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Welcome To Earth Neighborhood
The Introduction and First Chapters of The Gods Played Here- 1st Book In The Message Series is here, on line and on time to help build a better world, one neighborhood at a time! Order the other Message Books on line at our online Book Store or through Amazon.com or Boarders Books online stores.
All persons and places portrayed in this book are fictional, unless specifically indicated in the text. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
"Children! The Life Pie is almost ready!" the Mother/Father called. "You have a little time to clean up before lunch."
The Children were so absorbed in their Game, they forgot they were playing and had populated the Earth with about seven billion people. There were also countless other life forms sharing the space and it was getting crowded. There were not enough resources or room enough for everything and some of the forms, even those which had once been quite popular, were now gone.
Extinct or not, it did not matter much. It was almost time for the Seven to wind it up, pack it in, end the Game. The Seven needed to spend the rest of their time on Earth cleaning it up. So, a Message went out to every part of their awareness. It was:
The Prayer That Is Heard By All
Creator, We are all part of The One Game.
We play the Sacred Game on the Path Back to Union,
Following your sacred rules: Have Fun and Be Kind!
Everyone and every thing on the Planet heard the Prayer. There was not anyone or anything that did not hear it. The People of the Planet, no matter what their language, age, culture, state of mind, level of awareness or apparent mental capacity, heard it. The rocks and the paper clips, the crops and the weather spirits heard it, too.
We will not be going into detail about the non-human reaction to The Message. This recounting is about what people did. The Message was easy for most non-human beings to understand. They already knew it was true. Humans needed a little more help to understand, so they got more information to make things clearer for them.
Since people like stories, they got a story. The Prayer and the Story were known, ever after, as The Message.
The Story That Was Told To All
Once upon a time, Seven Children went to play on the Planet that was the home of the Tiger. Everything on the Planet, from the smallest one-celled microbe to the largest dinosaur, every environment that existed, in the past and in recent time, was on Earth so that Tigers could thrive. The Tiger was to go through its evolution on this incredibly beautiful Planet. Past, present and future Tigers were meant to live on the place called Earth and to evolve there, according to their own plan.
Unfortunately, some of the humans made such a mess, it began to interfere with the very existence of Tigers on their own Planet! To give credit where credit is due, some humans worried about Tigers even before The Message. Humans invented a list they put Tigers on, along with a growing number of other creatures, called the Endangered Species list. That list usually meant what ever was on it was not long for this Planet.
Tigers did what they could to remind humans of their importance on Earth and that Earth was the Tiger's Planet. If you pay close attention to a Tiger, or even to a picture of a Tiger, you know this to be true. Most humans do not pay that kind of attention to Tigers or to anything else. Most people are too busy.
Tigers tried to remind humans of Tigers' place in the scheme of things, by allowing themselves to become circus acts or by letting themselves be creatures in zoos. They surrendered themselves as emissaries, to make closer contact with the human population.
When most wild (that means should not be anywhere near people or people's cities or towns) animals died in captivity, Tigers managed to live and even produce young there. These magnificent creatures not only gave up their own freedom, they gave up the freedom of their children, just to try to tell people what was happening. Despite these efforts, the emissaries did not seem to be doing much good.
Humans seemed to be busier than ever, doing about everything they needed to do to make sure that Tigers would disappear. The fact was, there was less and less of a Tiger population each day. Tiger habitat was being eaten up by human activity and carelessness at an alarming rate. People thought they needed to be busy in it or near it in just about any way except leaving Tigers alone there. People were doing such intrusive and destructive things elsewhere that the air, the water, the climate and the overall environment of the Earth was changing in ways that were not good for most of the Earth's creatures, Tigers and humans included.
Clearly, it was time for the Children to play a different Game. They called it Clean Up. They made up Rules to follow, which made The Game just like any other game that is played. It actually turned out to be the most fun of any game ever played on Earth.
The Rules of The Game
1) no one has to play if they do not want to
2) no one will have special powers to help them (no magic rays allowed and no superpowers except
imagination and creativity)
3) you have to do it with the materials at hand
4) you have one or maybe two human generations to complete the job
5) Have Fun and Be Kind!
Here is how The Game went:
Chapter One - Message Received
The gathering of the Fairfax County Rockhounds was a pretty typical gathering, on the Friday evening The Message was heard. It came about an hour and a half before the Club was scheduled to meet at the Sunrise Room of the Fairfax
County Library. It was hard to reserve space there, it was their quarterly meeting and, Message or no Message, there was some important business to attend to. It was too late to reach anyone if they had wanted to cancel the meeting. No one did.
Some were visibly shaken but all were essentially unharmed when most of the group's members showed up. People spent some time talking about where they had been when The Message was heard but the meeting was called to order on time by the Club President, the Reverend Tony Smallwell.
"I think that I speak for us all when I say that we have all been through a profound experience this evening.", the Reverend told the group. "I am so glad we all heard it," the preacher continued," because, when The Message started, I thought I was going crazy . Thank God I was in a traffic jam and could see that the guy in the car next to mine was hearing it, too!"
The "Rev.", as they called him, often tried to make himself the brunt of the joke, when he told his stories . In this case, just about everyone on the Planet was the fall guy. The Rockhounds were used to jokes, so they took it well. Most of the young people in the Rockhounds had gone to the club as a joke, in the first place.
The Rockhounds had been started by the Reverend Smallwell as a way for youth to meet adults of various cultural and racial backgrounds who were interested in science and could be role models. The kids showed up "to watch the Rev get his rocks off." They stayed when they found out they got to take trips all over the state without their parents along. That suited the parents fine, too.
The Club was meeting that Friday evening to discuss the destinations for the trips they would take for the next quarter of the year and the room was packed with both adults and young people.
"So, Rev!" asked Cindy Consuello Lopez, one of the more active members of the young people's group. "What is your take on this Tiger thing?"
Both the young people and the older club members found that The Rev. usually knew what was what. The room got very quiet for his answer.
Reverend Smallwell replied. " The good news is that the task at hand seems to be cleaning up our Planet. Personally, I'm very happy to hear that. The bad news is that I, and probably most people, wouldn't know what to do to help a Tiger, if our lives depended on it. I don't know shit about Tigers, but I sure would be happy to hear from someone who does!"
Pretty much the same thing was being said in groups of people, large and small, all over Planet Earth. People got The Message, they just had no idea what to do with it. There were a lot of reasons they were clueless and you need only take a brief look at history to know some of them!
I have been hanging around Earth for a long time and if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that people are experts at not getting the picture, if they think it might be in their immediate best interest not to do so. With that in mind, let me help put you in the picture.
Before we get in to all that, please note that the Planet Earth has its own life and its own plan and its own magic that has nothing to do with any of the creatures that live on it. It probably has more to do with the creatures called Tigers than it does with the creatures called humans, but that is another story. I am just trying to help you get some perspective on this
Let's start at the beginning. Those Seven Beings or Beans or whatever you want to call them came to Earth because it was a beautiful place to play. If you have any doubt about this, look at Yosemite Valley or look at a flower, if Yosemite is not handy. The Game the Seven played was to move from one form to another in their awareness, using forms they found here and ones they invented or evolved into while here.
The Seven were immortal but could move from one form of their choice to another, when their previous form ceased to exist. They might play for thirty two minutes or for three hundred years, depending on the life span of the form they chose. They could play on this world looking out of the eyes of a squirrel or they could choose to play here looking out of the eyes of the President of the Republic of China. The form they chose would then interact with all the other forms around them.
In the beginning of the Game, the Beings were clear enough to remember what they were playing. They would even freely allow themselves to "get into" the awareness of other forms, no matter what their current state of being. For example, a tree could know what an eagle was knowing, for a while at least. After a few million years of this, some of the parts started forgetting that they were just playing. It is not really clear why, but some of the forms really got to like being what they were and did not change from one lifetime to the next. Some forms began to forget that the Game was going on at all. The result of this forgetting was that more and more of each creature, especially the human ones, began to populate larger and larger areas of the Earth.
The human form seemed to be one that was extremely popular, probably because there were almost infinite numbers of ways you could be human. You could be an Emperor. You could be a baby born in or deposited in a dumpster because no one wanted you. What variety! You would have to be an insect or a bacterium to have more choices and humans generally appeared to live longer than those forms.
Human reproduction also seemed like a lot of fun. The sex part of it was very like Union so humans kept doing it and doing it. People even got to the point of thinking that sexual reproduction was the way of moving from one form to another, instead of choice after death or just using their telepathic ability. They really started reproducing non-stop when that illusion became common thought.
Sex got to feel like making more life. Since life is infinite, you really cannot make any more of it but matter can appear to change in its form. Humans seemed intent on changing as much matter into human form and human things, as they could.
People's use of matter on Planet Earth was making a real mess in many ways. From time to time, The Seven would recall The Game in at least part of their matter. This was a heightened Awareness of what was really going on, such as large political movements and sometimes religions that would emerge, catching people's attention. Sometimes a song would do it. Sometimes governments did it with wars. What this felt like to humans was a sense of Unity, which was their natural state of being.
The Seven started playing in the first place to explore the feeling of the illusion of separation. They were curious about this illusion. Their curiosity got out of hand and they seemed to have forgotten that the fun part of the Game was to be a different race or a different sex or a different species, from one lifetime to the next. It came to pass that separateness was no longer seen as fun for people. Once they forgot Union, separateness scared them.
The feeling of separateness was starting to cause some problems, too. People
began seeing themselves as more important than other creatures! At the time of the Message, most humans had barely even heard of Tigers let alone remembered that Earth was the Tiger's place.
People, believe it or not, started to try to feel Union by grouping themselves with others that they identified as the "same". Sometimes this sameness was as arbitrary as what kind of beauty pageants they put on, what sports team they favored or whether or not they could afford to belong to the same club. These tries for Union seemed to be getting stranger and stranger all the time. These tries for Union were also not working at all.
The real big problems started when people began fearing one another. In the past, humans mostly feared other species eating them and weather and big acts of nature. Strange and unlikely as it seems, however, people began to fear one another, thinking that one group of humans was different from another. Sometimes these differences were because of apparent variations in skin and hair, but most often they were because of where people were born on the Planet and the language they spoke or what things they owned. Sometimes it was just cultural stuff, like what kind of music they liked. The worst part of this fear was that it turned to hatred, anger and violence. If anything, people felt more and more separated from more and more others, with every day that passed.
Then money got invented and people saw themselves as different by how much they owned. I don't have to tell you what complications that caused! I know it is difficult to believe, but people even started thinking that the possession of money and property, things and shares in things, would help them to feel Union. The idea that owning things leads to a feeling of Union (humans called it security) did not work. All it got for some people were piles of wealth.
Wealth, in itself, is not a big problem except that when some people accumulated vast wealth and resources, they completely forgot that they were trying to get and keep Union. All the wealth they piled up never felt like "enough". These piles of wealth also tended to be hard to move if there was danger. The wealthy felt a need to find ways to protect their wealth. That's when armies were invented.
Armies are made up of humans who are very good at fighting, killing and destroying things. That is what they are designed to do, even though protection of property may be the reason they were invented in the first place. They are also designed to be able to go anywhere and do anything to anyone. These qualities would not be my first choice in a protector but I'm just a Watcher here, what do I know?
In the most recent time, armies have been sponsored by governments, systems formed when people with power and wealth hang out together and try to create some kind of union that will help them keep what they have or even to take a lot more away from others around them. They get armies to help them. People are also told they would have Union by going to war. People began to confuse nationalism with Union. Many did move toward Union by dying, when participating in wars, but that was not the way they expected to get it. War is not the best way to get Union, as just about anyone who has ever been in combat will tell you.
"A more perfect Union", is what Abraham Lincoln called this process in a speech called the Gettysburg Address. This was in his famous speech for the "Union side", during the "first modern war", the Civil War of the United States of America. Having wars to protect governments was not all that modern, though.
As they increased their holdings, the Holders were good at getting more and more people involved in their wealth holding and getting and keeping activities. When people are poor they can be paid to go to fight in wars but wealthy corporations also recently started hiring their own armies, who answer to no laws but their own.
War also makes a heck of a mess on the Planet. The bigger the war, the bigger the mess. Armies are notorious for their ability to make huge messes, even world-wide messes, at an alarming rate of speed. Recent history is full of very messy wars, many of which were global. Two of these recent global wars were combative and one was a mental war, called a cold war. Cold though it was, huge amounts of matter, human energy and mental resources went into that war, which caused its own set of problems and difficulties for the Planet. For example, when you spend millions of dollars to build one ship, you do not have that money to clean up the water supply used by the people who live in one of your cities. Do the math! Once you have done the math it might also interest you to follow the path of that wealth to see who and where it leads.
Leaders often have to justify having so many resources going to war equipment, so they put this stuff into action. To do this they stage wars, conflicts and foreign invasions as demonstrations of power. These wars are usually staged outside their own boarders and are usually in a place that people of their own country know or care little about. Lately, few people from wealthy countries are directly involved, except to sell weapons to the combatants. They just get the people of that foreign place to fight among themselves.
These wars do nothing to help people or the Planet. In fact, all of this was getting harder and harder for the Planet to take. Things seemed to be getting worse and worse, with hundreds of species becoming extinct every year, because of humans and their activities. It was looking doubtful as to whether the Seven would remember what they were doing here before they wrecked the place entirely.
Even though they seemed to be without a clue as to what they were doing, there were indications that Awareness was there. For one thing, people have been told they need to take care of the place in just about all of their Holy Books. Some human groups have entire religions and ways of life dedicated to taking care of the place. Those people are usually called the First People of any land where they live. In recent history, their lands were usually wrecked or stolen from them, causing them to move on.
It seems that the First People were often the ones first killed off and the last people anyone listened to. Fortunately, they were still around with their wisdom and their knowledge, at the time of The Message. It is also fortunate that they had been scattered all over the Planet because of all that had happened to them and to their lands. This, of course was terrible for them, but was fortunate for the many others who needed their guidance at the time of The Message.
They, like the Tigers, were emissaries. They kept reminding people that we need to take care of the place and its creatures if we are going to play here. These People share ways of Vision with the rest of the world, as they have for countless centuries. These Vision techniques were one of the main ways the Seven kept knowledge of the Game in mind. That is why these First Peoples usually kept the welfare of the Planet in mind, too.
It seemed like most people had just about everything except the welfare of the Planet in mind and as a result had lost a lot of the joy and the wonder of life. They were living in such limited ways! The life styles of the First People were usually big in the joy and wonder departments. They had not forgotten the magic of the Planet Earth.
Other people tried to compensate for this lack of wonder and magic by inventing things to share Vision. One of their things was even called Television which told about much that had been done and learned in history, about how people lived and did things and about exactly what the world's problems were. It even told about all kinds of different ways of seeing and believing. Television also told the Vision of a ruined Earth. In fact, most of what was seen on television, prior to The Message, seemed to be telling about the vision of death and destruction or places of ruin one kind or another.
Also invented were other forms of sharing Vision, like communication networks that spanned the globe. For the first time in human history, it was possible for people to find out anything and, in one way or another, tell each other anything. With all they could say, or talk about, what they seemed to be talking about and telling about was the ruined Earth. Very recently they had begun to talk about cleaning the ruined Earth up.
The Game was about to end and Union knows that the Seven have to clean up before They go to eat Life Pie. In order for the clean up to take place, they did need to have a system of talking to one another to coordinate it all. People also needed those members of the First People groups all over the Planet. In fact, most of the story I am going to tell you would not have been possible if these First People had not been there to help.
It is not clear if this was all PLANNED or not to make the Game the Seven played more interesting. Maybe a lot of the messes people made on Earth were just big old mistakes. Maybe they were part of THE PLAN. Does it matter? Probably not. What does matter is that clean up is in order and here comes the lunch call!
People on the Planet Earth knew the lunch call as The Message. At the time of The Message, Friday evening, 6PM EST, most people were thinking of just about anything except saving the Planet. In one way or another, most of them were thinking of one of the "we" groups they belonged to. Friday evening is the start of what many people know as the "we"ekend and a lot of "wes" meet then.
This could be the we that does volunteer work for the church, the we that makes over a million dollars a year or the we that suffers from bunions. Wes usually had the advantage of being best at communicating with one another. They speak the "same language", have the same traditions and often include each other in parts of their lives in ways that others just do not see. These wes might live near one another or they may communicate through magazines, newspapers or special interest television programming, videos or music. Sometimes games form the framework of their communication. Sometimes prayer does. The upshot of all this is that the wes are in touch.
As soon as The Message was heard, the first response after, "Boy did I read this one wrong!", was to discuss it with a we group of some kind. As it turned out, it was indeed groups of wes that talked, that met or communicated and that then took action to make a difference in the ability of the people of Earth to respond to the challenge of The Message. The Seven could not have done it without the wes. That is what this story is about!
Fortunately, of all the wes, there were people who knew a few things about Tigers. People who lived with Tigers have known about Tigers for a long time. In addition, some very intensive study of these beautiful creatures has been done recently by naturalists and other scientists..
This state of affairs came about because humans are curious about things and because they like to see their children gainfully employed. Studying things like Tigers is an excellent employment opportunity for well-educated sons and daughters of the rich. In the past, this group spent their time playing and going to parties, after completing their education. Now, they are ashamed to "do nothing" so these kinds of research projects were invented to give them jobs.
This system was also a way for the rich and well- educated to support their own and to take a tax write-off, while doing it. Through various Charitable Trusts and Foundations, which act as channels for the money through research grants, they fund everything from the genetic mapping of Tiger DNA and RNA, to projects that dug up bodies of the deceased. It seems that people can get curious about almost anything, if grant money is available.
For example, in 1995 the body of Jessie James, an outlaw, was exhumed to see if it was "really him" in the grave marked as containing his remains. The body of a former USA President was also dug up about that same time, to see if he had been poisoned. Both guys had been dead about a hundred or more years. Perhaps we could look upon some of this as support for the curiosity and inventiveness of the human mind.
Maybe that is stretching it, but some of this kind of research did prove to be helpful when it came to the study of Tigers. There was good information on why Tigers were disappearing from the Planet, at an alarming rate, and what Tigers needed. What became apparent was that conditions helpful to Tigers were long gone. What was not clear was what was needed to have those conditions exist again. Even if every man, woman and child wanted it to be so, most had no clue as to what changes they should make for Tigers to thrive here on Earth.
"We need to make some changes.", said Alberta Dewitt Clinton Jackson.
Her southern drawl made the sentence sound musical. The world would come to know her voice well. Alberta was the one who would tell the world what it needed to do to clean up its act. Alberta Dewitt Clinton Jackson was a former citizen of Tiger Country, whose ancestors were among those identified as the First People of the Indian Sub-Continent. Alberta was a First Person herself on both her mother's and father's sides of the family. Their traditional lands had once been home to the Tiger. For this reason Alberta had studied Tigers more thoroughly, and in more ways than anyone else on Planet Earth.
The People of Tiger Country were among those groups on Earth who "spoke"
to Tigers. They communicated with Tigers, usually non-verbally, sometimes by sounds and sometimes by reading Tiger shit or by other signs left by the creatures. There were certain members of the group who had messages from Tigers. They were sort of radio receivers for Tiger transmissions. It was part of Alberta's nature that she should be interested in Tigers and would dedicate the many resources she found in her new home to their study.
Alberta was currently a student at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Alabama at Mobile. She and her family had moved to Alabama when a chemical spill, in India, killed everyone and everything for miles around and turned Tiger Country into green goo. The Tiger population there was decimated. As the only surviving family ( of any species), they were given a small monetary settlement and the choice of immigrating to any place in the world they might wish to live. They relocated, at her father's request, to Mobile, Alabama. This city was the international headquarters of PetroChem, the corporation that spilled the chemicals which destroyed Tiger Country.
Alberta's people believed that when you have anger, great or small, toward anyone or anything, you should go and live as closely as possible to that which angers you. In that way, you can come to understand it and possibly transform it.
"You certainly have the best chance to get rid of that anger, which will do you no good at all.", Alberta's father explained.
So, Alberta and her family, the remaining representatives of both their people and all the other creatures that one inhabited Tiger Country, moved to the United States of America. It should be mentioned that Alberta's real name was not Alberta Dewitt Clinton Jackson. Her real name sounded something like a Tigress roaring in the jungle, when calling out to Her young. This sound was not possible to write, to use on the birth certificates, social security cards and passports that were obtained for the family to make the move to the USA. Avery Winslow, the Peace Corps volunteer teaching at the school nearest the family's decimated homeland, found their names in his US History book and completed the paperwork for their needed documents.
Avery had been a history major at the University of Alabama prior to his joining the Peace Corps. Avery was also the nephew of the owner of the PetroChem Corporation. He was the reason that PetroChem built the plant in India. Avery's father had wanted his boy to have help near at hand, if need arose, and Avery's Uncle , LeDean, "The Dean" Winslow, agreed.
PetroChem's toxic spill pretty much took care of Avery's foolish career choice, by killing off all Avery's pupils and their families. Avery, away at the District Headquarters, was spared and found out that he was the small village's only survivor. Alberta and her family were spotted by the PetroChem helicopter, while it was flying over to survey the way the spill was now turning the forest into green goo. Tiger Country was no more.
It was Avery who assisted Alberta and her family, found out they wanted to go to Mobile and picked out the names he thought would help them to fit in at their new home. Avery's uncle, LeDean Winslow was so powerful and influential a man, he could have arranged citizenship for the family anywhere in the world. Entry into the USA was a cinch for a man like "The Dean" to arrange. The documents the family needed, once they had names one could write, were ready in a period of days. Alberta's father was given the name Freemont Jefferson Jackson. Freemont's real name sounded like the silence that occurs in the forest when the Tiger stalks its prey. This accumulation of silence, in a forest that had existed for eons, could not have been written in any known alphabet except the alphabet of time.
Alberta's mother was given the name Betsy Ross Jackson. There were not too many women's names to choose from in that particular text book. Most of the people who did things in American history, such as the thousands who built the homes and cared for the crops of those who are mentioned, have names you will not find in Avery's textbook. A lot of those left unmentioned were women.
Betsy Ross' s real name was the sound that the Tigress makes when she suckles her young. This accumulation of eons of a mother's concern for the well-being of her children could not be written in any alphabet except the alphabet of awareness. This alphabet, in any of its many forms, is rarely used in text books, either.
Avery Winslow had great concern for the well-being of this family when they chose to go to the USA. They were small, very dark-skinned people. He had ideas about the kind of prejudice and discrimination they would face and knew their life would be totally different from anything they had ever known. The kinds of lives led by those who looked as they did had distressed Avery, a rich Caucasian male, all his life. The kind of prejudice and discrimination they would face was why he went into the Peace Corps. He could not stand being in the USA and watching it going.
The people of Tiger Country did not believe in this kind of avoidance as a solution. It obviously had not worked well for Avery, either, but putting aside his own concerns about returning to the USA, Avery decided to make it his job to see that their little family survived. That was why he felt so terrible when he lost them at the airport, upon arrival in Mobile. They seemed to have just disappeared. In actual fact, they were hiding from Avery.
"Never go into an unknown and potentially dangerous situation with someone that afraid.", Freemont told his wife and daughter.
Having managed to survive while his entire world was destroyed, Freemont knew from whence he spoke. Not only did they survive, they helped the rest of the Planet survive, too. Here is what happened:
There were no records of the date of Alberta's birth and she looked physically mature, so Avery Winslow estimated Alberta's age to be about fifteen years old. She was actually eleven. Avery's mistake in filling out her papers meant that she was put into high school. Alberta avoided a lot of boredom she would have encountered at a lower educational level.
Alberta was fortunate to inherit her ancestors' highly scientific mind. This kind of mind accounted for their ability to survive in Tiger Country and passed down to Alberta from generations of ancestors their ability to keenly observe the surroundings and draw accurate conclusions, based on what was observed. This kind of mind operates well in dangerous and unpredictable situations. This mind operated well in Tiger Country as it might under the dangerous conditions of an atomic accelerator. It also operates when a street gang member is out in the unpredictable city streets.
Alberta also inherited her people's facility for learning languages. They spoke to other species and certainly had no difficulty with other human languages. Human languages all used the same body equipment. They were a cinch to the new arrivals.
As soon as Alberta learned to speak, read and then write in English, she mastered the computer at her school and at the local library. Her school also taught her other human languages so she could access the computer information from other nations as well. Much of this learning was about Tigers. Alberta did not know that she was supposed to be too young to learn everything she was learning, while still in high school. She had no ideas about any of that kind of limitation.
Alberta also did not have any ideas that she was supposed to be doing anything but learning, during this period of time. Many other young people were spending time working and gathering possessions, or involved in intense social relationships of one kind or another. Alberta just spent her time learning.
In Tiger Country, children from the ages of about ten to fourteen years old were expected to acquire all the basic knowledge they needed to operate as fully functional adults. They usually had their own families by age fifteen or sixteen years old. They were intensely busy learning from others and from direct experience during their learning years, to prepare themselves for that responsibility. Alberta saw how much there was to learn in this USA and got really busy.
Fortunately, she was able to access the computer, the greatest educational tool the learning systems in the USA had to offer. She learned everything they had to teach her at high school and she then spent her time learning everything the library had to teach her. By her Junior year, it was obvious to her instructors that Alberta was college material. She knew more than a lot of them did!
One teacher in particular, Samson Vandee, took a particular interest in Alberta and her family. He recognized her, at once, as a Tiger Country citizen and tried to help her to understand how things worked in her new home. He was one of the few who knew the story of what had happened to Tiger Country.
Samson's brother, Walker Vandee, and his niece Wanda had once owned PetroChem but had sold its name to LeDean Winslow, when they began to manufacture biologically safe alternatives to a lot of LeDean's products. Their company was now called BioSafe Industries. Samson kept an eye on what PetroChem was doing and was one of the few people who knew about the disaster in India. LeDean had stifled protests about the spill with bribes to the Press and to government officials. There was no one left living in the area to make a fuss. LeDean did not give the surviving Tiger Country People another thought once he bought them off by assisting them to immigrate to the USA. He figured he was home free on that environmental disaster.
In her Senior year at high school, Samson Vandee encouraged Alberta to go to the University campus for a couple of classes. Whole new worlds of learning opened up for her. Alberta had access to the InterNet there and could get information from around the world. Samson encouraged her to keep up her academic study of Tigers, which she did, among others things. At age 14, when she graduated from High School, Alberta got several jobs. She felt the need to contribute to the family that had supported her during her learning period. She had a full academic scholarship to the University of Alabama, so she just needed to "pull her weight" at home.
Marriage for Alberta, at age fifteen, seemed unrealistic to the family, though that would have been the next step for her had she been in Tiger Country. They all saw that society in the USA was not ready to give young people the resources and support they needed to have a successful family life. There did not seem to be that many good perspective family members around, either.
"That guy would not last five minutes in Tiger Country.", was what Freemont said about most of the young men he saw. Alberta agreed with him.
The combination of physical ability and the mental awareness of a great mind was pretty rare among those men she met in daily life. You might ask what great minds were doing in a hunting and gathering society like Tiger Country. The answer is simple. Before technology provided a world of information and learning opportunities, people with that kind of mind would probably have died of boredom any place except a place like Tiger Country. They needed its multiple challenges on a regular basis.
In a rainforest or when challenged by a place like the Great Desert of Australia, humans can use their abilities of observation and deduction, in various ways, every minute of their lives. A place like Tiger Country is an exciting and interesting place to live. People are rarely bored there. Alberta was not bored at all by the modern world. She had access to computers and was making her way through the world of human knowledge. By age 19, she graduated from the University of Alabama with a double major in Biology and Ecology and had started classes at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Alberta enjoyed her classes and she enjoyed her jobs.
The computer at the University helped in her school work and with the independent research projects she was doing on Tigers. She also used the computer for her job writing international recipes and when she wrote radio commercial jingles, for a living. It amazed Alberta that a wonderful thing like a computer was available to anyone who wanted to use it and who was aware enough of its possibilities to learn to do so. One could then learn about almost anything, at whatever pace they wanted. Alberta most wanted to learn about Tigers. Her classes in Veterinary Medicine helped her understand the information the computers gave her about them. She exhausted what the University system had to offer her, while she was still an undergraduate.
Fortunately, Samson Vandee told Alberta about Friends of the Planet when she was looking for a part-time job. He showed her an advertisement in the local Penny Saver newspaper. Friends of the Planet was looking for a cleaning lady and, though she came to clean, she ended up doing her most advanced studies there. The work hours were excellent for a student but the biggest bonus in the employment benefit package was the use of the Friends of the Planet computer, after she finished cleaning the office.
By paying the $25.00 a year Friends of the Planet membership fee, Alberta was given access to their computer system, with her own password and everything. Sometimes Alberta stayed there all night to access the United Nations Environment Program EarthWatch Project data. This information came from global satellite tracking systems orbiting the world and from a lot of important research projects on current conditions of animals and plants. One could find out how global changes were affecting any specific ecosystem, as well as the world environment as a whole. In fact, there was such a tremendous amount of information, it required years of study just to begin to make some kind of sense of it all, in relation to a specific question.
If you had a question like, "How can we return the Planet Earth to Tigers, in a condition in which they can thrive ?", no one on the Planet, except perhaps Alberta, could answer correctly. Environmental conditions on Earth changed daily, usually in the "let's get rid of Tigers as fast as we can" direction.
What helped Alberta to make some kind of sense of all the studies and reports was her memory of Tiger country before it was decimated by the chemical spill. She remembered it with such intensity and in such detail it was as though part of her still resided there. Alberta sometimes felt that Mobile Alabama was just a dream and that she was back in the forest. This state of awareness of Tiger Country, in its undamaged state, was contrasted by her direct experience of her life in the USA. If she had remained in Tiger Country, Alberta would never have imagined the life most people led in the USA. For one thing, it would have been impossible for her to think people could have so many resources kept for their sole, personal use.
Freemont Jefferson Jackson, told her that people did this for what they called peace of mind. Outside Tiger Country, people did not seem to have peace of mind and the ways they tried to get peace of mind seemed to be both creating a lot of problems and making the survival of Tigers nearly impossible. In fact, it looked like these ways might be making the survival of anything nearly impossible. Perhaps, this was why The Message was actually heard by everyone and believed by everyone. It was not news to many that the Planet was a real mess.
Alberta was not blind to the fact that her studies and her unique perspective made her a repository of knowledge that might be very helpful if people wanted to help Tigers. Prior to The Message, few had that goal. The Message changed that, but would not have made a difference if it were not for Preston Sommes. Alberta worked for Preston Sommes, in the capacity of a writer of international food recipes.
Having several kinds of work was not at all unusual for someone in Tiger Country. There a person might be a weaver, a healer, a cook, tan animal hides, be a heaven watcher and a fungus hunter. People did lots of things that they were good at and enjoyed doing. The idea of having only one kind of work was foreign to them.
For each of her jobs, Alberta used some of her many talents. Her work was primarily as a student and researcher in Tigers and their world environment, but she was able to use some of her other talents in her income-earning jobs. She even had talents left over, like her ability to make beautiful baskets and to play the saxophone and to learn other languages. The talent she had for writing tunes was an offshoot of her language-learning talent. This talent was in her ability to hear things "speak" to her. They actually sort of "sang" to her, if truth be told.
If writing a song about a can of beans, the beans sang to her. Her song for beans made listeners, who needed more beans, want them very badly. When Alberta wrote a song for a product that was really needed, it sold very well.
Alberta wrote a song for women's condoms that was very successful. The bouncy, snappy joy of sex without the fear of unwanted pregnancy or disease just came right on through in her tune. Women bought millions of the things. Men bought them for women, too. Another song for a solar water heating system spoke well for the product.
People could feel the sun-energized waters flowing over them as they listened. They felt like they were on vacation on a tropical beach, basking in the sun with a big multi-colored drink in their hand. The SolarWa system did well, world wide
Alberta had always been able to compose music but, in the past, had no way to communicate the tunes except to sing them. The people in Tiger Country liked them a lot but that was it. Now Alberta sang them but she also wrote them down, orchestrated them with the help of the computer and sold them to an advertising agency. The agency, Global Talents, became known as the company to go to if you had a product that was actually good for people or the environment..
The job of writing recipes for Press International was also done with the assistance of the computer. Alberta found recipes in cookbooks, historical records and in a variety of other ways, on line, with the computer. She knew which ones were the most likely to taste good because of one of her other talents. Alberta had the gift of being able to know how something would taste by just reading a list of its ingredients. This gift may have come from her ancestors who had to make medicines from plants and who also had to compose meals from what they hunted and gathered each day. The use of this gift was greatly enhanced by the fact that Alberta's mother, Betsy Ross Jackson, had a career working in many different kinds of restaurants, since their move to Mobile.
Betsy Ross cooked food from every part of the world by changing jobs on a regular basis, starting out as a dishwasher and working her way up to a chef at each restaurant where she was employed. She changed jobs to learn another style of cooking. This helped her never to be bored by the work and to always learn something new on the job.
Her family liked the foods Betsy Ross brought home, too. Alberta had probably tasted more different kinds of food, from more parts of the world, than anyone else in Mobile, except her parents. They had everything from Afghani to Zoe's (a Nouveau Cuisine place on Route 7, going North out of Mobile).
Alberta learned the various ingredients in these dishes when the family said "grace" before eating. It was the tradition of the people of Tiger Country to celebrate their food by thanking each ingredient in it, before eating. This custom taught Alberta the name of just about every ingredient in human culinary history, used anywhere on the Planet. By the time she was eighteen, ten thousand years of cooking excellence had passed across Alberta's palate and she knew the name of each spice, herb and ingredient.
With this kind of experience, it was pretty easy for Alberta to spot a good recipe. She would then do variations on culinary classics, like seven or eight variations on a basic fish stew, would translate the recipes into different languages, write something about the country of origin, and sell them through the Press International News Service, operated by Preston Sommes. These features were the most-often-picked-up features of the Mobile, Alabama PI office.
Actually, there was not much else that particular News Service had to contribute to a world news market. Preston Sommes would have been the first to admit it. There were only so many articles on the New South that he could write. Unless someone was killed in a rather gruesome or unusual way, Mobile was off the map as far as international news events were concerned. Alberta's recipes were more enjoyable to Preston than some gruesome murder story and the two of them had a regular date every Friday evening. Alberta brought in her newest work and picked up her check for the recipes that had sold from the week before. Her father joined them later in the evening, bringing them dinner from the restaurant where her mother worked.
So it was that Preston and Alberta were together, at 6PM that Friday, to hear The Message, while seated at the half-circle window on the fourth floor of the old Madison Building, on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Wheeler Street, Mobile, Alabama, USA.
The building, constructed during the economic boom of the early 1920s, had that half-circle window which Preston thought essential to any kind of journalistic endeavor. The window was why he chose the office and why he had been there for over thirty years, though the rent was too high for the present condition of the neighborhood. Preston and the PI office would probably be there for the next twenty years, or until he died, which ever came first. He did not believe in retirement and did not want to stop working there.
Preston enjoyed coming into the office every day and would spend hours looking out of the half-round, at the world. Lately, he had been spending increasing amounts of time drawn to the view of his car, to make sure no one was stealing his headlights, yet again. That Friday, Alberta arrived on time and was seated with Preston, admiring the view while he read over her recipes. He had no reason, editorially, to check their content. Alberta's work was always flawless. It sold well just as she wrote it. Some of the recipes were in languages he did not even know but Alberta translated them, in side bars, for him. Preston read the recipes because he enjoyed reading them. The meetings with Alberta were a pleasure to him, professionally and personally.
Good writing had always delighted Preston and Alberta had a way of providing the most entertaining information about the places from which her recipes came. He felt like he was there. He had dreams of world travel and Alberta's recipes had the ability to transport a reader.
That Friday he had experienced the Hotel Grand on the Riviera, sampling their world famous chocolate mousse. Then he went to Thailand and was sitting on a raised platform over a river. The food was so hot, it made one sweat and then feel deliciously cool, as a river breeze blew over the water.
"I feel like a world traveler every time you come in, Ms. Alberta.", Preston told her, licking his lips in anticipation of the next recipe.
"Food does not seem to need a passport.", Alberta replied.
When in high school, Alberta had come across some information on Immigration Law in the United States. She had been fascinated by the subject ever since. Laws that governed the movement of people from one place to another were unusual ideas, very recent in human culture. Alberta found that many of the ideas people now thought were extremely important were ones that were very recent in human culture.
There was no such thing as Immigration Law in Tiger Country. Alberta was told a story by her father about how one man proposed that only the People of Tiger Country be allowed to live there, or even enter there. The People had laughed and laughed at such an idea. They still thought the idea was comical, even thousands of years later, whenever that story was retold.
Through her study of American Immigration policy, Alberta found out that without the help of a powerful sponsor like PetroChem Corporation, she and her family would stand a greater chance of being hit by meteorites than they would have of getting into the USA legally. This seemed to be due to another idea, which was that people from the South would want to leave their homes of peace and beauty and go North. For the most part, this could not be further from the truth.
Many immigrants to the North were there because they had lost their land and were not able to find work in their own cities. In some cases, their land was ruined by natural disasters but in most cases, their land was now part of a large food growing enterprise growing products for export to cities or to other countries. Alberta, in talking with immigrants like her family, found that most people would be happy to return to their own homeland if there were jobs, food or peace in those places. Some did go back. For others, there was no place to return to.
Many, like Alberta and her family, did not spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what they could not change. They got on with their lives and did the best they could with the resources at hand. Preston had been an active member of an organization called "World Without Borders ", since the mid-1960s. The fact that something done at Press International PI might contribute to world unity, even if it was only some recipes, made him happy.
The People of Tiger Country would probably have joined World Without Borders if they had known about it. They had no desire to keep anyone out of Tiger Country but they also had no wish to go anywhere else themselves. When they lived in Tiger Country, as far as they were concerned, the lived in paradise. Now they no longer lived at all.
"Perhaps we are what we eat.", Preston volunteered, hopefully.
Alberta liked the idea that food was a kind of international line of communication. It seemed that people were more likely to tolerate the food of another group than the people of another group. In fact, Alberta noticed that the most bitter enemies sometimes ate almost exactly the same foods!
