Great satire, to last, needs to be offensive even to those who agree with it.
— Jonathan Swift
This essay is written in the spirit of Jonathan Swift’s 18th century essay “A Modest Proposal” and the 20th century film “Soylent Green.” The first posits a satirical solution for a society with too many children and the second illustrates how to deal with having a combination food shortage and population surplus in a “science fiction” future world. And so, with tongue in cheek, our essay.
The profound solution to all of humanity’s problems is known as “the paradigm shift.” This change in worldview involves having a profound insight into the nature of reality that would in a relatively short time result in shifts in identity and behavior among most of humankind. In short, the human community would shift from unsustainable behavior to behavior that would make possible a viable future. That event, however, requires a level of consciousness that we have not yet attained. In the meantime, what is needed are interim, short-term solutions that can buy us the time needed to wake up from our self-destructive delusional take on reality.
Several very creative people have already begun the process. Addressing the problem of growing crime and violence, a small town (I believe it was in Idaho) passed a town ordinance requiring all households to own a firearm. Thinking outside the box, see. That’s what we need. That way, when the criminal shows up no matter where it is in the town there will be someone who has the wherewithal to blow them away. That will make people think twice before they embark on a life of crime. One would think twice about criminal activity if everyone around you was just looking for an excuse to try out their new “piece.” Brilliant!
Another one involves globalization which we all know poses tricky problems. The spread of the American version of the good life, which we call democracy, as we all know would be good for everyone in the world although they may not know it yet. They are simply ignorant but it’s not their fault. Some of these people are rather stubbornly clinging to their old way of life—like outmoded religious beliefs, silly cultural traditions, backward ways of making a living, etc. As a result, they are very jealous of our high standard of living. Some of these people are evil and in their jealous rage would seek to do us harm.
There are many examples where Americans have been attacked at home and abroad by these demented foreigners. The best way to stop these threats is to go abroad where these people live and destroy them before this disease of the human mind causes our citizens any more harm. Kind of like seeking out the nests of killer bees (Africanized bees as they are sometimes called) and destroying them before they find and sting you. These bees by the way have killed over 1000 people in the Americas and are already in New Mexico so now’s the time to be pro-active whether we are after human or insect terrorists. Might as well destroy all the bees while we are at it since I’m not sure we can tell one from the other. I can do without honey if I have to—security has its price.
(Don’t forget, this is satire.)
Speaking of our standard of living as the envy of the world—we must do whatever we can to make sure that we don’t slip into second place behind our jealous rivals in that respect. Everyone should continue to buy as much in the way of goods and services as they possibly can. The government can help here too. First, we can all get credit cards and buy as much on credit as we can possibly afford. This helps the economy grow, jobs are created, and taxes paid to create new weapons systems and troops to destroy the jealous terrorists. If necessary those of us who own homes should take out home equity loans to assure that the necessary consumption of goods and services doesn’t lag. The government will do its part by selling our national debt abroad to the Chinese and Japanese who seem eager to loan us money with which to buy their products. What a great system! No wonder other nations are clamoring to emulate our exciting lifestyle.
(Again, just satire!)
Oh to be sure we are not perfect so let’s look at some things that are not working and frankly we should not be proud of—the abuse of illegal substances. I can see a way to kill two birds with one stone on this one. Our national debt is skyrocketing as we kill terrorists and spread democracy, so a bold solution is called for. This solution will dramatically reduce the national debt and crime at the same time. De-criminalize marijuana and tax it. Much of our society will become much less aggressive and mellow thus reducing general violence. More money will be saved by reducing the need for more police, border patrol officers and prisons. The money that formerly flowed into the coffers of organized crime, foreign drug lords and street gangs will now go to the federal, state and local government benefiting those of us who are law-abiding citizens.
If this works as well as I think it will I can see that human behavior around the whole planet can be transformed by expanding the program. If you think the whole world wants to emulate America now, wait until they see this awesome approach to eradicating crime and funding government. Since most of humanity already uses substances both legal and illegal or engages in addictive behaviors like gambling then we might as well build on that reality.
We all know that past experiments and programs to address these behaviors have failed. Addicts are not the problem, it’s those who are victimizing them and creating criminal enterprises. We legalize all addictive activities, tax them, register all users with identification cards and imprison everyone else which in America at least would be far fewer people than our current prison population. Addicts are not criminals—satisfy their substance or process addiction and they are happy as mild-mannered clams and will be the best of citizens. It’s the straight, holier-than-thou people masquerading as models of morality that create a dog-eat-dog vicious society that we can no longer afford. Just say yes!
This essay is dedicated to Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) who wrote in 1729 “‘A Modest Proposal for preventing the Children of the Poor People from being a Burden to their Parents of the Country’—by using them as food for the rich.”[i]
[i] Eagle, Dorothy. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1967, page 793.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry.