Friday, November 12, 2010

I pray for your continued service as a savior.

Imagine that, one day out of the blue, some nutcase offered you 10 billion dollars with which to save the country. What would you do with it?

To clarify this statement: over the last week or so I’ve been indulging in a true fantastic anime series known as Eden of the East. It’s a by-the-book American-style political thriller with very Japanese sensibilities. It hits all the political thriller beats, what with its conspiracy theories, terrorist attacks, serial killers, laser-guided amnesia, and layman protagonist thrown into an unbelievable situation; but the cultural issues it brings up are those plaguing the Japanese mind, including the evolving nature of the internet, the role of NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) in the modern age, and an odd thematic fixation on the male anatomy.

It’s a pretty awesome show.

Anyway, as part of a long and complicated plot, there’s this guy who calls himself Mister Outside who has proclaimed that Japan is on the decline and, determined to rescue his great nation from its current plight, forcibly drafts 12 people to act as his “Seleçáo,” the chosen “saviors.” He gives them each access to 10 billion yen and a computerized concierge named Juiz, who can do anything, from launching missile attacks to making the Prime Minister say “uncle” on national TV.

There’s some more detailed rules involved in how they can and can’t use this money, but it all boils down to this: if they don’t use their allocated 10 billion to somehow save Japan, they will be declared ineffective as saviors and be put to death.

The high-stakes gamble of the death sentence aside, I find this concept fascinating and, like most people I think, I started wondering about what I would do, were I given the chance to “save” the United States with that kind of money (and yeah, I know that 10 billion yen is about 100 million US dollars, but that just doesn’t sound like enough) what would I do with it?

I guess I would start by shifting public opinion away from people who make emotion-based arguments and towards those whose arguments are grounded in logic and ethics. This has always been my biggest complaint with protest groups, political activist and politicians: it seems like the ones who use manipulative and untrustworthy emotional arguments are the ones who get all the attention.

You know why protests always seem to dissolve into pointless arguments? It’s because both sides are so caught up in their emotions that they never bother to construct a decent argument. Why Glenn Beck has an audience? He preys on their fears and anger. The reason Obama’s approval ratings seem so low? All he’s done is make logical and ethical changes that aren’t the sort of thing people get emotional over.

And this is a problem. It’s why American politics seems to be ruled by extremists and why it takes forever to get anything done.

If I could change anything, I’d definitely start with this issue. It might take years. Hell, I’d probably have to start by redoing the education system and creating a series of children’s programing that encouraged logical and ethical thought. But if I could see that done in my lifetime, I think it’d be worth even the deadly risk of being a Seleçáo, where not impressing one old man can lead to your death.

So what about you, dear reader? If you had the chance to change anything about your home country…anything at all…what would it be? And how would you do it, if you could do anything?

Current NaNo Stats
Page Count: 63
Word Count: 20,000
Story progress: Near the end of Chapter Six
Status: Crud. I'm out of ideas for this scene. Must. Force. A transition!

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