Alberta was thinking about just that and Preston was reading her recipes when they heard The Message. The Message was heard by every man, woman and child on the Planet and they were no exception. They were together to hear It and together to see the reaction to It. Here is what happened:
Chapter Two - First Response
Preston Sommes' reaction to The Message surprised him as much as it would anyone who knew him. He was able to see Alberta as other than a "colored woman", for the first time. Preston had been one of the few young Caucasian men of Mobile, Alabama to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was not one of those guys on the sidelines throwing rocks at the marchers. Preston thought himself immune to the evils of prejudice and fought for justice and equality, even as a child, much to the concern of his powerful family. He thought of himself as pretty liberal, for a man of his race and age and as one raised in the USA. His reaction showed him that he had picked up a lot of prejudice along the way.
It took The Message to convince Preston that he had not quite got the picture. He knew it the moment he looked at Alberta, after The Message . He knew he saw her in a different way . That glance told him that he "loved her as he loved himself." For the first time he understood what Jesus meant by that message. It had nothing to do with romance.
This feeling began to pervade the interactions of everyone on the Planet. It was the first change that people were aware of and it was what happened to Preston as he looked at his friend, Alberta. The filter of her color had disappeared and he was no longer blocked from "trusting her as he trusted himself."
He could fully appreciate all the wonderful things she knew and the unique gifts she had. They could both celebrate all she knew and all she was. No longer blinded by his ideas of her color, he could "appreciate her as he appreciated himself."
Preston's reaction to Alberta was not unusual. He kept having the same reaction to everyone he met. Everyone kept having that same reaction to everyone they met. It got so they did not even notice it any more, after a while, People began to "respect others as they respected themselves."
The second thing that came to Preston's mind when he looked at Alberta, was his understanding that she knew more about how to save Tigers than anyone else. In this way, she was unique and he was very happy about that particular difference. Alberta had shared her interest in Tigers with Preston, the first day they met, when he asked what she liked to do in her spare time. Preston found out that Tiger Research was what Alberta did as her vocation. Veterinary School helped her with her vocation but writing recipes and music for commercials and cleaning an office in town were only jobs she did in her spare time.
From time to time, or when there was a major development in the Tiger situation, Alberta would update Preston on what was going on in her research. It was not a pretty picture, though this was not much of a surprise to Preston, who followed news of the environment as closely as he did most news. Preston was a good listener and was one of the few people who understood what Alberta was talking about. He often explained the political and social implications of changes in environmental laws and policies, especially when they made no observable sense, as far as the good of the Earth goes.
Some of the recent attempts at nullifying laws and policies that protected basic things like air and water were pretty hard for someone like Alberta to understand, without some help from Preston. Even with his help, they made no sense, but at least she understood why such moves were made for political reasons. Preston had spent much of the past forty years of his life observing the ways in which things were done on Planet Earth. He was an expert on that subject and also had the technology to monitor the changes, almost as they occurred.
In the midst of the falling away of illusions about Alberta, Preston was quick to realize the world needed the information Alberta had in her head. He also knew he had ways to get that information out, to just about anyone, anywhere on the Planet. This revelation came as even more of a shock to Preston than his changed view of Alberta. For the first time in years, Preston appreciated what he knew and what he did and how his own skills and gifts were needed. He was part of the answer! Preston was no longer blocked from "appreciating himself as he appreciated others."
Preston had not felt this excited about anything for years and the first words that burst from his mouth were, "Then there is a purpose for me here, after all!"
Preston had been having some serious doubts about his relevance on Planet Earth. He was getting older, his children were grown and on their own. Preston went to the Press International office more for something to do than for economic need. He already had everything he needed and then some. He had begun to wonder if he had any purpose in life other than passing on Alberta's rather unique recipes.
Preston was not even a very good consumer any more, still being relatively sound and healthy and in possession of everything he needed. Most people Preston's age were off doing retirement things and moving into other avenues of consumerism, like golf or travel or collecting stamps. Most of that stuff bored him stiff. The one other thing Preston liked, besides working at PI, was a weekly meeting he had at his house. Preston had been meeting there with some young people for about two years.
The kids seemed to spend a lot of time with each other and all wore sun glasses. They even gave him a pair to wear at their meetings . Preston did not think they were a gang, but he was not' t sure. They all listened to his record collection that contained samples of just about anything ever produced in the U.S, commercially, in the history of recorded sound. He started his collection when he was a kid and was rich enough to have bought what interested him and to have kept it in good condition. This was no mean feat. Many of his original recordings were very fragile.
The invention of the CD was a relief to Preston and he thankfully put most of his collection on the discs and could now listen to them as much as he liked. He rigged a sound system up in his garage because his wife, Cora Mae, dearest person to his heart, could not stand the noise. Preston liked the volume way up. With a little sound proofing, he was able to listen to his heart's content.
Preston was discovered doing so, one afternoon, by a young man named Bobbie Winslow Turner. Bobbie later brought the others along and while listening, Preston gave the young people lessons in the politics and history of the times, for each selection. As with any art form, the music reflected what was going on socially and politically. These young people all got A's in American History that year. It was a cinch to remember what happened and why, when the information was explained in terms of the music of the period.
In turn, the young people translated the more recent musical styles for Preston. Some of that had him deeply worried.
"It sounds like the world is going to Hell in a hand basket.", was Preston's reaction to a lot of that music.
Preston felt more and more powerless to do anything at all about it. He had been getting more and more depressed about this every day. Preston often wondered if he had just wasted his time and the Planet's resources, his whole life. His brother, Sterlin Sommes, had gone into politics and was vitally active in both state and national affairs. Preston knew, early on, that politics was not for him. He was unsuited for such a career because he was unable to lie to people and he also usually had ideas that were ahead of their time.
Preston's bent was definitely in the direction of truth dissemination, so he became a journalist, instead. He was also pretty curious about things, which helped him to get to the bottom of what was going on, fairly quickly. His nose for the truth, eventually made him unsuited to work on most publications in the USA.
"In most cases, the pages of magazines and newspapers are not filled with the truth that needs to be looked at and addressed.", one successful Editor told Preston, when in the middle of firing him. " The pages are filled with entertainment, of one kind or another, which sometimes looks like news."
These gifts, to identify relevant and important news and to be able to spot propaganda, eventually led Preston to his career in the news service business. Not a lot of news stories came out of the PI offices, but Preston's reputation for press that was accurate and important was world- wide. If Preston was the source of a story, it was a story worth knowing and newspapers, magazines and newscasters around the world appreciated that fact.
Sometimes his journalistic integrity caused Preston problems. About a month before The Message , Sterlin Sommes told Preston that he had been approached about the purchase of more buses for the local schools. The goal of the bus company was to have every child in the city bussed to school, even if the school was across the street from the child's home.
The Senator explained to Preston that this served several purposes. It was good for the local economy to have all those buses made in their area. The School District also could then employ more bus drivers, mechanics and maintenance people. These working folks generally voted and paid taxes, which pleased the Senator. Putting children on buses also allowed a certain freedom with the school catchment areas. Once children were on buses, you could take them where you wanted them to be. How that flexibility was used varied, depending on the politics and motivation of a community.
A few days after this initial conversation with the Senator, Preston began to wonder how children, himself included, had ever been able to walk to school by themselves. Reports of children being harassed, molested or kidnapped began to appear in local publications. These reports were about events that did take place, but in other cities or even in other countries. Next, there were calls to the police in Mobile, reporting a man spotted following children to school. This started with a few reports. but then sightings of "the Stalker" came in almost daily. Preston wondered why, with more and more sightings, no one was ever apprehended. It did not take long for talk of bussing children to school to begin to circulate.
One weekday morning, Preston went out to the streets of his own neighborhood, to see if he could spot anything suspicious or potentially dangerous. He had lived on that block for fifty years and could not see one thing. Preston did see groups of children walking, in plain sight of one another, or in groups, on their way to school. He saw no other adults walking. The adults were all in cars. He was the only adult not in a car and when the children saw him, they ran away from him, screaming and crying as they fled. It took Preston a few minutes to realize that they were running in fear of him, because he was the only adult male out there.
Preston explained this to the Chief of Police, Reid McCullers Benson, after armed police officers surrounded him and brought him to Police Headquarters. As shaken as he was by the incident and as palpable as the fear level was in the community, Preston passed on the opportunity to report on the story over his news service. The other regional services ran stories on the reported sightings that had police baffled. There had been only one suspect questioned thus far. Preston had a feeling that he was that suspect.
"You'll at least cover my Press Conference on Community Safety?", Sterlin asked him. " I'm going to announce that all children will be bussed to school, starting Monday, even though we have to hire busses, until ours can be built."
Preston's answer was no.
Sterlin was furious. The Senator had expected at least an article on his quick response to community need and expertise on problem solving. After all, they were brothers!
"Here's a chance for that damn business of yours to be of some use and do the family some good!" Sterlin raved. " Why canâ�'��"�t you quote one of my speeches on community safety?"
He gave Preston a look of angry disappointment and whispered, "Why do you think the family bought you this business in the first place?"
Though Preston suspected as much over the years, no one had ever specifically told him so. Instead of a political mouthpiece for his brother, Preston had built a news service with an impeccable reputation. What came from PI was regarded as reliable, accurate and of importance, whether about Sterlin or about a cleaning lady. That would just have to be enough, as far as Preston was concerned.
Sterlin had not spoken to Preston since their argument but there was nothing Preston planned to do about it. If the family had put up the money for Press International, the service had paid its way these many years and was actually doing well since it began circulating Alberta's recipes. Yet, Preston found he felt more and more depressed since the fight with his brother.
In truth, the news itself was enough to depress even the happiest of people! There was little doubt that the Planet was in a mess, socially as well as environmentally. Preston knew that from many world-wide sources, as did the handful of people like himself, who were running an international news service. Alberta's reports on the diminishing numbers of Tigers had not been a surprise to Preston. The realization that Alberta was the one to help the world change was not a surprise either.
The fact that he could help the world because of his lifetime of knowledge and experience did come as a surprise to Preston. He had been waiting all his life for a chance to really do something to help. Here was that chance! He knew how to help!
Preston also knew that Alberta did not have a clue about the ways that governments got things done. Preston knew, as well, that it was likely that every Tiger and any potential descendent of every Tiger, would have disappeared long before any government could come up with a helpful action plan to save Tigers. Most governments would still be "studying the situation" or meeting in committee, or consulting special advisory panels, or holding public hearings, ten years after the last Tiger was gone. Preston knew that The Message called for a different kind of an approach.
Having spent a lifetime observing the role of the Press and the news media in the arena of social change, Preston realized that this was a chance to go beyond the change needed in any one country. This was the chance to reach the whole world with a plan for change. The world was listening for just that. Preston knew this because he was watching the reaction to The Message, as it occurred.
The first thing that happened was that every radio and television station on the Planet reported The Message as their top news story. It would, undoubtedly be the story on every front page of every newspaper in the world, on Saturday morning. The next reaction was to ask for a comment from every head of government, local, national or international. Then news teams made their way to their nearest environmental organization for comments.
The Friends of the Planet office did what most of the others did. They closed their doors and put up a sign that read: "We are studying the situation. More information to follow."
Most politicians said roughly the same thing. Preston watched this same scenario on all the television stations and listened into radio broadcasts that were similar, even when he tuned into stations abroad using his short wave radio and satellite dish TV. Signing onto the InterNet, on his office computer, also gave Preston an instantaneous "read" on the reactions of citizens around the world. Their response could be summarized in this way:
"The world is in the midst of transformation such as it has never known. We are trying hard to keep our heads. Does anyone know anything that might be helpful? If so, TELL US!!!! "
It was obvious to Preston that individuals, as well as governments, could do with a little guidance and reassurance right now. The information on the InterNet showed the edge of panic in some of the statements being made. One could see why. Most people's idea of what they were doing on the Planet had just been discarded like an old boot.
Had she not been with Preston when The Message was heard, it would have been hours before Alberta knew there was such a big reaction to it. She and her parents were the last people to react with concern. The Message made perfect sense to them. Alberta might have noticed something was different when reporting to work at the Friends of the Planet offices, because of the sign on the door. By then it might have been too late.
Questions about the situation were pouring into the Friends of the Planet offices, the offices of the Audibon Society, Green Peace, the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation and the Corporate Offices of the Detroit Tigers. Their fax machines had long ago run out of paper, their answering machines out of space to take more messages. People were also sending money to environment organizations that had been hanging on by a thread, financially, for years.
Not all reaction to the Message was positive, though. There was a spontaneous and almost immediate boycott of the Circus Burgers restaurant chain because they advertised selling Tiger Burgers.
Preston told Alberta, "At this moment, people are crazy about saving Tigers..." Then he added, " and you are probably the one to tell them how to do it."
Alberta looked at Preston and blinked her eyes three times. This signal, in
Tiger Country, means it is too dangerous to speak out loud.
"I am here to help you get that message out.", Preston offered. " Just let me know what you want said."
Alberta was not a proud person and she was not a stupid person. She had reviewed thousands of documents relating to the world environment and to what Tigers did and did not need to thrive there. She recognized that no one, in all the research she had reviewed, seemed to know as much as she did about it. Alberta often thought about communicating what she knew but did not think anyone, other than her parents and perhaps Preston, would be interested enough to listen.
Alberta had discussed these issues with her parents, as she saw the numbers of Tigers in the world dwindling almost daily. Without the wisdom and deep understanding of Freemont and Betsy Ross, Alberta might have succumbed to hatred of such a world and what it did to places like Tiger Country. Then where would we be!
Freemont told her, "Hatred will not solve this problem. Find another way."
Were the people of the Planet were ready to listen ? Alberta blinked her eyes three more times. Had a cat got her tongue or was she about to come up with a recipe for saving Tigers?
Groups of wes were still meeting. The Rockhound Club was talking about a semiprecious stone called the Tiger's Eye. They were doing what they could but the Rockhounds, like most other groups of wes, had nothing like Tigers on their usual meeting agendas. A lot of people were feeling very irrelevant to the issue of saving Tigers, which was far from the truth. They were about to learn differently.
The first ingredient in the Save the Tiger Soup was a statement issued by the
Mobile Alabama Office of Press International, on behalf of the Friends of the Planet - Tiger Preservation Project. The news release went out in 17 different languages, using the translation software on Preston 's computer. This software was on loan to Preston from his friends, Benson and Arilla Saunders, the owners of Global Travel and Freight Forwarders. Mr. and Mrs. Saunders were co-chairpersons of the Mobile Chapter of the World Without Borders Club. Other than Preston, they were the Clubs only members in the State of Alabama, at the time of The Message.
This is what went out over the PI service, in English and in many other languages, thanks to their software:
The First Principle for Saving Tigers: This clean up of Earth cannot be done without you. The Tiger Preservation Project needs everyone to help. More information to follow shortly...
Friends of the Planet - Tiger Preservation Project
The reaction to the First Principle was all Preston had hoped for. Within an hour, he was picking up news of it on radio and television from around the globe. The reaction to the news, including that of individuals on the InterNet, was one of gratitude and relief. People seemed reassured that someone had come through with an indication of a plan and a promise they would communicate it to the waiting world.
What was said even seemed to make some sense, so far as Howard Beau Brightfoot, the Director of the Mobile, Alabama Friends of the Planet office, could tell. In case of an emergency while cleaning at the Friends of the Planet office, Alberta had the home telephone number of the Director, Howard Beau Brightfoot. Alberta called him, figuring that this qualified as a cleaning emergency of planetary proportions. Alberta's call found him at home.
Howard Beau then called the National Offices of Friends of the Planet, in Washington DC. He let them know he was on his way to find out more about how and why The Response to The Message seemed to be coming from the Mobile Chapter of their organization. At that moment their Washington Office was being inundated with donations and other offers to help the Tiger Preservation Project.. They were not about to complain, even though the whole thing was a surprise to them, too.
"Just make sure the person behind all this does not say anything too stupid.", he was told by a member of the National Headquarters' staff.
Howard Beau promised to call them back later that evening with a full report. He knew that people like himself wanted to help in any way that they could. Many wanted to help before it was popular to do so and now it looked like most of the world was getting on the band wagon. Howard Beau's dedication to these kinds of causes made him vigilant to assure that people' s genuine enthusiasm not be misdirected or taken advantage of. There was already far too much of that in the world. Howard Beau was relieved that the First Principle was to ask for everyone's help. It seemed like a good start.
He was, however, determined to get to the bottom of whatever was going out in the name of Friends of the Planet, before any more information was released. The woman who called him promised she would wait until he got to the PI office, before transmitting anything else. Alberta Dewitt Clinton Jackson's name sounded familiar to Howard Beau but he could not remember how he knew her.
Howard did know that there was no such thing as a Friends of the Planet - Tiger Preservation Project. They did an Endangered Species Calendar in 1993 with photos of Tigers, but that was it. In fact, someone had framed one of the calendar's photos of a Tiger and put it above his desk. It looked good there so he left it.
The primary focus of the Mobile Alabama Chapter was to study and hopefully to save the wetlands, marshes and swamps of the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard. These were lands that people seemed pretty intent on not leaving alone and their big cats had disappeared long ago.
Howard Beau's People were also supposed to have disappeared long ago. He was a member of one of the First Nation groups of the area and his ancestors had lived there for thousands of years. Because it was evident that the land was rich in resources, his People were reported to be dead, as of a couple of hundred years ago. The group never tried to argue with that official version of things. Government denial of their existence actually saved many of them from being exterminated or transported elsewhere and they continued to live, generation after generation near, if not on, their homeland.
At the time of The Message, they still were keeping their presence as a group quiet. They kept living their lives and raising their families and keeping with their traditions. No one else seemed to care if they did so or not. Howard Beau's father was a First Nation man, Wilhelm Brightfoot, and he had an Italian American mother, Anna Marie Ferlinghetti Brightfoot. His mother had gone to the Tribal Council Headquarters, listed as Stonewall Security Services in the Mobile telephone directory, to work as their accountant. There she had met and married his father and the couple now had seven children, which Howard Beau being their oldest.
As their family grew in number they moved often, making Howard Beau familiar with most of the neighborhoods of Mobile. His mood of skepticism increased as he drove into the run-down district of the Press International office. He knew full well that most of the really big scams occurred in the large corporate offices uptown. Howard Beau also knew that small-time con artists often moved in and out of areas like the neighborhood of Press International, like human vultures perched in those offices to feed on the defenseless, there one day and gone the next.
Howard Beau was reassured, once he entered the Press International office. No one could possibly rent that many old magazines and newspapers, filling every empty spot against the walls. The library of reference books, on shelves near the door, was obviously the accumulation of decades and had the dust on it to prove it. The sign on the door said, "Since 1968" and Howard Beau believed it.
Greeted by a tall, balding and somewhat overweight Caucasian man, who wore no coat or tie, the PI Director introduced himself as Preston Sommes. Howard Beau recognized Preston as the Senator's brother. Sterlin Sommes was not a great friend to the environment but at least he and his family had been part of the community for more than two hundred years. There was also a woman in the office that looked suspiciously like his cleaning lady. He rarely saw the woman who cleaned up at Friends of the Planet, but he was sure she did a better job than whomever Preston had working for him. The PI office was a mess.
It took Howard Beau several minutes to realize two things. One was that he was being introduced to Alberta Dewitt Clinton Jackson, the originator of the First Principle. The second was that she was his cleaning lady. When Howard Beau realized those two things, and that the future of the Planet might depend on her, he fainted dead away.
Chapter Three - The Way Scans
There was a group that met almost every Friday evening. They first met at their High School, when Freshmen and were now finishing up their Senior year. Together, after school and on weekends, they could be identified from near or far by the sun glasses they wore. The glasses were the kind that gets darker as the light gets brighter. They wore sun glasses almost everywhere, even inside movie theaters.
The five young people called themselves the Way Scans, as reference to being in a gang of any kind was grounds for expulsion at their school. Gangs were illegal in their state. They did not call themselves a gang. No one else called them a gang, either. Everyone else called them the Way Scans, the brand name of their sunglasses.
The Way Scans are, indeed, the group of young people who join Preston Sommes to appreciate his record collection, on Thursday afternoons. They are all excellent students because they spend much of their time together learning things in their own way . Most young people spend their time together learning things in their own way, so the Way Scans are not unusual in that respect. The Way Scans could be said to plan their learning with excellent teachers more than most others, which might make a difference.
The other difference between the Way Scans and other groups is that the Way Scans have no set leader of their group. Each one of them has a special part to play in how they operate, especially in how they operate in relation to other youth in their community. Together, the Way Scans work with an effectiveness that is more than a sum of their individual part.
The group consists of the following members :
Robert "Bobbie" Winslow Turner is a tall, African-American youth who serves as the eyes and ears of the group. He does not say much but usually knows, with fair accuracy, what is going on in any given situation. Bobbie would have made a perfect spy. In Tiger Country, he would have made a perfect tracker of game.
Emaline Hawkins Purcell is the voice of the group. She is 4 foot 8 inches tall and looks like an eleven year old boy, but has a voice that carries like an air horn. Fortunately, she sounds like an angel when she sings. Emaline "projects" her voice, as her mother calls it, and the message is out there.
Coaches on every sports team beg the Way Scans to attend games just so Emaline can cheer for the team and rag on the opposition. She threw their opponents off their game and her rendition of the school fight song brought out the best in their team and fans.
In Tiger Country, Emaline would have been the Sun Caller. Since she was a woman, she probably would have called the Moon, too.
Antoinette "Toni" Leonardo was the philosopher of the group. Her Italian father and Korean mother were both Roman Catholic but Toni was set off on a study of other religions and ways of thinking early in life. This started at age seven when she was told by a nun that God did not like the way Toni was dressed. Looking up at the woman wearing clothing popular in the Middle Ages, Toni figured the nun had to be kidding. That's when Toni knew God had a sense of humor. Toni laughed and was pretty sure God was laughing, too.
She had been laughing at the ways that people thought about a lot of things ever since. Toni did this across the board. No race, creed or gender was out of bounds when her wit hit their bigotry or their prejudices or their practices that did not make a lick of sense. Laughter was an unavoidable result. Toni's specialty was humor in connection with those who made rules and policies for others, especially when their rules would almost never apply to themselves or to anyone remotely close to themselves.
"Making rules for other people is like doing stand-up comedy.", Toni pointed out. "You have to keep a straight face and you're bound to look ridiculous to someone."
Toni usually got other people to laugh along with her. Sometimes this helped in an otherwise ugly situation. For example, the Way Scans were responsible for the Board of Education ruling that sun glasses could not be worn by any student, in a classroom in the Mobile Alabama Unified School District, except by the legally blind. Thanks to Toni, the ban on sun glasses did not result in a power struggle with a lot of unnecessary hard feelings. She made a deal with the teachers at their school: If they would all wear sunglasses to class, the day after the School Board made the ruling, the Way Scans would keep their sun glasses off when in schoolrooms. The Way Scans voluntarily took off sunglasses in exchange for teachers all putting them on, just once.
In Tiger Country, Toni would have been a healer.
Winston "Bridges" Brightfoot was the diplomat and negotiator of the group. He was Howard Beau Brightfoot's younger brother and one of the seven Brightfoot children. He knew how to solve almost any kind of conflict, right there at home, learning the concept "both sides are right", early in his life. Winston seemed to be able to settle any kind of dispute to the satisfaction of both parties and to the benefit of the community as a whole.
In Tiger Country, Winston would have been a diplomat. Tiger Country diplomats often had to settled disputes between different species, but Winston probably could have done that well, too. He often helped settle matters between groups that had the mistaken idea that they were different species. Such thinking can cause very serious problems, for individuals, for each group, for their community and for their whole society. Diplomats have their hands full when dealing with humans!
The final member of the Way Scans was instrumental in their effectiveness, especially in their work with youth collectives. Her name was Ruth "The Flame" Fienstien and her presence made people stop in their tracks. No matter where she went, people stopped whatever they were doing just to look at her. Ruth was not a beautiful young woman, though she did have luminous red hair. She was not called The Flame because of her looks. The Way Scans called her The Flame because she
seemed to be without fear.
Walking into any situation, be it City Council Meetinq or street disturbance with gunfire (do not try this at home), The Flame would stop the show. Ruth had the raw courage of a Tier and was not intimidated by anyone or anything. She also had a presence that could stop a Mac truck.
The Way Scans were well respected by most of the "youth collectives" in their area. One or more of these groups might call on the Way Scans to sort out an incident, before it became a situation, before it became a confrontation, before it became a youth collective altercation, as Toni called a gang fight.
Gang fight is what the police called it, what the hospital emergency room called it, what the morticians who dealt with the bodies called it and what the frightened neighborhoods and the little children (who were too young to be dealing with all this!) called it. Gang fight was what mothers and fathers and friends who lost those they loved called it, too.
What was most helpful were the Way Scan's "street seminars" for youth of their city. Young People of Mobile had wised up a lot since the Way Scans started these meetings. The seminars were held when Bobby Turner got wind of any kind of trouble. The Way Scans would try to get there before things got violent but were not always successful. Then the dual forces of Emaline's voice and The Flame's presence were needed.
Emaline would usually hit an ear-piercing note or sometimes sing a hauntingly beautiful tune and get everyone's immediate attention. Then The Flame would move between the opposing parties. She had a variety of ways of making an entrance. Once she drove a chariot in. Once she cart-wheeled through. Once it looked like she flew by overhead. You get the picture.
The combatants would stop long enough for Toni Leonardo to tell a couple of jokes. The atmosphere would lighten and then Bobby and Winston could move in and begin the education and discussion phase of the proceedings.
Bobby would begin with background information on the situation causing the conflict. He explained clearly and well, ways the young people were serving to benefit those other than themselves. Bobbie outlined the ways they were exploited and put into situations where they were destroying one another and their own futures. Young People began to see the ways they were being used and manipulated, to their own detriment and destruction, by those with wealth and power. Winston would then ask if anyone was interested in alternatives. Most were very interested.
These first meetings were held on the streets. Those who exploited young people were never present at this "shit hits the fan" stage of things. Further meetings were held in secret and were often comprised of counsels of youth made up of those representing various "youth collectives". The biggest meeting was in an abandoned factory and the meeting members came up with an alternative to killing each other in the streets, like dogs. Understanding that each life was a part of their strength (they got that picture clearly) was the foundation of their planning.
This foundation was crucial to the formation of the following plan
Young people knew that drug sales and other illegal activities were financed by very powerful people. Those people would never allow the youth of the city to stop such activity. Looking at this practically, they decided to continue to do what they had done in the past but that it was no longer necessary that they kill each other for it.
Each gang was assigned territory and would operate only from that territory. Any negotiations for territory would be settled by third party arbitration. Any group not complying with this arrangement would be gunned down by all the other groups, as rapidly and efficiently as possible.
Though business of any kind could be done by the gang in their own territory, they agreed on the joint policing of specific, non-territory commercial areas of the city where any person or group could operate legitimate businesses. These zones would be open to anyone who wished to operate legally there, but any illegal activity, by one they knew or by groups coming in from the outside, would be crushed and destroyed.
The goal of each family was to save enough to start a legitimate business in their home area. They then bought from their own whenever possible to support these businesses in their community. The second goal was to start a legitimate business, usually with several other neighborhood members, outside the neighborhood, in one of the Community Enterprise Zones.
This plan was the only foreseeable way to end the decades of exploitation of people like them. They also planned some alternatives to illegal activities, as part of their future. Groups realized it was just suicide to leave that to anyone but themselves to take care of. Once a gang member turned eighteen years of age, they would move into a legitimate business enterprise and turn their part of the territory, or job with the gang, over to a family member or designee of their family choice.
One of the best outcomes from these changes was that a way was made for the children of each community to have a lot of different choices for their future. The gang jobs were ones they might fill for a few years, if they were suited to them, but they and their families saw the need for each person to be equipped for other roles. With the coming of The Message, this attitude would prove invaluable to the entire community.
This system had been in place for two years, at the time of The Message. There were problems in the beginning, but the first group of eighteen year olds were moving into legitimate neighborhood businesses. Renovations of business locations, using expert labor from their own area, had begun. Some of these first businesses were dry cleaners, beauty salons, food markets, clothing and shoe stores to sell the kinds of things needed and wanted in their area. Hardware, home and office supply stores, restaurants and music stores were the next wave of shops and businesses planned. All this was done without loans, relying on the expertise of some of the older members of each community who had worked in similar businesses elsewhere in the city. There were more than enough experienced workers in each community.
People kept coming into their areas to buy drugs even after The Message. Some people never do get the picture. Fortunately, most of the Young People of Mobile, the Way Scans included, did get it!
The Way Scans were not together when they heard The Message. They usually met at about eight o'clock on Friday evening in front of the Mason Building. The Mason Building was centrally located and was one of the tallest buildings in the city. It looked like a big old ear of corn and was home to the International Food Exchange. There was a 24-hour cafe in the Mason Building, The Big Ear Cafe.
The Way Scans hung out at The Big Ear a lot, especially when it was raining or late at night. The waitress, Loni Cox Tupalow, was used to them and let them spend hours there without their buying much. Emaline Purcell's mother was Loni Cox Tupalow's voice teacher but it also helped business to have Ruth "The Flame" sitting at a window seat. She stopped traffic and some of it came in to eat. All booths were full on the nights the Way Scans came in.
On the Friday evening when The Message was heard, The First Principle in Response to The Message was announced over radio and television about an hour before they met. The group was in the Big Ear, discussing the events of the evening when Loni came by to take their order.
The waitress approached their table and said, looking at her order pad as she spoke, "You know, you ought to be a model."
Then she took their order for five grilled cheese sandwiches with jalapino peppers, three fries, two onion rings, three colas and two lemonades. The group thought she 'was speaking to them all.
"That is what we should do!", Emaline voiced for them.
"We are a good model for the problem-solving process.", Bobby Turner acknowledged.
The group had been having on-going discussions of ways to keep the Way Scans together after graduation from High School. Maybe this was part of their answer?
"Message or no Message, people will never run out of problems to solve." Winston agreed. "But I have a feeling that these next few years will require a lot of positive problem solving for some very important issues. We have got some global things happening."
Winston told them about the call his brother, Howard Beau, received concerning the Tiger Preservation Project. It looked like some big stuff was coming down in their own back yard,
"We know pitifully little about Tigers.", Emaline admitted.
They attended Stephen Foster High School and their school mascot was the Fighting Tiger. The eyes of the beast in the drawing of their school logo were the exact shade of green as the eyes of Ruth "The Flame" Fienstien. Emaline kidded Ruth about her "tiger eyes". Their school song was the Tiger Rag, but that did little to better inform them about the animals.
"We do not have to know about everything to help to solve problems." Bobby Turner pointed out. "We just need to help the process. Leave decisions about the product to those who are better informed. "
" Our help with that process would be better use of our skills than selling feminine hygiene products.", Toni Leonardo stated, matter-of-factly. The group cracked up laughing.
They had recently been approached by Lipton Wainwriqht, an advertising executive for one of the biggest agencies in the Southern United States. New South Corporation specialized in marketing products that people did not really need. Lipton did not get where he is in marketing and sales without knowing talent when he saw it. He saw it in the Way Scans and offered them all contracts, right out of high school, to work for him. With their help, he hoped to reach the youth market for many of his sales campaigns.
Lipton figured that Bobbie Winslow would size up the market situation, Emaline's voice would get their attention, Toni would contribute the needed humor and Winston seemed able to sell Indulgences to the Pope. The Flame could stop any show, in or out of town. What a sales team!
The young people discussed New South's offer with their parents and as a group. Though the money he promised was good and Lipton offered to pay for college for each of them while they worked for him, they had other plans. Until The Message, they did not know quite what those plans where but they were pretty sure they had other plans.
Toni Leonardo explained it to Lipton in this way:
"I do not want to be a New Woman with New Woman Feminine Hygiene sprays, creams and liquids. My goal is to someday be an old woman and my vagina is completely self-equipped to do that, assisted by a little soap and water. If I do not need
it, I could not tell someone else they do.", she explained, straight-faced and then added. " And, I think I speak for the vaginas of the world when I say this."
By the end of her speech, Lipton Wainwright was laughing along with the rest of them. " Just you don't go working for the competition.", he requested, wiping tears from his eyes.
When Loni Cox spoke to them on the night The Message was heard The Way Scans began to see a glimmer of a plan for their future together. They were beginning to get their own picture.
Just before they broke up to return home, more information came over the radio playing at The Big Ear Cafe. There were more instructions from the Tiger Preservation Project. The group listened together. As Winston suspected, with his brother Howard Beau involved, things had been happening at the Press International offices. Here is what occurred:
Chapter Four - The Goal
When Howard Beau Brightfoot came to from his faint, he was greeted by the luminous eyes of Alberta De Witt Clinton Jackson. Her look was one of concern and appreciation. This was not a new way for Alberta to look at Howard Beau. She had been aware of him for some time.
Howard Beau could have survived in Tiger Country. He was also working to save his native lands and his concern for the Planet was similar to her own feeling about her place of birth. In addition to that, he was a hunk. A hunk was what Alberta's school mates called obviously healthy breeding material and she first learned concept when a student at Stephen Foster High School.
Howard Beau had been in High School about the time Alberta was learning to climb trees really well, in Tiger Country. She was age six then, but was sure she would have noticed him, from high in a tree or if on the ground, even then. He was an impressive young man in any setting. To do her justice, Alberta was as impressed by his mind and dedication to his work as she was by his extremely cute "buns" though Howard Beau was in great shape from countless hours spent patrolling the wetlands on foot, horseback and in a canoe.
Howard Beau was as close to a hunter, according to her family standards, as anyone she had seen since her arrival in the USA. He was not looking for things to kill, but hunted for things like damage to the environment or animals for wildlife species counts.
Alberta's father had hunted for their food to survive in Tiger Country, but Freemont did not see it as necessary or useful to do so in the USA. Freemont explained that the "hunters" Alberta saw in town, from time to time, baseball cap on head, pickup truck with rifle rack, cooler full of beer in the back, were probably guys going off to drink with one another, away from family. It was a kind of bonding ritual they called hunting.
Since intoxication is the furthest state of mind from that of a true hunter, Freemont was happy that these people were headed away from town with that combination of alcohol and guns. Whatever they were going to do, the further away from others, the better, as far as Fremont was concerned. Unfortunately for Howard Beau, he often ran into these fellows in the wild places, where he patrolled on the weekends. Alberta admired him for his courage in doing that, as well.
Though Alberta was aware of Howard Beau for these and other reasons, he had barely noticed her. This was not because she was not striking, She was, in fact, quite beautiful. Howard Beau made it a personal choice never to date anyone from his office. His mating radar was turned off in that location. He also hardly ever saw Alberta. Her hours and his rarely overlapped. Had they spent more time in contact, Alberta probably would have told him about the research she was doing. As it was, Howard Beau had no idea she had any interest in Tigers beyond dusting off the picture of the Tiger over his desk.
At their meeting at Press International, Preston stepped in, breaking the ice by telling Howard Beau about Alberta. He told how she and her family had come to Mobile, where she was from and about her education and background. Her use of the Friends
of the Planet computers was a pleasant surprise to Howard Beau.
"We got the computer system for our members to use but I never knew that anyone except me, my brother and his friends ever used it." Howard Beau responded.
Preston also explained that Alberta worked with his News Service, to sell her recipes and how, with Preston's encouragement, she had issued the First Principle in Response to The Message.
"I've been getting calls from Networks and Newspapers around the Planet." Preston told Howard Beau. "I finally took the phone off the hook. It's quiet out there now, but you can bet Mobile will be a media circus tomorrow."
"The Response seems to be helping, though.", Preston added to reassure them. " People need someone or something they can rely on for some guidance. The feeling of panic now seems to be a mood of eager anticipation."
"What we need to clean up this Planet is already here. We just need the will to do it and a decent amount of planning.", Howard Beau acknowledged. " I hope your ideas can help with that." he added, turning to Alberta.
"I hope they can, too.", Alberta agreed. "I have started by identifying a Goal and a list of principles that people can keep in mind when trying to reach that Goal. This is, by no means, a complete answer. The answer is in every action each of us takes, every day of our lives. The answer is in solutions to local problems that groups will work out together."
"Let's start with the Goal. ", Howard Beau said. "What is it?"
"The Goal is to try to return the Earth to the state it was in about ten thousand years ago." , Alberta explained. She saw a look of bewilderment on both men's faces.
"It does not have to be exactly the way it was. It can't be exactly the way it was! We have cities now and the polar ice caps are different.", she explained. " But, we do know how much of the planet was covered by trees then, how clean the air and water were and where plants and animals lived, from fossil records. We can try to aim for those conditions."
"Why ten thousand years?", Howard Beau asked.
"It was about that long ago that Tigers emerged and flourished in the form they have today.", Alberta explained: "If the Planet has a similar balance of tree cover and environmental purity and there are large wild zones for the Tiger to inhabit, Tigers might flourish again."
This theory sounded realistic to both the men listening but they hoped she had some practical ideas on turning back the clock. Alberta was about to continue when there was a knock at the office door. It was her father, Freemont Jefferson Jackson and he had food. It was Freemont joining Preston and Alberta for their Friday evening dinner. After dinner he escorted Alberta to the Friends of the Planet office to do her end of the week cleanup of the premises. Freemont would no more let Alberta walk through Mobile's streets unescorted than he would let her walk through a Tiger-present forest unescorted. A dangerous environment is a dangerous environment.
Freemont had just dropped his wife, Betsy Ross Jackson, off at the restaurant, International, where she was covering the Friday dinner shift. She had sent on a box of food, left from the lunch buffet, for Freemont to share with Preston and Alberta. There was plenty for Howard Beau, too.
These culinary treats were another reason Preston liked the Friday evening meetings at the PI offices. He could not otherwise afford a dinner at International. Their buffet was $200 a plate. They were booked months in advance and people came from other countries just to try their cuisine. Freemont brought them food for free. It was against their family tradition to throw food away and Betsy Ross had it in her contract that all left over food would be given to family members of the staff or various homeless shelters and community kitchens. She oversaw the distribution herself and was known by many members of the community as " the food lady ".
