The World As We Don't Know It

I was born in 2044. My mom was born in 2014 and my dad was born in 2012. By 2019 when COVID hit they were both in elementary school, and as young adults lived through some of the most tumultuous times our nation had known for many decades. It is so easy to take all that we have for granted. They brought all of that to me in my education, I am very grateful for that.

I can still remember the day in 2058 Congress passed a bill requiring all graduating seniors from high school to serve in some capacity for two years; they could go abroad and live for two years with a family, serve in the military or serve in a community that was not their own. Extremely controversial and no one thought it would even pass. Lots of talk about the government getting involved in personal choices, and then of course the concern about how it would get paid for.

Paying for it was not the problem everyone thought it would be; the concept was, we are already subsidizing most countries of the world on some level, through various programs, such as USAID, so instead of just giving that money to a government, ( most of which was siphoned off by corrupt politicians) some portion of it would be earmarked and then given to families to house and feed an 18-year-old American for 2 years. The hope was that the money would be used in local communities to better their lives; and it would help prevent the out of control misuse of funds. On the home front, it was the same situation; find a family to live with for two years while you volunteered for community work.

This was part of a movement to create peace in the world and make us more likable as a nation. Traveling outside your community or country provided some exposure to the rest of the world and for those who had spent time abroad, they felt it would be beneficial. Some of this came from the writings of various authors; including Margaret Marx-Hubbard who had proposed having a peace room in place of a war room in Washington, D.C. many decades ago.

Of course the government could not dictate where you would go, but there was an application process that kind of made the choice for you. And only those countries we considered our friends, no war torn or unsafe places. Someone thought that by doing this, we 18 years olds would come home different, and have more understanding of the world, and how important democracy was. They also placed a lot of hope on this program spreading good will and helping all of us 10 billion people to understand each other and get along better.

I am not sure it accomplished what the government wanted, but it was better than joining the military to go fight a war, and in the long run, maybe it did make a difference. I will let you decide, this here is just one persons story.

My name is Synthy, short for Synthesis, not sure what my parents were thinking when they named me, but they were part of the Alpha generation, so I guess Synthesis meant something to them. The name is pretty androgynous, so I will tell you I am gender female. My mom told me for as long as I can remember that I was a "crystal child" and it wasn't until I was about 8 that I read about it on the net. Some movement that thought some of my generation came here to help fix things. Well, duh, most of us know that.

I think they were expecting my spiritual and physical beings to merge and become one, hence the name. But so far it hasn't happened, and I am not sure I want it to. I understand that I am here in this lifetime with opportunities and ideas to help make the world a better place; and many in my generation feel the same way. Too bad we did not arrive with an instruction manual because figuring some of this stuff out is very hard.

Doesn't matter really, most people have no idea what synthesis even means, that is part of how bad our education system had gotten. The have and the have-not’s come down to those who have a computer and access to the cloud, and those who don't. I was lucky to be one of the ones whose parents made sure I had access, even when it meant breaking the law. Yeah, for a while there it was illegal to let your children have access to the cloud but my parents kept some kind of device available for me my whole life.

Job applications even had that question on it, "Do you have a personal computer, smart phone or device with access to the Internet?” It literally took years for things to swing back to a more centrist place, but even when that happened there were some really stupid changes to the Constitution that had started at state levels and made their way to the federal level under the Trump administration, and it is hard to undo some of those things. My parents told me all about these happenings; they were clear that it was important I understand the real history and not just what was being taught or published. They took my education more seriously than many of the other families around us, and I am grateful for that.

For many people, access to the net was just too expensive. After Net Neutrality went away, the cost of access to the net just became a luxury item for personal use. Add to that the government controlling content and tracking everything you viewed, and the prominence of fake content, news, video, lives destroyed by lies that became truth because it went viral; it became difficult for middle class Americans to use it at all, and even more difficult to trust what you find.

Back in the "teens” and twenties, like 2016-2038 we had a serious swing to the religious right in the USA, and extreme white supremacy so access to the net was considered evil. A man named Trump was elected (some say placed) in the White House and that was the beginning of some very dark years for our democracy. Immigration almost came to a standstill; a wall was built on the southern border, and Nazism became an accepted party to belong to. Even after he left office he continued to push a fascist agenda.

In 2018, someone (we still do not know who) decided to start posting as a DC insider and became known as Q. Q started posting “bread crumbs” of information for people to follow and put together. It was nothing more than a way to control people, but at the time it had millions of followers.

At the same time, we had the Novel Coronavirus which caused an illness called COVID-19 and that also fell into the conspiracy world as our world battled it. It killed millions, left millions with chronic illness for years, and in the US, 30% of people refused to follow health protocols to protect the weak, and they also refused to receive the vaccination once it became available. All of this came from conspiracy theories that had found a way to evolve and control in the wild. Much like the virus. Q, and the followers of Q (known as Anon) used their platform to share false information. It tore families apart, it tore our nation apart. Obviously I was not born yet, but my parents were, and they lived through it. It evolved into every conspiracy theory you can imagine, even the incredibly bizarre “flat earth” people

Education dollars were allocated for charter schools; and the rich benefited, but public schools continued to deteriorate. Women’s rights were attacked; anyone that was not “white” found themselves being attacked and discriminated against, sometimes with violence; access to healthcare; and fundamental birth control was difficult to acquire if you lived in certain states. LGBTQ citizens were stripped of protections and we saw a severe increase in suicides; and violence in the nation. Gun deaths were astronomical; and unless you lived in one of the “blue states” it was not uncommon to see people walking out in public armed. In reality, most people were probably armed, but were carrying concealed.

My parents were born in that period of time, and were fortunate to be born in the state of California where they still had access to education and healthcare, and leadership that was progressive as opposed to conservative.

