmade things that they could export to the burgeoning middle class in China who were in love with anything that had a “Made in the USA” stamp on it.
You flattened bureaucracies, and ran over petty dictators in small towns everywhere who held court and expected all the people to come and pay them tribute. You rolled over anyone who would walk into the commons and try to let all of their cattle graze and nobody else’s. You gave infinite mercy to those who were sick and dying, and beyond hope. You made people go to bed every night with the same zeal and zest that had taken root in your soul, and let no one go to bed still hungry for hope.
You went too fast for the critics. They were left blubbering on the sidelines, trying to get a word in edgewise about how you were a pollyanna, a rose-colored, half-full glass kind of fool. You didn’t have even half of a second to spare for them. Everywhere you went you saw opportunity, hope and love abounding, and you knew that even the most hardened prisoner could begin a process of reformation. You saw deeper into souls than you or anyone else had ever seen before. You didn’t have time to give great speeches, either. You weren’t visiting these towns to collect a speaker’s fee and move one. You were coming to these towns to assess the situation, and organize the people, and get them back on their feet, making something, building something.
You were a realist, as crazy as that may sound. What one town had in abundance, another town did not. So, you didn’t expect one town to build a bridge or a dam or a great meeting hall if that town was better served to create a large community farm.
A lot of people called you a communist. You would go into a community and find all of the neglected buildings that the bank owned. You’d get the people to pool their resources together so they could pay the back taxes, and as a cooperative become the owners of the property. So many foreclosures were going to wealthy speculators or nobody at all, because nobody wanted the property. So, you showed the people how when each of them gave a little bit of the money they were saving to replace their porches or travel to Disney World, they could suddenly become part owners of houses, buildings and land. You were quick to point out to the naysayers that this wasn’t communism, but a local kind of real estate market exchange–the same way companies are publicly traded and have many owners who own little shares of the company, so it was with these local properties and businesses that had been shuttered.
What an amazing thing it was to see an entire town take ownership of an old general store, and learn how to source and import goods from other countries! You made entire committees logistical experts that rivaled Walmart. Of course, Walmart sent people in to try to put a stop to this. They claimed you were organizing unions, or creating communist stores, or something. But, again you showed the people who were ready to walk away from it that they were like owners of a publicly traded company. In town after town you created these little mini-stock markets of ownership on land, farms, businesses and residential property, and then brought them altogether into a national market where people could speculate on various initiatives across the country. You took the ownership out of the hands of a few, including the few that were the banks, the local and national governments and the wealthiest corporations, and you put the ownership back into the hands of the many, all while maintaining a capitalistic, free trade system.
The key thing here was that the people had grown despondent in feeling like they were powerless. The Walmarts and Home Depots of the world had come in and taken away the mom and pop stores, and they saw no way that a locally owned store could compete. So, they accepted the fact that a Walmart was a better solution than having a government-backed or foreign-owned entity invade their towns. They didn’t feel like they had any power or say-so in the government, be it local, state or national. Why would they? Whoever they elected always made promises that the politician couldn’t keep. Inevitably, it became clear that the man in Washington was working for somebody else, somebody who didn’t live in their town. But, they wanted to blame somebody else for their problems, and there were plenty of national political movements to come and throw gasoline on their fires.
You just came in and showed them how easy it was to stop blaming anybody, including themselves. That was a futile first step in the wrong direction, blaming the political party in power, blaming the President, blaming the last President, blaming yourself for not voting correctly. It was a wrong step because it did nothing, and joining a movement or a radical party and carrying signs and posting angry rants on social media did nothing to change anything.
You showed these people how they could just look at themselves and their own town for the solution, and remove any focus on what might have caused the problem from the equation. The solution was theirs to find, rather than the problem being theirs to solve. In every town across America there was a solution. The solution was almost always one of making a publicly traded market available where everyone was an active participant. Some people had other ideas that worked, too. They found that creating small cash rewards to different groups who came up with the best solutions got the best results. Instead of putting their money into the lottery, people would pool their money and develop a contest (the money was managed by the most trustworthy little old church ladies). Teams of people, with no lower or upper age limit, were formed–teams of 25 people each. Then, each team would come up with an idea every week about how the town could save money or make money. Everyone would get together and vote, and the team with the best idea (judged by merits of practicality and effectiveness) would win the pool that week.
People suddenly remembered what it was like to make art, and put on theatrical productions, and make music. Town after town became vibrant again as people left their houses and got together with a stripped down goal of “making something together.” You just planted the seeds and tried to guide them. You hoped to show them how cooperation always created something better, and how competition could still be powerful and useful as long as it was channeled into a productive endeavor. The competition between the have’s and have not’s, the young and the old, the male and the female, the Democrat and the Republican, the Christian and the Atheist–all of this was competition that offered no practical solution. It inevitably ended in bad blood and sometimes violence. People trying to convince other people they were right or simply better were people playing a fool’s game.
You wanted to see each person in every single town excel on a local level. You wanted to see kids raising money for their camps and trips by creating a popup store in a space that had been “for rent” for over a decade, and see the town’s bureaucratic apparatus get out of the way so that the kids could have a store that sold food and beverages people really wanted to buy, or homemade t-shirts that had the name and symbols of the town and its high school mascot or local landmarks. You were exceptionally impatient with men and women who were more interested in seeing random codes followed when these codes weren’t promoting any particular amount of safety or well-being. You were tired of seeing people come around to collect taxes instead of get involved with ideas for creating positive business environments in these communities.
You were not a communist or a liberterian or anything in between. You couldn’t be called a pragmatist because you had a brightly burning vision in your head and heart for what America could be, but you couldn’t be called an idealist, because any ideas that were not tenable had to go. You were most definitely an optimist, and you fought hard in your head and heart every single day to remove negativity. You rarely offered criticism of anyone or anything–but always, “this is how to make it work better. This is the better solution.”
Of course, you were expanding across the country and making a lot of enemies with people who were comfortable with the status quo. For every nine people who were suffering and feeling powerless, there was always one loud-mouthed bully who seemed to be twice as powerful as all nine of those people put together. Eventually, you knew that it would catch up to you. Eventually, you knew that you would roll into a town where someone would be waiting to put a bullet into your brain. But, that was okay, too. Because you’d started a fire that a few bullies of the status quo could not stop.