Preston's wife, Cora Mae, was also known for her culinary generosity. Every Friday evening she cooked for others from her women's prayer group. The women that came to the old Sommes Mansion had made it through a week of work at jobs and of taking care of homes, children and husbands, too. By the time Friday came around most of them barely had the strength left to pray. Cora Mae's dinners helped them to restore their energy and to recover a sense of joy. They also had a little fun for a change.
Cora Mae made a good, if somewhat ordinary meal, for about twenty women. Then they "prayed" together. The prayers usually took the form of talking a lot about problems and concerns. Sometimes an actual calling for assistance from a deity occurred. It was mainly a place for the women to unwind and have someone take care of them for a change.
Pastor Finebread had been heard to say, " Cora Mae's prayer groups have saved at least a third of the marriages in our parish." The Pastor suspected his own marriage was among those saved. Preston knew he had no business being anywhere near his home while the meeting was going on, so Friday night was his night to "work late" at his office.
"Let us break yams together.", Alberta told the men after she and Freemont set out the food for everyone. They postponed the discussion of the Tiger Preservation Project until after the meal. The food before them was the best International had to offer and they wanted to give it their undivided attention.
International specialized in varied and interesting menus from around the world and each day featured a different food. That Friday the food was yams and the yam and sweet potato dishes they had spread before them included the following dishes:
Indonesian Yam Curry - Yam with tropical fruits and spices, served with limes
Polynesian Baked Yam - Yam with pineapple and guava
West African Fried Yam- Fried Yam and Plantain
Korean Spiced, Pickled Yam
Mexican Yam - Baked with chili and tomato
Old South Yams - Baked and served with butter
Yam Mouse - a French variation of Sweet Potato Pie
Freemont could have brought another ten or twenty dishes. There were never less than fifty international variations of the food of the day, at International's buffet table. With what he did bring, it took them five minutes to say "grace", over their food. Families in Tiger Country had learned to keep meals simple, especially if they were hungry. Preston appreciated the way they blessed their food, by naming each ingredient. Sometimes the dishes were unrecognizable to him and he was glad to know what was in them. Preston had some food allergies and this helped him to know what to avoid. A lot of what Alberta's people did, though different, made sense when you got right down to it. Howard Beau was a bit confused by it all but stood in respectful silence. His parents, among other things, taught him some good manners.
"Let's eat!", Preston , Freemont and Alberta exclaimed, in unison. Howard Beau figured that was their version of "Amen". His own people said "Ho!".
They ate and Howard Beau was glad to do so. Between the discussion of The Message, with his family, and the phone calls, he had not had a bite to eat since lunch. It was now after 8 PM. The terrific headache he had disappeared after the first bite of Mexican Yams. His mother once told him they were a food used by Mayan healers. With his first bite, Howard Beau's face relaxed for the first time since hearing The Message and Alberta noticed.
"I guess you were hungry.", she said.
While the two older people spoke, Alberta told Howard Beau about her family. Since they were eating her mother's cooking, Alberta started with Betsy Ross.
"She worked her way up, from dishwasher to head cook, in just about every restaurant in the city.", Alberta explained. Alberta went on to tell how Betsy Ross was now a master chef, Head Chef at International, the city's finest restaurant and did its weekly meal plans, the buying of its food supplies and supervised the dinner hour, three evenings a week. International would not be world famous, were it not for Betsy Ross Jackson and her ability to fill its buffet table with the world's best tasting foods. Her job at International was how Betsy Ross made a living.
"Her real work is being a sculptor.", Alberta stated.
Betsy Ross worked out of her home and made sculptures from found objects, that is, from trash and things that other people threw away. Her sculptures were creations of beauty, whimsy and joy and she gave them away as soon as she created them. They went from Betsy Ross to the poorest Elementary Schools she could find in the USA. When a piece of work was completed, she would pick a city at random, using the AAA Atlas of the United States. Then she would call the Department of Education in that city and ask a secretary which school in the District was their poorest school.
"Secretaries never hesitate before spitting out the name and address of a school.".
Alberta explained. " Their kids usually go to those schools, if they are single mothers. It is only school officials who hesitate admitting they have a poorest school." Alberta explained how, when the sculpture was completed, Betsy Ross mounted it, ready for display, and sent it by the most reputable moving company in the chosen city. It was delivered with the following note:
An anonymous collector has donated this art work to your school. Place it were children can see it. The patron will be by to see it soon, so please do not delay putting it on display in a prominent place.
Chair of the Board of Education
Betsy Ross actually did hold the equivalent of the position of Chairperson of the Board of Education of Tiger Country.
"The People always consulted her, when working out the best course of instruction for each child in our community." Alberta said.
In Tiger Country, it sometimes took weeks of planning, discussion and getting to know the child before child, parents and Alberta decided on the person best suited to train the young one.
"The goal was to use the best gifts of each person involved in the process, both teacher and student, for their own benefit and for the benefit of the community." Alberta explained.
Fortunately for the children receiving her art, Betsy Ross had no reputation as an artist. She had never even tried to sell a piece of her work. Her being an unknown helped assure that no adult at the school sold her work to keep the money. The note, saying a visitor would come by to see the work in place, helped, too.
"Apparently. once the piece was on display, it was hard to explain why it disappeared and it was usually left alone. ", Alberta added.
For some reason, children never vandalized Betsy Ross' creations, either.
"We just like the way it looks.", one notorious tagger, Francisco Tucker, explained when asked.
Francisco, arrested numerous times for spray painting graffiti on everything from an unreachable freeway overpass to a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, did put one tiny design on Betsy Ross Jackson's work, at his school. It was a small logo he put on his own best work, as a sign that no one should mess with it. The logo, a tiny circle with a cross inside it, was respected by any young person who saw it. It is an ancient symbol for the earth, used in many cultures, for many centuries.
"And still working.", Francisco noted.
Betsy Ross was also an avid amateur sports fan and went to see games and practices of most of the high school sports teams in the area. The kids called her, "The Lady Who Cheers For Both Sides." Betsy Ross once told Alberta, "The young people inspire me. The mastery of a physical challenge is a Holy thing and they just do it every day, without giving it a second thought!"
"I remember her!" , Howard Beau exclaimed to Alberta. He recalled seeing Betsy Ross at his brother's track meets. Betsy Ross had been the only other person in the stands to cheer for his brother Winston, when he was the last to finish a cross country race. She cheered for Winston louder than anyone in his own family and had obviously meant it. Now, Howard Beau knew why.
In addition to the information about her mother, Alberta also told Howard Beau about how the family had come to Mobile and explained the ways each decided to use the positive opportunities made available to them in the USA.
"Life, in general, is incredibly easy here.", Alberta explained. "You have water that comes into the dwellings and everything else you need . You do not need to spend many hours a day hunting for and preparing food. You do not need to be in danger hunting it. There is no war here, which is also very helpful."
"So," she continued, "we decided to spend our time working intensively, for some period of the week, to earn what is needed to live. The rest of the time, most of our time, we do what we love to do. In my mother's case that is sculpting, in my case it is using the resources here for learning about Tigers ."
They discussed her other hobbies and Howard Beau found out that Alberta played the saxophone. He was a bass man, himself and belonged to a jazz quartet that was currently looking for a saxophone player. They jammed on weekends, for fun and Howard Beau invited Alberta to join them to see if it worked. Next, Alberta told Howard Beau about her father, Freemont Jefferson Jackson. Though one of the best hunters in Tiger Country, Freemont was currently the day shift cashier at the Quickie Market, in the building that housed the Mobile Alabama Stock Exchange. Freemont made his living as a store clerk but his real work was the study of the flow of the River of Money. He did this while on duty as a clerk.
Though it was installed so brokers could keep an eye on what was happening while they stretched their legs or went downstairs for a quick snack, there was a video monitor in the Quickie Market that showed what was happening on the Exchange. Freemont watched it as a learning opportunity. The monitor was installed when Management found that no one came into the store, fearing they would "miss something" if they left the Exchange even for a moment. The TV changed that. Freemont usually could fill them in on what had happened during the five minutes it took to ride down on the elevator or use the rest room. It turned out that the customers appreciated this help and often enjoyed talking to the little brown man at the counter, who asked such interesting questions and who, in turn, had a surprising grasp of what they needed to know, when they asked him.
Not only did the job give Freemont a chance to watch the ebb and flow of wealth, as it occurred on the Mobile Exchange, he could also follow the reports that came in from other Exchanges around the world. That, plus the chance to ask questions of some of the best financial minds in the region, provided Freemont with an unparalleled opportunity to educate himself, in his own way and at his own pace. What most fascinated Freemont was that the ebb and flow of wealth was like the flow of the Great River that passed through Tiger Country. Each nation of the world was like a tributary, each contributing to the flow. For some nations, their flow was a mighty river, for others it was a little stream, some were barely drips but all contributed to the River of Money.
Freemont noticed that some had vast dams and reservoirs, holding huge amounts of wealth. Some nations had wealth that was still underground, as yet hidden from the people of that nation, but known to others. In those cases, one of the wealth gathering corporations was usually poised to suck the wealth out before the people of the country could get wind of it. Freemont was not the first person to get the picture that this river of wealth existed, but he had both the time and the opportunity to study it, to find out how it flowed. Freemont sometimes wondered if the fire stones, found commonly in Tiger Country, had been the real reason his land had been turned into green goo.
One day he explained it to Alberta in the following way: " There is a river of money. It is such a huge river that the tiny drop that each person really needs to live each day, even in a place where people live very well, would never empty the river. If there were three times the number of people on Earth and everyone on the Planet had the food and shelter and necessary things that most people in the USA have, this would not empty the river. This would not even make the river level drop half a finger in depth.", Freemont explained, holding up one of his fingers, as an illustration.
"What people on the Planet are paying for with most of this wealth is something they can never buy. They are trying to purchase peace of mind. Some try to do this by holding on to large amounts of wealth and resources. Then they need to spend vast amounts of money and human energy to protect what they hold. It seems like the more they hold the more costly the protection. It is very strange.", he finished.
Alberta agreed about the strangeness. At that time she was learning about governments in her high school classes. She was also learning about war. Her teacher, Samson Vandee, explained how governments were often formed to try to protect the wealth and interests of the groups which owned or controlled the largest amounts of resources. Then their governments hired armies to protect the wealth and sometimes used them to take more wealth from other nations in wars. This pattern had been going on for a long time but the recent wars that resulted were getting bigger and bigger and more and more expensive. Realistically, war was not a creative problem solving option.
Realistically, making a lot of money did not seem to bring many peace, either, as far as Freemont could tell. His work allowed him to observed people's reaction to wealth as individuals. Some of the wealthiest people in the area frequented the Stock Exchange. It seemed to him that the more wealth accumulated the more people were afraid of losing it. As a hunter, Freemont could smell the fear. Some of them stank of fear from them a mile away. Some of them were so afraid they only allowed themselves to sleep between the hours one Stock Exchange closed and another Exchange opened. This was the equivalent of being stalked by a Tiger all the time. Such a thing never happened in to people in Tiger Country. Even Tigers sometimes rested and people got a break.
The way Freemont saw it, that kind of vigilance to protect investments was not really necessary. He studied the activity of stocks, bonds and commodities and the currency exchanges as well. Years of observation had shown him that the River of Money sometimes flows high, sometimes drops a little, but the volume of the water does not ever change drastically. There were periods of drought but here was little hyper-vigilance could do about something like that. Freemont observed that if the drought got too bad, the big dams and reservoirs just released some more water to better serve the process of surface evaporation, which eventually caused the rain that kept the dams full.
The Phrase that came to Freemont's mind when he saw a Broker in a frenzy about the Stock Market was the phrase, "Get An Art Form", which was Tiger Country's cultural equivalent of "Get a Life ".
Freemont's personal art forms were poetry and the martial arts. He also spoke to birds to keep his language skills up to snuff and because he liked the way they thought.
"They have a different view of almost everything.", Freemont once told Howard Beau. Freemont regularly attended the field trips offered by Friends of the Planet to the wetlands around Mobile. Howard Beau led the trips and had met Freemont several times. Being better at remembering the world of nature than the world of social interactions, Howard did not recognize Freemont until the older man did a few bird calls over the remains of the yam and sweet potato dinner.
"You are the man who talks to birds!", Howard Beau exclaimed. "Freemont can speak to birds!", he told Preston. "It is a small world:", he told the Universe.
Howard Beau was right on all counts.
Chapter Five - The Ten Principles
"Speaking of the world..", Preston said, in an attempt to refocus their attention." I think that Alberta was about to share the list of Principles to help save Tigers here."
"Let's hear what you've got.", Freemont told his daughter.
" The Goal is to try to make the Planet as close to the way it was ten thousand years ago, as we can get. That will mean changes in the patterns of land use and replanting a lot of trees.", Alberta began.
Alberta pulled out the list she had written on the back of a Jiffy Lube flier, "This First Principle was the one Preston sent out a little while ago. It is to remind people that everyone's help is needed. Now, here are the rest. ", she continued. "The Second Principle Is: For any action, the guide should be the effectiveness of that action in terms of giving or receiving kindness. The process, not the product is what is important. It is important to remember that sometimes the kindest thing to do is to do nothing at all."
Alberta looked up. Freemont seemed to find nothing unusual in what she said but the others looked somewhat confused. What just she described were basic good manners in Tiger Country. It was how they acted as much of the time as possible.
She continued, " The Third Principle is: Honor the Beauty of the Simple. Honor the First People of your Land. They probably lived there in a simpler way and did so without wrecking the place. Their way was probably in harmony with your particular environment."
" That makes sense.", Howard Beau acknowledged. His ancestors had been in the neighborhood of Mobile for eons.
Alberta went on, "The Fourth Principle is : Allow the wild places and any People that have lived there for more than a thousand years to live there in peace. They live in communication with the Earth, usually as part of what that place is. These people and places need to be left alone. The greatest gift you can give is to allow them life without fear of destruction of the land, or that it will be taken away. Leave those areas as soon as possible and take your vehicles, your tools, your scientific instruments and your gear, your animals and your selves away. Stay away."
"That will be the hardest one to accomplish!", Preston surmised. "Human beings seem to be incapable of leaving anything alone. What else will they do with themselves, Alberta?", he asked.
She continued, acknowledging his question, "The Fifth Principle is: Once you have given the people and the wild places the gift of life without fear, work to give that gift to every other person on the Planet. Without fear, the wild places can heal themselves. Without fear, the people of the Planet can leave them alone to do so and can work on healing themselves."
"It sounds like that will keep people busy for a while, Preston. ", Howard Beau proposed.
"There is quite a job to be done in our cities.", Preston admitted, looking out the window to check his car's headlights again.
" The Sixth Principle: Create ever-widening zones of protection around the wild places. Let only clean air and water reach them. Control soil erosion by planting trees around them. Do other restorative projects in these zones of protection, first, and let the Earth begin its healing there. Once this is accomplished, let the protected zone around the wild places expand to twice or three times in size every year. Let those zones remain free of all human activity, when possible."
"Good idea!", put in Howard Beau. "That is what is needed in the wetlands and along most of our coasts."
Alberta was on a roll and she continued, " The Seventh Principle is: Try to produce human food supplies only in those areas where it was grown two hundred years ago. Those were probably the places it can grown without a lot of artificial help, because the best soil and climate for growing things is there. This land will grow food most efficiently. In many cases, there will be towns and cities in those areas now. Try to grow food there anyway because food needs to be near people. Figure something out."
"Back yard gardens!", Preston exclaimed. "When I was a boy, no house was ever without one! Food tasted better then, too!"
"My mom still has a garden.", Howard Beau pointed out. "With seven children and a lot of our friends to feed, we did not have much of a choice. It can be done."
" The Eighth Principle is: Plant tree cover whenever you can. The Planet will need about five times its present number of trees to begin to have the balance needed to reach the Goal. If food-growing areas are needed to feed the population, consider tree crops to help meet both needs."
"Maybe we could turn all those front lawns into orchards.", Preston proposed. He had always detested mowing grass and had been trying to think of an alternative to his front lawn for years.
"The Ninth Principle is: Find out what it was like in your area two hundred years ago. If there were no people there two hundred years ago, try to relocate those populations to areas where people did live then. Local environment organizations can help each area to coordinate their plans with the regional and national plans and decide on changes that would help. News media can advise and educate people on how things will need to change. .
"It sounds like Friends of the Planet is going to be mighty busy, in the future." Preston predicted.
" The Tenth Principle is: Do not waste time and energy on destruction.", Alberta finished.
Her father was sitting with his eyes closed, listening intently to what Alberta said " It is a start.", he acknowledged. "It is a good start."
Freemont smiled and his face shone with a light that reminded one of the sun rising above the tops of the trees in the Tiger forest. Freemont had hope that the land of the Tiger might live again. He saw the healing of his home as a possibility. Once again Freemont and Alberta could hear the silent step of the Tiger's paw, among the trees in the darkness of a forest night. The Tiger spoke to them again, and for an instant, to all the other people of the Planet.
"The rest of the world has got to hear these 10 Principles!", Preston exclaimed and then began typing them out on the Press International computer, for transmission out over the PI News Service. Preston knew that what Alberta said was right. Some of what she said sounded hard to do. Some of it he did not much understand, but then there were a lot of things about life that were like that. That did not mean she was any the less on target.
By the next morning, The Message, The Goal and the Ten Principles In Response to The Message would be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. A media stampede to get any possible information on the environment, local to global, had started. Life, however must go on. Alberta, Howard Beau and Freemont left Preston typing and walked to the Friends of the Planet offices, where Howard would set up for a meeting the next day and Alberta would do her weekly cleaning.
Calling from the PI office, Howard Beau had been in touch with the National Headquarters of Friends of the Planet. He was contacted by the new International Friends of the Planet Co-Chairpersons, who were meeting in San Francisco at the time. They had recently taken office and would fly to Mobile to meet with Howard Beau and Alberta the next day. They especially wanted to meet Alberta.
Howard Beau, Freemont and Alberta heard a broadcast of a Special News Bulletin as they passed the Big Ear Cafe, on their way to the office. News of the Ten Principles was coming from the cafe's sound system and echoed down the street. As with the previous news bulletins, Friends of the Planet Tiger Preservation Project was credited as the source of the information.
While walking, Howard Beau took the opportunity to ask Freemont a couple of questions. He had a feeling the answers might come in handy in the near future.
" How did your people manage to live in Tiger Country for thousands of years without being disturbed by outsiders?", he asked Alberta's father.
"The Tigers helped us with that one.", Freemont admitted. "People thought they killed outsiders. I'm not sure it is true but people thought it so. That made most people stay away. "
" Alberta told me that she does not know of any story of war or conflict with others, in your history. How did your people manage to have thousands of years at peace?"
Howard Beau's own ancestors, on his father's side, lived well in relation to their lands but had some periods of war or conflict with other groups, even before the foreign invaders came. Howard Beau's mother was Italian and Italians had been fighting with each other and half the world for at least three thousand years. It should be noted that since the end of World War II, Italians seem to have made their invasions ( into just about every country on the planet) peaceful invasions. They went in to start businesses. Apparently, Alberta's people had no military history at all.
"I ask," Howard Beau explained, " because I would like to think that there is some way to live on this Planet without war. I just do not know of any group that has ever found a way."
" We lived in Peace because our way is a way of respect.", Freemont answered Howard Beau.
"What do you mean?", the young man asked.
"We start by respecting ourselves and considering each person in our group as having their own unique gifts. We try to let each person use their gifts in everyday life. That usually results in joy and peace for everyone.", Freemont explained.
"I will give you an example. Freemont continued. "There was a girl, in Tiger Country, who had several gifts. One of her gifts was taking things apart and putting them back together again. She was also good at finding a certain kind of fungus we use for flavoring. She made wonderful baskets and mats and nets and could also spot bird's nests very well. Needless to say, she used some of her gifts more than others, but she used those gifts whenever possible and we were all happy when she had a chance to use them. She was terrible at climbing trees, by the way, so to get to the nests she spotted we never pushed her to "improve herself" to become a better tree climber. She was a stay-on-the-ground kind of person and left the climbing part to others who were gifted at that."
"Once, she got hold of a clock. She found it or someone gave it to someone even though we had no need for a clock in Tiger Country. At any rate, she took it apart and put it back together again several times and then made one herself out of very hard wood. The great part was being around her when she was working on all this. She was just so enthusiastic about it that it made everyone around her feel great, too."
"But what about outsiders... those people not from your group?", Howard Beau asked. "How do you have peace with them?"
"We try to respect them, too." Freemont answered. " We try to consider their gifts and what it is that we can do to help, when and if they should come into Tiger Country. If they come, they probably are a person who belongs there and we do not miss the opportunity to learn and grow with them."
"What about those who used their gifts to create conditions that destroyed your land?", Howard Beau asked.
"How someone uses their gifts is not the business of anyone else. ", Freemont explained. " The main reason we try to mind our own business is to keep the mind as open to as much learning as possible. If there is a lesson to be learned, in whatever is going on, we will learn it best with an open mind. That is the first order of business. That is the job that no one else can do for another. Another important job is making sure to not get in the way of anyone else learning. "
"If you want to say we have professions in Tiger Country, Freemont continued, "those two things, using our own gifts and minding our own business, would be what we in Tiger Country do best. Perhaps that makes us professional peace makers."
"But what happened to your land was so horrible!", Howard Beau exclaimed. He mourned the loss of one square foot of wetlands and could not imagine the loss of an entire ecosystem, as in Tiger Country.
" I did hot get where I am today without having it happen.", Freemont answered. "My daughter would not be here either.", he reminded Howard Beau.
Alberta was a little ahead of them, bathed in a pool of light from the street lamp, as she unlocked the door of the Friends of the Planet offices. She stood in ahead of them illuminated, waiting for them to catch up.
"Point taken.", Howard Beau admitted.
The young people said good-bye to Freemont and went into the office but Howard Beau continued to think about his conversation with Freemont. He agreed with the older man about the joy and peace one achieved when using one's gifts. He had a job like that himself, so he knew what Freemont was talking about.
Howard Beau's ability, to be aware of the presence and movement of water was a part of his nature. His father's people recognized such skills as gifts and so his father acknowledged this ability when Howard Beau was growing up. Wilhelm Brightfoot made sure that Howard Beau's education included chances to learn with people who had similar gifts, who could help train him to use his abilities with understanding and skill. Howard had probably inherited this gift from his mother's side of the family. Her grandfather dug wells in Italy and was known for his ability to find good spots for wells, with pure drinking water, and to locate mineral springs. The guy had been famous.
Howard Beau could "feel" water in the earth, in the sky and in between. He was the perfect person to monitor the condition of the wetlands. He could even tell when the fog was unusual and was the ideal observer of the marshes, wetlands and tidal basins around Mobile and along the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to his inborn skills, he had a Masters Degree in Forestry and Land Management and had studied with several traditional Water People or Rain Makers, as they are sometimes called.
His University degree got Howard Beau the job with Friends of the Planet but his gifts made him great at that job. Without the degree, Howard would probably still spend as much time in the wetlands as he did now. He would do it working there for his Uncle, Stonewall Brightfoot. The Stonewall Security Agency, the company which was a front for their Tribal Council, employed many of the People of their group, in the community. A good number of these employees guarded no homes or offices. They guarded the wild places. His people were caretakers of that land. Others outside their group might be under the illusion that these places were "owned" by the ones who held the Title Deed. That did not stop Howard Beau's people watching out for their land, too.
Stonewall Security presently had a franchise to install home security systems and garage door openers, as well as being security guards in offices and public buildings. There had been Brightfoots in the security business, in Mobile, for generations. Having this kind of business always provided their group members with work of some kind and assured they would have a supply of weapons available, and the training to use them, should an effort ever be made to wipe out their tribe. Some, in the Tribal Council, felt that such fears were unfounded these days but most people saw no harm in being prepared. A Security Service was also a good and growing business in the times of trouble, before The Message.
In a way, Howard Beau was in the security business himself. Instead of just guarding people's buildings, Howard Beau was guarding their swamps, creeks and beaches. Stonewall Security would have paid his salary to do that, had he not worked for Friends of the Planet. No matter who paid the salary, Howard Beau was grateful to be doing work he loved. Howard Beau still remembered someone he knew as a kid who was not so lucky. Bobby Rae Vandee, grew up in a really poor family. Bobby Rae could play just about any piece of music he ever heard, even once, on any instrument that came into his hands. This went for classical music or jungles in commercial ads or the music in the background at the movies. Unfortunately, his family was so poor he could barely afford a pocket comb with a piece of waxed paper over it, let alone a musical instrument of any kind.
Bobby Rae once got a job, at a music store, sweeping out and cleaning the instruments, but was soon fired. He spent all his time playing the instruments, instead of cleaning them. Bobby Rae's dream was to go to high school, where they had band and orchestra instruments he could play, but he never could pay attention in class long enough to get out of the seventh grade.
"My ears are too full of music to hear the teacher.", Bobby Rae explained. "Sometimes her voice IS the music, but that's as close as I come to being able to pay attention.", he admitted to Howard Beau.
Bobby Rae left town, at age 14, after having heard a slack-key guitar classic played on the radio by a Polynesian man. He told Howard Beau he was headed for "the land of that music", the Pacific Rim. Bobby Rae had not been seen in Mobile since. Fortunately for Mobile and the world, he left many gifted people behind, when he left !
Let's take a look at what some of them are up to:
Chapter 6 - The Seven Questions
The Ray Bans emerged from The Big Ear Cafe, having just got an ear full of the Ten Principles, as heard over the Cafe sound system. Bobbie Winslow Turner, their expert on analysis of social and political events , was mighty quiet.
"Let's sleep on this one", Bobbie told the others. He turned towards home and added, " I'll see you all tomorrow morning. "
Bobbie's father, Solomon Able Turner, was Bobbie's role model when it came to knowing what was going on in any social or political situation. The man knew what was happening. This knowledge came from a keen ability to observe and from his being an avid reader of anything he could get his hands on. Solomon's reading material was often supplied by his best friend, Abel Rebinowitz, who kept Solomon current with newspapers and magazines from every English-speaking country in the world. They also had English-language newspapers from most of the non-English speaking world, as well. Solomon worked shining shoes, at the Mobile Stock Exchange building and Abel had the news kiosk next to Solomon's shoe shine stand. They spent a good part of their day discussing what was going on in the local, national and international news.
Though limited by the society of his birth, in
terms of educational options and training opportunities, Solomon
being of African decent, his access to information was never
limited. Solomon frequently thanked Creator for that and he took
full advantage of that opportunity, as part of his daily
It seemed that both his parents and their friends were addicted to radio and television news shows. They practically had withdrawal symptoms if they missed the nightly BBC broadcasts or the News Hour.
" They must be having fun with this one.", Bobbie said to himself, as he stepped onto their front porch. "Just watching the reaction of the Washington pundits probably has them in stitches.", he added, as he heard roars of laughing coming from their sitting room.
Bobbie walked into the house and found them all there, helpless with laughter. It was a few moments before Bobbie's father could stop long enough to say, "There is no one else to blame any more!". Then they all laughed even harder.
Bobbie could see a certain amount of humor in the fact that both Jews and African Americans could no longer blame "The Man" for their persecutions and their problems. According to The Message, everyone was "The Man". Even women were "The Man." What was even weirder was that it appeared that everyone who had ever been in a position of being persecuted had chosen to have it happen, to see what it was like.
"I don't want to interrupt your fun.", Bobbie interjected. "I just came home to get your thoughts on The Message."
"My first thought was, 'Boy, was I ever wrong
about a lot of stuff!"', Able Rebinowitz admitted. Then they all
started laughing again. Sometimes adults are weird.
"Stop it!", Coreen told them all. "The boy has come for some guidance from us right-minded citizens. Just because we have been dead wrong about just about everything, doesn't mean we can't help. What did you want to know son?" , she asked.
"I wanted to know if you thought people might
ignore The Message.", Bobbie asked. "You know, pretend it is not
really for them or about them? If so, why?"
"Wow! Talk about cutting to the chase!", Abel
Rebinowitz acknowledged. "You are your father's
"And my mother's, too.", Bobbie reminded him.
Bobbie was not sure if other people's mothers talked back to radio talk show hosts but his mother's beauty salon sounded like "Firing Line" sometimes. Radio Talk show hosts loved taking calls from Coreen at 'The Beauty Spot' as much as listeners loved her call-ins. Women who wanted to gossip stayed away from Coreen's shop, unless they wanted to gossip about what was going on in the legislature and why. There were several political discussion groups that met at The Beauty Spot regularly and both women and men assessed the political situation while getting hair cuts and nails done or while getting facials. CNN was seen on the shop television set, not soap operas. The shop's motto, "Just Because We Are Beautiful We Do Not Have To Be Ill Informed.", blazed across the salon wall and was written backwards there, too, so as to be readable in the mirrors.
The process they called brain storming took many forms. They put their questions down and then used a variety of techniques to find answers that seemed to satisfy. Sometimes they role played, sometimes they debated, sometimes they just took a wild guess. Even when they did not come up with an answer, they usually found out what they did not know. That often helped.
"Then we at least know what questions to ask.",
Solomon pointed out. After some discussion they decided to try role
playing to answer Bobbie's question.
"Who will get to play Mother/Father Creator?",
Bobbie asked. He remembered The Prayer That Was Heard By All and
was pretty sure they
"Let's let the 8 Ball do it!", Solomon suggested. He was referring to a system of advisement the group had developed to access higher wisdom or a clearer viewpoint than they were likely to come up with on their own.
The 8 Ball was one of those fortune-telling toys that Solomon found at a garage sale. He took the "YES" and "NO" and "YOU WILL FIND LOVE" messages out of it and replaced them with numbers that corresponded to chapters in a book he had. Someone had left the book at his shoe shine stand one day and each of its 64 parts told about a different aspect or relationship in nature. Then it told how these relationships operated in the family, in the individual's relationship with others in human society and in government. It is a kind of "How To Book" in the category of Existence. They found it was about as accurate as any other method they had for doing research.
"Great suggestion", Rebecca Rebinowitz agreed.
"We can come up with the doubts and disbelief and the 8 Ball can
come up with responses to them."
"Come on now, ", Coreen told them. "give me some
reasons people might think The Message is not for them. I'll write
the reasons down."
"People who are scared shitless of God, or Mother, or Father or Mother/Father or Goddess or whatever you want to call a Creator.", Abel Rebinowitz put forward.
"They would not want to have anything to do with
The Message." Rebecca contributed. "Some people just do not want to
get involved with an kind of group or cause."
"Some People would rather die than change " Solomon stated.
"Some People fear the loss of power and
influence.", Bobbie added.
"People fear a loss of their wealth or
possessions.", Rebecca put in.
"People might fear the loss of a beloved one.",
" Some people are afraid of just plain every
thing.", Bobbie finished.
They looked at each other to see if anyone could
come up with anything else. No one could.
Solomon voiced, "Let's get the old 8 Ball out and
see what it tells us." Bobbie got some paper to take notes on the
answers. They were set to go. The book they were using was the I
Ching and it was written in China, about five thousand years ago.
It had been around about as long as most present day societies have
been keeping written records of things. The I Ching is currently
used by millions of people as a way of advisement. Sometimes the
book is used by tossing coins or throwing yarrow stalks, to get
direction to its contents. Solomon and his friends used the 8 Ball.
Let the 8 ball roll!
Bobbie read the first question, " What about
people who are scared of God and do not want to have anything to do
with return to the Mother/Father, or whatever they choose to call
Abel Rebinowitz shook the 8 Ball and up came a
number. "The number is 45." Abel announced."
" I Ching 45.. ", Solomon read, looking through the book until he came to that number section in it. "Ts'ui/ Gathering Together." He continued, " Lake/ Earth is the relationship in nature. The principle is to purify yourself first and then worry about another." He read on, " One who is alone and outside would like to reunite. Generosity, appreciation and kindness, with reliance on the creative, heal all wounds."
Coreen Turner found tears coming to her eyes as
she remembered the church services of her youth, with their
messages of hellfire and damnation. They had almost scared her away
from the church. She had never quite believed them but had seen
many turn away from religion because they saw themselves as
unworthy to be there.
"You mean we need to feed people well, instead of
giving them sermons?", Abel asked. "I could get behind a religion
like that!". Abel was an atheist.
Three quarters of the Jews in the world meet and eat for seven days when someone dies, Abel. ", his wife reminded him. "' Feed the people and they will find God', is taught to every Jewish woman I've ever met! You already have a religion like that!"
"Jesus did something with food, too.", Coreen
added. " It was called the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. It is
not clear if he just made the food appear or if he got the people
in a crowd to share what they brought there with each other. In
either case it's a miracle, as far as I'm
"So let me get this straight.", Bobbie said, looking down at his notes. " People should be fed, here and now and then they will know God without fear. Their wounds will be healed and they will be able to unite with others. To do this, we must be generous, kind and creative... Did I miss anything?"
" You forgot about the part of purifying
yourself, first.", Solomon pointed out. "It says, 'Purify yourself
first, then worry about another."'
"Does that mean like a healthy body and mind?",
"Something like that would be a good place to
start.", Solomon agreed.
They ate cake for a while. It was good and they
felt like it was just what they needed, at that moment. They were
aware of it and grateful, which is about as
"What is the second question?", Solomon
"The second question is about people who, for one
reason or another, do not think The Message is for them.", Abel
told them and shook the 8 Ball. "The number is 37.", he added when
the number came up.
"Number 37, Chia Jen/ The Family ", Solomon read.
"All health in the family, the community, the nation and the world
grows outward from a single healthy person." Solomon continued, "
Health is a product of balance, fairness, justice and acceptance,
as well as of conduct according to those principles. Concentrate on
those principles now.
"There is some more information on being healthy.
, Rebecca pointed out. "It also shows that we are all members of
some kind of group.. It may be we are members of a family or
members of a nation, but we all belong ."
"It points out, again, that the starting place is
ourselves.", Bobbie added. "The health and the change starts there,
no matter what other group we belong to. That is important. From
there we see how we can work to put justice, kindness and
generosity into practice now! For any change, we will need to work
with whatever group we belong to."
"As a group, ", I think we should work out how to
get a piece of this delicious cake, or its cultural equivalent, to
everyone else on the planet.", Coreen stated. "It is only
"Let's give a party with the intimate universe is
invited." ,Rebecca joked. "America could organize feeding the
world, you know.", she continued.
Rebecca had been an active member of a group
called End World Hunger NOW! for about ten years. She also
developed a stand-up comedy act, featuring information on the
facts, figures and statistics on world food production and
distribution. She called her act, "The Story of
"You're either got to laugh or you're gonna cry
about this.", she told her audiences. "Personally, I find it
difficult to take action when in tears."
For Coreen, food had always been an abundant part
of her life. Her family had always eaten well and she was living
proof of their abundance. Solomon called his wife a "fine figure of
a woman" but many in the USA would call her fat. In most of the
rest of the world she was the ideal of beauty and abundance, by
virtue of her weight, strength and health. Coreen had always
rejoiced in her vibrant well-being and the low energy and weakness
of the women who seemed to starve themselves for "fashion" both
angered and scared her.
"They are just docile slaves.", Coreen told her friends. "They do not have the strength to walk away from what is abusing them... that is why society wants women like that!", she often pointed out.
Recently, however, Coreen was beginning to tire
of carrying so much "self" around. She started losing weight, even
though she was not on a reducing diet. Coreen hated the word
"diet", almost as much as she hated most of the daytime television
talk shows. "Pure poison" is what she said of both. The news
stories Coreen and her customers saw did say a lot about youth in
trouble. Coreen was a knowledgeable watcher and could tell when a
feature was presented to inform and when one was presented as a
fear tactic or to demean a group or a person. She could see there
were a lot of problems out there for young people to overcome. One
of Coreen's most frequent reactions to reports on youth problems
was "Feed those children." or "Feed those children what they need."
Since this was her spontaneous reaction, she decided to try it, to
see if it helped.
So started what came to be known as " Coreen's
Neighborly Diet:. It worked like this: If she felt like eating
chocolate cake, Coreen baked one and brought it out to the first
group of young people she saw on the streets of her neighborhood.
She sent a half-gallon of milk along, too, but made it a
stipulation that they go to one of their own homes to eat it and
share it with whomever was there. Coreen was making more pies and
cakes and bread than ever before and was eating less of such things
herself. She hoped that the food helped the young people get off
the street for a while. Eating something good with friends never
seemed like a bad idea to anyone.
Coreen also liked the fact that it was done in
her own neighborhood. The kids knew her and did not feel badly
about accepting the food from her. She told them they were helping
her "stick to" her diet. Maybe the same thing could work
"Then nation by nation.", Rebecca agreed. "I will be in touch with my friend, Lynda Elizabeth Preto, to find out what she thinks about The Message and The Response. She knows more about moving food around, than anyone I know."
"Let us know what she advises?", Bobbie requested of Rebecca. "Let's move on to the next question. It is, 'What about people who are so frightened by or threatened by The Message, they would rather die than change."
Abel shook the 8 Ball. "Number 38.", he
Solomon read: " 38 Kuei / Opposition. Misunderstanding of the Truth creates opposition. Do not try to create unity by force. Meet opposition with balance and acceptance and a good end will come. Misunderstanding hides the truth.", Solomon finished.
"That sounds a like a job for the Way Scans! ",
Abel commented to Bobbie. The adults had been following the social
and political impact the Way Scans had been having on their
community, for years. Rebecca Rebinowitz labeled the group, "a
weapon of mass instruction."
" I wish my cousin Leon could hear this.", Abel
added , then told the group about Leon Stein.
Leon "the Lion" Stein is the person Abel referred to. You would have to go far to find a nicer person than his cousin Leon but on the subject of Jerusalem, Leon was a fanatic. If there was any issue Leon would rather die than compromise on, it was the issue of this Holy City. Abel was not sure where Leon stood on Tigers, but his cousin lived, breathed and worked tirelessly defending the State of Israel with Jerusalem as its heart. The particular piece of Holy ground, called Jerusalem, had people killing each other over it for centuries. It seemed to have the makings of a never-ending battle ground, even before the founders of two of the world's major religions, Christianity and Islam, decided to depart the Planet, from this neighborhood. Judaism had already been settled in there for a considerable period of time, before the others arrived.
