The following is a creative piece I wrote for my special topics in rhetorics class last fall. I have heard that long preambles are a waste of reader time and energy, so I’ll keep it short. The following link (Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal, 1729) is an online version of the piece which inspired my own, and the criteria for which I was graded against. My aim was to both speak in his tone(s), and use his structure of logic- the rest involved adding a contemporary “Emny” spin. It’s long, consider yourself warned.
Flipping the Switch on the Forever War
The streets of Canada are filled with a kaleidoscope of colors and beliefs, a masterpiece mural, upon which the last fifteen years, a fracture has developed. Half the world, it seems, works tirelessly to sort fact from fiction regarding stereotypes and cultural propaganda, land mines of social turmoil, while the other half works to dodge land mines of shrapnel and gunpowder. In North America, fear and panic have begun to color our international policies to the point of which citizens are beginning to view the state as likely to sweep them up too, in its mad dash to fill prisons with terrorists- not exactly the sort of bars Canadians were hoping to encounter this New Year’s Eve.
The world, despite having remained relatively the same size (spare changes in landmass due to shifting plates and large islands of garbage), has shrunken culturally, and we now find ourselves struggling to describe individuals with a non-racist vocabulary while simultaneously biting our tongues before uttering the religiously presumptuous ‘Merry Christmas’. When it is all said and done, there are few greater pains than attempting to get through airport security unscathed, all clothing and dignity intact.
However, the biggest threat to the ideological walls of the individual comes in the form of cultural conflict, more specifically, violent cultural conflict; for how are we to defend ourselves against fear and violence without ourselves adopting these values? The Forever War transcends any global conflict we have ever seen, and this borderless battlefield has found its way into our homes, our work, and our hands. We cannot pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV without encountering some sort of reference to the numerous tragedies of the last decade, whose numbers seem to grow with every passing day. We are bombarded with depictions of culture and race, images of peace and war- often the exact same image under different lighting- and all the while, the truth is unclear.
It is in this confusing time that I will now speak, wishing only to aid in the protection and security of our rights to ideological freedom and security. As a Canadian citizen, I too have felt the pinch and poke, the uncomfortable progression of cultural conflict to which we now find ourselves trapped between good ‘personal principles’ and general public safety. Expectations established by such documents as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms declare that we must have a culturally blind moral compass, but exchanges of hate crimes and culturally founded violence also demand that we monitor our citizens for the safety of the public. I do believe however, that it can be safely said for every good and sane citizen, that each of us desires the uninhibited right to be and believe whatever we wish to be and believe, free of judgement, critique, and harm. And so, I have for you here, a proposal of policy that prioritizes the emotional and ideological integrity of every person.
My plan focuses on the movement of communication, such that I wish to address the issue of violent extremist groups having excessive access to public information, specifically regarding mass recreational gatherings, and accurate coordinates of buildings and city streets. In addition, I would also like to address the vulnerability of certain structural targets, such as international airports, cargo shipping companies, hospitals, and turbines, being that all of these centers, should they be obliterated or besieged in an act of terrorism, would surely cripple our nation’s ability to function, and more importantly, stand as a slander to our freedom. I wish to lend a policy of defense, but also, a policy of defiance, in that I do believe the rendering of our privacy and the compromise of our own personal beliefs is too good a hand to forfeit amidst the war on terror.
In 2014, the average American adult was spending over eleven hours a day using major media devices that required electricity, taking in and sending out information. This includes computers, smart phones, televisions, and radios, creating an almost constant stream of information billowing into our eyes and ears, while also providing intimate daily details for select individuals who evidently can use this against our society. Similarly, two thirds of parents are not placing limits on the amount of time their children spend using major media devices and as a result, these children may end up spending an average of 75 hours a week absorbed in the dim glow of some screen or other, also sending information of all kinds, on a whim. Would you trust an eleven-year-old with national security?
There are 7.3 billion people in the world, of which an estimated 75% have access to electricity while 43% have access to the internet. These numbers, however, do not reflect the geographical distribution of electricity and its use. 97% of households in North America make use of electricity, while another 87% make use of the internet and an identical 87% own and frequently use a cell phone. What this means, is that North America, alongside Europe who had similar statistics, has found majority of their citizens not only highly vulnerable to cyber and electricity-resource based attacks, but they have also been contributing to the large pool of data from which extremist groups plunder and pillage in their plotting.