I love hearing the stories from my parents, evidently they were pretty active politically, and they always made sure to educate me about what really happened in those years as opposed to the fake history and fake news that was spread. Not to divert the story, but during that same time there was a battle about legalizing cannabis, hard to imagine when it is so much a part of our lives now, but they tell me how the jails were full of people who were serving time for having less than an ounce on them. Now, everyone turns to their PaxEra for relief from pain, anxiety, insomnia, and even cancer treatment.

So, back to my story, I was 14 in 2058, home schooled, but the year I turned 14 my parents decided I should attend a public school, primarily because that was the only way to get on the list for a good country to go for your 2 years. When you entered high school you could choose your country of choice like picking classes, and once you had your country picked out you were taught the language; culture; and history as part of your preparation to going. Of course I was way ahead of almost everyone else. One good thing about home schooling, you get to learn at your own pace, and because my parents believed in the digital world, I had access to a tremendous amount of information. They did an excellent job of helping me determine what was true and what was false on the web.

Anyway I entered public school when the bill was passed "encouraging" graduating seniors to serve for two years.

Encouragement was basically three choices, join the service, join the National corps or go live abroad for two years. No way was I going to join the service; besides, I did not have the skills to join the service. You had to be like a hacker or something in computer technology, and although I can find my way around the net, and have written some code, I am not in that category by a long shot. The National Corps, well it was something that was being tried around the country, to help low income communities fix some issues; and to focus on infrastructure projects, job creation and environmental programs. But so many of these communities had become the equivalent of small countries; some had borders, their own currency, and were no longer a part of the “United States of America”. Go to another community and work for two years? They would see me as an infiltrator sent by the enemy. The poorest and most needy of our states were conservative, anti everything progressive. Without a real plan for the world to work together and make it a better place, working for two years in a place where I was not wanted was not the solution that would have the impact I wanted to make.

So, that left the third choice. Called by many names, depending on which side of the issue you were on. It actually sounded pretty good to me, the government pays for you to live abroad for two years and the only obligation was to volunteer for an unpaid job in that community, finish out the time and come back speaking, reading and writing that local language. You even got educational credit that could be applied toward a degree if you chose to further your education. So how hard could it be?

I chose my country carefully, looking at current events and future views; when all was said and done, I decided to buck the Europe trend, and go to Asia, Thailand to be exact. My friends and family looked at me in shock when I told them; and of course there were a lot of concerns and questions, but I was intrigued with their history and the strides they had made in the past 20 years. My career plans were along the lines of urban renewal; I loved seeing old cities revitalize; and what better place to experience this then in an ancient culture full of temples.

What I didn't plan on was facing the animosity towards my nationality. The United States government has generated a lot of negative energy in many countries.

Generations who have passed it down, maybe that was the idea of sending us abroad, to change that, but how in the hell do 18 years olds do that? The people of Thailand are very sweet; and for the most part they could care less if I was American or Martian; but there were some who were anti USA and went out of their way to show it. I took it as a personal challenge to make friends with these people and show them otherwise.

I was so happy to meet my host family while a Junior in High School. They lived in Chang Mai, in the northern part of the country. They were practicing Buddhists, had 2 children who were teens, and the parents owned a small manufacturing company. I was able to visit them with my parents for a week, and I fell in love with the city and countryside. It would take some time getting used to the humidity, but the place was so green and lush, I found it a nice change from the desert I had lived in my whole life. And I found the language to be beautiful and easy to learn.

A little history of how we ended up in this place in 2058. After the turbulent times of the “teens” and 20’s the US government was engaged in numerous wars. There was another war in Iraq, a new war in Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. Those were just the wars we were fighting in the open, my dad says there were also many smaller wars, Syria, Egypt, and Central America, Mexico where we were pumping money, weapons and advisors. The history books say that in 2010 the government spent something like $53 billion on foreign aid; and $15 billion of that was military. In addition to the $38 billion in economic aid, there was another $71 billion that came out of the private sector. Lots of money, and because of corruption in many governments, not much of it actually made it down to the local people.

Hence the idea to take some of that money and put it aside to fund this program, and along with some other agreements that came along with it, countries that participated got some great benefits. Families who participated got an English speaker living with them for two years; in most places that meant that all family members, and probably neighbors, friends, etc. would learn to speak the language. Since English has been the universal language for business for many decades, this was something other countries really wanted.

Administering the program was a real diplomatic learning experience, because up to that point, our interaction with other countries was mostly through governments, diplomats and multi national corporations, and it became very clear that governments do not represent their people very well. Many of them, just like the U.S.A represented big corporations and personal interests more than they did the people; so this new program was a huge paradigm shift.

Many of the participating governments refused to continue unless it was expanded. They felt only the USA was getting the full benefit and they wanted the USA to reciprocate by letting their children come and live with a family in the USA for two years.

The problem was, they wanted the USA to pay for it in the same manner. The administration at the time thought this was a great idea but there was a lot of negative press by the fear mongers; you know the stuff; training future terrorists; losing track of these people; illegal aliens; etc.

My generation had become known as the most diverse generation to exist, my friends came from numerous cultures, so we did not see any problem with expanding the program. However, we did not care enough to vote, so there was a change in political leadership that resulted in the defunding of the program. I can tell you, we as a generation learned that lesson the hard way, and we are now much more engaged in the political process.

In the end it only survived the 8 years; but I am certain that many of those teens that participated in the program have moved into world changing roles. It just became too obvious how easy it was to make friends; solve problems and leave good will behind, once the politics were removed. It will take time, but I am confident we will see the results of this program making a huge impact. In the meantime, there are some non-profits popping up to keep the program going on a smaller scale.

Karen Meyer
March, 2021
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