On a personal note, Leon "the Lion" Stein had
been the first Jewish child born in the State of Israel the day it
achieved its most recently recognized nationhood. The Lion swore he
would die before he gave up one inch of soil of the Holy
"Remind me to call Leon.", Abel said to his wife.
"Let's move on. Recipes for war depress me. What is the next
Bobbie announced, " The next question is: What about people who hold power and influence and fear the loss of it because of The Message."
"I thought we were getting away from recipes for
war.", Abel muttered as he shook the 8 Ball. "It is number 15.
Let's see what the Big 8 has to say about the manipulations of the
power mad who have played their games for countless
Solomon read, " Number 15 is Chi'ien/ Modesty.
The flow of life acts to empty
"I guess if politicians act right they can stay in power.", Rebecca acknowledged. "That is probably for the best, anyway. We do not have time for violent revolution."
" Remember the Tenth Principle, 'Do not waste
time and energy on destruction.' ", Coreen reminded them, then
added, " That message also tells me that anyone can be a leader.
Even if what I have to offer is modest, it might be the very best
way to solve the problem. It is our business to make change, no
matter how small or insignificant we think we
"We have known for years that most leaders do not
have much of a clue when it comes to creative changes. It is pretty
evident that both we and they know almost nothing about how change
for the preservation of Tigers should proceed. We all have room for
a lot of modesty here!", Rebecca stated thoughtfully.
"No wonder the best change comes from this kind
of modesty!", Coreen said.
We all have the Goal to work toward and the Ten
Principles to try to follow. That makes it a level playing field,
as far as I am concerned. I am ready to be a world leader in my own
"I forgot to tell you all!", Bobbie exclaimed. "Our own neighborhood may actually be leading the world in a lot of this." Bobbie went on to explain what he knew about Winston's brother, Howard Beau and the Tiger Preservation Project, which seemed to have originated from their own city's chapter of Friends of the Planet.
"This gets more and more interesting.", Abel stated. "What is our next question, Bobbie?"
"What about people who fear loss of wealth in the
form of money, land or resources.", Bobby
Abel shook the 8 Ball then announced, "Number 36.
It is Ming I/ The Darkening of the Light.", Solomon
" Darkness rules the world now. Move away from
negative feelings now and maintain your inner light. You have been
wounded by darkness but you heal yourself by healing those around
you who are in need. The darkness has reached its
It was difficult for Solomon to finish reading.
Tears were flowing from his eyes. "If you are firm in balance and
correctness you will be successful."
"The people must have positive work to do to heal
the Earth.", Solomon said aloud.
"We must heal the wild places, first.", Rebecca said. "That is the most positive work we can do. It is the right thing to do and if that happens all else will move forward on the path of that right.", she reminded them.
"My brother can help with that!", Solomon acknowledged.
"Believe me, we need everyone to help.", Bobbie
pointed out. "Do you know how many people could be put to work
creating organic water filtration systems for cleaning up this
Planet's water?" Bobbie had just done a paper on water quality in
the Amazon Basin for an Environmental Science class. The answer to
his question was lots and lots of people. We were definitely
talking about full employment here!
"That military base that is closing down...
couldn't it be some kind of recycling center?", Solomon
"And a food distribution center, too!", Coreen
put in. "I'm calling Sterin Sommes. Let's let our Senator know what
"There are a lot of folks will lose their jobs
when the base closes but maybe they can just keep working there for
other industry besides the war industry.", Solomon proposed.
Solomon could think of at least three other things the base could
do to help the environment, in addition to recycling and food
"We could talk about this all night. What is the
next question, son?", Coreen asked.
"It is the one you asked, Mom." Bobbie responded.
"What if people are afraid they will lose the one they love because
of The Message. "
Abel shook the 8 Ball again. "Number 51.."
Solomon read. "Chen/ The Arousing. The shock of
unsettling events brings fear and concern. Move toward truth and
all will be well. A continued series of shocks occurs until there
is a correction in attitude. Change frightens us and we think it is
bad, until we learn the lesson it has come to teach.", he
continued. "Remain innocent and correct, you will never be harmed.
Quietness and truth are your best refuge."
Six members of Coreen's family had died in the
past year, in some cases, quite unexpectedly. She now wondered if
the deaths had not started her on the preparation for her own
"People will be losing places and people that
they care a lot about as this process of change occurs.", Coreen
pointed out, " Let's remember to give them time to grieve and the
support of friends." Coreen looked at Rebecca as she said that. Her
friend had been there with her through it all and the help had made
"We have one more question. , Bobbie announced.
"What about people who are afraid of everything. I guess that would
cover people who are afraid of things changing just as much as
those who are afraid of things staying the same."
Abel shook the 8 Ball. "Number 33." he stated.
"Number 33 is TUN/ Retreat.", Solomon read. "In quiet you are out
of threat of danger of the natural ebb and flow of the forces of
the world. When energies are against us, we can accept the choice
of the safety of quietness. To retreat now is to benefit, in the
end, from the changing tides. Retreat is not the same as surrender
or abandonment. In this honorable way, we protect ourselves and are
renewed for a more beneficial time."
Just as Solomon was finished reading, a special
news bulletin interrupted the program of music they were listening
to on the radio. The voice of Newscaster, Harrison Chambers filled
Solomon reached to the radio dial and searched
the spectrum of the short wave radio band to hear what the rest of
the world had to say, about the story. He wanted to hear what other
nations were reporting. Other English-speaking broadcasts told of
these sudden deaths occurring in England, Kenya, India, Hong Kong,
Australia and those nations, reporting on their neighboring
countries, told the same story.
READER BREAK : The process described above in this chapter, took place as described when documenting this story. I did not have people or bundt cake or an 8 Ball. I just asked the questions and opened the book. I am pretty sure you can use any book to do this, especially if you generally use that book for advisement purposes. Books like the Bible, the Koran or even the telephone book yellow pages might be worth trying. Ask your own questions about why you think the world could never change or why people would resist changes and see what answers you get. Have fun with it and be kind. - KL
Chapter 7 - Saturday Morning
Making the choice to die at will became known as "leaving", as in " Aunt Sarah left us yesterday", and the word dying was now used for when someone was run over by a bus, or something not of their apparent choice. At any rate, physicians like Dr., Ramirez were looking mighty worried. They had no one left to bill for, though their charges for pronouncing the death and signing the death certificates would be a tidy sum, for the moment.
Her brother just stared at her. He knew she was right and that every other funeral home in town was in the same boat. " Oh,", she added, " and you will have only fifteen minutes per service. So make those eulogies good, bro!"
He took a deep breath and hoped that something of sense would come out of his mouth. He had not a clue what to say next. " I would like to thank the members of your families who have died. They have made the ultimate sacrifice in our effort to save the Planet for the Tigers. " Richard said. "In addition, they have shown their courage in not fearing to make a change."
It took a minute for the applause to start, but
the room was soon on its feet and people were clapping and cheering
and calling out. " Yo! Good one Mabel!" " Good Save Harry!" and
others cheers that addressed the particular attributes of the
deceased. (Harry, for example, was an avid baseball fan.)
Now, Richard's only problem was how to get them out of the room, so the next waiting crowd could get in. He held up his hands for silence and the crowd quieted. Richard continued, " Now, let's not let their death be in vain: I want you all to go out and think about what you can do, in the name of your beloved, to make this world a better place. In their leaving, they leave that task to you! Now go! Go on, now! Go and be kind!"
Circus Burger sales went through the roof and other businesses followed suit, designating at least one item they sold to benefit Tigers. American business knew a good thing when it was being stared in the face by that good thing. Suddenly Tigers were recognized to be very good things. Environmental groups such as Friends of the Planet were also recognized as good things and donations poured in. That was just as well as they were now too busy figuring out what needed to be done, in a planned and orderly way, to have time to raise funds any more. They left that to the experts at raising money, the people involved in successful, capitalist enterprise.
"Ho! ", each member of the family responded.
As they ate breakfast, each family member told
about their dreams of the night before, as was the family custom.
The smallest member of the family usually went first and then they
took turns by age, finishing up with their father and
" Big Tiger!", exclaimed Lucius Clay
" I dreamed I was on a space ship full of
Tigers," Ramona Star said. "We were treating them like Gods and
were on a trip to bring them to some place that would be really fun
for them. That was our greatest happiness...to make them
" I dreamed I was a Tiger in a circus," Patrick Grant said. "I was magnificent. I knew that the circus and all those people in it existed for me. The people cheered and cheered."
Knowland Luigi said, " I dreamt I was a scientist
and I was working with this Tiger scientist. We were in a
laboratory, only it was in Tiger Country. Tigers had this special
kind of mind that was different from my mind, but if I tried really
hard, I could understand that mind... and then I did! " Knowland
was grinning from ear to ear.
Thelma Louise said," I dreamt I was swimming with Tigers. They like to swim, you know."
Winston Bridges said," I was with the Way Scans in my dream. We were at the meeting with you, Howard Beau, and we were helping."
Howard Beau told them, " In my dream I was at the meeting and we needed you there."
Wilhelm Concourse said," I had a dream that I was sitting at this table, listening to what you just said, but I was also at all the other tables in the world, listening to people's dreams about all these thins and more. All the people speaking about their dreams and all of those dreams a part of the right answer."
Anna Marie finished, "I dreamt about the place of the Tiger healed."
"Ho!", said everyone at the table
Howard Beau changed to regular shoes before heading for the Friends of the Planet office, where he was to meet Alberta and Preston Sommes. Preston volunteered to attend the meeting to represent the news media. He offered to issue press bulletins, through his news service, once the meeting was over. Otherwise, the meeting would be closed to the Press. No one thought it would do any good to show the world they had no idea what they were doing at the moment.
The Press Corps was not to be put off, however. Once it was known that the Mobile, Alabama office issued the Response to the Message, news agencies from around the world had reporters on the way to Mobile. It looked to Howard Beau that most of them had arrived and were presently blocking the door to the office of Friends of the Planet. Fortunately his father, Whilhelm, had foreseen this problem and asked Howard Beau's Uncle, Stonewall Brightfoot, to patrol the office entrance with his security service. As a result Howard Beau, Alberta and Preston were actually able to get into the building. They were soon joined there by Friends of the Planet Leaders from around the world.
Before going to the meeting, Winston Bridges
Brightfoot went to join the other members of the Way Scans at the
fountain in front of the Big Old Ear of Corn building. The group
had been invited to join Howard Beau's meeting a little later.
First, Winston needed to fill them in on what he knew about the
Friends of the Planet and hear the input each member had from their
family. The role parents and important adults played in the ways
the Way Scans functioned cannot be underestimated. The group relied
heavily on input from their "sources", as the adults in their lives
Once everyone was there, Emaline Hawkins Percell
asked, "So, what do we know?".
Winston explained about Howard Beau , Alberta and
Preston and what had happened at the Press International offices
the night before.
Bobbie Winslow Turner then described the process he had gone through with his family and family friends, Abel and Rebecca. He summarized the conclusions that came from the I Ching.
"It seems like the basic principle is to start with yourself first and then be kind to others by helping them with what they really need.", Bobbie explained. " Oh, and it said that if people act right, they will succeed and the last part was about not acting sometimes, about leaving or leaving things alone until times are better."
" That sounds a lot like The Goal and the Response.", Toni Leonardo commented. "You know, that part about staying away from the wild places. My mother said that we will probably need to have many more people in cities now, for those zones of protection to expand, Then my father said that we would really need to make cities a lot more friendly, for people, if that were to happen. Urban areas will need to be much kinder places, where people help one another a lot more."
" Sounds like a plan to me!" , Bobbie agreed. "
You start it one neighborhood at a time and just keep reaching out
from there to achieve what the population needs. My mother and our
friend, Mrs. Rebinowitz, seem to think that the USA can coordinate
growing food for the world with our food production and our
contacts around the globe for food production and distribution.",
Bobbie continued. " Apparently the organization, Stop World Hunger
Now, has been saying all that for years. Not enough people have
been interested in trying what it suggests about feeding the world,
" My dad said that it's the same with health
care.", Toni Leonardo put in. " We could provide for the Planet, in
terms of basic preventive health care for everyone. We used to
spend so much on keeping a very small number of people alive but it
looks like that is changing fast."
News bulletins continued to report large numbers of deaths among those who did not seem to be benefiting much from life. Not only were the marginally healthy "leaving us", the marginally happy seemed to be following suit. Deeply unhappy people usually left notes explaining why, so friends and family could try to cope with their departures but they were dying too.
Antoinette's father, E, Powers "Sunny" Leonardo,
a clinical psychologist before he quit to become a house painter,
had became dissatisfied with the mental health profession, which
seemed to invent illnesses on a regular basis, to keep itself in
business. Sunny chose his new profession because he could actually
see when he got it right and could give directions for a specific
outcome. He now did home repairs.
Since, at the start of this new career, he was
totally useless at anything practical, Sunny's attempts at any
project for home repair, like plumbing, electrical or carpentry
work were usually hilarious. He could always tell people, in a
funny way, what not to do.
A therapist with the idea that people were not
thinking right was one thing he found especially odd. In his
twenty-five years as a mental health practitioner, Sunny had
learned enough to know that 99% of the time, people were thinking
exactly right It was not really their thinking that needed to
change. The problem was the rest of their world did not like what
they were thinking. Sometimes all they really needed to do was to
learn to laugh at the world and/or at themselves.
Faith believed in gardens inside cities. In her
lifetime, she had seen many places in the process of transformation
to indoor or outdoor gardens. There were now gardens in shopping
centers and hospitals. Churches were open to the views of the
trees. Freeways were paths for flowering bushes and tree-lined.
Even prisons had gardens and sometimes greenhouse programs. Faith
was still working on getting more plants into schools.
"Each plant is a miraculous being that we can invite to share our life with us, no matter where we live.", Toni was told as a small child. "They like to join us because we are extremely funny creatures to watch.", Faith explained. "They sit rooted while we run around and around and they laugh and laugh at us. It is that laughter that makes their good vibration. It is the laughter of shared joy, not derision."
So, both Sunny and Faith were not at all
surprised that many people who were not happy or well both mentally
and physically were "leaving ". Faith was not sure what the plants
thought of it, but she was sure they understood. They did the same
thing themselves, all the time.
"When it is not fun anymore, they just leave.", Faith often explained to other plant lovers. In the past, she was talking about plants. Now, the same thing could be said about people.
When psychiatrists and medical doctors called
Sunny, complaining about their loss of patients, he tasked them to
think of a way of bringing health care to the world. "Heck, to
everyone in your neighborhood, for starters!", he
Sunny could think of no better way for them to
spend the next few days. They were smart folks, maybe they would
even figure out how to do it. Sunny never underestimated the
potential of the creative minds in the good old USA. For one thing,
he knew what the Way Scans could do!
It looked like a riot of news crews outside the
building but Stonewall Brightfoot motioned for them to come through
the crowd of reporters and cameras. With an earsplitting Rebel Yell
that parted the crowd in front of them, faster than even
Stonewall's 350 pound frame.
Emaline sang out, " YeeeeeeeHaaaaa! And a whole
world's invited to help!" Her voice rang out and over the crowd and
echoed all around and then floated out over the city into thousands
of ears. Thanks to the many microphones, attuned to hear even the
slightest peep ( or roar ) from " Tiger Headquarters", her voice
was also heard around the world. The International Committee of the
Friends of the Planet heard it, too. They sure needed to hear
something positive at that moment. They had just sat down to meet
in the office conference room, when Emaline came through loud and
clear, and not a moment too soon!
Having recently been elected by the world-wide membership to co-chair the office of Chairperson , they both agreed to go to Mobile to meet with Howard Beau and Alberta and see what the real story was with the Tiger Preservation Project. Had The Message not been heard, it is doubtful that they would have been together for more than two hours, tops, under any other circumstances. Both Duc Kwan Hu and Mary Ruth Louise devoted their lives to the preservation of the environment and had been overjoyed to co-chair Friends of the Planet with such a distinguished colleague. They were quite familiar with each other's work, though they had never met before Friday. Unfortunately, they hated each other on sight.
Since they were both actually very fine human
beings, kind and considerate on the whole, both Mary Louise and Duc
Kwan were in a state of acute dismay, that they should have such an
immediate and overpowering dislike for one another. They hated each
other so intensely they could not even talk about it to anyone or
to one another. They were terribly ashamed to feel the way they
felt and knew and feared it would be the ruin of Friends of the
Planet and The Tiger Preservation Project. For the good of their
organization, they steeled themselves and got on a plane together
and flew to Alabama, hoping that something could and would change
what was happening.
For a while, Duc Kwan even prayed that the plane
would crash before they got there. Then he decided that was a bit
extreme. Even though Friends of the Planet needed him more than
ever, he figured he could always resign, if worse came to worse. At
the meeting, Duc Kwan and Mary Louise sat at opposite ends of the
conference table from one another, flanked by the organization's
international leaders, one or two representatives from each
continent. Though the co-chairpersons tried to control it, waves of
loathing and dread radiated between them. Then the Way Scans came
Bobby entered first and looked the scene over. It
felt like a death ray had been switched on in the room and was
turning the meeting participants to stone. Alberta got up to speak
but was unable to say a word. This was the silence that fills the
forest when a ravenous Tiger is about to pounce.
The Flame walked in and all heads
Emaline sang out one, high clear note that
charged and vibrated through the room, filling everyone from ear to
soul, till they were quivering like tuning forks. Then
" So this is the group that's gonna save the
Planet? Toni's voice came through, loud and clear. " Tell the big
cats to say their prayers!"
They all began to laugh and Toni took Mary Ruth's hand and led her to Duc Kwan's end of the table and sat her next to him. "Here, repel each other from down here." she told them. " The Way Scans will sit at the-other end of the table. You go ahead and feel what you feel, but at least confine it to one end of the room. We'll call that point of origin pollution! It's a lot easier to control as you probably know." she finished.
The Way Scans sat down and the feeling in the
room changed. It was almost electric. They were all charged.
Alberta went on with her speech and proceeded to tell those
gathered how the Tiger Preservation Project came into being. Howard
Beau then spoke and introduced Preston Sommes and explained his
part in issuing The Response to The Message.
Preston got up to reassure them. " What ever
happens here is off the record.", he told the gathered group. "I am
here to be your mouthpiece, if you need me, and I can help with any
press releases you may want to issue. I will try my best to get
your messages out to the world. That is what I
Howard Beau then introduced the Way Scans individually. Why they were there had already been amply demonstrated. The meeting members gave them a standing ovation. They got up and took a bow.
Then Winston Bridges Brightfoot took the podium.
" Let's start by focusing on what we have as a common interest.",
he told the group. " There are worlds of differences we could spend
time on but why don't we take a look at what causes and ideas we
share. " Winston had not lived in a household with six other
children and two right- minded parents for nothing. He knew the
quickest way to settle a dispute was to come to terms that everyone
could agree on as a starting point.
Fortunately, Mary Ruth Louise and Duc Kwon Hu were smart enough to know when to keep their mouths shut. They would prove to be excellent role models as leaders. They were leaders who actually listened, leaders who knew that others, together, knew more than they did, leaders who let their people responsible for action decide things. They were leaders that trusted the process of what was going on.
A realistic and workable plan for change would involve a world-wide network of environment organizations and NGOs (Non-Government Organizations ) already in existence. NGOs usually know and tell the truth about what is happening in their locations and usually have some good ideas about what is actually needed for positive change there. Prior to The Message they rarely had anyone listening to what they knew, but they still knew it. Now their input and information would be listened to and used for planning change.
People were going to find out that cleaning up the Planet was a lot more than putting the newspaper in a separate recycling bin from the plastic. That was only a tiny part of it. Research, done by environmental scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists and historians, biologists, chemists and others began to identify the way the world was two hundred years ago, five hundred years ago and ten thousand years ago. With this basic information in hand, it was fairly easy to see what changes needed to occur in order to have conditions on the Planet right for Tigers. It was also easy to tell what changes were needed in specific locations, nations, regions and continents. This stuff was not exactly a mystery once you knew what to look for. There were even computers to help figure it out pretty quickly. Plans were in progress to coordinate changes.
" We'll all make mistakes and sometimes we will get it right.", Howard Beau told reporters as they emerged from the Friend's of the Planet offices, at the end of the day. A Press Release had gone out earlier and the crowd of reporters had thinned.
" All we can do is our best." Howard Beau continued, "and hope that everyone else does the same."
CNN crews had arrived and some of the other
reporters wanted statements. They were going out live, around the
world. Alberta stepped forward to answer questions. She was
handling herself like a pro, answering anything thrown at her.
Alberta knew her stuff about Tigers and the world
" Yes, sir. You had a question?", Alberta asked him. She had no idea she had a thing to fear from such a well-spoken gentleman. Alberta watched no television. Besides, she also had no fear of anyone. There was dead silence as the crowd strained to hear Harrison's question.
"What if we do all this and the Tigers die off anyway?", Harrison asked. Howard Beau nearly fainted again. He probably would have, if he were not so curious to hear Alberta's answer to that question.
Alberta only smiled. as she answered, " I wondered about that myself, so I asked my father about it this morning. He said, that it is not any of our business."
" Say , whaaa?", Harrison asked, his mouth open in astonishment. Cameras flashed all around him, recording the first occasion he had ever been seen on camera not looking completely cool and composed. Harrison had been under mortar fire, on camera, looking cool and composed. He had been in hurricanes looking cool and composed. Alberta had blown his cool.
At first, Harrison hated the photos taken of him that day. In time he came to cherish them and, at the end of his life, he asked that these photos be included in his obituary material. He wanted to have the world remember him, not as cool and composed, but as someone capable of wonder.
Alberta continued to explain, " Whether Tigers
choose to live or die is the business of the Tigers. It is our
business to take care of restoring the place for them to be and
getting out of their lands altogether. Whether they use our help,
do not use it, prosper or die, is solely their own business, not
ours." She went on to add, " The same goes for everyone else. You
take care of what you must do. If in doing that you create a
paradise for Tigers or for each other that does not mean everyone
or anyone will want to live there. " She finished, "If you can
remember, it is the process and not the product
Chapter 8 - Global!
Alberta and Howard Beau, Preston and The Way Scans were ready to leave. Reporters were still asking for interviews but Howard Beau was all talked out and tired of playing the expert. He needed to go home. He suggested they interview the "man and woman on the street ", to get the public's opinion on the changes that needed to be made. The public needed to make the changes. Their opinions were what mattered.
Alberta's parents arrived to pick her up and Howard Beau invited them all over to the Brightfoot house for dinner.
"My family really wants to meet you all." he told them.
They accepted but Preston declined the offer, when it was extended. His brother, Sterlin Sommes, was waiting and he had to get home to explain what was going on to the Senator.
Sterlin was never pleased if he missed either a photo opportunity or he was not in on decision making, for just about everything on Earth. He was on the Space Program Committee of the US Senate, so he could make decisions about Planets other than Earth, too. Today he had missed out on both photos and decisions being made and was having fits about it.
To give Sterlin credit, his being on the outs was not for lack of trying. He had gone to the Friends of the Planet office to try to get into the meeting but Stonewall had stopped him. To his credit, the politician was able to control his reaction to Stonewall Brightfoot's rebuff, in front of the watching media representatives.
When asked what he planned to do about The Message, Sterlin was at something of a loss. He had been hoping to find out what to do by attending the meeting inside.
His response was," Wha, I plan ta support tha work of this fahn organization an othahs like it..".
Then he got out of there fast, swearing to himself that if his brother knew anything about this Tiger thing, Preston had better give the information up at dinner. Then Sterlin called Cora Mae and invited himself over to eat. Sterlin need not have worried. Preston wanted to see him, too.
"Guess who's coming to dinner?" Cora Mae told Preston, when he called her earlier in the day. The Senator had told her what to expect when the brothers met.
" I guess Sterlin is speaking to me again.", Preston told his wife. He was not sure it would be a welcome change, but there were quite a few things that Sterlin could help with and Preston planned to tell him just that. There was going to be a show-down at the Sommes house that night.
Sterlin was never pleased if he missed either a photo opportunity or he was not in on decision making, for just about everything on Earth. He was on the Space Program Committee, in the US Senate, so he could make decisions about Planets other than Earth. Today he had missed out on both photos and decisions being made and was having fits about it. To give Sterlin credit, it was not for lack of trying that he was temporarily out of the picture that day.
The politician was able to control his reaction to Stonewall Brightfoot's rebuff, in front of the watching media representatives, as he tried to enter the Friends of the Planet Offices. When reporters asked what he planned to do about The Message, Sterlin was at something of a loss. He had been hoping to find out what to do, by attending the meeting inside.
His response was," Wha, I plan ta support tha work of this fahn orqanization an othahs like it..".
Then he got out of there fast, swearing to himself that if his brother knew anything about this Tiger Preservation Project, Preston had better give the information up tonight, at dinner. Then Sterlin called Cora Mae and invited himself over to eat.
Sterlin need not have worried. Preston wanted to see him, too.
" I've got the politician's politician in my family.", Preston explained to Howard Beau. "Let's use it for all it's worth."
Preston could think of no one better at building coalitions or even bullying his fellow lawmakers into following his lead. The Tiger Preservation Project wanted to help plan the direction Sterlin would be headed in. It turned out that that was just fine with the Senator. He was no ashamed to admit he knew nothing about Tigers.
I won't go into details of their meeting that evening, but while it was occurring, a peaceful scene was under way at the Brightfoot home. The Brightfoots and the Jackson family were gathered, with Betsy Ross Jackson helping Anna Marie explore the possibilities of the ingredients she had on hand. Lots of creative things were happening in that kitchen.
Betsy Ross explained that, in Tiger Country, there were about twenty basic ingredients to their staple diet. A woman had to be pretty creative not to cook boring meals. Women became excellent story tellers, in Tiger Country, just to distract others from noticing how boring the food usually was. Betsy Ross could still tell a good story. As they got dinner ready, she was telling one to Lucius Clay Brightfoot. It should
be noted that about this time a lot of children's stories and fairy tales began to get transformed. The story Betsy Ross told was a good example of this:
"Once upon a time," Betsy Ross said, " there was a boy that was given seven magic beans. I won't even bore you with how he got them or what his mother said about them, but we will summarize by saying that she did not have much faith in her child. This was a serious error on her part because he knew exactly the right thing to do. He planted the beans."
" These beans proved to be much more valuable than the cow he traded them for because the beans needed only good soil, sunlight and air and maybe a little manure to grow. They did not get sick or need to be fed hay or wander off, like the cow
did.", she added. " The beans were pretty good to eat, too, and he could use the bean stalks and leaves to feed rabbits, which he caught and kept next to his home. The rabbit manure helped the beans grown and the bean leaves and other stuff, that people just threw away helped the rabbits grow."
" The rabbits reproduced like rabbits. Pretty soon he was selling rabbits to other people. All this time, he kept growing beans and some other things that were good to eat, right there around his house."
" Jack hated to mow the lawn so he dug it all up and started growing beans there, too, and also some corn. They kind of went together, one plant helping another. The Plot of land was small but Jack was able to grow enough to feed his mother and himself and the rabbits and the ducks he added to the mix, letting them swim around in a plastic wading pool in his yard."
" He became known as Jack of the Giant Good Idea and his mother was pretty happy that he had traded in that cow after all. They lived happily ever after, even when Jack grew up and got married and had his own children. The end."
Lucius Clay liked the story. It was about a little guy like him and that little guy did big things, a little at a time.
" Global!", exclaimed Lucius. He had been hearing people talking about global this and global that for several days and he liked the word. His brother, Winston used it a lot when talking about something big and exciting that was going on.
"Hey! Global, my man!", Winston said to Lucius when he heard his littlest brother's exclamation. " I like that. Let's hope it will catch on." Then he picked Lucius up and carried him over to where Alberta and Freemont were answering questions the Bightfoot family members had about Tiger Country and the ways that its First People lived there.
" What I don't understand, " Wilhelm told them, "is how you adapted so well, here in the USA.. You went from one way of life to something so completely different. Many our First Nation People have been falling apart for two hundred years and are just now starting to adjust to so many changes, in healthy ways." Wilhelm continued, "I ask this because it seems like many people, almost everyone, in fact, will now need to make some big changes. Perhaps you know something about keeping it a positive and a helpful process."
Freemont answered honestly, " There is no doubt that my homeland was a wonderful, perhaps a holy place, but it is gone. I must accept what is a fact and look for the best that is in me. That, I bring from that past way of life. No one and no situation can take that away. Then I make the very best use of the new situation, the new beginning. I can let myself drown in fear, anger and regrets or I can open myself to learning what I need to learn from where I am living each day.
Freemont went on to say, " The shock of that kind of change has potential to bring great fear. We must help people to get through that period, by helping them move always toward a life with many positive choices. If they know that changes are for their own greater good, as well as the greater good of the Planet, they will not be afraid."
" So we must offer people opportunities for change that are positive choices for them. Then change will be perceived as a good thing.", Wilhelm summarized.
" Here is a good thing." Anna Marie said as she passed around glasses of fruit drink. " If these folks were still living in the forest we would never be drinking this marvelous stuff Betsy Ross just put together in there."
" Global!", Lucius Clay exclaimed as he tasted the drink.
"Global!", the others echoed as a kind of a toast to the potential of the planet.
" Is Betsy Ross your real name?", Patrick Grant then asked their guest.
" We just learned about Betsy Ross in school and she is dead." he added.
The "Grant" in Patrick's name was given to him because his mother was trying for a grant, to study naming practices of the First People groups of the areas around the Gulf of Mexico when she was pregnant with him.
The day he was born, she heard that the Grant had come through. As a result, Patrick spent a lot of his early infancy around people talking about names. The topic still interested him.
" The one who made the American flag is dead.", Betsy Ross acknowledged. "I learned that she is probably one of the world's most famous textile designers. I am proud to share her name."
" But what about your real name?", Howard Beau asked her. "Alberta told me how you got the names you go by now. Don't you find it offensive that people do not know your real name?"
" People have always called me by names that are not my real name.", Betsy Ross explained. " I am sure that has happened to everyone. That is part of the human condition, no matter where you live. It happened to me in Tiger Country, too."
" We are a species that names things.", Freemont put in. "Sometimes we get the name right and sometimes we make mistakes with our names for some one or something ."
" There are two important things I remember.", Betsy Ross went on. " The first is to never confuse the name of the thing with the thing itself. The second is that I have my own name for myself that only I know about."
" Do you mean that no one else ever knows your real name?" Ramona Star asked. Ramona had never been completely happy with her name. Lots of times she just called herself " The Star". Sometimes others did so, too. Most of the time they called her things far less flattering. Ramona Star had a face that you expected could turn into anything, at a moments notice. You could see her as a really old man, if she would just move her eyebrows a little this way and her mouth a little that way. You could see her being half-bird and half human if seen in the right light. This was a gift the other kids found a bit hard to relate to, in her first/second grade combination class.
Though she had never told it to anyone, Ramona's name for herself meant "holding the energy of the universe between palms of hands held slightly apart". We can't tell you how that name is pronounced. That is her secret. You can try her name out though, to see how it feels.
" No one else knows my name. " Betsy Ross went on to explain. " My knowledge of it reminds me that I, alone, know the true me. No matter how much the outside world thinks it knows who I am, they will never really know. In this way, I can also honestly, and without lies, know myself."
" You really don't know his name?", Anna Marie whispered to Betsy Ross later, while they were seated at the dinner table.
" No.", Betsy stated. " And , yes, it is an erotic turn on. You can imagine his name to be anything you want it to be and he can do the same with you."
" This we have to try.", Anna Marie said to herself looking down the table at her husband, Wilhelm. " Whole new worlds could open up!"
After dinner was over and the dishes cleared by the older children, one of the Brightfoot family's notorious poker games began, on the dining room table. It included the younger children, Wilhelm and Anna, Fremont and Betsy Ross. It did not matter that Freemont and Betsy Ross did not know how to play poker. No betting was involved and the object of the game was to teach the children, or any adults who did not already
know how, to play poker, masterfully.
They called the game "Open Poker" and all cards were exposed for everyone at the table to see. As each hand was played, it was analyzed by everyone at the table and , together, they would discuss poker strategies, the laws of probability, the element of luck and the possibility of pulling off a bluff, even with all cards showing. It was a mind-expanding process which enabled the littlest children ( or players new to the game) to learn, from the knowledge and experience of others. The Brightfoot children started playing as soon as they were old enough to sit at the table. The adults and the older children learned to find ways to communicate what was going on at the table to even the smallest child.
Wilhelm figured they would turn out to be very successful professional gamblers or excellent teachers, if nothing else came from these games. They could also use the skills learned, in just about anything they ever did do. He was right, being able to teach often came in handy.
The immediate results of the games were a lot of fun and they were usually
hilariously funny. It was a great honor to be asked to play and Freemont and Betsy Ross recognized this at once. An opportunity to share in the teaching of anyone was a sacred thing in Tiger country, too.
Meanwhile, with shouts and cheers coming from the dining room , the crew cleaning up the kitchen were discussing how he meeting at Friends of The Planet had gone and what still needed to be done to coordinate change.
" Preston called a little while ago." Howard Beau told them. "He has been with his brother, Senator Sterlin Sommes, and has set up a meeting with the Senator and Friends of the Planet for next week."
" He is the man who smiles a lot.", Thelma Louise stated.
" He does do that.", Howard Beau agreed.
Senator Sterlin Sommes had opposed legislation that was needed to save much of the wetlands in and around Mobile, Alabama. He had done so very effectively, but smilingly. At times he was so charming , when manipulating others, he made Ronald
Regan look like Mr. Bad News.
While they were in the middle of washing dishes, Winston got a call from Bobbie Turner. His mother, Coreen wanted to talk to Alberta and tell her about the meeting of End World Hunger, NOW! that afternoon. Sterlin Sommes had come to the meeting and Coreen filled her in on what was discussed. Though not able to attend the Friends
of the Planet gathering, the Senator had not been idle.
"We never thought he would show up!", Coreen told Alberta. "We gave him quite a lot to think about.", she added. " We told him The Story of Food."
"The way the business of agriculture operates is destroying the Planet, day by day.", Rebecca Rebinowitz told the Senator, earlier that day. She explained how a company like PetroChem could destroyed Tiger Country with their chemical fertilizer plant. That plant was not there by accident.
"That plant was there because people are trying to farm areas that should never be farmed. Their family farm lands are often lost to them because they borrow money to buy fertilizers and new seeds. They stop using sustainable farming practices that have been used for generations, and even good farm land is ruined or lost to the money lenders."
" Those old practices had allowed people to produce from an area of land year after year, using time-tested methods. Now, much of the land is owned by very large food growing companies who cut down all the trees and hedgerows and grow vast fields of one crop. After a couple of growing seasons they have to add fertilizers and insect sprays in order to get a good crop to continue to grow there.", Coreen had added.
"What happened to the people who used to farm the lands?", Senator Sommes asked.
" They usually move toward the wild places and try to farm there.", Rebecca explained. " The land is frequently not as fertile. Their farms fail and then are bought up by the big land owners. Then people move even nearer to the wild places." Rebecca
Sterlin Sommes had seen that process, too. It was called the "Taming of the West." in American History. It's more modern version was the story of the disappearance of the family farm on the American continent. Small farms gave way to large corporate agricultural schemes.
The Sommes family had always been the large landholder part of the agricultural equation, in the past. Now their family farms did not amount to a hill of beans, in the big picture of agribusiness. He had a few relatives who benefited from agricultural subsidies but it was the gigantic farms that produced most of what the world was eating.
The Senator talked about the advances in research that now offered options to grow just about anything just about anywhere. Through international programs like USAID, the USA had research centers in just about every country in the world, to develop agricultural production in just about any and every environmental condition, including urban environments.
"That my be part of the solution but it's part of the problem, too.", Rebecca pointed out. "New seeds are fine but when they have to be planted with a lot of fertilizer
or sprayed with chemicals to keep the plants alive, they harm more than farmer's pocketbooks. They harm the earth as well."
" War seems to cause more famine than bad weather conditions.", Coreen pointed out later in the meeting. "People do not get to plant their crops at the times they need to or an army takes over their area and moves everyone out before people can harvest."
"Paint tahkan." Senator Sommes agreed. Then Senator Sommes spoke to give them the government point of view on the whole non-production of food budget. He advised them that the USA was already one of the leading suppliers of food to the world, through both sales and aid projects, to every corner of the planet. He assured them that if there was anything to be done about food, the US needed to be involved.
Lynda Preto announced her plans to call a meeting of her co-workers at the International Food Exchange. on Monday, to see of they had any ideas about food distribution that might be helpful. Sterlin asked if he could attend the meeting.
"So Lynda invited him.", Coreen told Alberta. "Let's see if he shows up. What a charmer that man is!", she concluded.
Sterlin was told, by many, that if he were able to get rid of his deep southern accent, he would have been President of the United States. He really twanged when he spoke. The misconceptions about people who sounded as he did were many. Most people hearing accents like Sterlin's thought the speakers were brain dead. This was not true in most cases and was especially not true in Sterlin's case. Not only was Sterlin highly intelligent, he was also determined to become President of the United States, " or pretty damn close to it.", as he told his inner circle of advisors. Sterlin never missed an opportunity to further those ends.
" Preston sounded pretty confident that the Senator would be working with us." , Howard Beau told the group in the kitchen.
" Gee! I wonder why?" Winston said to Howard Beau. "The biggest political and social movement in the history of the planet.. Now why would he want to be involved in that..? Think about it dorkface!"
" Point taken, little Bro,", Howard Beau told him. " but how do we keep him from exploiting this for his own ends?"
"Have the Way Scans at the meeting, Monday.", Alberta suggested. "They seem to have ways of understanding what is going on and taking positive action. We had a group like that in Tiger Country. They were present at every meeting and we called them the Counsel of Elders."
" What did they do?", Winston Bridges asked. He was always interested in the methods of problem-solvers in different cultures. The Way Scans got some of their best ideas by checking out history and anthropology books or by talking to people from other societies.
"They listened and helped people listen to one another." Alberta answered. " The goal of the Council was to not have anything to do at all. They got pretty close to their
goal, but people felt better if they were at the debates and discussions". , Alberta explained.
"A sort of reminder, like totems, for our people." Winston said.
"..or statues of the Saints.", Thelma Louise contributed. She was studying comparative religions and found the whole church building, altar decoration and statue thing fascinating. A lot of religions were really very decorative.
" We were fortunate that our Council shared its wisdom." Alberta acknowledged. " Their basic criteria for social action was good manners and the starting point for resolving any conflict was to acknowledge that both parties in the dispute have basic needs that must be considered. In some cases, the parties involved may have very
similar, if not identical needs. The key is for both sides to figure out how to fill the other side's needs while they fill their own, as well."
"Sounds like a game plan to me.", Winston admitted. " Let's just hope that Sterlin sees the wisdom of such ways." Howard Beau wished aloud.
" He must be able to do that. " put in Patrick Grant from the kitchen doorway. He came in from the dining room, during a break in the Open Poker game. " Senator Sterlin would not be where he is today if he could not assess the needs of others.", the nine
year old stated solemnly. Patrick had been voted the family member most likely to
be a politician. He had also been named for that father of the original, political sound bite, " Give me Liberty or give me death!", Patrick Henry.
" So you think the Senator knows what is needed?", Alberta asked Patrick Grant.
"He may not know everything, yet.", the small boy answered. "But he knows how to get any information he wants or needs. He also knows who to go to if he wants to get things done, as well as how to manipulate people to get them to do what he wants them to do. You have to know what people need to manipulate them.", Patrick concluded. Then he went back in to the dining room to play more Open Poker.
"Sterlin sounds like a good man to have on our side. " Alberta acknowledged, staring after Patrick Grant as he left the room. For a nine year old, he knew his political science.
" I would still like the Way Scans at the meeting with the Senator.", Howard Beau acknowledged. " I have seen the man operate when he wants something!"
At about the time they were drying the dinner dishes, Abel Rebinowitz was putting a call through to the Holy Land. This piece of real estate was called the Holy Land because many of the world's current, major religions had something happen
there or thereabouts, in the past two thousand years. In terms of Planet Time, two thousand years practically just happened , temporally speaking. It had just barely finished happening if you look at it in terms of non-recorded history and for most of the Planet Time, no one has been writing much down.
No one wrote a thing down during Ameba Time, Fish Time, Dinosaur Time, Flowering Plant Time , Land Mammal Time, and for most of Human Time. Writing stuff down is a new invention. The idea of history is even a new invention. Before history was invented people just sort of remembered things. Sometimes they remembered
accurately and well and sometimes they did not. Sometimes they just made stuff up out of the blue. No one even guessed people would devise ways of recording anything!
About five thousand years ago, people started writing stuff down. They got good at it and a lot of writing was going on when a bunch of Holy People started to get active in the area we call the Middle East, these days. These very Holy People were thought to have been born and/or die, and/or ascend to heaven, from the
geographic location some now called The Holy Land. The people there had the ability to keep records, so a lot of attention was paid to these events and arrivals. The importance put on these events may have had something to do with the value, of the written word, to the groups involved. These groups also had a lot of rules about things in their respective cultures. Rules were put together with Holy People and you got religions.
Thus, two major religions, Christianity and Islam, came into an area where one such writing-loving and rule-loving group, the Jews, already existed. Now there were three.
To the outsider, it is often hard to tell these three groups apart from one another. They each had lots of rules about things and sometimes the rules were the same rules. They each said they had one God. They each had Holy Books that told stories, sometimes the same stories. It is not completely clear, but the One God, they each have, seems to be the same God. One would think that with so much in agreement, they would get along really well. No so. They have been at each other's throats, for a good part of the time that anyone has been writing things down. It is not clear if the One God had this in mind.
One of those important guys was even called the Prince of Peace. He apparently caused a lot of conflict and Jerusalem, the city in the middle of all of this, was totally destroyed behind his appearance there. Go figure..
Then came another important guy, named Mohammed, who tried to unify folks in that area. He and his ancestors were relatives of the Jews, but that seemed to do no good. There were more wars and conflicts than ever and some still going on. This was part of the reason that Abel Rebinowitz was calling his cousin in the Holy Land. He wanted to get Leon's read on The Message, especially that part of The Message, about the return to the Father/Mother God at the end of the game. That sounded like it would
be hard for Leon to cope with. It seemed to imply that Jews would be leaving the Holy City, which was something against Leon's rules. Leon and the others like him, in that part of the world, seemed unable to accommodate that kind of change of plan.
" So, Leon," Abel asked. "What do you think?" He did not need to tell Leon what about.
" Powerful changes for the good are in progress.", Leon said sleepily. Then Leon hung up the phone. It was 8AM, Jerusalem time, and Leon had just awakened from a heavy sleep. In his dream, Leon was playing with Tigers. He had never had such a feeling of happiness , well-being and fun, in his life, as he had in that dream. Leon went back to sleep. "I'll go with it.", Leon figured.
At about the time the Brightfoot kitchen floor was being mopped, Preston was saying good night to his brother, Senator Sterlin Sommes. Cora Mae had made a fine meal and they had enjoyed it together. Nothing could top her fried chicken and biscuits, in just about anybody's estimation and everyone in the house wa satisfied on all counts.
Earlier, Preston had explained all that happened at the Friend's of the Planet meeting. Sterlin was impressed. Sterlin Sommes usually responded to most new things with a lot of caution. Sudden and unexpected change was like a rogue Tiger in Tiger Country - something to be greatly feared. You never knew when that Tiger might spring and just eat you right up. Sterlin was as much of a hunter as Freemont had ever been, only Sterlin was after power instead of small game.
Freemont Jefferson Jackson, former resident of Tiger Country, would have had the utmost respect for Sterlin's degree of caution, had he known about it. When living in Tiger Country, Freemont had been heard to say, " I got where I am today by being cautious."
"So we have our meeting, Monday afternoon, at Friends of the Planet.", Sterlin agreed as they parted on the front porch of Preston's house.
" We sure do." Preston responded.
The thick, humid darkness of the Southern night hid that both brothers were smiling from ear to ear. The lightening bugs winked.
As they winked again, Ruth "The Flame" Feinstein stood naked, before the mirror in her room, looking at herself. She could not understand what happened when she walked into a room. To herself, she looked like any regular person. Like any regular
person, there were lots of things she did not like about herself. She thought she was too fat and that her nose was too big. Ruth's mother told her that everyone thinks something or another is wrong with their appearance. Her mother would know, too, because Estelle Feinstein advised some of the world's most beautiful women and men, about how they looked.
Estelle Feinstein was a "beauty and wardrobe advisor to the stars." This had nothing to do with astronomy. These famous people would come to their home, to plan what they would be wearing and how they would look for the " next fashion season". Sometimes there would be big conferences, in their living room, with that famous person and their hair and makeup designer and several clothing designers, from the big fashion houses, all in conference with her mother and their client. At times, it was hard for Ruth to believe who was in their living room when she came home from school. Even those people turned around and looked at her when ever she came into a room.
The Flame kept thinking of the story of Ruth in the Bible. That Ruth apparently could turn heads, too, and turned the head of the King. She had ended up marrying him. Ruth, the Flame, had not even had a date with anyone yet, and she was beginning to wonder if her social life was being hampered by her gift to get everyone's attention. The Bible never said if Ruth had dated, or not, prior to the Royal nuptials, but The Flame doubted it.
It was not a royal wedding that the Flame was worried about, however. It was her sister, Naoimi's wedding that concerned her. Naomi Feinstein and Michael Stein were to be married the next afternoon and the family had just come home from the wedding rehearsal. It happened there, too. The moment The Flame walked into the temple, no one was looking at the Bride and Groom any more. Sometimes her gift was a pain in the ass.
Famous people often had the same problem that The Flame did. They seemed to stop everybody else's show. At some point or another it usually starts to bother even the most fan-seeking celebrity. It was beginning to get to Ruth who certainly had no wish to detract from her sister's big day. She was trying to figure out a way to stay out of Naoimi and Michael's picture, short of not showing up at all. Naomi had not said anything, but Ruth knew it had to be getting on her sister's nerves.
There was a knock at Ruth's door and she put on her robe and went to let her sister in. She knew Naomi's knock. The older sister came in with a bowl full of oranges and chocolate chip cookies. This was their all-time favorite snack.
" I don't know if this marriage can work .....", Naomi said seriously. "Michael hates oranges."
They both looked at the bowl in her hands and burst out laughing. Then Ruth's laughter turned to tears, much to her sister's surprise.
" I'm going to wreck your wedding..", Ruth sobbed. "I know I am."
" What are you talking about?!", Naomi exclaimed.
" You saw what happened when we were at the rehearsal.", Ruth said. "Didn't it bother you that no one was looking at you. The Rabbi was not even looking at you."
" Michael was looking at me and that is the only person who matters. Besides, there will be so many famous people there tomorrow, I doubt that anybody will be looking at anybody as unfamous as Michael and I for more than about five seconds."
Naoimi reminded Ruth. " I swear most of those fashion folks are just coming to see which wedding dress I will be wearing! Personally, I would rather have them come to look at my sister than at my dress!", Naomi stated emphatically.
Ruth still did not seem convinced.
Naomi started laughing in astonished surprise. " You were always so matter of-fact about your gift, I thought you knew what it is. But, you really don't know, do you?'
" I have no clue.", Ruth admitted. " What do you think happens?", she asked her sister.
" I figured it out years ago. People look at you and you remind them of the light within them. It's not because you are more special than anyone else. We are all miraculous. Just that seeing you reminds people of that. How could you think I would not want you at the wedding, doing just that?", Naomi asked.
Ruth looked at herself in the mirror and thought, "I am like this mirror. I show people their own light. The mirror does not control what it shows...otherwise my nose would look a lot smaller." She smiled at her reflection and felt a lot better.
"Big day tomorrow.", their father, Harry Feinstein said, coming to Ruth's door. They gave him a cookie. "You girls better get some sleep. Have you picked the dress yet, Naomi?", he asked.
Both girls groaned. The wedding tomorrow, if nothing else, would be the fashion
even of the season. Harry and Estelle Feinstein were leaders of the fashion industry, in the southern United States, from the Southwest to the Eastern Seaboard. They owned shops in most of the major cities on the East coast and had ties to New York and Hollywood. They also had close contacts with major European design houses with shops that ranged from Haute Couture to workday fashions, casual and sportswear and even had shops that sold country western styles. Always, they sold well-made clothes that looked good on real people.
" Feel good about who you are." was their corporate motto.
Estelle Feinstein also knew the founders of many of the world's leading health, beauty and cosmetics corporations. These business contacts , as well as family friends, would be at the wedding tomorrow. Estelle suspected that many of those attending were coming more out of a desire to be seen there, than out of interest in her daughter, but that was part of the fashion game, too. Estelle was booked solid for months, just to help people plan what they would be seen in, at the wedding.
She told her husband," We should have had seven daughters. What I have made on consultation fees for this wedding could pay for the event five times."
Ruth decided she would elope when her time came. The major fashion houses of Europe, the America' and Asia had sent wedding gowns for Naomi to choose from.
She got the selection down to ten, but Naomi had still not decided which one to wear.
"Now I know how Lady Diana felt.", Naomi said. Looking at the dresses hanging up around her room. Each dress was undeniably a work of art. Naomi was being used as the vehicle to carry the message of fashion, to the world and she did not doubt that the dress she chose would make its designer world famous.
"No doubt that dress will get a lot of attention!", Naomi mused as she thought about The Message received by the whole planet just a few days before. This Message was also heard by Naomi, no matter how many wedding details she had on her mind. Thinking about all the dresses hanging in her room, in the light of The Message, Naomi had an idea. She went to talk with her mother and father and told them what she had in mind. In full agreement with her decision, they set about making her idea a reality. With all the fashion choices she could have made, Naomi was pretty sure that no one would be expecting this!
Needless to say, the prayer on every lip and the Sermon on every mount was about Tigers and asking for guidance about Tigers and being kind to one another, throughout that process.
There were several families in for the Sunday Morning Special Breakfast Buffet, that morning, when Acton Maxum, the world-famous singer and entertainer, walked in with his "people", for a bite to eat.
They sent the song to the World Health Organization, in a form ready for release on each continent. Lillian was happy to have the voice of one of her most promising pupils, Loni Cox Tupalow, heard around the world. Now it was Loni Cox, filling the Big Ear with the exquisite beauty of her voice and singing the song that had so delighted Acton Maxum.
"I don't even know what folate is," Acton told
Tom "but that song makes me want some. Now, if we can just do the
same for the Tiger Preservation Project we will be on our way. I
want to bring that singer to the Friends of the Planet meeting,
tomorrow.", he proposed as Loni Cox Tupalow emerged from her hiding
place, near the Ladies Rest Room, as she finishing the final chorus
of her song. Acton Maxum stood up and
Let us walk into the Future together.
By your side change will seem
Let us walk into the Future together.
By your side life will seem
Let us walk into the Future together
Lines simple, classic colors and utilitarian design, the woman's garments would allow her to do almost any kind of work and remain feminine looking, even stylish. The basic components of both Naomi and Michael's clothing had reoccurred again and again in fashion designs, in one form or another, throughout the past 600 years. It was these design components that made clothes wearable on the human body. No one knew this better than that room full of designers, models and clothing retailers, attending the wedding.
Naomi recognized items like her great, great grandmother's embroidery, utilitarian as they might be, as art. Naomi learned that sometimes the designs on these objects were traditional patterns. They were celebrations of the heritage of their maker. Just as often these decorations were symbols for power and protection. Almost always they were patterns and symbols of beauty. There were times when designs had a political purpose, at times a religious one. They were often visual messages, of one kind or another, to the people of the time. Those symbols might be unreadable to modern eyes or to the eyes of the enemy or outsider, in their maker's time.
Isaac tried the famous Yarmulke on one day, having heard the story of the item, from the neighborhood women. Family members were always glad to bring it out for another chance to laugh. These were the days before TV, remember. Anyway, the Yarmulke fit Isaac perfectly. Thinking that this was the best chance he would ever have to get a fine bride, like Ester Naomi Goldstein, he proposed. She accepted.
The company stood and drank the toast with him. " Keep it functional!", resounded through the banquet hall.
Clothing manufacturers would soon need to use
their equipment to make clothing and fabric-based equipment for
more people, going into more climatic regions and doing more
different kinds of work, than .at any time in human history. The
manufacturers and designers did not have time for standing still or
for standing still clothing any more. Clothes designed for people
to stand still in did not go out of fashion after The Message,
however. People made them themselves if they wanted them. They
traded around, swapped and created on their own high fashion. The
average person had a lot more fun designing their own clothes for
non-work hours, too. It was a really good and creative thing that
the fashion industry had "other fish to fry."
The Message might have looked like a disaster to the world of fashion, much of which was pretty frivolous but The Message was actually the industry's biggest break since the invention of spinning and weaving. You cannot plant a tree in a Lorenzo Marconi and you cannot replant a forest naked and barefoot, either. As Harry predicted, they had the job of clothing the whole planet now, not just for the few who had money.
While the party was going on in the main banquet
room, the Way Scans were out in the garden with the sons and
daughters of the guests. Many of these young people had come to the
wedding from other states in the USA and from abroad, so this was a
perfect opportunity to see how youth from around the world were
receiving The Message. The Way Scans also let the others in on what
had occurred at the Friends of the Planet meeting, Saturday, and
what was planned for the Tiger Preservation Project. They had all
seen the newscasts of the meeting but the Way Scans filled them in
on the stories behind that story.
"Lots of people our age were so depressed they
figured they did not even have a future:", Kiki Larstrom, from
Stockholm, contributed. "They just dropped out, killed themselves
or did drugs or something."
Bobbie Winslow Turner contributed " They don't
need to kill themselves. Too many people our age are in the middle
of war zones with others perfectly willing to do it for them. It
might look different from the way it looks in a peaceful nation
like Sweden, but the death toll is just as high". Bobbie was
referring to youth, in almost every urban area he knew of, but was
also thinking of the actual armed forces in most wars for the past
50 years. A lot of those soldiers had been men or women the same
age as most of the people in the room.
" It is hard to feel invested in a society that is destroying life all around you, especially when your own people seem to be the ones to go first.", Bobbie concluded.
" But The Message was great:", Yevette De St.
Jaques exclaimed. "I was only in Paris for twenty-four hours after
hearing it, but it was all anyone talked about. I was in class when
The Message came," she explained, "but people started talking and
planning right away, right then. People had hope for our generation
and for children we might have some day. I have never seen anything
" I had never even wanted to have children.", Luz
Emmanuella Soarez, from Argentina stated. "Most cities are over run
with children no one even wants or can look after. There were times
I felt that all people were like lice, like an infestation on
" Considering we are sitting on what is supposed
to be Tiger Country, you are not far from wrong.," Antoinette
"Toni" Leonardo joked.
" No kidding.", Winston Brightfoot told them when the laughter had subsided.
" We want your thoughts on what gifts your people have to help the Tiger Preservation Project to clean up the Earth.. Every nation has its resources, both material and creative. You know your people and what they can do best. Many of you have traveled a lot. You have had a chance to see what your country can do better than any other."
" For example," Bobbie explained, "The USA is
probably the best in the world at communications. We have more
people, with better communication equipment and the ability to
invent more of the best communication equipment, than just about
any place else on earth."
" The Japanese are best at doing something wonderful with just about nothing., Precious Treasure Nakamoto said. "We also recycle and reuse a lot, because of our dense population and limited natural resources."
" They also use land there efficiently." Dun Rhee
acknowledged. " So do we, in Korea."
" So do Italians!", Fabio Marconi exclaimed. "Italians are also some of the world's best city planners. Maybe, because we have been planning cities for so long.. with water supplies and roads and everything, including a sustainable food supply." Fabio's grandfather had an apartment in the middle of Rome and still managed to grow enough food there to feed a family, plus visitors. The only thing he bought was flour for pasta.
"Italians do seem to be able to fit more people
per square foot into quality living spaces than just about anybody
else." Toni Leonardo acknowledged. She had studied this
extensively, with her mother, as part of Faith Leonardo's research
on sustainable urban environments. Toni referred to these studies
as "gardens, no matter where you live."
" We in Germany, have the technology to provide
water filtration systems for the world's water supplies. We can
also build roads that require very little maintenance.", Hans
Fredrich Martz, told the group. " The manufacture of medicines and
basic health and hygiene products, like soap and protective sun
screens, also comes from Germany and Switzerland.", he added. " We
already supply those things to most areas of the world, but most of
the world's population cannot afford to buy them.", Hans
"It would certainly make sense to distribute what
is really needed, to as many people as need those things, instead
of selling lots of unnecessary things to a few.", Bobbie
" That is what is being planned.", Hans responded. " With so many sudden deaths, of the ailing and infirm, the manufacturers of medicines have no choice but to focus on preventive health care. Those stories were already making the front pages of German newspapers when I left Germany to come here."
" We have the ability to do a lot of things that
can help people, here in the United States.", Toni shared, "My
mother has studied how , in conjunction with other nations, a
" It is not impossible to grow the food that the
world needs and its not impossible to get it to the people of the
world, either." Toni told the group.
"The same could be said for medicines and basic
self care products.", Hans added.
"There are things that every nation can
contribute. Good communication is the key. Let's keep in touch by
computer E mail.", Ruth the Flame Feinstien
They set up a code word, to send messages to one
another and passed around a list for email addresses. They would
try to keep everyone advised of what was developing in each country
and area of the world. Then they finished their meeting and got up
The party lasted quite late but it seemed like
everybody there had a good time. They went home or to their hotel
rooms and many joined in a collective dream about Tigers. It was
kind of like a re-run of the party only it was in Tiger
In Israel, Leon Stein had a dream that he was
being chased by a Tiger. He hid in a walk-in closet with a solid
wood door but the Tiger was so massive, it simply ripped through
the door of the closet with its claws. In his dream, Leon was down
and the beast was over him, just ready to bite his face off. Then
Leon woke up.
"Is a Tiger about to eat my face off, here?" If
the answer was no, he figured that whatever the problem was, it was
negotiable. Leon was a changed man.
The party lasted quite late but it seemed like everybody there had a good time. They went home or to their hotel rooms and many joined in a collective dream about Tigers. It was kind of like a re-run of the party only it was in Tiger Country.
In Israel, Leon Stein had a dream that he was being chased by a Tiger. He hid in a walk-in closet with a solid wood door but the Tiger was so massive, it simply ripped through the door of the closet with its claws. In his dream, Leon was down and the beast was over him, just ready to bite his face off. Then Leon woke up.
Forever after that, when something happened to Leon that he thought was not as he would like it to be, he would remember that worst of all possible moments. It was not when his face was getting eaten off, it was that moment before that occurred which was the worst. Leon would remember that moment and ask himself,
"Is a Tiger about to eat my face off, here?" If the answer was no, he figured that whatever the problem was, it was negotiable. Leon was a changed man.
Chapter 10 - Monday Morning
There was a group meeting, early that Monday morning after The Message. Those in attendance were Wardens of several of the prisons in the Alabama State Department of Corrections. It seemed that most of the prisoners and many of the guards had died over the weekend. They had "left us", in droves. This was not really
surprising as most prisons in Alabama had become hell on earth and the only prisoners still living were those scheduled to be released soon or those who were just plain curious to see what would happen next.
Sterlin Sommes had a phone call from his cousin, Lamont Jefferson Davis, that woke him from a sound sleep. Lamont was the Warden of the Alabama Men's Correctional Facility at Pokee, Alabama. Sterlin had bought the land that the prison now rested on more than thirty years ago. He thought that sending criminals to Pokee had a nice ring to it. The Senator was not yet a Senator at that time. He purchased
the land for $50.00 an acre and sold it to the State of Alabama, for the construction of the prison, for $5,000.00 an acre. This was and is not so unusual a practice and is perhaps part of the reason why there are so many prisons today.
The construction company that built the prison: was owned by Sterlin's cousin, George Merriweather Jenkins, who by hiring locally, got his labor dirt cheap. Though paid a minimum wage, residents of the Pokee area were working for cash, for the first
time in decades, without having to travel a hundred miles or more to do it.
The local population were also recipients of the first sewerage treatment facility, the first water treatment plant and had workable sanitation services for the first time in their area, thanks to the recycling plant build as part of a Federally- funded prison industries project. The prison project piped clean water to every public building ( 3 totally, every existing home [ 27 total) and every business in town (11 total).
The people of Pokee were also promised jobs in the prison itself with the possibility of future jobs for their children, if those children went to college and became nurses, counselors, electricians, teachers or any other person with training that would be needed for an institution of this kind. If they did not go on to school, they could be guards, or as in the case of the warden, LaMont Jefferson Davis, a warden.
"We'd never get these kinds of funds to build a college in this god-forsaken place." , Sterling mused, looking at the plans of the prison before the ground breaking. A college would have cost one fourth the amount of money. It turned out that a kind of college system did come from the prison, though. With the passage of federal legislation, prisoners were entitled to Pell Grant funding that paid for their college education. This Pell Grant money paid for teachers, who otherwise would not have had a population of adults in this kind of rural area to support a little red school house, let
alone a college program. With those teachers in the area funds were usually found to build some kind of a local college campus to educate citizens, namely the sons and daughters of the local population. See, the system does work!
Pokee was a little bit of a town, away back beyond nowhere but Sterlin had put it on the map for thousands, namely the inmates and their families. There was no reason for anyone else to be caught dead there. If the prison had not gone in, the youth and eventually the adults would probably have abandoned the area eventually. As it was, Pokee and its surrounding areas supported Senator Sterlin Sommes with their votes. In fact , the prison also financed his run for the Lieutenant Governor. He also got votes
from others in his state by looking "tough" on crime. He kept looking tough by voting for more and more prisons all over the state.
Fifty years ago, little towns like Pokee wanted sanitariums or state hospitals but those institutions were out of vogue. Now they wanted prisons. Most people thought they would never be involved in a situation that would ever lead to their being the one filling the prison as an inmate. The prison construction thing was seen as an income generating opportunity for the rural areas. It is not clear who people thought would fill these prison beds.
Even people who were knowingly doing illegal things never saw the possibility of incarceration as something that could occur to them or to their loved ones. If you doubt this, think about how many people drive automobiles while intoxicated, how many engage in illegal activities, like hunting out of season ( we are talking about mushroom hunting as well as animal hunting), making corn whiskey (or your own designer beer) or getting in big old fights on Saturday nights, as an accepted part of life for an average citizens? So was hitting their kids.
In the past, no one was arrested, tried or convicted for such things, unless they were "colored" folks making "trouble." There were lots of prisons now that needed filling up. They needed to be overflowing, so it would be necessary to build more. This is a really, really big business, that many depend on for their basic needs. Some depend on it for vast wealth. Do the math.
Sterlin and most of his family knew all this. The Sommes family built prisons, sold the building supplies to the builder, sold the food to the prison once built, sold the uniforms to both guards and inmates. Work opportunities, in administration of the system were available to cousins and wives and husbands of cousins. Once in a while a distant relative was an inmate, too, though usually not for long.
The one drawback to working in a system like the prison system is that it eventually turns even the most well - meaning heart and mind to stone. That is why many of the prison guards and administrators were found to have "left us" along with the majority of the inmates, after The Message. The prisons themselves, though providing work opportunities for the local population, were pretty much run by the inmates themselves. Inmates organized anything of value. They taught the majority of the inmate population in prison schools, organized recreation activities and clubs, treated each other if sick and generally policed each other, in a variety of ways.
Now, with almost all of the inmates dead, the possibility of a collapse of the social, economic and sanitary facilities of the entire township of Pokee looked imminent. No wonder Warden Davis sounded worried.
Warden Davis was on the conference call to the Senator with his cousins, Letitia Cartwright Watson, Warden of the Women's Correctional Facility at Almonte, and with Carter "Joe" McCullers, the Warden at the Regional Learning Center, the children's prison. They all had a real mess on their hands. Bodies were everywhere and families of inmates were pretty irate. The trio and Senator Sommes were trying to figure out how to deal with this crisis.
In order to calm people down, they decided to show video tapes, originally made to illustrate what model prisons they had. The tapes had never been seen before, by the public. The most outsiders knew was what they saw on their visiting day to the prison and they saw the best the prison had to show. Dismal as that was, the reality of everyday life there was much worse.
"At the end of the tape, family members will be rejoicing that their relative "left", in whatever way was open for them to do so.", Leticia pointed out.
"They'll go out together and have big parties that their loved one is free at last.'', Lamont predicted.
The wardens involved were concerned about disposal of the many unclaimed bodies and the payment of life insurance benefits to family of the deceased. Each inmate had been insured for the amount of $4OO.OO, in case of death, to pay for funeral expenses.
Sterlin owned the funeral business responsible for burial of those without family to claim them, so he was not worried about that. The Insurance company would be paying United and Eternal Rest Funeral Home a bundle to get rid of all those corpses. Sterlin's mother owned the insurance company, which insured the inmates and she had averaged a profit of $6,000 per inmate, over the past 30 years. The State paid those premiums right on time. Mama could afford to pay off the relatives now.
There was a part of this death benefit situation that had got a little out of control. It was stipulated that if there was no next of kin and an inmate died, their policy went into the fund for released prisoners. Those few left in the system would benefit well from the recent deaths of so many inmates.
One inmate, released the week after The Message , was given enough money to buy a small home, attend trade school and support his family while he learned to be a welder. For the year, that he was in school, the amount he got was actually less than the cost of keeping him incarcerated for that period of time. He never returned to prison.
No one did after The Message, but that was not the biggest problem the wardens were having.
They and the Senator were most concerned because no one was left at Pokee and other prisons like it, to operate the sewer and sanitation systems, located in these prisons. If there was some kind of toxic disaster, reporters would be all over it like ducks on a June Bug.
" Get tha sanitation facilities runnin'! , Sterlin yelled into the phone. "I don cayah how yah do it. Run 'em yah sef. Y'all have chil'en who ah college gradu'tes, wokin fah
yah. Figyah it out. Gat an ex - offendah. They ran em when they wahs in. If they'll agree ta come back, hiah 'em to do tha jahb! Get 'em tah teach yah and yah kids. Look on it as yah halp tah tha Tigah thang..!", the Senator strongly suggested, hanging up.
The justice system was never able to fill the prisons again. People who were guilty usually "left us" before going to trial. People who were innocent had public defenders who actually had enough time and resources to defend them properly. Juries also were aware that it was practically a death sentence to send anyone to jail. Most of the time not even "put them in and throw away the key" fans felt someone should die for the possession of a half an ounce of marijuana, even if they were "colored". Besides, all people were needed to work.
Most prisons turned into sanitation plants and recycling centers, which was their most constructive function in the community anyway. They also cost a lot less when operated to serve only those functions .
The biggest change in the way the Department of Corrections operated, after The Message, was that it sent those guilty of crimes, not to big and expensive boxes, where the general population thought they could be rid of them, but to projects to help heal the Planet. They went to clean creeks, to install water purification systems, to reforest hills with tree-planting projects, as a way to " serve their time". These projects were often in the middle of nowhere, often were beautiful and were in or near the wild places. The inmates were frequently healed by this opportunity to serve the Earth. They helped themselves there and served their sentences, helping the world become a better place.
But, I get ahead of myself . .For most people it was business as usual, that Monday. For some, there were significant changes. For example, Abel Rebinowitz sold out every newspaper and magazine that had anything to do with Tigers or the Tiger Preservation Project , at his newsstand. He even sold out an issue of Cosmopolitan that had a woman in a low-cut tiger print body suit on the cover. Fortunately, it also had a good article about recycling at the office. Abel could have sold three times the amount of newspapers and magazines, if he had them in stock.
His news stand was famous for getting the latest news in print, so people flocked to him for needed information. His business was known as "The Source", as in, " If you want to know anything about anything, just go to "The Source." If Abel did not have the information, he could tell people where to find it.
On Monday, Abel spent most of the day directing people to other news stands, various public and private libraries, non-profit organizations, book stores, and a couple of times to the religious counselor of their choice. All of a sudden, people were asking a lot of questions about a lot of things. Abel sent some people to Solomon for readings from the Book, the I Ching. They would shine their own shoes and ask their question. Solomon would open the book and read to them. It worked fine, even without the 8 Ball.
" Lots of my regular customers didn't show up today.", Solomon told his friend, Abel, when they were on their morning coffee break together.
" I am not surprised.", Solomon added. "My guess is that a considerable number of them have "left us". Those rich guys were making the big bucks, but most of them were really alone. ", he explained. "I'm probably the only person that most of them actually talked to for the whole day. I could tell that by the things they told me and the way they were on Monday mornings, after a weekend.", Solomon said.
"They had no families, these men and women?", Abel asked.
" Sometimes not." Solomon told Abel. " Some did. Big families, important families but they just never had their own life within that family... They never really connected with anyone there .. with anyone anywhere.."
Solomon's guess about these deaths was fairly accurate, though some of the biggest wheelers and dealers did not actually die but transformed their lives, instead.
One man became a kindergarten teaching assistant so he could learn how to play again. One woman opened a library/coffee shop/planting supply/residence community at her summer home in the Adarondaks. It was a small community, made up of the population that had lived within a hundred miles in each direction of the town, prior to The Message.
A lot of people, not just the rich, were transforming their lives, too. People were choosing to try different jobs, different living situations, different relationships. That was OK, too. You certainly do not need to die to switch.
Alberta went back to her classes at the School of Veterinary Medicine, on Monday morning. She was promptly asked to leave the school when the presence of reporters and camera crews made it impossible for anyone to learn a thing. The faculty of the school agreed to give Alberta credits for the work she was doing for Friends of the Planet. They saw the opportunities for funding grants as virtually unlimited, for any institution connected with that Tiger thing. Alberta and her work was better than a gold mine.
Alberta took her assignments and left to go to the Friends of the Planet office. The reporters not already with her at the University seemed to be waiting for her at the office. As soon as she arrived, the world famous entertainer, Acton Maxum, also showed up.
" How does one stand this notoriety?", were the first words she said to him, as they reached the door together. She could hardly see because so many camera flashes were going off to take their picture.
" It's a gift.", Acton said simply. " Otherwise it just makes you nuts.", he added under his breath.
Howard Beau Brightfoot knew who Acton Maxum was but was not in any particular awe of the entertainer. He generally cared more for snowy egrets than he did for popular music or the people who make it. Howard Beau did appreciate that the singer had tried, in the past, to help world environmental awareness, in what ever ways he could. Howard Beau appreciated Acton Maxum's offer to help, now.
Alberta recognized Acton Maxum's voice, at once. She had heard it before and remembered it. His voice was quite distinctive and reminded her of the singer-healers that she knew from her life in Tiger Country. Other than that, she knew nothing about the entertainer. Had he not come with Tom " The Man" Winston, the man who sold her music, Alberta probably would have ignored the visitors and gone in to clean the rest rooms, leaving the task of greeting the visitors to Howard Beau.
Acton recognized Alberta from her the press conference, which had been seen world wide. Her attitude of quietness and modesty and Howard Beau's straight - forward manner made Acton feel at ease. He told them what he could contribute to the success of the Tiger Preservation Project. He had lots of creative ideas and he had the ear of the world, as well.
Acton had whispered messages into the world's ear, from time to time - about world peace, unity and saving things like the children of the Planet. He often supported the efforts of others to send out the same messages.
" Now, both my gloves are off." Acton told them. "I have every kind of resource to communicate anything you want said. Just let me know and I'll get the best people working on it. By the way, I am working on some lyrics I would like you to take a look at, Alberta. See if you can write me some tunes for them. "
Alberta agreed to try, explaining the process she used to write her music. The she asked Acton if he would consider working with the End World Hunger NOW! organization, on their Urban Food Production Program .
" A Program to help neighborhoods grow the food they use locally will be needed if people are relocated from the wild places to the cities.", Alberta explained it to Acton.
" A lot of the best land, in many nations, is now part of a city. These days, cities get some or all of their food brought into the city. We have to plan our cities so they can support themselves with more and more food production. "
"Why?", Acton wanted to know. "What's wrong with importing food? Doesn't that give money to rural areas, to other nations?"
" People will be moving out of many rural areas and most other nations cannot grow enough food for their own people if they are feeding people abroad. People on small farms often did grow enough to feed their families and had some left over.
Now we want to support small farming inside city areas. ", Alberta explained.
" Small farms are disappearing from rural areas, anyway.", Howard Beau added. "Big land owners make more money selling food to cities and often sell to cities in other nations. So people in cities around the world are and will be hungry because land they live on does not grow the food they need to eat!"
"Bummer!", Acton admitted. " So growing food in cities will help a lot of the world eat better! I'll do what I can." Acton was thinking of the land around his home.
"Who can help me set up some projects? " he asked. "If they work, we can coordinate with that End Hunger group and make a movie or a TV show about it ... maybe even some radio shows for other countries."
" Make a musical!", suggested Tom "The Man" Winston. "A musical at your mansion! The world has been trying to see inside those gates for 25 years. Tell me who is not going to watch it?".
Tom Winston had not yet got far in the entertainment world but it was not because he did not know a great idea when he saw one. He had just not had this kind of luck before. The transformation of Acton's estate to a model urban food production system, had to be entertainment if packaged correctly.
" It'll be a hoot.", Acton agreed and they left to go over to see Faith Leonardo. and Rebecca Rebinowitz. Faith invited the whole group over to have lunch in her garden. That ended up being a hoot, too.
After the others left the Friends of the Planet Office, Howard Beau asked Alberta " Could you do a song about fish farms, too?".
Alberta had just told him about her song writing abilities and her career with Global Talents. "I am having visions of at least half the swimming pools, in wealthy neighborhoods, turned into fish farms.", Howard Beau mused.
He made a mental note to check with his friend Ed at the State Department of Fish and Game, to see if they planned any expansion of their fish farm training programs. Ed McKenny Forkedlightening coordinated the production at the hatcheries,
as well, and might want to increase his production just in case this fish farm thing caught on.
"I am having visions of dirty sinks", Alberta told Howard Beau. She still needed to go in to clean the rest rooms. At that same time, her father was engaged in some essential work, too.
On Monday after The Message, the Mobile Alabama Stock Exchange did what all the other Stock Exchanges in the world did. It gyrated, wiggled, danced up and down and generally moved in completely unpredictable ways, to the tune of the Tiger
Rag. Freemont Jefferson Jackson had fun watching it. Stocks up, bonds down, bonds up, stocks down. The Market was going crazy and nobody knew what would happen next. One by one, the Brokers sort of broke.
They gave up trying to make any sense out of it and wandered down to the Quickie Market, where Freemont was on duty. Freemont was a man to be relied on. Always there for them in the past, he had a smile for the customer, a kind word, a helpful market tip when you needed one. Since starting to work there, Freemont had saved many, with the right advice at the right time. He never told a soul about it afterward, either.
Men and women wandered in that morning, starting at about ten A.M. The ones who had come in early to check what was happening on the European exchanges found it was a mess there, too.
"At least they know that most of their cities will still be there.", one Broker in Municipal Bonds told Freemont. "Most of those places in Europe have been around a thousand years. We've got cities here with millions of dollars in Municipal Bonds that nobody will pay off if no one will be living in that location anymore. Those places were wild places two hundred years ago! They are supposed to be wild places again!"
The guy looked like he was ready to "leave us ", over it.
Freemont looked at him and said, " Why don't you just have every town where these people do go in the future share in paying the Bonds off.", Freemont suggested.
The towns in other places will be getting the benefit of all those new citizens, to work and pay taxes there... Work it out!"
The man looked hopeful and put in a call to someone he knew in Washington, DC. This looked like a job for some legislators who owed him a few favors.
Freemont was able to help from time to time in this way, but mostly he just let the brokers come in, sit down and open a bottle of what ever they wanted to drink. Freemont also made coffee, tea or hot chocolate and invited everyone to make themselves as comfortable as possible. They were sitting in the Quickie Market isles, for the most part, right on the floor in their Broker Brother's suits. Freemont prided himself on the cleanliness of his floors.
