2020: The Year of Us AND Them

We cannot continue declaring that The Government should defund The Police without providing a suitable alternative that tackles the root causes of crime. If we do, this will be a short-lived stunt. Police will be defunded temporarily. Crime will increase. Other citizens will rise up to demand that The Government intervene to protect them. These […]

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We will only rise to the top if we work together.
We will only rise to the top if we work together.

We cannot continue declaring that The Government should defund The Police without providing a suitable alternative that tackles the root causes of crime. If we do, this will be a short-lived stunt. Police will be defunded temporarily. Crime will increase. Other citizens will rise up to demand that The Government intervene to protect them. These citizens will be those with the most to lose.The ones who have politicians and advocacy groups on speed dial.

Police funding will be doubled, our rights will yet again be stripped. A note will go down in history that we need heavier policing and a stronger government in order to maintain order. All of the beautiful progress that we are aiming for will be lost.

Do you want this to happen?

I know I don’t.

So, I’ll ask you a favor. I’ll ask you to advocate a completely new system. A system that doesn’t exist, God only knows why. A system that tackles all of the problems that both cause and result from crime. Problems that lead people to steal: poverty, lack of education and lack of access to reasonably paying jobs. Problems that lead kids to join gangs: boredom and a feeling like they don’t belong. Problems that lead to destruction: people lashing out because it’s the only way they know to get noticed. Problems that lead to violence: parents lashing out at their children and spouses because they have too many responsibilities and too few communication skills.

This is not a dig on anyone. We live in a society where we are ill-equipped to succeed. The Government prioritizes reactionary measures, like heavy-handed policing, over preventative measures. But, as we all know, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We would not need mass protests to demand equality if we had a system that promoted equality. We would not need threats of violence on American soil if our requests were heard. We would not need to engage in crime if our needs were being met. As we consider how we should move forward, why not embrace a system that tackles these issues? A system of prevention through support and equality. I know it sounds Utopian, but hang with me.

Historically, The Police have been used to profiteer, instill fear and encourage us to keep our heads down and our noses clean. As technology increases, so does our fear of being monitored. The Government invests heavily into new technologies that make us easier to track and capture. We respond with increasingly intuitive ways to avoid this. Why not create a system that encourages us to use technology and our creative problem-solving (or problem-avoiding) skills to do something that benefits humanity as a whole? Something that unites us to make advances and improve ourselves? When we finally conquer space, don’t we want the aliens to say, “Wow, these guys are really impressive?” instead of, “Wow, these guys sure know how to destroy a planet!”

Currently, all we are doing is repeating a pattern of exploitation at the expense of other Human Beings. In order that we may feel justified in exploiting others, it is necessary to name one group as Superior and another group as Inferior. This is the basis for racism. During the times of slavery, no self-respecting white person would whip another white person – that would be inhumane, a crime, despicable. However, by delineating black people as “sub-human,” merely pieces of property that lacked all of white people’s capabilities for love, emotion and dreams, the horrendous treatment that was inflicted on blacks became “justifiable.”

History repeats itself. We know that. The futuristic novel “1984” by George Orwell, is a terrifying representation of what will happen if we write history onto the future. If you’re not familiar, it goes something like this: The Government uses two-way monitoring screens, brainwashed children and other sneaky methods to ensure that people don’t engage in “Thoughtcrimes” – any form of creative or unorthodox thinking. If they do, they must do it in terror. Thoughtcriminals are constantly afraid that in rejecting the ideology of a Perfect World, spoon fed to them by their Government and contrary to all of their perceptions, they will be caught, tortured and killed. This could be our future.

If, aided by technology, The Government grows stronger, unchecked, it will do everything it can to protect itself. If we lived in a world where thinking that racism is unfair was punishable by death, would we rise up and protest? Or would we quietly fall in line, ignoring the injustices that happened to those around us? Would we ignore atrocities happening to others, giving thanks that they were not happening to us?

This is what happened in the Holocaust. This is what is happening in North Korea. This is what will likely happen to us, if our current efforts fail. This is our last “Hurrah!” Our last chance to unleash freedom of thought, culture and creativity on the world. Let’s make it last!

There is a sustainable way that to achieve this. A way that removes the fear from technology and the uncertainty from the future. A way that breeds respect, equality and happiness. A way that provides purpose and fulfillment for everyone.

Now if you’re curious, yes, there will still be an “Us” and there will still be a “Them.” There always has been. There always will be. There must be. We depend on them. Who are WE? We are the free-thinkers, innovators, artists, creators, dancers and musicians. Who are THEY? They are the orderly, the structure-bringers, the bedtime-makers, the to-do listers. We cannot survive without one another.

WE get too engrossed in our creating. We forget to eat, sleep, clean, work. These are all necessary parts of life. They get so engrossed in their enforcement of rules that they forget to let loose, have fun, smile and take a break. They rely on us for their happiness and entertainment. We rely on Them to bring structure to our lives. We depend on each other.

The flaw in logic is that it must be Us VERSUS Them. The idea that it is Us VERSUS Them hurts us both. As recently as 20 years ago, 10 years ago and even 5 years ago, this distinction was necessary. Not everybody could be off doing artsy-fartsy things when there was real work to do. There needed to be a system of order to ensure that people got up and went to their mundane jobs, pushed paperwork all day and then went home to watch TV, go to bed early and arrive punctually.

This was necessary. We cannot and should not judge the rulers of today for continuing to rule on the needs of the past. Our civilization would not have evolved to the amazing pinnacle of today without forced labor, deadlines and heavy-handed order. In 1970, if all of the workers went to work stoned, how could we have efficiently mass-produced the technologies that shape our world today? Email, the Walkman, and the digital camera, all invented and widely manufactured in the 70s, have changed the landscape upon which we today stand. It is no surprise that The Government of the day protested a plant that decreased efficiency and clear-headed thinking in favor of clear, punctual sobriety. It was necessary that The Government disseminate the idea of “The American Dream”: two kids, a white picket fence and a shiny new car, all within your grasp if you just work 40 mind-numbing hours per week. This was necessary at the time. This was the best path to progress and growth. It got us to where we are today, so we can’t complain too much.

However, in 2020, this is no longer the case. We have reached an amazing apex with technology. This year, we have arrived at what is known as a “Technological Singularity.” This is a point in time where technology excels humanity at most, if not all, of its previously assigned tasks. This is a point of terror for many. This creates a fear we will be replaced by automation and robots. If we continue as we are, this is a real fear.

We can take advantage of a system we designed to serve us: robots. With advances in technology, we no longer have to relegate living, breathing, feeling, thinking Human Beings to be our task force. We can drop the idea of certain Humans being Superior and others Inferior, in order to force them to serve us. If we shift our boring, mind-numbing jobs over to an automated workforce, we free ourselves to do something innately fulfilling, innately human: being creative.

Creativity is a process that can’t be automated. Robots don’t have the capacity to combine seemingly contradictory ideas in beautiful and unique ways. Robots don’t have vision. Robots don’t appreciate beauty. Robots don’t enjoy doing the macarena, falling in love or teaching their doggies funny tricks. Robots complete their programming when they complete a specific task. This doesn’t bring them a sense of joy. It is simply what they were created to do.

But humans? We experience joy, sadness, longing, passion. We have had to deny these instincts for many years, in order to “complete our programming.” In order to achieve the tasks set out for us. In order to reach some imaginary standard of happiness. We had to hope that, in doing so, we would find a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Too often, the negative feedback we have received from not acting like robots has led us to ruminate, to doubt ourselves, to hurt ourselves and one another. But 2020 is the year we can change that.

The more we force ourselves to behave as a Society of Robots, the more unhappy we will become. The more medication we will require. The more anxiety, depression, fear and loneliness we will experience. We can avoid that.

We can embrace and support a system of automation. With that, however, needs to arise a new system. Creating and appreciating beauty is UNIQUELY human. So we must create a system that embraces and supports creativity. A system that rewards people based on the beauty within. A system that teaches them how to bring the beauty from inside them into our (currently) ugly reality. A system that pays them for doing this. This system is called Slightly Social Club.

Slightly Social Club offers continuing arts, music, dance, writing and language education. This teaches people how to be creative. All they have to do is pick something that appeals to them and take a class. If they love it, they can continue their education. If they want to earn money from it, they can apply for performance, apprenticeship and teaching positions. This is the system for Us.

But we must never forget them Them. Those who write the schedules, book the performances, respond to emails, and make sure everyone gets paid. Those who update the website, make sure our payments go through and keep our equipment running. Those who lead our classes, teach our children and order our supplies. These people are every bit as important as Us. They maintain the structure we need in order to express our creativity.

We do not live in a world of Us versus Them. We live in a world of Us AND Them. A world where we can appreciate each other and work collaboratively, side-by-side. We simply need to help Them realize we are not against Them. That We ALL now live in a world where it is okay to leave rigidity to automation. We need to help Them realize we would like to be valued, loved and praised for Our accomplishments. In doing so, We entertain them, we create space to treat other Human Beings with kindness and respect. We need to help Them realize that if We had a system that helped Us to feel valued, We would behave better, making Their lives a lot easier.

We can create a world where our outside characteristics – age, gender, race – fall to the wayside. When we are focused on what’s within, We form groups based on our passions, our interests, our projects.

Why not try it? Why not redirect a tiny fraction of an immense budget that is not yielding the results They want into a system that promotes proactive solutions? We create jobs, happiness, cohesion and true, long-lasting health. In doing so, They begin to truly serve The People They represent in the ways We most need.

We thank You deeply for Your support in making Our Future bright and beautiful.

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