And likewise, electricity is the most vital resource of the 21st century, and I have been assured that any and all military operations are entirely dependent on the information and use of electricity.
I will now diverge from typical state policy, due to the fact that bills and laws designed to limit and censor both the individuals within our country as well as the ones without, will only result in craftier attempts and the further spreading of fear and mistrust. Happiness and security are the goals my friends, and we are allowing a group of select individuals to strip the world of these things as we play right into their intentions- and so, I present you with an abstract barricade to the progress of this war. Electricity of which it seems, is no longer the beacon of hope that it once was and now unto our lives, adds vastly more stress and pain than it saves, in the form of terrorism intel, and fear mongering.
And it is for this exact reason that we must literally flip the switch on our own lights and electrical practices, and in doing so, flip the switch on the Forever War.
By now, I am hoping you have noticed the undeniable connection; the same electricity that has your cell-phone alarm clock ringing every morning, is the same electricity that services an ideological extremist sitting anywhere at any time, providing them with information such as the average Swiss wristwatch work day in a sky scraper filled with hundreds.
I do, however, understand that to call for a complete sudden blackout would be entirely unreasonable. Beginning first with an electrical curfew, while also allowing businesses time to obtain hard copies of all necessary documents and make arrangements for a transition into a non-electrical business plan, we can then move forward with more serious progress to ensure the protection and general happiness of our society.
Universities would be expected to find a unique combination of lower enrollment and higher prestige, no longer finding professors, experts on specific topics, outdone by the world wide web, and no more will students attend university because the future of their financial stability depends on it- labor and trade jobs of an immeasurable quantity will surface swiftly. I can assure you, as a student myself, the liberation from such pressures will earn more than enough gratitude from students everywhere.
Granting a year to equip all electrically heated homes that find themselves in geographically frigid areas with non-electrical furnaces, I do believe the lights should be rapidly fading from households and hospitals alike in no time.
By 2006, the entirety of humanity was using, in every conceivable way the term “using” might be applied, 40% more resources than our dear mother nature could ever hope to replenish; the overpopulation of earth itself is an undeniable factor in the increasingly violent cultural conflicts we’re experiencing today. Cities themselves are excessively salient targets, in their size, importance, and ease of access via alarmingly accurate online coordinates. And given the overpopulation of our world and the general crowding of our cities, I should imagine many might find these metropolises far more comfortable with a reduced population; without the ringing of text messages and the humming of dialysis buses, we will find ourselves and our cities to be perfectly good in company. Not too many, and not too few.
As such, it should come as little to no surprise that the gradual removal of electricity-based hospital practices would be implemented for the well-being of society as a whole. Hospitals themselves are glaring emotional and structural targets, and the more value we put on the preservation of lives that seem more eager to flee than prosper, the more we put ourselves in danger. The life of one is not worth the lives of many, this is not an uncommon North American perspective, one must simply look at our economic and social practices and admit we have always promoted an individualistic societal schema. Similarly, our kamikaze enemies understand this, so it is time we too stopped taking such dangerous chances over maintaining false moral pretenses.
37% of homes in Canada are heated by electricity. This means that should a turbine be hit, 37% of households in Canada, full of families and children, would be subjected to an unheated Canadian winter. As long as we have such vital centers as turbines, dams, and hospitals, the longer we let stand salient targets. And so I say, rather than heighten the defenses of our turbines to which will inevitably be breached, let us instead remove the target entirely.
On the less pressing issue of refrigeration, for all those except the citizens of Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver area, the winter itself generates the perfect freezer, being the most scarce time of year. The further north you are, the longer it seems your season for frozen goods. Those lucky enough to live on the mild west coast will find they have little need for refrigeration as the temperature outside drops enough to keep groceries chilled, while the abundance and availability of fresh fruit and vegetables year round will make up for the inability to store frozen food.
Information is available for the public like never before, and we are now seeing the turn of a beautiful social tool against the greater good. Airlines and mass gatherings like concerts, galas, and sporting events, are all organized by the exchange of information via electricity and the internet, and have found themselves open and vulnerable to unwanted customers and guests of the radical kind. In our haste to share the world and experiences with one another, we have left every country scattered with targets of Facebook invites and detailed online schedules.