Most of them were watching the TV Monitor that told what was going on at the New York Exchange and abroad. The West Coast Exchange had just opened and it was going nuts, too. "Stunned" would have been a word to describe the look on many a face in the Quickie Market that morning. Freemont kept smiling and every once in a while he opened a bag of cheese curls and passed them around for people to share. At lunch time he made the weenie specials, a hot dog with chili and cheese, for everyone. Nobody paid a nickel for any of it. Freemont was picking up the tab.
Freemont realized that these people, too, needed a little kindness in these times of change. A lot of them feared being ruined financially, worse than they feared death. Not many had a friend they could go to, except Freemont, if indeed they were ruined. So, Freemont gave everyone free popsicles. They could have any flavor they wanted.
This quiet clerk watched the rise and fall of the stock market, the bond market, the precious metal shares and the commodities exchanges, along with everyone else. Freemont was concerned more for the people involved than for the Market. He knew that what happened here in one or two days would stabilize over the next few months.
As an outsider, coming from a completely non-commercial environment, Freemont could see things about the business world that many people, who are raised in it, fail to notice. He saw the organic nature of the process.
" Enterprise that bends and stretches and wiggle around will probably do OK with this change. ", he told his wife when he called her that morning. "These businesses will need to make some changes, but they will make them. They can bend like the leaves do when a gale wind is blowing. If they cannot be flexible they probably would not be here today to feel the wind, let alone last out this big blow "
"Unless you sell things that are really essential, like salt or matches, your business must be flexible or die.", Betsy Ross reminded him. " The business will either sell something that is really needed or it will change or it will disappear."
"From what I have seen of businesses around here, I think many of them will change and change for the better." Freemont predicted.
Time would tell. What happened to dinosaurs might happen to luxury cars. It was difficult to tell exactly what changes would be needed. Freemont knew no other way of reassuring the men and women that filled the Quickie Market, but he felt that these ups and downs would even out, to the smooth flow of the river of wealth again. The quaking going on, along with its after shocks, might cause some changes in the course of the
river, but the essential volume of the river would remain the same.
Freemont just gave people snacks and drinks and smiled a lot. When the Market took peculiar dives in one area or another, Freemont would look at the monitor and laugh a little. That part was kind of like white water rafting. He noticed that by the end of the day, some of the crowd was laughing with him.
When the end of the day on the Exchange came, Freemont made sure that anyone who had been drinking alcohol had a safe ride home. He closed up the Quickie Market and walked people to their cars. He planned to come in early tomorrow morning to clean up. Freemont had done a reorder on cheese curls. They had cleaned him out. As far as cheese curls were concerned, Freemont was bankrupt.
Other groups met that Monday morning in offices and classrooms, board rooms and back rooms, laundromats, gyms, sewers and palaces, confessionals and broadcast booths and just about anywhere else you can think of. I can tell you about all those places but for brevity. I will stick to the city of Mobile, Alabama and its immediate suburbs, which include the stars in the sky, so I guess that is pretty big after all.
I tend to get universal like that, as you may have noticed. You are probably wondering how I know all this stuff, anyway! I know because the Big Ear was listening and it told me. NOPE! Just kidding!
I am actually the narrator of this tale and I apologize for not introducing myself sooner. I am what you would call One of the Seven. I am the part of the Seven that is the Awareness, sometimes referred to as "the watcher" of The Game.
Sometimes this Awareness is in one person or thing but it is usually perceived by
everyone in a group. Sometimes this group is a group of priests or holy people.
Sometimes this group is a swarm of flies. Sometimes this group is a group of women, who met at the river each day to gather water or each week at a Beauty Spot to talk about their world. Sometimes it is a group of young people wearing sun glasses. Sometimes we are a family. Sometimes we are lovers coming together in the completeness of our Unity.
Why do I mention this? I do so that you may make a note of the Knowing, the Awareness, as it occurs, for you, in your lifetime. If you have never had that feeling, do not worry. You will have it when you die. Remember that and you will have no fear. You can also leave a space for Awareness of Unity in your life, Leave a space for it and it will come.
Alberta and Howard Beau sat eating at The Big Ear Cafe on Monday at lunch time and they began to feel Unity. They were intensely Aware of being there with one another. It felt very right for this meeting, this lunch, this project to be happening, with both of them involved in it now.
That same kind of a feeling was also present that day at the luncheon meeting of Physicians, in the Darcy Kay Cane Conference Room of the Mobile Memorial Hospital.
Every member of the hospital medical staff was there. It had been business as usual, on the Orthopedics Unit, in Labor and Delivery and the Pediatrics was about half full but the rest of the hospital was practically empty. Dr. Ramirez, who had briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a cruise ship physician, thought again and decided there might be something he still could contribute on land, was chairing the meeting.
Dr. Ramirez felt some responsibility to the many nurses, therapists, and technicians that staffed the hospitals. They usually had quite specific and useful training and would need to find alternatives to hospital work or try other professions, which needed these kinds skills. These were the times that a strong leader was needed, to show the way. Most physicians, particularly those who had specialized in the treatments that prolonged the lives of the very elderly or the very ill, were in need for a strong leader, too.
" So, looking at the fact of the many recent deaths," Dr. Ramirez told the meeting of his colleges, " we can certainly tell what kind of medicine people do not need. The question is, can we direct our energies to providing what they do need."
" How do we know what they do need?", asked Dr. Riverton Hewitt-Masters. Dr. Riverton was world-famous in his field and specialized in doing liver transplants on people who could not seem to stop drinking, no matter how clear the evidence that alcohol was killing them.
" We ask them.", Dr. Ramirez answered.
Dr. Hewitt-Masters had never asked a patient what they actually needed, in his entire professional career.
" Look, ", Alberto continued, " Most of the patients I had were not in any shape to be asked anything. I'm not any better at this than you are. What I do know is that we have a lot of smart folks in this room and I am not about to let all that education go to waste, just because some of us specialized in the wrong thing! We'll work it out! You see, I've got a plan...."
Later that afternoon, there was a press conference and Dr. Hewitt-Masters appeared, with the Director of the Mobile Memorial Hospital, to announce the hospital was to become a center for basic services for food, shelter and clothing, as well as basic health for to all citizens of the community. They would do employment referrals, too. There would also be outreach to local employers, to make sure that the physical and mental well-being of their employees and the families of their employees was taken care of.
There would be coordination with local service providers of food, shelter and clothing and job training programs for education and skill development, when needed.
Physicians would also be going into schools and day care centers to assess the needs of students, teachers and workers in those places. Adult schools, training centers and work/study programs would be similarly served.
"Health care is moving out into the community ! It 's Mobile! ", Dr. Hewitt-Masters assured the public. "We will be busier than ever before!"
Would you like to know the details of the meeting that arranged payment for all these new plans? It happened like this:
The preliminary calls to the Insurance companies, made by Dr. Ramirez on Saturday and by Senator Sterlin Sommes shortly thereafter, saw a meeting of interested parties, before lunch on Monday. They were meeting in the Big Old Ear of Corn Building, at the offices of the State Insurance Commission.
The massive numbers of deaths, and the need to pay off on all those life insurance policies had The Industry, as they called themselves, pretty worried. It is notable that they called themselves The Industry, since they manufactured virtually nothing industrial, whatsoever. They were simply a very large channel for some of
the river of wealth. A multibillion-dollar testimonial to the power of the human imagination. The Industry did not know what to do about the after-effects of The Message.
" Let's refuse to pay on all those death benefit policies ", the President of World Life and Casualty Fund, E. Herbert Little, suggested. " We could call all this an act of war by alien beings. Then we would not owe anyone a cent."
" Most of our policies pay double for death of a civilian by an act of war.", Meecham Borden, whispered to his boss. With the end of the cold war, World Life and Casualty had offered that policy. They sold most of their policies in nations that had been untouched by military interventions for centuries.
" I withdraw that suggestion.", E. Herbert Little told the group. " It would destroy our credibility... What we need is a way to extend coverage to everyone...and have everybody pay us for it..."
Their greatest nightmare, unspoken but on every mind there, was that people would figure out there was no need for insurance at all, after The Message. If things got tough, just leave...Who needs insurance?
" Just what we had in mind.", Dr. Ramirez spoke up. He was hoping for support for a plan, which covered everybody, as Mr. Little had hoped for. Dr. Ramirez was worried that people would figure out they did not really need doctors. With the fear of debilitating old age gone, who knew what ideas people might have? Both the Industry and the members of the medical profession needed an good alternative, fast.
Senator Sterlin Sommes, liberally supported in his past campaigns by both groups had an answer to their problems. He met with the experts at several health research companies, well respected within The Industry and came up with a proposal. The Senator discussed it with Dr. Ramirez and the Physician agreed to present the plan to the Board of Insurance Advisors, attending the Monday meeting.
"Since people do not want to put up with lingering and painful illness, it is the duty of physicians and insurance companies to provide people with assistance to have enjoyable and productive wellness.", Dr. Ramirez explained.
"What is that?", E. Herbert Little asked. "I'd like a little of that service myself . "
"Everyone, rich or poor, can benefit.", Dr. Ramirez pointed out. " We find out from each person, what they really need, and we help them with that. "
Then statistics were shared, that proved that programs doing what Dr. Ramirez talked about, were both effective at meeting the needs of clients and at saving vast amounts of money, for the insurance carrier involved. This had been known for many years by medical researchers. It seemed that the wider the range of services to clients, the less costly the overall health care costs, for that population.
" We think that we can offer every employer a package of services, for their employees and employee dependents, that will not only cover the cost of the services we provide them, it will also cover the cost of those not yet employed, in this geographic area. We use some of those funds to work on finding unemployed people jobs, that do cover them when they start working. Then they contribute to the pool of payers.", Dr. Ramirez explained. "Anyway, we would like to try this plan at the Mobile Memorial Hospital.
"Bhat, you'll have tah change tha' name." Senator Sterlin Sommes suggested. " Memorial Hospital sounds too depressin'."
" We'll call it the Mobile Care Center." Dr. Alberto Ramirez volunteered.
The insurance companies agreed to give it a try. Some companies were already engaged in coverage of this kind, for select populations in the city. This plan would involve a broader base, with a larger population but a shared risk among all the companies. They had little to loose.
" Getting back to the issue of all the recent deaths..." an accountant, Haywood David Knudson, spoke up. " It has been my pleasure to calculate that most of the deceased had policies that were so small in amount, they saved us a lot of money by dying sooner than later. Hospital bills for the terminally ill are ten times the amount of the death benefit, for most people . "
" I would, however, suggest that we begin to put a cap on the amount of money a for which a person can insure themselves ." he continued. " If people can, as it seems, just turn themselves off at will, they might take out very large insurance policies and then just check out, so to speak." Having said that, Mr. Knudson promptly dropped dead.
They found a life insurance policy, for the amount of six million dollars, payable to the Tiger Preservation Project, in his coat pocket. Point taken Mr. Knudson!
It was never clear if Mr. Knudson did it for the Tigers or for The Industry but they both thanked him, posthumously. Friends of the Planet Tiger Preservation Project bought its first section of South American rain forest and was able to resettle its recently arrived, squatter population elsewhere, with the money. They called the protected area the Knudson Forest Preserve.
After immediate phone calls to all parent companies, to suspend the sale of any new term policies, the representatives started working on alternatives. Their first decision was to fund a special prize in Mr. Knudson's name. The Knudson Prize would be awarded to those who found a way to help humanity in unusual ways.
The first Knudson Prize went to Freda Tarkle Phillips of Pokipsie, New York, who came up with a new formula for life insurance policies. According to Freda's plan, everyone paid the same premium for the same basic policy but people who had lots of dependent children could buy more than one policy. The most anyone could get for being dead was $50,000.00 per dependent child. Freda was a widow with six dependent children, under age twenty-one. With six children, her husband could not afford life insurance and had none, when he died.
Senator Sterlin Sommes was instrumental in getting legislation through Congress to support this program. It was one of the series of legislative changes that was needed, to deal with The Message. One of the biggest changes was the fact that workers were actually needed, for the first time in fifty years. As a result, workers had money they needed to assure that adequate food, shelter and housing as a part of their future.
" If you can keep a job, you can keep a house." was one of Sterlin's more famous sound bites. He had finally convinced the Senate Banking Committee to come down hard enough on banks so that everyone, not just the rich, could take advantage of the tax breaks of a mortgage. The extension of that tax break, to almost every American, allowed for economic expansion and the necessary product development, required by The Message. These investments in new business and industry was needed for the Tiger Preservation Project to work. Businesses would never have found the capital to finance such change, otherwise.
A lot of this money paid for urban housing and the environmental clean-up of urban areas. Cities could no longer grow and swallow up the countryside around them and a greater variety of housing options were needed within each urban location.
These are just some of the things that happened on the Monday after the Message. Let me tell you more...
Chapter 11 - Monday Afternoon
Sterlin was feeling mighty happy about the way his meeting went with the insurance company and the medical profession representatives. Plenty of money for political campaign contributions there, he figured.
"Also considerable funds in this Tiger Preservation thing.", Sterlin told himself. " He was aware of that recent six million dollar contribution from Mr. Knudson, having been at the meeting when Knudson "left us".
"Lots of votes there, too, with this Tiger thing.", Sterlin added. That was almost as important as campaign money. "Might even be more important!", Sterlin admitted to himself. "You never can tell what might happen in these times of change.", he concluded as he got out of his car in front of the Friends of the Planet Office.
Sterlin gave Stonewall Brightfoot a big smile. One never knew whose friendship one might need, either. This time Stonewall let him right through the office door. The Senator went into the meeting a little behind the Way Scans. He waited in the lobby on purpose, knowing that every eye in the place would be on that little red-headed girl and
not on him, if he went in with them. He did not take it personally. He knew that where ever she went she stopped the show.
Sterlin Sommes did not get where he is today without noticing such things and learning to use them to his advantage. He wanted the eyes of the Press on him, alone, when he entered. Sterlin was disappointed to see only his brother, Preston, there and other news people noticeably absent. Every press person in town was at a press conference, being given by Acton Maxum, Tom "the Man" Winston and Faith Leonardo.
They were announcing Acton's involvement in the Urban Food Production program, as part of the Friends of the Planet - Tiger Preservation Project. Sterlin only had his brother's attention, when he came into the meeting, but he made the best of that, too, and smiled.
Before we proceed to those proceedings, let me give you a little background on Senator Sterlin Sommes. He is the oldest child in his nuclear family and was somewhat of a "weenie", as it was termed then, in both elementary and high school. Sterlin would not have been classified as a "nerd", because the term had not been invented then and he was not that smart, in an academic kind of way.
He was also in good reality contact with what he needed to do and be to get along well in the real world. He just did not do so because of several limitations that he had. One, he was painfully shy. This shyness gave Sterlin a lot of opportunity to observe others. He knew a lot about what made people tick, by the time he was ready to graduate from high school. If not a politician, he would have made the best salesman on the Planet. Some feel there is a fine line between the two careers. Some are right. A lot of Sterlin's success can be attributed to his ability to sell dreams. The dream line of products is, at times, easier to sell than the always needed items, like food.
Sterlin was living proof that men and woman do not live by bread alone. He also proved that people are often willing to pay vastly more, to try to purchase a dream, than they are to purchase bread. I'm not sure if that was what Marie Antoinette was going for with the "Let them eat cake. " speech, but it may have been.
At any rate, Sterlin overcame his, at times, paralyzing shyness during the summer after his graduation from High School. He attended a small revival meeting where none other than the Reverend Ike " The Preacher " Ham was appearing. This was when the Reverend had a tent, a three piece band and two gospel singers, to back him up. Ike passed the hat (the only one he owned at that time) for collections.
Sterlin was an atheist but went to the revival at the insistence of his mother, Lula Benson Sommes, a devout Christian. She thought Sterlin ought to get out more. Sterlin, keen observer that he was, had a revelation that night. He saw tough men weep and sedate and proper ladies, like his mother, writhing on the floor in ecstasy. He did not come away from the meeting believing in the power of Jesus but he left the revival with a belief in the power of a certain kind of speechmaking. Sterlin had heard the word.
Putting off his plans to attend the University of Alabama that September, Sterlin traveled for a year with "The Preacher."
His parents could not object if their son had this kind of a "calling" to the Lord, and gave their permission. They would not have been disappointed to have him choose a career in the Ministry. They were somewhat disappointed when he returned to college, choosing Political Science as his major, after which he went on to study law.
Sterlin made a fine lawyer and rose rapidly in the District Attorney's Office. He became the youngest D.A. in the city's history, before taking his place in the State Legislature. Sterlin served one term as Lieutenant Governor and two terms as Governor and then took his present seat in the US Senate, where he holds several very important committee positions.
Though still nervous when speaking in public, Sterlin had made so many speeches, he went into what he privately called his "preach mode" almost automatically. He no longer let his shyness get in the way. Sterlin did not let much else get in the way either. He sat down at the table with Alberta and Howard Beau, Preston and the Way Scans and got down to business.
" Yahr tha wetlands kid, ahnt yah?" , he asked Howard Beau, pointing at the young man. He remembered that battle well. Farmers wanted to do some land fill, in the swamps, to make them fit to plant more crops. With proposals like that, you got both land fill projects, for places to dump trash from the city and new farm land. Friends of the Planet had opposed the project. Sterlin was in favor of it.
On another occasion, Sterlin had been offered a million dollars to back a proposal which would let a corporation (it shall remain unnamed) put a toxic waste dump, in the swamp . Sterlin said NO! You had to draw the line somewhere.
To his credit, Sterlin did try to do what was good for his constituency. Not everyone was ready to vote him man of the year, but generally people seemed to like the job he was doing. He knew the people of his State and generally tried to act in their best interest. People trusted him. They might not like him a lot, but he got where he is by doing a good job knowing what the people of his State wanted to see. He was not always clear on what the Nation needed and he often had little clue as to what the world needed, but it can be said that Sterlin knew the dreams of the people of Alabama, pretty well. He did what he could to make those dreams come true, or at least seem like they were coming true. Reverend Ike "the Preacher " Ham had taught Sterlin well.
The Message, as heard by Sterlin, did give him a better idea of what the world needed. He was ready to admit that he had been wrong about a lot of things he had done, in the past. He was hoping that the group, seated around the table, had some idea of what needed to be done in the future.
" If yah wahnt mah help, yah gotta tell me what yah wahnt me tah do." Sterlin told the group. After his discussion with Preston, Sterlin agreed that being straight with this group was the best approach. He needed information from them, which he could certainly ignore later if it did not meet his needs, personal or political.
" We want you to do what we all need to do. We want you to be yourself. We want you to act right. When you come across someone that does not do this, ignore them." , Alberta told him. "That situation will be taken care of by a process, which is in action here, and which is bigger than the action of one person, no matter who they are."
"Yah mean I shoont do battle with all those sef servin' jack asses in Congress?" Sterlin asked. He had been ready to be the White Knight in this campaign for good against EVIL!
" Just do battle with the self serving jack ass inside yourself." Toni Leonardo suggested. " That battle front is one we are all fighting on ." she added with a smile.
Their meeting went on for several hours. It was agreed that Friends of the Planet would keep Senator Sommes advised of its general plans and would let him know what he could help with. The Tiger Preservation Project would be in contact with other environment groups, on Tuesday, and would have a better idea about needed changes, then.
The Senator offered to organize a national meeting with the backing of some key players and some high powered representatives of the US government and the US Military, for Wednesday . He could see that important things were happening in his city, which might be a model for change throughout the USA. Sterlin was flying to Washington DC, that night, to meet with those that could advise him on both the national and international situation.
The group at Friends of the Planet agreed that a meeting with US leaders would be helpful, and the Way Scans promised to attend the Wednesday meeting, too. They proposed the names of others in the community who needed to be there and all agreed to set the meeting for Wednesday afternoon. This meeting came to be known as The Tiger Summit and represented people from all areas of the community, each to share ideas for change. The Big Ear definitely wanted to listened to what went on at that meeting!
At about the time the meeting at Friends of the Planet finished, the employees of the International Food Exchange were winding up their work day. Lynda Elizabeth Preto, Computer Division Manager, called her coworkers together. Lynda was in charge of the department that tracked food as it moved from the places it was grown and harvested to the location of sale, to the consumer. The company had computers that could tell where anything that grew came from, where it went and whether it was purchased, thrown away, given away or stockpiled. IFE could also track how food journeyed by truck, train, ship or plane, to reach its final destination. Big job? Yes, it is.
The system is divided into regional areas and those regions are connected to one another by computers. These computers are connected to a global network, that has the ability to track food all over the Planet. Consumers in most nations are usually not aware of the variety of products that come from the ends of the earth to feed them. Rice from California goes almost everywhere. So do vanilla beans. from countries in South America. Some way to keep track of it all has to exist.
" I can track a bean from Kansas to Timbuktu.", Lynda Preto told her friend Coreen Turner. " I can also tell you how it got there.", she added. " I only keep track of what we grow and sell, " Lynda pointed out " but there is a lot spent on not growing food or not selling products because they do not meet a certain size or color standard, for market sales.", Lynda explained.
Senator Sterlin Sommes had discussing the topic of Farm Subsidies with those at Friends of the Planet, earlier that day. Howard Beau was aware that the Senator could have been Secretary of Agriculture, had he wanted the position. Sterlin just preferred to control agricultural matters from the Senate, the House of Representatives and from a few other unnamed directions. If it is true that America is the breadbasket to the world, Sterlin Sommes was the master baker.
" We maght need tah keep susadizin famahs tah naut grow, too.", Sterlin advised the group. He reminded them that, under the guidance of the Ten Principles, a lot of land would need to be returned to the wild. Some of it was currently farm land. Some of that land was currently being subsidized not to grow anything. Those subsidy programs
might need to continue or even expand. Sterlin was thinking that maybe it was time for more people to get out of the farming business. " Leht it g'won back ta tha wild!", he said aloud.
" Or plant trees on it.", Alberta offered as an option.
" Or both trees and food crops.", Toni Leonardo offered.
A lot the old families in the South had turned their land to the production of tobacco. Sterlin looked on tobacco as the crop of death, having had his own daddy die of lung cancer. Sterlin hated that part of the agricultural industry. He brightened at the prospect of legislation that would no longer allow tobacco companies to farm lands needed for food production, to grow tobacco. Maybe they could grow something more useful and the government could just give them the difference in cash!
" What abaht tha cows?", Senator Sommes asked. He was imagining the beef and dairy industry screaming their heads off right now.
"There were huge herds of buffalo that roamed the North American Continent a thousand years ago." Alberta said. "If we can duplicate that population of live stock it might be a good balance." More research was needed in that area. Cows were not her cup of tea but she was sure someone in one of the other Friends of the Planet Offices would be giving an informed opinion.
Alberta was pretty sure that smaller animals, like pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits could supply most urban dwellers, with whatever meat they needed. These animals could be raised almost anywhere.
" It may be that most of the meat people eat will be produced where they live.", Alberta explained. "The cow may go the way of the buffalo or may be used for very specific kinds of products only.... Things like milk and cheese. "
" Much of the grassland on Earth has changed greatly with the coming of these new grazing animals.", Alberta continued. " It is not clear yet how that should be handled."
" We will know more after we discuss all this with our regional organizations.", Howard Beau explained. " That will happen tomorrow."
At four o'clock, The Senator left to go to see what was happening in the Big Old Ear of Corn Building. The meeting of the employees of the International Food Exchange was still in progress.
" The biggest problems are not growing the food or transporting the food.," Lynda Preto told the group seated around the big conference table in the IFE office suite.
" The biggest problem is who is going to pay for the food."
The group that sat before her had been insanely busy, as they were on most Mondays, and had agreed to join her for preliminary discussion. of the issues of food distribution and The Message.
The group looked pretty tired. They looked like what they needed to figure out was the quickest way home for a good rest.
" So," Lynda continued, sizing up the group," Let's make this easy. Lets relax with this and take money out of the equation. We can play this like a game. "
A few heads looked up with some interest. A light or two went on in some eyes. Everybody liked a game, no matter how tired they were.
" Let's forget about all the rules we know about how things operate, to finance the distribution and purchase of food. Let's just see if we can actually get food, in sufficient quantities and of the type people there actually eat, to every city in the world.", Lynda suggested.
A few more heads were raised and a couple of sparks of interest gleamed in a couple of more eyes.
"We know that after World War Two, the Marshall Plan gave supplies of food and medicine and the equipment to distribute it all, to much of the world recovering from war.", Lynda explained. " That was with transportation systems that existed fifty years ago and in a world that had been torn apart by war. In the past, coordinating production with distribution was always a big part of the problem.",
" Now who pays for it is the biggest problem.", Jimmy Jo Cockran put in. Jimmy Jo's general philosophy, as it relates to the rest of the world, was " Tough luck if you were not born in the US of A." He was trying to keep an open mind about this Message stuff.
Lynda had worked with Jimmy Jo for the past 11 years and knew him pretty well. She knew he liked nothing better than a puzzle or a mystery. If she got him in on the planning, she would be able to get the rest of the office involved.
" Don't forget the Barter System!", Addie McCracken said from the back of the room. She was the IFE telephone receptionist and was known to all as the "Coupon Queen." There is something about trying to support a family of three children on one minimum wage salary which tends to bring that out in a person.
" Hey!" Lynda exclaimed to the group." Let's look at it that way. Forget dollars and cents. Just look at what might be needed by a country, to carry out the Ten Principles in Response to The Message. Call it country X. Maybe what X needs there, most of all, is tree seedlings. Maybe some of those can be grown for X, in Mexico, in exchange for materials Mexico needs to house their population, near the tree farm areas. Maybe X sends food to them in exchange. The people growing the seedlings can't eat seedlings... See what I mean?"
" Seems to me a lot of people are going to be working, all over the Planet. They can pay for just about whatever food and supplies they need, if they are paid fairly, for their work. ", Jimmy Jo proposed.
"That's right, major work will be needed everywhere, just to make our cities work,, socially and environmentally, too.", one of Lynda's coworkers put in.
" That is true, too.", Jimmy Jo admitted. " No expansion of city boundaries means a lot of changes in the structures that are here. Lots of need for technology that does not cause more pollution. Water purification, all that...", he said.
" Seems to me a lot of people are going to be working on urban food production systems, too.", Lynda pointed out.
" The barter system does work." Addie McCracken reminded them. "I think we will need it for a while to make these changes work."
" If there is anyone who can sort out this barter stuff it is Ms. Addie.", Jimmy Jo surmised. "How about I show you how to use these computers, Addie? You and I can work on this world- wide distribution stuff. It'll be a hoot! But I still want to know who's gonna pay for all of it." he added.
He was the president of the local chapter of the American Taxpayers Association. He had to ask those hard questions.
" Wat if weh gat govamants around tha would tah pay for what couldn't be bahtahd an' tah foot tha bill fah daliverin' it." Senator Sterlin Sommes suggested from the doorway where he stood listening,
He turned his voice up to the preacher mode as he added, " Ah sho would lak tah be able tah give owah brave boys, in tha suvass of owah nation, somthang tah move around otha than wah machines .", he stated.
Beans are cheaper to move than bazookas.
Sterlin was also rightfully concerned that the US Armed Forces, without anything to do, could cause a lot of trouble. This was true of most of the world's armed forces.
"Don't forget the brave women, too.", Ms. Ernestine Patton Parker spoke up. She had been an officer in the Marines before military down-sizing had eliminated most of her interesting work. This idea, proposed by Senator Sommes, sounded like it was right up her military alley.
Ms. Ernestine was the daughter of General Maxwell S. Parker. She had planned to make the military her life's career and had specialized in the procurement and distribution of supplies, in both combat and peace-keeping situations. She knew how to
move food, water and other essential supplies into just about any area of the world, at a moment's notice.
Before leaving the military, Ernestine had worked on plans for invasion or occupation of almost every place on the Planet. Then she updated them. Then she updated them again. Then she updated them again. Then she resigned her commission.. Even she, dedicated as she was to the military life, could not imagine spending the rest of her days updating plans that would probably never be used.
" If we ever need to invade Holland.", she had told her father, at the time of her resignation, " They will just have to wing it with the third update."
Her work in the Marines had prepared her well for the job at the International Food Exchange. Ms. Ernestine felt her work there was both worthwhile and interesting. However, the chance of a return to uniform and undertaking an operation, to distribute food and other needed resources for peace, was a dream come true for Ernestine. It would be a dream come true for her father, as well.
General Maxwell S. Parker had been highly distressed by recent developments on the worldwide military fronts, in response to The Message. He was not alone in his concern. Military men and women around the globe were concerned. It seems that, as of Saturday morning, all the men and women in uniform refused to fight one another any more. All wars on the Planet had ceased.
One soldier, on the front in Afganistan, summed it up well, saying, "Since The Message; when we attack the enemy we feel like we are trying like hell to kill ourselves. There is no them and us anymore."
Another soldier, involved in a conflict in West Africa, that had nearly destroyed his homeland, looked into his commander's eyes and asked, " Tell me again...why are we doing this?".
The commander had no answer to give the man.
Most military personnel, especially those involved in civil wars, looked around at the devastated landscapes, the dead, the suffering, the children and realized what they had done.
They cried like babies for days.
"How could we have been so stupid.", seemed to be the general reaction.
The other common thought was," Those guys in charge are just going to have to try to find another way to settle this."
In the light of this situation, Ernestine was sure that the Pentagon would be happy to find something else, in the Game Plan, for the military to do and the use of the US Military for humanitarian purposes was not completely unknown, in recent times. The use of the Armed Forces of many nations for such purposes actually increased in frequency, every year for the past decade. Fighting wars were too expensive these days anyway. The world was going broke buying weapons.
Ms. Ernestine was not only an expert, in terms of delivery of food to other nations, she knew that the military of the United States, in conjunction with the capabilities of several other countries, probably could do an excellent job at both
assessing needs and coordinating getting them met, all over the Planet.
Plans for environmentally safe latrines, natural water purification systems for villages and water catchments to help. a city go through the dry season, all danced through Ms. Ernestine's head. There were small solar, wind and water-powered electrical generating plants in the rivers, on the hilltops and in the deserts of her memory. Ernestine had some great ideas!
Ernestine stood up out of her chair, came to attention and saluted the Senator and barked, " Ernestine Patton Parker, reporting for duty, sir!"
The Senator had a feeling that he had met that young woman before. Once she introduced herself that way, he recalled she had been in uniform, when he met her at her father's Arlington, Virginia home. She was the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the US Military and was obviously a young woman who had much to contribute to this project. Sterlin knew he could use her father's help, to get some of this approved by the Pentagon. He made a mental note to call the General, with Ernestine, as soon as the meeting was over.
Ms. Ernestine sat down, looking a little embarrassed. It was getting late and most of the women and some of the men were looking at their watches, nervously. They had to pick their children up from child care.
" One thing that would help us to help the Planet, would be child care in the building.", Lila Prentice, mother of three children under age ten, said . " If we are going to plan how the world gets fed, we might need a little more flexibility than my baby sitter has. She just has fits when I am late.", the woman added.
"I already spend too much time away from my children as it is.", a Hubert Toto added.
" You got it.", ,Timmy Jo Cockran told them. "Child care is starting here, tomorrow. Bring your kids in with you. Babies, too. The older ones can come in after school and people can take breaks when they need to see their children or their children need to see them."
No one said a thing. The cheapest of all bosses seemed to be offering them free child care. They were afraid he might change his mind, so they all got out of there, fast, before he could. Little did they know that their wish was his dream come true.
Jimmy Jo's son, Billy Jo, had recently completed a significantly expensive University education in, of all things, Early Childhood Education. Despite his excellent qualifications, Billy Jo had been unable to find a job for the past six months and had come to live in Jimmy Jo's house, with his obnoxious, whiny new bride, Malinda.
For some reason Malinda was pestering Billy Jo to have a child. She thought her biological clock was ticking or something. Neither of them was working and Jimmy Jo put his foot down.
" You get a job, before you bring one more mouth to feed into my house!", Jimmy said. He was secretly worried that his son was getting so depressed he might actually "leave us."
Billy Jo couldn't find work to save his life. This day care center thing was just what his son needed. The boy had gone to a psychiatrist last week (three times), who charged a hundred dollars an hour. It would be cheaper to pay Billy Jo to start the child care center. Malinda could come along too and take care of the infants. Jimmy hoped there were at least three babies there. That should shut her up about having babies:
" I'll be damned if I am going to get stuck paying those college loans off after he has "left us"." Jimmy Jo said to himself. " That kid is not going anywhere except to work!"
The Big Old Ear Of Corn Building was actually designed to have a day care center, in the basement of the building. The space that was designed as a Child Care Center had been empty since the building opened. Most heads of companies were men that never thought about using it. They might have liability or something. Jimmy Jo didn't care about liability any more. If it meant getting his son and Malinda into their own home he was willing to take the chance.
" We'll just do it.", he told people as they left.
Jimmy Jo thought to himself," I'll let the word get out I'm doing this for free, to benefit that Tiger Preservation thing. I bet every other business in the place will come in on it, too. I might not have to foot the whole bill, after all... "
"We'll just do it.", said Dr. Alberto Ramirez, to reporters who were asking him for details about the operation of the Mobile Care Center, formerly known as the Mobile Memorial Hospital.
" We will act as the coordinating agency for all helping resources in the community. In this way, we will cut down on the duplication of efforts and assure that needs of each community member are met.", he told reporters.
There was to be a big meeting of any agency or group that wanted to help with housing, city planning, basic health services, employment, child care, the creative arts, recreation, education and retraining, family or social conflicts and anything else that might be needed for a healthy life. Everyone from the Department of Social Services to the Mobile Symphony Orchestra would be there.
For many, that Monday had been a day of finding out what had changed and what had stayed the same. People met, contacts were made by phone. It had been a day for taking stock and seeing what might need to be done in the future.
As mentioned, physicians seemed to have a pretty good handle on what they were going to do with their future. Some who were not willing to work as Primary Care Physicians , were retiring and some were leaving the country. A lot of physicians had
been born in other countries anyway. They had come to the USA for some advanced technical training options and because the money was much better when they practiced in America.
Alberto Ramirez personally was supporting three villages in Mexico with schools, clinics and a clean water system, he paid for these contributions with some of the money he earned in his US practice. He knew of physicians from seven different nations that were doing the same.
" Call it foreign aide.", Alberto said.
Many of these foreign-born physicians were now returning to their homelands.
" I would rather be there than here.", Dr. Tran told Roberto. "I can still practice medicine in Vietnam and the fishing is better there." he concluded.
E. Powers "Sunny" Leonardo had calls from even more therapists and counselors on Monday. He came out of retirement and promised to have one, last group meeting with anyone who wanted to come and talk, on Tuesday. It turned out that the house painter would be one of the last, practicing, mental health therapists, in town. He was treating the mental health care providers.
Sunny planned to go to the Care Center meeting on Wednesday, on behalf of those interested in housing and the building trades. He hoped to help some of the mental health professionals to get there, to offer their assistance in one way or another, too.
Faith had gone off to Southern California with Acton Maxum but would be back on Wednesday to represent the Urban Food Producer Constituency at the Tiger Summit. Rebecca Rebinowitz would be going to the Mobile Care Center to represent her urban agriculture interests,
There had been a meeting of the President and his cabinet all day on Monday. The CIA was busy gathering intelligence. The various Cabinet departments were preparing reports on the impact The Message had on their Department. Most of these reports said the same thing, namely: " BIG CHANGES IN PROGRESS." The folks at the Pentagon could not have agreed more.
The press went into a media frenzy matched only by the public's frenzy to know everything they could get there hands, ears and eyes on about what was going on the Tiger Preservation Project.
Television shows which once devoted hours to teen, sex-kitten, pregnant thirteen year olds, out of control ( and played by actresses for the most part) now devoted their programming to relevant topics, like how schools can teach children and families environmental awareness. People watched. They wanted to know.
An interesting Game Show also developed and became one of the most watched show on prime time TV. It was called Big Problem! On the show, the panel of contestants was presented with a real- life environmental mess. The panel would have five minutes to come up with at least one plan for the person to deal with the mess themselves or with their neighborhood's help. For example:
"There's this big ol hill a' junked cars in front mah house...Wha'd yah thank Ah shud do wit um?", asked one of the good citizens of Turlock, California.
If the panel could not think of a way the contestant could clean it up, they won a free environmental clean up by professionals.
" Nobody loses.", became the game's motto. People thought that was pretty cool. They also liked to see the messes people had made of things and the ideas, sometimes pretty simple ones, that could help. The program also showed "after" pictures, of what the place looked like when cleaned up, that inspired people to try what could work in their own neighborhood.
Those critics and negativity freaks that tried to spread their attitudes around were ignored. People did not need to hear it. People had better things to do with their time. People were making peace on Earth, among other things.
By Monday morning, leaders in every war zone declared a truce. No one would fight and it would have been kind of silly for them not to declare a cessation of armed conflict. A meeting was set for Wednesday, at the United Nations, for representatives from each warring side. They would present their case to mediators, to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement.
A former US President and a former First Lady agreed to preside at the meetings. They were known, around the world, as the "King and Queen of Peace." Those titles were well earned.
There were leaders of many nations, that had been planning armed responses as an option for national or international problem solving. Those leaders were watching all this closely. The way it was going now, it looked like leaders would have to go into physical combat with one another, personally, if they wanted violence to be part of how things got settled. Most national leaders were far too out of shape for that, were too old, or both.
In that kind of combat, leaders in South and Central America probably would have taken over the world. They were usually pretty tough, even the ones who were priests before they were elected President of their nation. Many of those leaders had been trained to be tough, at a place run by the United States Military, the School for the
Americas, as it was called. It was one of the first Military Training Centers to close, when world peace was declared.
We will return to Senator Sommes, on Monday evening. He has had a heavy day of meetings and phone calls. Tired as he is, he has scheduled a meeting with Ms. Ernestine Patton Parker, to call her father, General Maxwell S. Parker. He then plans to fly to Washington DC, on a late flight, to meet with the General and some others, personally, at the Pentagon.
To get ready for all this, to clear his mind for what important negotiations lie ahead, to meet with these representatives of the greatest fighting force in world history,
Sterlin puts on a K.D. Lang record and dances around his flat. He just loves the way that woman sounds and dancing is his favorite form of exercise. It keeps him in shape.
It also helps Sterlin that his relatives were blessed with the genetic inheritance of an ability to sustain a work effort. They could work a lot. They could work and work and not need much rest. It is not clear if this came from his European ancestors or his more recent other ancestors, slaves brought from Africa and the traditional people of the Mobile area. Something in his background made he and his recent kin (past 1000 years) able to tolerate the heat of Alabama and to work a lot and prosper there. He and his ancestors could keep going when others dropped from the heat.
The family also had a basic knowledge of health principles as their first European ancestor to the area had been a physician who had wisely taken as his mistress a healing woman of the People that had lived in that area for hundreds of years. They had many children together. Her knowledge of basic health and the healing resources of her land, had kept the family and its slaves alive long enough to carve out huge estates from the wilderness.
Many successful pioneer families came from genetic combinations of that sort. This was true in North America and South America, as well as in just about every other place on earth. Africans had been part of the process in North and South America long before Sterlin's recent relations showed up. Africans arrived in South America thousands of years before Europeans. Later, they were brought again as slaves.
If Africans did not "leave us", on the trip over in the slave ships, they really could work once they got here. America would not be what it is today if they were unable to do so. Their knowledge of growing crops like rice was especially helpful in areas like Mobile. What they knew really transformed the place.
General Maxwell Parker, the son of African American parents, knew a lot about hard work. General Parker had risen through the ranks and now acted as a spokesperson for the Pentagon in numerous operations. Trusted as he was by the Military hierarchy, General Maxwell was the perfect person to meet with Senator Sommes and then brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff . The Pentagon was hoping to have at least a preliminary report ready for the meeting in Mobile on Wednesday. The President had promised to be there and they wanted to be ready to state their case.
We will leave these big movers and shakers to their cases, their negotiations and there intrigues. Meetings in the White House, at the Pentagon, and in offices on Capitol Hill were going on at a feverish pace. Similar things were happening at State Capitals, County and City Offices around the country. Participants in these meetings have asked that the topics discussed at these meetings remain off the record. The names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty...but that is politics for you!
On Monday evening, Architects and City Planners were meeting at the top of the Big Old Ear of Corn Building. This award-winning structure was the home of the architectural firm headed by the building's designer. Her name was Gleaner Bead. Gleaner's mother was Bolivian and her father an Englishman. Gleaner paid special attention to the Response to The Message that had to do with zones of population and not wasting money on destruction. These basic principles appealed to the way she planned most of her building and design projects. Gleaner hated to waste resources. She also believed that cities could be wonderful places, if planned correctly to meet people's basic needs.
Gleaner knew that Mobile had enough existing housing and business space to provide everyone now there with places to live and work. She was also aware that there was a lot of wasted space. She hoped to fill some of the future need, by converting residential and business systems into multi-use areas. These areas would have living space, offices and schools , with recreation facilities for health and human contact. They would have places for some kinds of industry and places to grow food, too. Her friend, Faith Leonardo, would help with that part of the urban planning.
The two woman had worked together, for years, on plans for sustainable environments for cities. Not many people were aware that the Big Old Ear of Corn Building actually had a working garden on its roof, that supplied the Big Ear Cafe with organic produce and much of its meat, all of its eggs and most of the fruit it served. The restaurant operator, Forrest Maxwell Clamper, had to agree to maintain the garden, as part of the terms of his lease of the cafe space. Faith helped design that garden system.
Monday evening, Gleaner was meeting with the managers of the city's main architectural and design firms, to discuss the Ten Principles in Response to The Message. They all had projects they were working on, in various parts of the city and surrounding areas. They knew Mobile, well.
" Look at your current projects with an eye to needed changes.", she told the group. "Do surveys of what is there now, to assess current resources and future needs. This can be the basis for change.", she proposed.
They then divided up the whole region, so that each area could be assessed, before the week was out. Preliminary reports would be made on Wednesday morning, to a joint meeting of architects, city planners and mortgage and banking financiers.
" The "Money People" will need to finance these changes.", Gleaner pointed out.
It was decided that one banking adviser and someone from the City Department of Planning and Development would be invited to join each group of architects and builders,
to try to develop realistic and coordinated plans for the whole area.
Gleaner's Associate, Javindar Singh, told the group "Here are some basic principles to follow, when doing the assessments:
1) No completely new construction. Empty spaces probably will be needed for food production or tree planting or both.
2)Try to find at least three ways an area can be used most productively for housing, employment, food production, education and training, or for recreation, environment protection or tree cover.
4) Use recycled materials , when possible
5) design multi-family and multi-generation living systems. Do not separate people by age grouping.
5) Plan on a tripling of the population of the city, within the next five to ten years,", Singh concluded, " with need for transportation, clean water and environmentally friendly sanitation, as well as food production systems for the city population."
"We also need to design systems that require the giving and receiving of kindness as the heart of their operation. This includes kindness to one another, to the neighborhood and to the Planet.", Gleaner added. "Go get um Tigers:", she told the group as the meeting ended.
At the Office of Human Resources and Employment, members of the business community, the Chamber of Commerce and the City Department of Human Resources and Employment were meeting. Ms. Amanda Presley Bartok was chairing the meeting.
" A survey of employees, in the greater Mobile area is being done. ",she explained. " We will be using income tax records, to identify the workers', by occupation, as well by their home and workplace address. This method will help us pinpoint what jobs people are doing right now, where they work and live."
" The goal here is to make commuting to work obsolete. " Amanda went on to explain.
" The computer will try to work out a plan for finding employees the same kind of job, for equal or better pay and benefits, so workers can live within a fifteen minute walk from their homes."
" We will also have a committee looking at how many of these jobs, can be done, by computer from worker's homes or neighborhood work centers. People work for the same company but work from well-equipped centers, built in their home neighborhoods."
She announced that the Office of Human Resources and Employment would be closing, in three months time, with plans to open several smaller centers, near where their current employees lived. Computers would connect the offices. Fax machines and visual telephone monitors would do the rest. Copies of a map, showing the locations of the proposed business centers were passed around. Space would be open in each business center, if other businesses wanted to decentralize in this way.
" The building we are in now will be converted to a business center, with living and recreation areas for those who will work out of this location.", Amanda said. Their current office was located in a massive old building that had once been the Central Post Office for the city . There would need to be some renovations to give the structure a new life but much of the space was currently empty. The building was in an older part of town but it a lot of parking, so the plan for both living, work spaces and a school/ day care center was an ideal use of the place. A food garden in the central courtyard and some greenhouses on the roof would help with local food production. The dark, warm cellars of the building cried out to produce mushrooms, which could be sold or traded for other food items.
"Tomorrow, we are doing a seminar on various ways you can modify and expand your current business, in light of the Response To The Message." Amanda invited the group. "Please sign up on the sheets at the back of the room."
"Well, that is it for our regular meeting.", she concluded. "Let's open the rest of the time to questions and discussion."
There was silence in the room. No one said a thing. This was usually a talkative group but perhaps their world had just got turned up-side down. If making money was no longer the first principle of business, for example, could one make much more money than before..? An unusual concept but a possible one...
"Maybe we could focus on what your greatest fears and concerns are, right now. Even if they are unrelated to what we are here for...I have found that dealing with those problems first, can help me to work on other issues more creatively.", Amanda proposed.
The room remained silent.
"Does anybody have anything particular on their mind," Amanda asked.
Next to her, Samuel "Smiling Jack" Preston, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, burst into tears.
" Well, thank you, Smiling Jack." Amanda told him, putting her hand on his shoulder. " That is just what is needed."
They waited quietly until he could speak. Those are what we call a couple of long minutes in reality time (as opposed to clock time).
Smiling Jack was finally able to say, "My mother!", and then cried some more. "She was in a nursing home and she "left us" yesterday.", he finally managed to get it out. "We thought that she was pretty happy in the Nursing Home!", Smiling Jack explained. " We wanted her to live with us but she refused. She said everyone was too busy with work and school. She said she wanted to be on her own. I think she did not want to be a bother to anyone else..." , he mused.
"Maybe she was just tired of being old.", Amanda said. "Could you fix that for her, Jack?"
Amanda looked up and saw that about twenty-five people in the audience had stood up and were making ready to leave. " My son! He was sick today when he came home from school.", said Hank Roman Richards, owner of a chain of dry cleaners. "I thought I was too busy to stay home with him tonight, but I think I had better leave."
"The same with my son!", Susie Carmen Porter, the city's most successful Real Estate agent put in. "I'd best get home, as well."
"Thanks for sharing!", Amanda called after them. Then she turned to the rest of the group. "This illustrates, very well, one thing we can do to make work places a forum for giving and receiving kindness." She still had her hand on Smiling Jack 's shoulder.
" Most people we employ, stay home for others more than for themselves. This is not even counting the people who do not function on the job, because they are worried about who they left behind or what they left undone by coming to work. Amanda, looking around, found her audience nodding their heads in agreement.
" So what is the answer?", Smiling Jack asked. What can we do differently? ".
Smiling Jack was not known for smiling at his employees. They had not been the ones that gave him that nickname. In fact, they could not even imagine why anyone would have given him that nick name. Rumor had it that he gave it to himself, so people would think he smiled a lot.
" The answer is asking people what they need. , Amanda said. "They know that. They also know what needs to get done for them to do their jobs completely and well. They also know how to ask for help from one another if they are unable, temporarily,
to do their job � . We need to think about fewer rules for employees and more kindness in the workplace. We need to have faith that our employees have their priorities straight. We have to get our own priorities straight, too."
The meeting continued. Others shared problems and concerns. Smiling Jack left to go to his grieving family. Many others left early, too.
Howard Beau and Alberta.... Where were they on Monday night?
They were in each other's arms, making love in a cabin, in the marshlands outside Mobile. This was the place where Howard 8eau left his equipment for his wetland's surveys. The lands belonged, in common, to the people of his Nation.
The two young people, recognizing prime breeding material in one another, were working on realizing that potential. They were both enjoying their work.
Was this Union with the benefit of the sacrament and sanctity of marriage? They had met with none other than the Reverend Ike "The Preacher" Ham, before making the trip out to the cabin. What happened, as with all spiritual counseling, was confidential.
So, it is not clear if Howard Beau Brightfoot and Alberta Dewitt Clinton Jackson got married by The Preacher or not. You can guess if it matters to you.
I could go into detail about all the "he said" and "she said" details of their romance, as well. It had its ups and downs, as do most romances. All that mattered not a fig. What it came down to was the force of Life, strong and fiery, within them both. That force called out to be answered by their acts of giving and receiving. They had no choice but to surrender to it.
Every nuance of every move they made, as they joined in Union, called out to the life all around them, earth to sky and for all in between. All said YES! to existence. Collectively, they joined with the forces and creations of nature and energy-wise sent out the statement, "Union! "
Chapter 12 - Tuesday
"When I finally lost my reputation, it was such a relief.", was how Cherry Louise Tupalow would tell it in later years.
At the time of The Message, Cherry was Madame to a bevy of young men and women, working out of her whore house. Observing the condition of her employees on Monday morning, following The Message, Cherry was mighty worried. Cherry figured a good number of her young men and women would be leaving us very soon and she might be going, too, if she did not get her still good-looking ass in gear and figure out a better way for them all.
Cherry closed her Club, on Monday Morning, and thought and thought. On Tuesday morning she called her sister, Loni Cox Tupalow. "Get over here, as quick as you can.", Cherry told her. "Bring that woman without the legs and arms with you, too.", she added. "Lives are at stake!" Cherry exclaimed, before she hung up.
When Loni Cox arrived with Lillian Purcell, Cherry lined up her "employees" and announced both to them and to her visitors, "We're gonna go inta show business." Cherry had be advised by Loni that Lillian could teach a frog to sing opera. That frog part sounded like their level of musical skill. "They're gonna dance, too.", Cherry told Loni and Lillian. "Since there's not much they don't do with their bodies, no reason they can't dance, if somebody shows 'um how..", she speculated more to herself than to anyone else. "That dance teacher is comin' over tomorrow.", Cherry advised. " Today they are gonna learn to sing...At least start to learn, anyhow..."
" But who will you entertain?", Loni Cox asked, completely confused.
"Don't you worry about that.", Cherry told her. "I been managin' these careers for a number of years and I think we better help with this Tiger thing.", she added, sounding a little desperate.
Looking at the young men and women, a number of whom seemed as if about to fall down, fall asleep or maybe "leave us" at any moment, Loni had to agree. They were all young and should not have looked so bad, even though some of them had been awake most of the previous weekend. The Message did not seemed to have interfered with business at Cherry's Place.
"I'll take care of the audience part." Cherry said. "You just take care of the singin' part."
Ramada Beaumont, known throughout Mobile for her smart mouth stated, dramatically, " And I suppose you're going to make me the staaaaah of the show!" as she struck a theatrical pose. Some of them did fall down, once they started laughing.
"No, Ramada.", Cherry told her. "You're gonna be our stand-up comic. You can do standing up what you have been doing lyin' down. So, save the jokes for later."
Turning to her sister, Cherry told Loni, "We're goin' around the world with this show. Either that or we're gonna do it for our old customers, and their wives and their kids, and their grandmas and their grandkids. I have already talked to a few key people and I think we will be offered financial backing for the world tour option. That is my guess..." Cherry told her sister. " You are gonna to be the star of the show, Loni. It's time you used that voice God gave you. Use it to save Tigers and our lives!"
Lillian said quietly, "Well, we'd better get started...Loni, will you play the piano for us?"
Cherry left the choice of songs and musical material completely to her sister and Lillian. A good move on her part. The dance numbers, which took advantage of the athletic abilities of many of the group, were pretty good on their own. Ramada proved to be an superb stand-up comedienne. That was not too hard to predict. She had always been funny. People often came to Cherry's Place, just for a laugh with her. Lots of times, they would rather have that than sex. She cleaned up her act for the tour, but seemed to have caricatures of politicians down pat, no matter what country she was performing in. The fact is, they are not all that different, no matter what nation they are from.
The troop left the USA the day after their first dress rehearsal. Cherry Toupalow was correct in assuming that plenty of men, and some women in the community would be happy to see them leaving the country. The prospect of dinner theater, or Cherry's trump card, children's theater for the offspring of her former customers, won them significant political, financial and social support for their world tour. They went abroad, as Mobile's "Entertainment Ambassadors" for the Tiger Preservation Project. Their many individual and corporate sponsors were invited to a dress rehearsal as a kind of "Thank You" show. Several people wanted to make sure the show was decent, before the troop took off in the name of Mobile, but all found it was very decent show. In fact, it was a beautiful and touching tribute to what the average citizen could do to help the earth, if they tried. There was a lot in the program about kindness. There was even a skit about Coreen's cake give-aways. By the end of the program, there was not a dry eye in the house. It was not clear if this was because some of the finest "entertainers" in Mobile were leaving the city, or because the scenes moved hearts. Perhaps a little of both. The show received a standing ovation and then the patrons got out of there before the press arrived.
Leon "The Lion" Stein finally woke up, fully, on Tuesday morning. Next to him in bed was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. She was a vision of Semitic loveliness. Her name was Fatuma and , coincidentally, she was the first Islamic child born in Jerusalem on the day Israel became a newly independent Nation. I will not tell whether Leon or Fatuma was the first child born that day. Leon vaguely remembered getting out of bed, Monday morning and going out and meeting this woman, instantly falling in love and having to go through hell and high water to marry her, in a civil ceremony, at Jerusalem City Hall. Leon was no longer alone.
While he was busy trying to tie the knot, centuries of armed hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians ceased and the leaders agreed to a meeting at the United Nations, to finalize the terms of a peace process that had gone on longer than most wars.
"What about Jerusalem!" Leon yelled, sitting upright in bed as he came out of a deep slumber. His new wife stirred. She took a couple of deep breaths, stirred a little more and murmured sleepily, "Let everyone live here... Give it to the world.", and then she returned to her untroubled sleep.
Leon was a conservative's conservative and he could see no problem with her idea at all. He thought about the Israeli's tentative and very shaky truce with the newly re-recognize nation of Palestine. Fatuma's idea could work! Leon had very little use for those who sought to destabilize the peace process, especially by acts of terrorism. "They make such a hell of a mess and someone else has to clean it up.", Leon had been known to say. Yet, he had never been able to come up with any acceptable terms for negotiation, when it came to which nation should govern the Holy City. He was always consulted, when any move was made to negotiate on this issue, so he was very aware that no one else had any good or workable ideas about it either. Until today.
He kissed Fatuma's hand and thanked her again for coming into his life. Then he made calls to the Government of Israel, Office of Foreign Affairs. He told his contact there that Peace Negotiators should try negotiating settlement without bringing the Holy City into the picture at all. Then, Leon proposed a meeting of world religious leaders to consider a plan to make Jerusalem and other sacred spots on the planet, International Zones of the Human Spirit . These Zones would be open to all, no matter where they came from or who they were.
"Let's have the meeting here, in Jerusalem.", Leon's contact suggested. "We'll invite the world's religious leaders to decide. If they can't figure out what to do with this problem, I cannot think who can. I'll get some staff on it right away. I am not sure how we could do this before Friday, but that would be a nice touch... We could try to have our closing ceremony a week after the time The Message was heard."
" You get on the phone to the Vatican, they know everybody! My wife's family will take care of notifying the Palestinians.", Leon told his contact. "They can figure out who they want to send for the Arabs and the Vatican can phone everyone else. Tell the ones you contact to invite anyone they can think of. We don't want to leave anyone out or close this meeting to anyone. I don't care if they have a congregation made up of aardvarks...Look how wrong we were about Tigers. You never can tell!" Leon hung up. He breathed a sigh of relief. The problem of what to do about the Holy City might actually be solvable! The government contact he spoke to had once been a Real Estate agent in Southern California and the man was hopeful. He had been an expert at selling desert property for huge amounts of money and had once told Leon, "This Real Estate, called the Holy City, has already been paid for a hundred-fold, in blood and tears." Maybe it was time to turn the Title Deed over to the Planet.
Leon then called his cousin Abel Rebinowitz. When told about Fatuma, Abel congratulated Leon on his recent marriage. He was very happy to hear about Fatuma's family background:
" Miracles do happen.", Abel said. "You are going to convince me of the existence of a deity, yet...", he added.
"That is what I called you about.", Leon told his cousin. Then he explained the idea of the meeting of religious leaders. Leon wanted Abel's help to get a representative of some First Nation People from North and South America to the meeting. " And anybody else you think should come.", Leon added.
Leon knew that Abel was an atheist but he also knew that his cousin had studied every major religion and a few generally unheard of religions, for his own education. After 53 years on the planet, Abel was still trying to keep an open mind. Abel also knew who was who in the world of religion, as much because of the political aspects of modern religion as for any other reason.
"Sure, I'll help.", Abel said. He would call the Friends of the Planet office. They would know who, in North and South America, would best represent those First Nation people. He also thought that maybe that Tiger woman should send someone from Tiger Country. From what he was told by Bobbie Turner, she came from quite a background.
The meeting was scheduled for Friday afternoon, at the Jerusalem Universal Inn. It would be a pot luck lunch, out of deference for the sanity of the Universal Inn kitchen and dietary staff. They would have needed years of planning to cater to the many religious taboos and food preparation rituals of the program participants. They planned to serve only spring water and it would not be from any known holy spring.
The press actively publicized the meeting, as they did anything that had anything to do with the Tiger Preservation Project or The Message. The coverage on any kind of environmental research got top priority. People were very surprised to learn just how much of paradise had been turned into parking lots.
Newspapers, carrying environment information sold so well, publishers set limits on the numbers of different papers one person could buy. Then news-share campaigns started, to get offices to share magazines and newspapers, for community resource libraries. Much of the information in these publications was important enough to save, so the amount of paper for recycling dropped for a while, until computerized reference materials could be made available to everyone. Word of the meeting of the Religious leaders spread among their ranks like holy wildfire. They would not have needed a word in a newspaper, anywhere on the Planet, to have been better informed. Some of the more evolved spiritual leaders had made their plane reservations, even before they got a call telling them about the meeting. They had just had an overwhelming desire to visit the Holy Land.
The Reverend Ike "The Preacher" Ham was one of those so called. He also had a regular phone call from Howard Beau. Howard was one of the few people who knew where to call "The Preacher". Ike told him, on Monday afternoon, when the minister met with Howard and Alberta. Ike had been on his way out of town, but took a moment for the young couple, who appeared at his office door. Where was the most beloved Protestant leader in the Western Hemisphere now? He was currently in seclusion, studying with The Lama. Ike's new-found realizations about his belief system had left him totally unprepared to preach to anyone about anything. He needed moral support and The Lama was able to provide it. Ike agreed to go to the meeting of the Religious leaders only if The Lama went, too.
" The man is still kind to the son's of bitches who stole his whole country and who are currently killing everybody there who even acts religious.", Ike explained. " I don't know how he does it, but I think he could probably do some good at the meeting."
The Lama told the Reverend Ike how he could act kindly to the Communist Chinese Government, but The Preacher did not believe what he had been told. Why he did not believe is unclear, as The Lama does has no reason to lie and certainly had no reason for keeping his reasons a secret. He explained the reasons very clearly and simply.
"This most recent attack on my homeland is another in a series of attempts to brutally destroy one of the spiritual hearts of the Planet Earth.", The Lama explained.
" Such attempts have occurred throughout history. Now it is happening in my country. At one time it happened in Mexico, at another time it was on Atlantis. The Four Corners area of the United States, on Bikini Island, at a Holy Spring in Knossos, in Jerusalem, at a Sacred Lake in the Andes , in Egypt, in Australia, in countless other centers of power and spirit, there have been these kinds of episodes. Such things are still happening in some of these locations. "
" My people, like others before them, have chosen to be the living examples of how humanity treats this Planet, every day.", he explained. " Because the forces of Spirit are so concentrated in these locations, we act as a lens to focus the view, so that people may see the most destructive forces in life at work here. And, we are trying to cleanse the Planet of this destructiveness with a river of our tears. This is my people's holy work, until the rest of humanity can notice. Perhaps then, people like the people of my country can stop crying.", The Lama told Ike.
The Preacher thought maybe The Lama had a point. He was not sure what it was, but Ike hoped this teacher would go with him to the meeting on Friday. Other than sponsorship of The Lama's presence there, Ike could not think why else he would be there. Ike was making progress.
Howard Beau also called an Inde' woman, named OhShinnah. She had been bringing songs and healing rituals for Mother Earth to thousands of people around the world, for decades. Howard knew she would go to the meeting, or would know whom to send to represent the First People, and all People of the North America.
Please Note: * As part of permission to mention her name in this story, OhShinnah has asked that people not give her name to any children they might have a part in naming. Her name was given to her to because of the tasks she has to do here and should not be passed on to any child without knowledge of those tasks and the responsibilities related to them. In other words, don't try this at home!
Howard Beau was paying for air tickets for everyone he asked to go to the meeting of Religious Leaders. The Tiger Preservation Project treasury had grown astronomically in the past twenty-four hours. Howard Beau opened a special bank account for Project funds, on Monday morning, as he was directed to do by the National Office. He announced the direct deposit address to the Press and donations started pouring in. In order to maintain their non-profit status, they would need to begin spending some of those tens of thousands of dollars. Howard Beau could think of no better way to spend it than to finance sending representatives to this mission for world peace. A lot of sacred lands were wild places or should have been left as wild places. They were all working on the same team here.
Howard Beau also asked Freemont if he would go to represent the religion of the people of Tiger Country. There was no one else, other than their family, who had survived the chemical spill. It turned out that pretty much everyone considered themselves a religious leader of one kind or another there, so Freemont was as well qualified for the task as any other Tiger Country citizen would have been. However, Alberta's father declined to go without his wife, Betsy Ross.
" She knows more about plant spirits than I do.", Freemont told Howard Beau. "If only I go, the knowing will not be so complete."
When Freemont said this, Howard Beau knew why he loved Alberta and wanted her always in his life. She completed his picture, too.
"OK", he told Freemont. "You both go."
Howard Beau then put in a call to Australia. He hoped against odds that he would find his friend Rodney Porter-Jones at home. He wanted Rodney to try to locate some of the First Nation People of Australia, to see if any of them could be present at the meeting. Rodney had been part of a graduate seminar on Indigenous People, at the University of Alabama . He was teaching a brief course on the First People of the Australian Continent and Howard Beau had kept in touch with Rodney. On their last contact, Rodney told Howard Beau that the First Nation People of Australia seemed to be disappearing. Howard Beau luckily caught him between trips to the Outback.
Howard was told that this process was accelerating, for some reason. " They have all apparently gone elsewhere.", Rodney reported. " They didn't leave us, or anything. No bodies have been found." Rodney explained. "They seem to have just disappeared, shortly before The Message."
Howard knew, from Rodney's class, that these were people of a singing path. They carried their knowledge and wisdom and even their geographic maps, in their songs. Songs were their connection between this world and other worlds. (It is amazing what can be done when one does not have to worry about coping with technology beyond extremely efficient hunting equipment and excellent survival techniques.)
"I'll go out and start singing in the desert.", Rodney promised. "That has worked before. I'll try and get them to the meeting if I can. I don't know, they just went out on a song. or so I've been told. I will try." he concluded.
Rodney was not hopeful he would be able locate any one. He also wondered how he could possibly convince any of them to get on an airplane to go to a foreign land for the meeting. It was the case that The People usually died quickly when in contact with cities in Australia, let alone cities in other continents.
"If I don't find anyone, I will see if they left a message.", was the best that Rodney could promise. The First People of Australia were excellent graphic artists, when it came to religious matters, so that seemed like a likely source of information. Perhaps there was hope yet.
Next Howard Beau called someone who called someone who knew how to get in touch with Beti Tufah, a spokeswoman for the peoples of South American rain forests and many of the environment groups of the South American Continent. It turned out that Beti was in jail. She had been arrested while leading a protest against the building of a PetroChem plant, along the Amazon River. This was the same kind of chemical plant that had the spill that turned Tiger country into green goo. She was awaiting trial with bail set at $50,000.00 USA dollars.
Howard called the judge, Senior Roberto Luis Carza, and agreed to pay her bail with the stipulation that Beti be allowed to leave the country to attend the conference. The Judge and the Mayor of the town of Sangre de Christo met and discussed the case. The choice was between accepting more money than they could ever imagine possible or keeping Beti and supplying services to the public and the press that would come to her trial. Her presence in their village had already created a media circus, especially since The Message.
"I hope to never see the woman again.", the Mayor, Phillipe Lorenzo Hernandez, said. The town, poor already, was going bankrupt just trying to cope with her pre-trial hearing. He agreed they must accept the money and hope she never returned.
"Don't worry.", Judge Roberto told him. " You will never see her because we won't be here if she does return."
The Judge was not planning on running off to Rio with her bail money. He was referring to the dictates of The Message.
" We are in one of those Wild places.", the Judge told his fellow City Official. "We're supposed to get out of here. We couldn't think of doing it before, not with this woman's trial going on. She starts singing her traditional songs while the PetroChem President is making his ground-breaking speech and we are here with her for the next six months, at least."
Judge Roberto had followed Beti's last trial in the newspapers. It had been a judicial nightmare with the World Press watching and most people had not even cared about the environment then! The sooner out of this the better for them all and Judge Roberto knew it. Howard Beau had provided that way out. "Now when she gets out of here, so do we.", the Judge explained. "The best thing about it is that Beti is paying for our move!"
The bail money would be used to resettle everyone in the town. Beti had even helped them to work out a plan because she knew the area and was their best source of environmentally sound relocation planning information. She got them in touch with experts who would help with setting up the move and who would not rob them. Beti identified an area outside the forest zone where they could start tree farms. Seedlings for Amazon reforestation projects would be in great demand. They had enough money to plan a water purification and sanitation plant, good packed-earth housing and a community trade center and school. With her bail money, there were enough resources to support their bringing two nearby villages along with them. One village had a doctor.
"Why do you think I asked for such high bail.", the Judge asked Beti, smiling. "Our usual bail is usually the USA equivalent of $1.49."
" Why do you think I started singing in the first place?", Beti answered, returning his smile.
The Judge's plan worked. When Beti tried to return to Sangre De Christo, she was advised that her bail money and the city had disappeared. The charges had been dropped and the Save the Tiger Human Relocation Program was born. Judge Roberto even sent Howard Beau the expense receipts for their move, for program record- keeping purposes.
When news got out, about Beti's experience, this method of funding the move for people, from the wild places to more urban locations, became quite popular. A movie or television star would go down to some little, remote village, with a press entourage and get themselves arrested by insulting the police chief or spitting on a sidewalk or something. It was prearranged and word of their "arrest" and the required "bail" money would be made public. News articles would go out to their fan clubs who would happily come up with the bail money.
It is interesting to note that male soap opera stars would be the ones to bring in the highest bail amounts. Apparently, many viewers could not do without seeing their favorites five times a week. They got really frantic and would send in just about any amount of money requested to save their favorite daytime star.
The Message changed some of the story lines of these daytime dramas, too. Where once they dealt with the heroine's unrequited love for the ex-husband of her sister's cousin, they began to deal with such issues as the problems of living in a multigenerational housing project. Drama creators took to writing the heroes as men on some important environmental missions, to places like the Andes mountains, the wilds of Equador or some such location, where they would be arrested for trying to save the planet. The money sent in for their bail would bring in tens of thousands of dollars.
It was a terrific income-generating scheme and, since there are soap operas produced in every country in the world, where people have televisions and radios, this plan drew on resources from around the globe. It became the most effective form of direct aide of any major relief effort in history. Funds went directly to the villages needing money. No national bureaucracy or state or provincial governments involved.People used the money for what they knew they needed. They usually knew that pretty well.
Howard Beau and Alberta returned to the Friends of the Planet offices on Tuesday morning, bringing with them part of the supplies and equipment from his cabin in the wilds. Alberta showed Howard Beau how she cleaned the rest rooms and the kitchen, at the offices. They did them together as part of the preparation for a regional meeting later that morning. They would be working with other environment groups to identify problems and a general strategy for the Mobile area, the State of Alabama, the Gulf States, the half of the Eastern Seaboard South of Virginia as well as the Caribbean, including Cuba. The readers of Cuban extraction are probably wondering what was happening in their homeland, since The Message. The USA was letting a representative of the Cuban Department of the Environment into the States to attend the meeting in Mobile, so that people could find out.
The importance of this major diplomatic breakthrough will be understood only by those who may have been following USA/ Cuban relations for the past fifty years. Others, not versed in the intricacies of this complicated diplomatic situation might wonder how a nation can have a military base in a country, actually on the same island that country occupies, and not have formal diplomatic relations with that country. Those not versed might think that there was something wrong with that picture, especially when those countries are less than a hundred miles from one another's shores.
Cuba was just as concerned about environment and positive change, as any other nation on the Planet. In many ways, their nation was less developed than it would have been had it not had such a depressed economy. In many ways, they were ahead, in the environment protection game, because they had closed their island off from development by the USA decades ago. "Can you imagine what a mess we would have made of that paradise.", Senator Sterlin Sommes said to himself, when he found out that Cuba was sending a representative to the Mobile meeting. He thought that to himself, not daring to say it out loud, even though he was alone, "We have something to thank Castro for, after all.", he whispered inside his head, in case anyone was eavesdropping.
The goal of the Tuesday morning meeting was a general look at these Gulf Coast and East Coast areas to identify what further studies or information were needed to begin to formulate and area plan for change. In Mobile, and at the meetings around the North American Continent, expert environmental planners looked to the Goal. Each major region of the North American Continent was doing this and would summarize their findings, for presentation at the Tiger Summit meeting on Wednesday. They were told that the President and the First Lady would be coming to that meeting.
With the Ten Principles as a guideline for their studies. This is what they came up with:
"First we've got to identify the remaining wild places.", the Save the World Wildlife Foundation representative pointed out.
"Then identify a plan for people and their domestic animals to get out of those wild places. ", The Nature Conservancy Representative proposed.
" Unless the people have been there more than one thousand years and are hunters and gatherers. ", Alberta reminded them. "People like that are a part of the life of the Wild place where they live. It would not be the same without them."
"Then there is the whole tree planting thing.", the Arbor Day Society Spokeswoman said. "We need to plant trees wherever we can."
"Maybe those new forest areas can be the zones of protection around the wild places.", Howard Beau proposed. "
"Some of the forests could be buffer zones around our cities, too.", The Urban Ecology Representative suggested. `These uninhabited zones would insulate the wild places from city noise and pollution."
"Clean technology and reducing the pollution of cities, needs to be a priority with all urban development.", contributed the Head of the Scientists for a Better World Program. " We need to do some serious work on what goes on inside city areas. "
What was found, when regional studies were completed for plans to meet the Goal, was that most changes were possible. Most changes required relocation of people to central areas, usually where they grew food 200 years ago. The people and their food production would need to be in roughly the same location, with some major large-scale agriculture, that could provide some of the basics that people could not grow in back-yard gardens. What seemed most difficult to resolve were the ways the gathering metal ores and minerals had become increasingly destructive to the Planet. The wild places were often the remaining treasure houses for certain kinds of mineral wealth.
" Just look at it in terms of the industries we have here in Mobile.", Howard Beau explained to the group that day. " Say you have this factory that makes plows. It gets the metals from ores mined in Africa and South America and in the Western United States. Many of these areas are wild places. What to do? I have no answer. Maybe the government does, maybe the scientific community does.."
" Maybe we can make old tanks into plows.", someone suggested. "Doesn't it say that someplace in the Bible?"
" I think you may have something there.", Alberta put in. "Let us bring these points up in our meetings tomorrow and see what ideas Federal Government representatives have about some of these issues. It certainly may be that in our over-all planning we could have some activities in wild areas with limited human groups, living in communities that are restricted in area and in their ability to pollute the rest of that environment."
Howard Beau acknowledged. "Maybe there are ways no one has even thought of yet. "
The representative from Green Peace put in. "Now, the gathering of resources is done in a very haphazard way, though most nations have environmental regulatory departments to monitor such things. In most cases, those departments can do nothing but monitor."
"But, they are there to give us advice and information." Howard Beau commented. "That is what we need right now."
Would really good planning make a difference or would people just come up with great ideas? Time would tell. While the meeting proceeded at The Friends of the Planet Offices, similar meetings were taking place around the globe. People were working on getting it together.
"Maybe we can start fish breeding farms and put them back into the ocean.", one fourth grade student from San Carlos, California suggested, when the problem of the depletion of fish from the world's oceans was put to them. This comment was made at the meeting, after school, of the newly formed Tiger Preservation Club. The depletion of the ocean fish population was their "Problem of the Week". The Club decided to adopt this idea as their research problem for the quarter. They designed a deep-sea fish breeding program, for classrooms, which involved coastal schools all over the globe. It, and programs like it, made a difference.
The relocation of human populations, from rural areas, turned out to be one of the easiest parts of the equation. It seems that for the past 1000 years, people have been moving to cities anyway. Many rural areas had already been depleted of people, except for those on farms. The number of farmers on farms was falling, too. Getting experienced farmers into cities, to grow food there, was not hard. They had already left the farms and they were already in the cities and were often unemployed there.
One group was that was about to be unemployed in most cities were its psychologists and mental health therapists, some of whom were meeting in Faith Leonardo's garden, with E. Powers "Sunny " Leonardo. Most of them were considering career changes, except Sunny. He still liked painting houses best and planned to continue to do it.
The meeting in the garden was very quiet. The only thing that had happened so far was that Sunny had passed out plants, soil and digging tools to get the visitors to help him to re-pot plants for his wife. Sunny promised to re-pot them for her while she was in Los Angeles and figured he would give the group something useful to do while they talked. Pairs of rubber gloves were provided for the therapists afraid of dirt. Pairs of cotton gardening gloves were provided for therapists afraid of either getting their hands dirty or of rubber gloves. The rest just got their hands dirty and washed them when they finished.
"Let's face it.", Beverly Watkins, Couples' Therapist, said, " The folks that are really unstable have either "left us" or are finding other ways to cope with whatever was getting them down. "
Beverly was right, no matter how well-meaning or capable or intelligent many of those currently engaged in re-potting were, what they did in the past was becoming quickly obsolete. "Since The Message, the "why" of 'why are you feeling this way or that way', no longer makes a difference to people. " she pointed out. " People seem to be evaluating their lives, in terms of how well they give and receive kindness. They are working on doing that, which is always a positive process,", Sunny Leonardo pointed out, "even when it fails. You can't get more therapeutic than that."
" It seems like people no longer wonder where to lay the blame.", another therapist, Lila Albright added. " That is a waste of time and energy, better used for positive change."
"Many people still need help with the "what do I need?" part of the equation.", Sunny reminded the fairly glum looking group. They continued re-potting and no one said anything for a while.
"We are good at getting people to identify what they think they need.", Beverly Watkins admitted. " Medical doctors suck at that! I laughed myself silly when I saw that feature about the Care Center on TV, yesterday.", she continued. "Dr. Ramirez has not asked a patient what they need in fifteen years. Most of his patients were comatose, God Bless them, how could he ask them anything?"
"Medical physicians come from a healer tradition.", Dr. Ann Kapman, Ph.D. commented. Dr. Kapman was both a psychologist and an anthropologist. She would probably do most of her work as an anthropologist in the near future. "Because of that background, they are not really used to talking with the person. In the past, they consulted with a spirit guide or a force of nature. Now they look at the lab tests and X-rays. " She went on to explain, " Now, our profession is more in the " tell mama or grandma where it hurts" tradition. That is why we are good at getting that kind of information out of people."
"I am pretty good at cutting through the crap and getting down to the real issues.", said Lila Albright. She specialized in very short term therapy and was the only one in the group that still had clients. She saw people for three sessions, two weeks apart and told them if they had not figured it out by Session 3, they needed to look at other options. She had never had a treatment failure yet.
"People have not stopped having problems.", Sunny Leonardo reminded the group. "You might just need to have then access your services in new ways."
"Like what?", Dr. Robinson Jefferies asked. He was an African American therapist who had worked with members of his community for decades. He was beginning to think he should have gone into the roofing business with his brother-in-law, Llyle, instead of wasting all that time and money on graduate school, but something was wrong with that picture, too. Robinson had a gift for what he did as a therapist and people were supposed to use their gifts.
" You've done a great job with that ficus tree, Robins.", Sunny told him. "I bet you are good with plants."
"My grandpa taught me how.", Robins answered. " That man was an excellent farmer. He also taught me how to listen to people. I used to watch him working beside others and people would pour their hearts out to the man. He had a gift there."
" I think your grandpa taught you more than farming. ", Sunny pointed out.
"Well, it looks like we are about done here.", Sunny Leonardo told the group. "Thank you for your help with these plants. I don't know if you feel any better but I am sure that the plants do, and that is something positive, anyway."
"Doing something helps.", Robinson stated.
"I've got a few jobs painting houses, if anyone else wants to keep busy.", Sunny offered.
Some people in the group laughed and some took him up on the offer, after Lila Albright stated, "I know so little about painting, I would probably do more harm than good."
Sunny answered. "I write books for people just like you. Remember, "If I can do it, anyone can." is on the cover of every book. Anyone interested can look through the copies of my books, before you leave. Borrow a copy if you want, but if you want to buy one, I would suggest you do it soon. I think that whomever owns the set will be in great demand for the next few years."
After everyone was gone, Sunny called several book stores and told them to get in a supply of his publications. On one of the calls, Sunny could hear the voices of Robinson and Lila in the background arguing over who would get the last copy of "Plumbing - The Depths of Despair and Disrepair." That was book one of Sunny's favorites, too.
Sunny was happy to learn that Lila won the battle for the plumbing book, when she showed up at the Care Center on Wednesday and volunteered to head the committee on plumbing and sanitation issues. She was so experienced with short term contacts that plumbing seemed an ideal spot for her. One to three visits were probably all she would see people, but that would be enough.
Robinson, as Sunny expected, would do best in the complicated business of food production planning. He would end up working closely with Faith Leonardo and Rebecca Rebinowitz and the three of them formed an extremely effective team for positive change, all over the city. Eventually, at least one mental health professional was teamed with each physician in the Mobile Care Center System. Without that support for problem identification, the whole project would have been a disaster. This healing combination worked quite well.
This was not very different from the ways things worked on the Planet, in the past. It was not unusual for some people, such as the village advisers and wise folks or family problem-solvers, to be people that had jobs, just like everyone else in the community. They listened when someone was in trouble or had a problem. No big deal.
It also should be added that the nurses that had worked in the hospital setting ended up in the schools and at the work sites doing basic wellness programs for students, workers and for teachers and employers. They had plenty to do! What developed in Mobile, Alabama and in many similar communities, were a variety of options for people to access helping resources. Kindness began to be planned as part of human systems.
The changes that occurred in the medical and the mental health professions, after The Message, contributed to an improvement of the life and health of most Health Providers. They were happier, had less stress and were sick less. Modern medicine had been as hard on doctors and therapists, health-wise, as it was on their clients.
Susie Porter Carmen always met with her Real Estate Agents, at lunch time, on Tuesdays. This was her regular staff meeting day and she gave them a buffet lunch, during the meeting. It helped to get people there and improved morale. Susie was to attend a meeting of region's Real Estate Agents, later that afternoon, and was glad for the chance to meet with her staff to "get the lay of the land ", as they saw it. Susie trusted the judgment and opinions of her employees.
Like many women, working or otherwise, Susie was a single mother with dependent children. They were: Jethroe, age seven years old, Susie's daughter, Kelly, age thirteen years and Antoine, her fifteen year old son. Julio E. Carmen, her late husband, was killed in an airplane crash when Jethroe was in utero.
Monday evening Susie "had words" with her children. She thought they should take more responsibility around the house. She was working full time and just could not "do it all" any more. She and her husband bought their home with visions of two adults, and perhaps a gardener and a housekeeper, to help keep it up. It was an historic home, called the Bidewell Mansion and had once been the center of a large estate. The yard was huge and the house itself, three-quarters empty, even with the four of them living there. Susie had been trying to sell the place for years and had resisted speculators that just wanted to tear it down and build condos. Skilled Realtor that she was, she could not sell the place. The neighborhood had run down over the years and no one wanted a house there let alone a mansion. The days of finding families with seven children and enough money for that kind of down payment had also passed. Susie had been a little relieved by The Message. It was not in favor of tearing anything down and at least she would not have to struggle with that as an option any more. She was also hopeful that some good use could be put to the place, house as well as garden.
The Bidewell Mansion had been there since before the American Civil War and could be a valuable resource in the neighborhood. Despite its future potential, The Bidewell mansion was killing Susie with work and causing severe stress in her family. At times, before The Message, she had seriously thought of abandoning the place and renting an apartment in a complex with a nice swimming pool, just forgetting about the house. Since The Message, Susie realized that continuing to live as they were was not the kindest thing she could do for herself or her family. Something had to change.
Susie went to see her friend, Coreen Turner, at the Beauty Spot, to talk it over and get her hair done. Whenever she was upset, Susie Carmen found that getting her hair done made her feel better. Getting a shampoo from someone else was an "elevating experience", as she told Coreen. Susie was known around town for her beautifully kept hairdos but few people were aware that this was a stress-related condition.
"I think I need a perm.", Susie said as she entered the Beauty Spot, early Tuesday morning. She was the first customer in.
"No you don't. ", Coreen told her. Susie would be bald from having too much done to her hair, had she not had an ethical beautician and one she could talk to. Coreen set limits.
"What's the problem?", Coreen asked.
" The problem is the Bidewell Mansion", Susie stated. "It is too big and too old and it is sucking the life out of me.
"Let us pray.", Coreen told her and the two women bowed their heads. A powerful silence filled the room. It was like the sound that fills the forest, the instant after the Tiger wakes and opens its crystal-green eyes. At that moment, the forest creatures take note, to find out what the Tiger will do next.
After some moments in that silence, Coreen asked. "What is needed ?"
"I do not know.", Susie answered. " well, why don't you ask the house and the neighborhood?", Coreen said. "If the best Real Estate agent in the city does not know, maybe the house knows.. Give it a try."
"I will.", Susie said. "I'll take a rain check on that hairdo !". Her hair looked fine.
Susie went home and the silence of her house was all around her, like a mountain with Susie at its center, at the center of her neighborhood, in the center of her District of the city, in the center of most of the world she knew. At first, Susie heard nothing at all. Then she heard the sound of pages of a book turning, as the wind blew through the open window. That window had not budged for two weeks. Its sash was jammed open . Wind ruffled the pages of the book she had left on the table. It was E.Power Sunny Leonardo's book, on simple home repairs. Susie borrowed the book from Willie Sloan. Willie was her neighbor and an excellent handy man. He was over to the Bidewell Mansion often, to fix one thing or another, all the years they had been there. He had been in and out of the house years before they bought the place, and he knew it well. Willie had kept things together there, since Julio died. Now Willie was getting old. He just could not do it all himself, any more. He promised to come over and help Susie and her children fix some of the window sashes that were sticking.
"I'll give you moral support and a little direction.", Willie told her. "Between you, me and the book, we can do it." he had tried to reassure her.
So, the pages of the book kept turning in the breeze and then, suddenly the window crashed shut. In the next instant, a shelf fell off the wall. When Susie opened her eyes, the book lay open to the section on how to hang shelves properly. Within the next three minutes, at least one shelf fell off a wall of every house, within a two block radius of the Bidewell Mansion. While Susie was cleaning up the contents of the shelf from her living room floor, she heard her doorbell ringing. It sort of "coughed" because it was not working too well. Willie was at the door.
"I came to get the book.", he told her. "My telephone has been ringing off the hook. All kinds of folks been calling me to fix their shelves.", he told her. Susie was not the only one in the area that knew about Willie's skills.
"That might be partly my fault.", Susie told him. You did not need to hit her over the head to see truth. A shelf to the floor was quite enough.
Susie explained what happened, to Willie. "This whole neighborhood needs your help, Willie." she emphasized. Handing him her corporate credit card for the Dale Hardware Store, she added. "By the hardware for as many shelves as fell down this afternoon. We ask people to come on over here tonight at 7 P.M. You do a demonstration on how to put up a shelf. Then everyone will learn how and the shelves will be put up right. The hardware is on me and I just hope that nothing too valuable got broken.", she concluded and then added. " "If people need to practice, I have a few more shelves in the library they can practice on here. Buy hardware for them, as well, if you would?"
"Well, that sounds like a good plan to me." , Willie agreed. "I'll get my grandchildren to carry the news to the neighbors. Let's see if we can get some of the young people involved. It might be fun for them."
"Can you see if your friend, Walker T., can come? ", Susie asked, with another idea. " I want to talk to him about a neighborhood renovation plan, too."
Walker T. was the chief organizer for shelter and housing for the homeless, in Mobile. Susie wanted to share her ideas on housing options, with him, before the meeting at the Mobile Care Center. They had worked together before, on affordable housing projects and made a good team.
After dropping Willie at the Hardware store, Susie went to her office lunch meeting. She told her employees what had happened to her that morning.
"So, what's the meeting about tonight?", asked Joe Princeton Neighbors, one of her best Estate Agents.
"I spoke with my friend, Gleaner Bead, last evening. She predicts that the number of people in Mobile, and in other urban centers like it, will triple in the next decade." Susie explained. "We have to increase the number of housing units in creative and environmentally safe ways. Hopefully, my neighborhood meeting will be the first in a series of "fix-it" seminars for our neighborhood improvement."
" Willie Sloan, my neighbor, will be teaching . I will pay him and will pay for all materials to do the repairs on my house and in any other house in the neighborhood that needs it, as long my neighbors comes to my place to learn how to do the job right, themselves. " Susie continued. "We will do a baseboard to ceiling repairs, painting, some plumbing and simple electrical wiring, flooring, roof repairs. " she finished.
" There is plenty to practice on at the Bidewell Mansion!"
"You mean you are finally going to get a door bell that works?", Joe kidded her.
"I'll get more than that...I'll get a neighborhood that works together!" Susie exclaimed. " Also, a lot of repairs and renovations and the expansion of the numbers of living units which will be badly needed in Mobile. The Message seemed to indicate that people would be moving to the cities. We will never have enough trained carpenters and masons and plumbers to do it all the work we need to do for that, if building and construction experts waste their time on minor home repairs. We have got to leave the major jobs for the highly skilled and people like us need to learn how to take on the small, simple repairs ourselves."
"Who has time for that?", Damon Clark asked.
"Time is the biggest shortage in my neighborhood.", Susie admitted. " Many of the people that live there have two or sometimes three jobs. We need more man and women power, trained to do these things but people need to know how to do them right, the first time. We can't waste time and resources any more."
"I'm convinced!", Damon exclaimed. "I'll even come and film that meeting you are having. What time do you want me to be there to set up?"
Damon and Joe were the team that filmed the "Home Sale" TV Infomercials for Susie's Agency.
"Maybe we can sell the series to the cable channel.", Joe suggested.
"That would fill a need!", Susie agreed. "Projects, like my neighborhood fix-it lessons, might be a model for change. A TV Series about it might help other communities."
"What about that time shortage thing?", Joe asked. "How do we deal with that?"
"That is where Walker T. and his group can help." Susie explained. "We need to revitalize and share housing that we have now. What we also need are ways to involve members of the community who can gain from the work opportunity and a place to live. We need the homeless. Every last one of them!"
"So, I'm supposed to invite a homeless person into my home, to take care of my house and garden?", Amanda Lovejoy, the office receptionist asked.
"That solution is not for everyone.", Susie told the group. "I have a huge house, so I might do that. You might need to do something else, like pay part of he salary for the one who works in your community garden."
" I would like to try to do a survey of the city's current housing resources. "Susie continued. "We need to find out how many very large, or empty or abandoned houses are available to fix up, when needed. We move people in, who would be willing to work for the owners of the property and the neighborhood."
" They could become our home repair and/or food growing experts or could fill the greatest need in the neighborhood. Maybe the need is for child care...Maybe it is to have someone else do the cooking.. Each neighborhood would decide for themselves and then would "hire" a person to work for them, in exchange for a place to live, food and a salary."
"I can't see how that would always work. " Amanda said.
"I can't see how it will work, in every case, either," Susie admitted, "but I think every neighborhood is different and will need to find it's own solutions. I do know that I am going to look until I find two women to live in my house, with me.", Susie explained. " One will help with the cleaning and the home repairs and one will help with child care and gardening, to grow food. I might even need two couples and their children, with all the land I have. There certainly is enough space there. That house was designed for that many families:", Susie concluded.
"If we need to grow our own food," Joe put in, "we will need to have some people doing that for the neighborhood, or we work less hours and grow it ourselves."
"I can not imagine Real Estate Agents working less, with the city population increasing by two thirds!", Susie exclaimed. "I will be working and you will be working and a staff about double the current size will be working. We will need to make sure that each of our employees has a very supportive neighborhood environment. That is why I want you to start with a survey of your own neighborhood. ", she told them.
The Realtors were tasked to do a basic survey of existing housing units, homes or apartments and of the "empty spaces", that might look like people's front lawns or gardens or even the median strips in the road, a parking lot or a roof top. They were asked to identify any current food production or any potential food production in the areas they studied. Her Agents would report on findings at their next week's meeting and Susie promised to show the tape of the first, "Neighborhood Home Repair " show, to be filmed that evening. In addition to Willie's teaching, they were having a special guest speaker, Sunny Leonardo, who promised to drop by and talk about the topic "102 Ways Not to Repair Your Home...I've Tried Them and They Do Not Work!".
The Neighborhood meeting went well that night. Every shelf got fixed and committees were set up to work on identifying Neighborhood needs and resources. A central meeting place was designated at the Bidewell Mansion in one of its parlors and people were contributing to a tool borrowing center and a reference library there.
An initial survey of Susie's Neighborhood identified three homes, with aged community members, whose housing needed extensive repair. New community members to live and work as house mates to the older people needed to be found. Ideally, they would be neighbors that could fix up and eventually live in the units of empty or abandoned housing there or who could help everyone work on in the development of a Neighborhood garden. The garden would be maintained by people " at home" in the Neighborhood while they trained for other work. If they chose, they could do work for the Neighborhood, for a salary paid by all members of their Community.
Susie consulted bankers about loans for improvements to the Neighborhood and found that is would be easier than ever for people to buy housing, in her area, once it was repaired and expanded. Banks around the world would allow anyone working to buy their own home. This would triple their business, overnight. That was just fine with the banks.
Sunny Leonardo, seeing how well the video taping of the show went, got his publisher to sponsor the show on national television. It was funnier than those Video Blooper shows and more educational, too. The Home Improvement Show shared ideas, from around the world, on ways to revitalize and expand existing housing. It told about clean technology for home and business construction and gave many good ideas for planning neighborhoods. It also told about keeping your sense of humor when all else seemed lost. Many people in the modern world had forgot all about that.
It was thought that people being so close to one another and so involved with each other in working, farming and living situations might be the cause of many problems and conflicts. People forgot that, for most of the time people have lived on Earth, they have been in exactly those kinds of close groups. Close groups are how humans survived on Planet Earth. To live closely with others, you have to learn how to be polite and show those good manners more. You also have to have a sense of humor about yourself.
Estelle Goldstein, Naomi Feinstein's great, great grandmother would never have gotten to the USA (or anywhere other than a mass grave) if she had not been able to laugh with everyone about the big Yamulkah. It saved her life. Susie Porter Carmen would not have had a well-functioning neighborhood support system, without both good manners and a sense of humor. They saved her family and her neighborhood, the Bidewll Mansion and lots of other things. You get the picture.
As promised, there was a functioning Child Care Center in the basement of the Big Old Ear of Corn building, when the employees of the International Food Exchange showed up on Tuesday morning with their children. Addie McCracken was overjoyed. She had been paying about fifty percent of her salary, each month, for child care. Now they could buy real food and she could pass the coupons she collected out to others. They could all save something on their grocery bills.
Addie was not a greedy person. She would have been better off, financially, going on welfare or Food Stamps, or both. Then she could have bought whatever she wanted to eat with that government money. Addie thought that was a bad example to set, for her children, so she worked as a receptionist. She was also an excellent receptionist. The IFE would not have been the same without her skills. Addie was also very happy to have a chance to help on the proposed IFE food distribution planning project, but never could have stayed the extra hours if child care had not been offered to her. She just could not have afforded it.
It was a good thing for the effort that Addie was a part of it, too. It was her idea to consult Betsy Ross Jackson, to assist with the Program. Addie first met Alberta's mother at a Saturday morning Cross Country track meet at the high school. They had got to talking, when waiting for the runners to come in. Betsy Ross gave Addie lots of ideas for what to do with her food resources.
"The woman knows fourteen hundred recipes for lentils " Addie explained. "and they are all delicious... at least the forty I have tried, personally."
When contacted, they found out that Betsy Ross was an expert on food preferences around the world. With her help, and the cooperation of several international food agencies, they got a good ideas as to what foods would be needed where, in order to adequately feed the people of Planet Earth. They got specific information for each specific human population center they studied: if a needed food could be grown locally in sufficient amounts, if it needed to be imported , if it could be produced in amounts large enough for export to other areas where people used the same foods. This helped because the current system of distribution just showed where the food was grown and where it went. It never showed if it was wanted where it ended up. Sound crazy? Well, that was the "food for export" story, prior to The Message.
"There will be significant shifts in population.", Ernestine Patton Parker reminded her coworkers." Large amounts of food might need to be imported to those locations, to get ready for the shifts. This can now be planned for ahead of time and in a reliable way."
The success of their research and planning efforts also can be attributed to their removing money from the equation. Otherwise, they never could have figured out what was needed or found ways to meet those needs. They took money out of the picture and used Addie's barter system, plus a system of minimum wage compensations that applied the world over. With that kind of a system, people got paid equally for the work they did and would then be able to pay for their food themselves.
If you do not believe that it worked, try it yourself and see.
Needless to say, Ernestine Patton Parker was very happy to be working on the logistics, for the food distribution and delivery systems. Without her, the project would have probably led to World War III. "You just cannot have uniformed military running all over the Planet.", she told her father, General Maxwell. "Even if they are US Military and are bringing food with them."
Ernestine knew enough about both politics and human nature to know that they could not even get into Canada with a deal like that, let alone some country in Africa or Asia. "You might get into port, but you would have a war on your hands, if you sent the military off the ships.", she explained. "Would you welcome the Marine Corps of the Fiji Islands to our fair shores, just because they brought us great coconuts?"
"What do you suggest?", General Maxwell asked. He still had nightmares about that Somalia thing.
"I suggest that you let the grandmother's help deliver the food.", Ernestine told her father. "We can have someone in the military take the food from the ships to the villages and towns, in our vehicles, but we should try to get an elder person to go along, whenever possible.", she explained. " They are the ones people trust and they are also more likely to make sure supplies go where they are supposed to go. Trust me on this one...No one is going to think you are invading if you are driving a pick-up truck, are not wearing a uniform and have a grandparent along."
Ernestine had actually used this method in the past, on military maneuvers, in various parts of the world, and had got more men, women and supplies in, quicker and without difficulty of any kind, than with any other approach. It was her "secret weapon" for strategic infiltration of any kind. Once the grandparents were in on the plan, you were home free. Ernestine hoped that the Pentagon could accept the grandparent component of the distribution system. She hoped they could understand what she had known herself, for decades. "Get the women on your side and the whole village is your friend. Get the grandparents on your side and no one can see you as an enemy."
This little gem of wisdom had been told to Ernestine, when she was on maneuvers near the Indian Ocean. Ernestine met a woman on the East Coat of Kenya, named Salome Mohamehdaai. Bibi Salome, stirring a spicy- smelling fish stew at the time, had added, from behind her black boui-boui, "And if it tastes good, the men will accept it, no matter where it comes from, unless it is against their religion..", she added, with smiling eyes, "but few things are."
General Maxwell explained it to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Right now, we are doing a background check on everyone on active and reserve military duty. We will try to identify those who speak the language and know the customs of the nation where we send them. They will not wear a uniform, but at least they will be our personnel and, that way, we will get trained people going along with the supplies that are delivered. Maybe we will get the trucks back, under those circumstances.", the General finished. They were all remembering the Somalia thing...
" It is fortunate, that we have people from so many nationalities and backgrounds, in the US Military." General Parker stated.
When he heard what came out of his mouth, even Maxwell was surprised. General Maxwell S. Parker's ancestors had been brought to America as slaves, but traced their roots as far back as the American Revolutionary War, in which they served. Prior to The Message, the General had often ranted and raved about the "damn foreigners." Now, General Maxwell S. "I am an American" Parker was finally getting the picture that everyone could help, in one way or another, no matter when they arrived .
While General Maxwell was in the Nation's Capital, talking to the Pentagon, Ernestine was meeting with Senator Sommes. He had returned from his quick trip to DC, where he got things started for General Maxwell, at the Pentagon. Sterlin and Ernestine were together and available for comment, by conference call, should the Joint Chiefs of Staff have questions for either of them.
Senator Sommes was telling Ms. Ernestine about his sister-in-law, Cora Mae Sommes. He wanted Cora Mae to head up this grandparent's project. "Cora Mae is the mos' gracious hostess ah have evah known.", Sterlin explained. Cora Sommes could get a man, dying of thirst in the desert, to think he was doing her an honor to accept the cup of water she gave him to save his life.
"She's alsah ah grahmah.", Sterlin added.
When the idea was put to her later, Cora Mae thought it was a fine one. She also thought that maybe her old school friend, Coretta Scott, would approve. "I can think of several other grandmothers that might just help as well." Cora Mae mused. Sterlin had made a good choice when he thought of Cora Mae. She made a hobby of keeping track of famous women of her own generation, from around the world.
When they called her she got really excited about the idea. "There is Wangari Muthai, from Kenya... Sophia Loren., Queen Elizabeth...Winnie Mandella... Corazone Aquino and of course, the Queen of Peace." Cora Mae went on and on. Half the names she mentioned they recognized but there were others they were not sure about. When those names were checked out, Cora Mae was on the mark in every case. All her nominees were involved in major political movements or social events and were well respected by the people of their respective nations, even though they might not be well known anywhere else. Preston was not the only family member who watched the world's news.
Ernestine suggested a meeting of these women, on each continent, with the USA supplying the translators and the transportation, as needed. "I'm sure we could turn the problem over to this group and they would come up with a lot of ideas that would help.", Cora Mae recommended. She was right.
Late Tuesday night, Alberta and Howard Beau were having another try at making a baby, in his cabin in the wetlands. They went there before sunset, so he could show her the world that he loved so much, before it was closed to people. They walked around and went into the swamp in his canoe and then back to the cabin to pack more of Howard's things to take out with them when they left. The cabin was made of logs and was biodegradable. It could be left where it was.
One day they would tell their daughter, She-Bird Brightfoot, of the place of her conception. The story was like a fairy tale to the child. In her time, all people lived in very green cities. The wild places were no longer places for people to visit.
Chapter 13 - Wednesday and The Tiger Summit
Alberta found a message from Preston Sommes when she returned, "For some reason, people are clamoring for your recipes.", Preston told her when she called back. "All of a sudden people in Tanzania want recipes for Chinese food and Laotians want to eat Lasagna. It is like they are having culinary flashbacks from times they were in other forms. " he explained.
"I know you are really busy now, but I wanted to get your OK to send out some of your recipes again, over the wire service. We won't charge the news services this time around, if that is OK with you.", Preston proposed. No problem for Alberta! The more flexible people were with their food preferences, the easier it would be to feed the world's people.
As they were speaking, Avery LaMont Winslow, former Peace Corps Volunteer, was in a PetroChem jet, landing at the Mobile International Airport. He was accompanied by his Uncle, the President of the PetroChem Corporation, heading back to Mobile from a tour of their South American operations. Avery was now the Chief of Environmental Operations of PetroChem. Seated next to his Uncle, LeDean "The Dean" Winslow, Avery was trying to reassure the old man that there were many things their company could do, to make amends for turning Tiger Country into green goo. Since The Message, his uncle had been inconsolable.
Avery thought it might do some good to accept the President's invitation to attend the Tiger Summit. They would go to represent the Petroleum and Agro/Business interests, at the meeting. Avery had been studying and working for the past eight years, for a chance like this, and he had important information to share.
The young man had joined his Uncle, in Brazil, several weeks before The Message was heard. Avery was hired as PetroChem's Environmental Advisor, after having completed his Doctorate in Environmental Science with a second Doctorate in Chemistry. As he was "one of the family" they mistakenly thought Avery would ignore any situation that might lead to an environmental disaster, if ignoring the situation helped the company.
How far from right they were! Avery had been harassing his Uncle, unmercifully, ever since his took his post. The young man was determined that no PetroChem plant would be built, at the chosen site on the Amazon, and that no plant like it would be built, anywhere on planet Earth ( or off it), ever again. He bombarded his Uncle with facts and figures, graphs and charts, studies and research papers and picture after picture of both the green goo that was once Tiger Country and pictures that showed alternative balanced, sustainable environment systems. These sustainable agricultural systems used a combination of old and new kinds of fertilizers and pest controls with crop rotation, nitrogen-fixing plants and genetically engineered seeds and disease resistant plants.
Prior to The Message, The Dean fired Avery numerous times, six times in one day alone but Avery would not give up. The young man felt particularly bad when Beti Tufa was arrested for singing, while The Dean was making his speech at the ground- breaking ceremony for the proposed PetroChem factory. Her song had been magnificent. It was about Jaguar, stalking its prey in the deepest part of the forest. It reminded Avery of the songs that had come from Tiger Country when it still existed.
Two days after Beti's arrest, The Message was heard and his Uncle's attitude toward Avery changed drastically. A vision of what his company had done to Tiger Country haunted him... You could see it in his eyes. "There will be some Big Changes made, " The Dean told his nephew, "and I'll need you by my side to make them.. "
Now, in the light of The Message, The Dean realized that he had no clue, as to the environmental impact of any product that his company produced. Of course, he had been shown studies and reports about how his products worked. The Dean was a chemist. He knew exactly how the chemistry part of it all worked. Otherwise, he knew nothing about the life around the chemistry part of it. He needed Avery's help, big time.
Avery was also looking forward to returning to Mobile to see the Jackson family again. He would never have recognized Alberta on the television, had she not had the unusual name which he picked out for her, years before. He wondered if she would remember him, when she saw him at the Tiger Summit. He was wearing a suit these days and looked quite different from the way he looked, when in the Peace Corps. Avery need not have worried. He was the first person from outside Tiger Country Alberta had ever seen. Most of the people she saw daily wore nothing, most of the time, so she did not keep track of people by how their clothing looked and she would never forget Avery's face.
Avery also knew Howard Beau Brightfoot. He had done a lot of volunteer work for the Friends of the Planet, when an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama. Howard Beau was a volunteer for Friends of the Planet, during that period, as well. They lost track of each other when Avery left to go into the Peace Corps in India. After the chemical spill, Friends of the Planet heard no more from Avery. Avery's experience in India sent him back to school, to arm himself with some alternatives to the PetroChem status quo. His double doctoral thesis had been on the conversion of the Petrochemical industry to fully organic inputs for agriculture and light industry. This conversion was for both fertilizers for growing crops and pesticides for protecting crops, especially food crops.
One of the things that Avery found out, was that alternatives for the most dangerous chemicals had been known about for years. His research into the PetroChem files also yielded even more information about patents and processes that had been bought by the PetroChem company and never developed. Some of these products, once on the market, would safely revolutionize agriculture. Avery could not be sure, but he bet that every other big chemical company had secrets they had been hiding that could help, too. Avery wanted to talk about some of these things at the Tiger Summit meeting. His Uncle wanted to discuss a topic that really worried him.
"There are unknown amounts of very dangerous chemicals, out there.", The Dean explained. "Some of which have been banned from sale in the USA but were sold and distributed around the world under various names and labels. If not used and stored correctly, they are disasters waiting to happen. We don't even know where most of them are!", he added, deeply concerned.
LeDean had already called a meeting of the world's leading chemical manufacturers and agribusiness leaders, for Thursday. With Avery, he hoped to lead the planning for location and safe disposal of these toxins or a safe retrieval system and a phasing out of many of the old product lines that were so dangerous. At that same time, PetroChem would be releasing new patents and new processes, into the public domain, for the most rapid change over possible, to organic farming systems. There would be some big changes made.
Not everything that needed changing was big, though. It was often the change that one person made that could change not only their lives but the lives of those around them. The Tiger Summit was like that for those there on security patrol.
Reid McCullers Benson, the Mobile Chief of Police, was orchestrating the plan for the protection of the President of the United States with Secret Service Agents, Don Millhouse Bo and Dan Thurber White. Sheriff Reid and his men would take care of securing the hallways outside the conference rooms, during the meetings, with extra staff in the rest rooms during the meeting breaks. Dan and Don would take care of security in the meeting room. These men in charge of security were all professionals. That was evident in every thing they did.
Don and Dan made unlikely looking partners, but they worked well together. Don was six foot, three inches tall and weighed in at 250 pounds of solid muscle. Dan weighed 125 pounds and was five foot, three inches tall, also solid muscle.
Don had been raised in a family of four generations of law enforcement officers and had been "honed" for the job since birth. At Don's christening his father had announced, " My son will grow up to guard the President of the United States." Don's family, in Chicago, were so proud of what he did, they were obnoxious about it.
Dan Thurber White, however, was raised in a family of professional clowns. "White" was their professional name. They were actually from Vietnam but found it impossible to get bookings in the USA, as a clown act, using the family name. With make-up, you could not tell where they were from and their act was uproariously funny. Dan's real middle name was actually Thurber, as Dan's mother thought the writer of that name had a very good attitude about life. Dan was his real Vietnamese first name.
Dan had been hired to guard the President because he had a black belt in several of the martial arts and because he was very funny. He managed to keep the First family amused, as well as protected. Both those skills were essential to his clown training tradition, as his parent's had studied and then taught to Dan. They had learned their skills in a holy monastery and clown training academy in the high mountains of Vietnam. Trained in this sexually segregated monastery, Dan's parents had never set eyes on one another before their marriage day. When the war between Vietnam and the USA was finished, they were sent by the Abbot of their monastery to go to the United States to help with its healing. Dan's mother and father got to know one another on the trip. They had seven children, which they trained in their clown tradition and included in their act. No one the family knew was aware their son had a job with the Secret Service and was guarding the First Family of the United States. These clown warriors had guarded the rulers in their own ancient land for centuries. Dan's parents accepted his taking this kind of job as a matter of course.
Dan was also hired for the job of guarding the President because he could go places where the larger guards could not go. The White Family Clowns act included fitting seven clowns into a set of big, snapping chattering teeth, the kind people use for gag gifts, only bigger. It was a trademark of the family act when the seven kids hopped out of the big chattering mouth at intervals, like they were being thrown up on the audience. What can I say? People laughed
It was a tight squeeze inside the big mouth, especially when all the kids started growing. They kept getting better and better, at getting into tighter and tighter places, so that their parents would not take the Big Teeth out of the act. The children loved doing it as much as audiences loved seeing it. Dan's favorite part of the act involved two sets of the big teeth. The theme from Star Wars was played and the teeth became as warring space ships, chattering at one another, with one of the kids inside each set, piloting their teeth. They "zapped" each other, and sometimes the audience, with water guns that were supposed to be "spit." The audience "voted" for the winner of the battle with their applause, at the end of the piece of music. It was often a very close call.
Speaking of close calls, Dan was making his way through the ventilation system of the conference room, at the top of the Big Old Ear of Corn building, checking for explosive devices, hidden assassins, or any other kind of "environmental pollutant", as The President's guards called the many dangers that might crop up, when guarding the leader of the Free World.
The President sometimes called himself that, laughing when he said it, especially if his health advisers and the First Lady had put him on a weight reduction diet. The world never seemed quite as free to him at those times. Many would think that checking the ventilation system of a building, chosen only a few hours before the meeting, would be an excessive security measure. They would be wrong. Let us just say that the President would not be at the Tiger Summit, if that kind of security precaution had not been used in the past.
"Yaaahhh Heeee!", Dan screamed as he ejected himself from an overhead wall vent right behind where Don was standing. Before he could say, "President's dead!", Don had responded to the drill and had "controlled the pollutant." They had these little drills regularly, since starting to work together. When they first began, "the Prez", was "offed" on a regular basis. Now, Don was getting pretty good and could stop Dan's mock attacks about 95% of the time. Dan and Don loved the game. Otherwise, guarding the President and First Lady would have been as boring as hell.
Considering that hell is just nothingness, it would be really, really boring. Hell is so boring, almost no one ever goes there. If they do, they just have a little rest there and then leave after a change of mind and heart. If, for some reason they feel really bad about something they did, and feel that no one should ever be subjected to being around them, ever again, they are reborn as ... OOPS! I'm not supposed to tell...That is another story.
So, Dan White and Don Bo were working with the Mobile, Alabama Chief of Police, going over the last minute details of the Tiger Summit security arrangements. The President would come in by helicopter, to the roof of the building and would access the conference room by way of the roof garden. Fortunately, the helipad was located on the greenhouse side of the roof or the winds from the landings there would have wrecked the tomato plants.
"We ready to go?", Reed asked the other two.
"Ready. " Dan and Don answered in unison.
They shared the view that this was one of the most important meetings for efforts to help the Planet. They held in common the view that the USA would be leading the world in many kinds of change. Little did they know that the day would change their lives, change some things they each in common with one another that were not as evident as the need to save Tigers. They each beat their wife. They had in common that they each felt terrible about it. There were times when each of them felt so terrible about it, they wished for the nothingness of hell, in preference to how badly they felt. In each case, they had little understanding of why they hit their wife and each regarded what they did as their darkest secret. One other thing they had in common was that no one outside their immediate family knew about the beatings.
Dan and Don had the added pressure of seeing the President and First Lady, "up close", all the time. This couple was consistently kind to one another, seemed to truly appreciate one another as people and showed their mutual respect for one another on a daily basis. The First Couple did not , by any means, agree on everything.
Far from it. They often "had words" on subjects of importance to them, sometimes for days. They never were "ugly" to each other. Their "discussions" seemed to have the purpose of putting each other in the picture, as fully as possible, rather than just arguing. Sometimes they played a game and "changed sides" in a discussion, just to be able to see it from a different point of view. They once spent three days, off and on, discussing whether their cat should be spayed . I will not tell you whom was on which side of that argument. They worked it out.
Neither the Chief of Police nor the Secret Service Agents had been raised in violently abusive homes, had parents who beat them, or were just plain mean. There were a few things in their backgrounds that each had in common. They all came from rough neighborhoods and had lived in them under difficult circumstances. Dan's family had dressed as clowns, Don's family had dressed as police officers and Reid's family was so dirt poor, they hardly dressed in anything at all.
They had each married pretty, nice women, and each loved their wife intensely. They were each the kind of man that would sort of pine away, dying young, had he not been married, or if his wife died before he did. They were each good providers, meticulous in their work and were generally mannerly and courteous to others. As far as each of them was concerned, their word was their bond. The thought of going back on a promise or a commitment was unthinkable to them. None of them had yet been able to promise their spouse that they would never hit her again.
Dan and Don had taken to avoiding their homes, whenever possible. They unfailingly volunteered for every out-of-town assignment, with either the President or the First Lady. Reid McCullers Benson avoided his home by spending most of his days and nights at Mobile Police Headquarters.
Though their job performance did not show it, each man was searching desperately for an answer for his terrible problem. Each was beginning to see only fear, as they looked into the eyes of their wife. It was not a pretty picture.
The President and the First Lady arrived for the meeting and the other Participants began to come into the conference room for the Tiger Summit. In came Senator Sterlin Sommes with General Maxwell S. Parker and his daughter, Ernestine Patton Parker. A group of young people followed them in and all eyes, as usual, focused on The Flame. They were on the meeting roster as The Way Scans. They were the only ones present wearing sun glasses.
"These kids are O.K..", Reid McCullers Benson told Dan and Don. That was good enough for them.
Also in attendance was Harrison Chambers, representing the news media and entertainment industry. Acton Maxum was invited to come but he had turned the job entirely over to Harrison. Acton was in the middle of converting his estate into the model for a functioning neighborhood agricultural zone. They were deep into the system of recycling and creation of organic fertilizers.
Acton was busy making a compost pile. He had never had more fun in his life and found that he had a real feel for the chemistry of organic systems. He understood the stuff and got to where he could put together a perfect "mix" of organic components to make compost to grow specific kinds of crops. It was a gift.
Letitia Cartwright Watson, Warden of the now empty Women's Correctional Center, was also there. She was seated between Susie Porter Carmen, the Real Estate Agent and Dr. Alberto Ramirez, representing both the medical community and the mental health providers. Many of those mental health folks had recently joined Susie Carmen in the housing renovation and restoration projects, so she was kind of representing them, too.
Lillian Douglas Purcell came as a representative of "working artists" . Because of her appearance, many there saw her as a representative of the physically challenged, but she never saw herself that way. "I just have differences that show.", Lillian always said.
Abel Rebinowitz came as a representative of the city's religious community. He had been picked, when at a meeting of religious leaders, that morning. They could not agree on whom else to send. He had originally gone to the meeting, at the request of his cousin Leon, to pass on word about Friday's meeting of Religious Leaders in Jerusalem and to request that members of the clergy in Mobile contact anyone who might need to be told. Leon had heard that there were some churches, that prayed with snakes, in areas of the Deep South. Leon was determined none should be left out. No creatures other than human would be allowed in the meeting, however.
The meeting of clergy was in an uproar when Abel walked in. Since Abel's study of the world's religions enabled him to intellectually understand each, he assured the clergy men and women that he could state their case accurately, while not believing a word of it himself. He was the perfect person to represent them all.
He gave a loud whistle, to get everyone's attention and then said, "I think you had better send me. I don't believe in any of it, but I know a lot about most of it, snake prayers included. Even after The Message, I still do not believe in anything beyond the wonder of now. That is Holy enough for me.", Abel explained.
That was Holy enough for the religious leaders, too. They sent him to the Tiger Summit.
Anna Marie Brightfoot was at the Tiger Summit to cater the food that would be served later in the afternoon. She and the First Lady, and numerous others of the women in the room, represented the mothers. The Brightfoot children, there to help serve, represented the children. