King of the World
When I was a kid, maybe about eight or nine years old, my buddies and I played fantasy games like kids do. My buddies at that age were all boys, so we often pretended to be soldiers, or baseball players or motorcycle racers on our bikes. One fantasy game we played was called, “King of the World.” I don’t know if girls had a corresponding game like that as Queen of the World, but maybe they did.
The game was simple. As King of the World you had the power to make pretty much anything happen you wanted to, and we fantasized about forbidden pleasures like Halloween candy that lasted forever, or unlimited TV time or nastily embarrassing stuff that would befall a teacher you disliked or your arch enemy at school. It was a cool game that allowed you unlimited power to make life ever so much more fun and satisfying as a kid.
Lately though, with the ever expanding insanity, tragedy and suffering we are experiencing as humans on this planet, the outlines and nuances of that game have been eerily coming back to me, mostly surfacing in dreams as I sleep, but as things seem to unravel just a bit further each day, the fantasy is emerging as increasingly vivid daydreams as well. I can get really absorbed in these wishful musings, more so as they repeat and evolve in complexity and detail.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about and hearing others wonder if the human suffering, death and economic devastation caused by COVID-19, the racism and violence raining down on the heads of people of color and the escalating effects of the climate crisis would trigger a Great Awakening of Humanity. Will this be a time of a profound reckoning, an epiphany and realization that we have tragically lost our way, our leadership and our moral compass and that things must radically change, and quickly?
For me then it’s actually not a fantasy at all to articulate what I want a just world to look like. It’s also immensely satisfying to imagine you can undo the mess we’re in just by having the power to say, “Make it so.” So, I’m now developing this fantasy in my head, envisioning the conditions I want to manifest and materialize, in reality. I’m laying out my action items to agitate for, my list of things I want to help make happen.
So, if I were King of the World, I would make it so that:
1) There is a system in place to eliminate homelessness as a human condition by housing, feeding, treating the medical conditions of and providing job training for those without homes.
2) Corporations and special interest groups are prohibited from making campaign contributions.
3) Secure and reliable voting is available on-line, by mail and in person.
4) A high percentage of citizens vote and elected bodies include representative numbers of woman, people of color, indigenous people and immigrant citizens.
5) Governments have as their prime directive the relief of suffering and attending to the needs of the poor, the elderly, the infirm, people of color, indigenous peoples and children.
6) All corporations and wealthy people pay their fair share of the tax burden.
7) There is a Livable Wage Standard, below which companies cannot pay people by law.
8) Climate change is being attacked vigorously with an “all hands on deck” urgency and worldwide mass mobilization that is causing economic recession and unemployment to disappear.
9) Systemic institutional racism and anti-Semitism in all forms is understood universally to be evil and is being eradicated as a national priority in every country.
10) Equality and equity are institutional norms expected by all people in all their interactions with government, educational systems, the medical establishment and employment.
11) Laws and regulations regarding equality and equity are vigorously enforced and apply to women, people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and indigenous people.
12) Woman are paid the same as men for the same work and comprise 50% of the world’s corporate CEO’s.
13) Nuclear arms are outlawed.
14) Stringent and wholesome nutritional and hygiene standards are established and enforced for all food and in particular industrially produced foods.
15) A college education is available to anyone who desires one and a free one to those who cannot pay for it.
16) The “precautionary principle” is applied to the manufacture and use of all chemical products, meaning chemicals are assumed to be dangerous until scientifically proven otherwise.
17) Landfilling of solid waste of any type is outlawed.
18) Air and water quality standards are stringent and tightly enforced.
19) Quality, affordable health care is a right of all people.
20) Reparations are being paid to all descendants of people who have been enslaved and indigenous people whose land was stolen and whose ancestors were subjected to genocide.
Well, that’s my initial list, the Top 20, if you will. I’m sure I’ve missed critical things, but as King of the World I have the power to amend or expand the list as I see fit.
And so do you. It’s not a fantasy to expect a reasonable, healthy, just and sustainable world to live in now and for our children and grandchildren. It just takes people like you and me to have high expectations for something radically better for all humans than what we have now. And truth be told, we have the power and we’ve always had the power to demand better. We are in fact the Kings and Queens of the World. We just need to believe that, and act like it. Every single day.
(Original Art by Joan E. Hargate)