I do believe on top of creating an unparalleled level of security for many across the globe, this will also come much to the pleasure of many environmentalists who have long called for a blackout of some nature in order that we may return closer to our roots and somehow harm them less in the process.
The idea of disengaging with such a resource does seem in the natural progression of today’s society if one considers the use of the internet, as we are consistently exposed to and unknowingly circulate false information. Many of our younger generations have gotten the wiser and being unable to determine the accuracy of the information they see, have instead chosen to forgo the entire process of sharing relevant information, choosing to focus on local information of the mundane sort. Thus, natural progression.
The root of terrorism and extremist violence can be found in the questionable principles of the individual rather than the teachings of a religion or culture. It is in our best interest to move away from such practices that promote the growth and flourishing of these individuals.
It is for this reason that the pulling of this plug, so to speak, the plug, will eliminate the fictitious and sly YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook stars, thereby reaffirming that upon finding oneself unemployable, one may not simply pull a source of income from thin air while simultaneously pulling wool over the eyes of the masses; these being among the individuals mentioned above, who undeniably harbor questionable principles.
I should also expect, over time, a general decrease of self-esteem issues among many of our young boys and girls, not only through the disappearance of mass media, but also in the dimming of the lighting and (for Canadians) the 4pm setting sun that will distort and prove fortunately unfit to match the gleam of our current bathroom lights, under which every hair and blemish seems to stand at more attention than the points of our noses.
But what of Christmas lights? The infamous front yard glare, beaming brighter than the rising sun? A landing strip my friends. These lights are indeed a landing strip- a red and green target on the back of the free world, to which we proudly display our location and values for all to see and plot. Drag in your hewn trees, alas, unfold fake branches from basement boxes. Thread needles and gossamer silk through the kernels of pearly popcorn and dress the tree in rich festive attire of clay baubles and ochre paint. Hang stockings of farmers market cotton from the sill of the nearest window; the fire, needing to light all of the front room, may too closely lick and burn the toes of your festivity and Christ himself, hence why the stockings and the tree must rest by the window. The lights, I am not afraid to declare, must go. A small change and price to pay for the safety and security of your ideological and physical integrity.
As we cannot expect the now heightened desire for communication to disappear with the power cords, the establishment of efficient courier services will be vital for a smooth and painless transition. Establishments offering services equal to the cost of a monthly phone bill can easily be put into place, not to mention create a vast wealth of jobs that promote a healthy active lifestyle. I do believe as a result of the courier business, we will also see the revival of wax seals and coded languages, adding to the intimacy and innovation of everyday interpersonal communication.
Along with electricity, there have been calls for the disbanding of the transportation and vehicle industry as the vehicles, this including air transportation, will still allow for some forms of long distance communication, thus achieving a similar effect to the sharing of information via the internet. Anthropologists, as well as aviation and seafaring experts have assured me, however, that such distances which would actually yield distinctive cultural shock through the sharing of information, say, Ottawa to Bangkok or some other like, will actually be highly infrequent due to the dangers of flying without a GPS and the duration of time in which a vessel may cross an ocean’s span. This significant time delay will add another cushion to the possible blows of global sharing, as even with the lights out, information sharing will surely leak through one way or another. No longer though, will you find yourself forced to stomach the tragedy of present war and despair alongside your late evening dinner of chicken and rice; the temporal and physical distance between you and the rest of the world will assuredly provide you peace and comfort in your every day life, all the while still enjoying the luxury of driving and boating, for I assure you, as I am intent on the disbanding of cultural fear and prejudice, I am not so cruel as to suggest the complete forgoing of something so useful in the name of potential security and happiness.
In addition, we will have an abundance of new exciting opportunities and perspectives. The star-gazing community will flourish as the entire globe declares dark skies. And while the land may find itself more dim, we can be sure to find the glowing brilliance of hope burning brighter than ever; those who happen to experience the trauma of inevitable ideological backlash may move onwards, and being unaware of the current state of affairs on a global scale, they will find themselves always having a distant dream of paradise and pardon to seek, while the lack of electricity will make their escape far more likely. Hope and happiness are beyond objectivity, and for many, the chance to dream and reach for something will be more than they ever could’ve gotten in our world today.
