Sat 14 Aug, 2004 09:38 am
An Ideal World
Zeno's day was like every other day, and just like the day that every other person on the planet. He had a wonderful and nutritious breakfast before leaving his luxurious home for work. His automobile could go 100 miles on each gallon of water that it converted to steam. There hadn't been an automobile accident in the last 260 years, but even then the damage was repaired in less than an hour with a spot of paint. Zeno's car was green, one of the most popular of the 20 colors available. In ten minutes Zeno was pulling into his assigned parking spot without even the five-minute traffic delay that sometimes happened. Zeno joined the laughing crowd as they filed into the building, where un-crowded elevators whisked them to their individual offices, all with a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains.
Zeno sat in his comfortable chair and turned his computer on. Instantly, he was connected with every other person and organization on the planet. As usual, Zeno started his day by scanning the news reports. A terrible fire had burned a house down in Celyon, but it had already been replaced with an exact duplicate. The biggest news was the election campaign for World President. Each candidate was given free and equal time to ask the whole world's population for their votes. The candidate speeches did tend to be a bit boring since they all said approximately the same thing, but sometimes one would hear a really great joke. If anyone had ever suggested that a politician might tell a lie, no one would have understood the concept. No one in the whole world had told even a little lie in ever so long.
Of course, the post of World President was largely ceremonial. Since there were no nations, and every person on the planet had the exact degree of plentitude, there weren't any real issues to upset people. In fact, the idea that one might upset someone else would send a person scurrying to the nearest mental health clinic. Since everyone was well adjusted and happy, the mental health clinics were almost always deserted. Last year the burning question was whether the World Work Week should be further shortened from 12 to 10 hours per week. This year one candidate wanted to increase the number of television comedies, and present fewer cartoons. That just might get Ms. Shawalitango elected. Her primary competition in the World Plebiscite seemed to be Mr. Hong, a fifteen year old from Queens whose platform was to increase the number of world-touring chamber orchestras. That too, might prove popular since almost everyone played some instrument, and World interest in the ancient music of Beethoven was very keen.
With a long sigh at the need to make such important choices, Zeno switched to the network where his actual work was preformed. He was presented with a screen displaying six choices, all with very detailed descriptions and clear cost-benefits analysis for each. Zeno studied the choices, and then decided that it could wait until after his morning coffee. He walked to the Lounge and found his coworkers in earnest discussion about the relative merits of Epicurean and Hedonistic philosophy. Since everyone in the world had at least a Master's level education, at no expense, such discussions were not uncommon and were almost always interesting. His friends greeted Zeno and solicited his views. When he inadvertently referred to how the almost forgotten religions of ancient times had viewed the two philosophical schools, everyone fidgeted uncomfortably. Only War was a more taboo topic than Religion, and both had been extinct for almost a thousand years. It was clear that Zeno was not advocating a return to such an unpleasant topics, and so the discussion was again totally pleasant.
Two hours later, Zeno returned to his office, after flirting with Ms. Keating and that handsome young athlete Mr. Cranston. Maybe the three of them could get together later in the week for lunch, or something. While Zeno was visiting his friends, his sub-conscious had been processing information and he had made his work decisions. It only took a moment for him to select Option D. He smiled with great satisfaction that his work would result in everyone in the world getting a two-week vacation cruise in the coming year. Far better, he thought, than providing everyone with vacations to places like Machu Pichu. It had been a strenuous day, but Zeno really had a feeling of accomplishment, marred only by that slightly risqué reference to religion.
Zeno left the workplace to pick-up groceries. He sometimes wondered how the ancients could bring themselves to eat meat. As if that weren't enough, they actually had to pay for their food! The very idea of famine had almost vanished from human consciousness, and, thanks to a little pill, no one ever deviated from their perfect weight by more than 2%. Anyone could gorge themselves on nutritious and delicious manufactured foods, and never increase their health risks. Medicine had so far advanced that no one ever got really sick, much less died from any health problem. People might live as long as they wished, and then die when and however they pleased. It was also thanks to medical science that the range between the brightest and dullest intellects in the world was very, very narrow. Fertility rates were in perfect balance with mortality rates, so the population was stable. Children were available to be raised, if that was a person's, couple's, or triad's desire. Zeno preferrred to change his sexual partners on a regular basis, and hadn't any real desire to raise a child at any time during the sixty years since he became an adult.
Returning to the grocery store parking lot, Zeno had a brief moment of confusion finding his own Personal Auto among all the identical ones. Then he saw the little polka-dot ribbon he had tied to the radio antenna, and the moments consternation was gone. As he started the car, he thought perhaps this evening would be a good time to re-read the popular 8,000 page modern novel, On Folly. On the other hand, perhaps it might be nice to go out clubbing. He could smoke a little Jane, drop a tab of Pepsi, and dance the night away to the latest dance craze, The Minuet. Of course, if he went out then he would need to pick up some more "Restore" so that he would be in tip-top shape to go to work in the morning.
Zeno drove around for a little while admiring the clean, well-kept houses that everyone lived in. He was glad he had chosen the West facing "Malibu" model with the chartreuse trim; it was so much better than the "Tonga" model. Why would anyone choose a different trim color, or to have their house facing East? Oh well, no accounting for some people's taste. Zeno was happy to be himself, and happy that everyone in the world had the same fulsome life that he did. No competition was ever so involving that anyone could become angry or jealous of others.
As night fell, and the sun sank into the ocean, Zeno stood on his deck with a tall glass of un-intoxicating Single-Malt Scotch. It had been a long day, filled with pleasant thoughts and only slightly marred by that religious thing. Zeno realized that he had almost made a social blunder there. Was his satisfaction with his life unseemly? Perhaps he felt too much pride in his home, and that might lead to arrogance. He wondered if perhaps he should go in to see the Mental Health people rather than risk falling into unhealthy ways of thinking. Well, to bed. He hung his cloths (identical for everyone) in his closet. Tomorrow would be another wonderful day for Zeno, and every other person living on Earth.
Why, do you think that the suicide rate in the Ideal World never seemed to drop and isn't even of enough interest that anyone should note it?
An interesting story.
I have no idea about your question...I can't really guess how people would react without understanding how their minds work, since they are obviously so different from modern people. I suppose if a modern human were put into such a world they would probably go crazy...
There was one point that seemed to contradict itself:
In fact, the idea that one might upset someone else would send a person scurrying to the nearest mental health clinic. Since everyone was well adjusted and happy, the mental health clinics were almost always deserted.