But I digress, the peripheral benefits will soon be obvious. Too long have we spent passing bills and motions of small change, while expecting big victories on the terror battlefront, and therefore, the advantages to this proposal are many and of great importance.
Many of our current societal problems would begin to fix themselves in the wake of an electricity forgoing. For starters, the value of the educated would once again rise, and young individuals would find they have vastly more freedom, no longer fearing financial instability as a result of lack of education.
Secondly, with hospitals no longer providing electricity-based services, the issue of overpopulation would also solve itself within the decade, and with our newly uncrowded city streets, it is to be sure the general happiness of each citizen shall rise with the falling population.
Thirdly, the environmentalist ideas regarding mother earth and climate change will indeed have a say, as we will be forced to reconsider our relationship with our environment, and thus move forward working with her, rather than against her as we have in the past.
Fourthly, with the internet, radio, and television no longer filling the hours of our day, we will find ourselves in a new era of regular sleep cycles, functioning and healthy interpersonal relationships, and physical-world purpose. In addition to national security, we could recover some time, of which no doubt, could be spent developing hobbies, passions, and personalities, to which we find ourselves so perilously short these days
Fifthly, the lack of refrigeration and large scale food processing industries will result in a healthier lifestyle for the majority. Here too I believe we will find a dramatic increase in both local economy, being that fresh food will be more readily available than the ‘junk’ foods that will now surely cost a fortune. And Similarly, the courier service will also promote a healthier lifestyle and provide a startling number of jobs, this being something that could potentially solve the homeless problem.
I do not pretend to see a lack of sacrifice between these pages, beginning with the dismantling of a dazzling light-show Rudolf, however, I should hope that any sane individual would be also be able to see the plethora of advantages to implementing this plan, advantages that far outweigh the sacrifices.
And these sacrifices shall be necessary because there is simply no other way to achieve this kind of ideological freedom and security. As mentioned earlier, the internet has degenerated to a putrid mess of nonsense and false information; there is simply no reality in which a global tool of this nature can be used for cultural education and the dismantling of stereotypes. It is also ridiculous to assume that the government, with its vast range of funding and resources, could actually conduct some sort of global research, as terrorism itself cannot be combated by understanding. Neither then, could the government use this information, gathered through their extensive resources, to create objective policies while informing the public of their findings, thus heightening mass cultural education and reducing the likelihood for hate crimes and the perpetuation of racism. There is no room for tolerance and understanding as our world rapidly falls apart, just as there is certainly no time for mass-cultural education and global awareness. This is not the time to be demanding that parents and individuals take responsibility for their global awareness; the education of our children need only be the four walls of their home and the blocks of their street. There is no world in which freedom of speech may be sacrificed, therefore it is absurd to ask that news-media organizations refrain from the use of race/religion to describe individuals and collectives who do not in fact represent the labels for which they wear. We cannot expect natural decency to rise above fear and racism in a time like this, just as we cannot expect our governments, being run by humans after all, to also rise. There is no other solution for a war based on concepts and abstract ideas; the only way to stop such ideas of fear is to stop the sharing of ideas entirely.
Furthermore, policies and laws designed to limit and censor both the individuals within our country as well as the ones without will only result in craftier attempts and the further spreading of fear and mistrust, and therefore are no longer an effective option. Meanwhile, ending the fear by caving to the demands of terrorists is highly undesirable and involves a far greater sacrifice for most than the loss of their cell phones and light switches.
And of this proposal you shall find it free of ulterior motives, spare the prosperity and happiness of my community and country. Government policies infringing on our rights pulls at my heartstrings, and I too am plagued by strong fears of cultural backlash; I myself an avid user of electricity, will also have to make sacrifices for the sake of my personal ideological integrity, the ideological integrity of my friends in this culturally mosaic country, and that of my devout Muslim family.
2015, Research and Advocacy for Reform. www.sentencingproject.org/template/.
DMR Digital Statistics, 2014. www.expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource- how-many-ppl-use-the-top-social-media/
Statistics Canada: Households and the Environment, Energy Use, 2015. www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-526-2010001/part-partie1-eng.htm
World Population Balance, 2013. www.worldpopulationbalance.org/3-times-sustainable
Rodriguez, 2014. World Population And the Internet. Www.latimes.com.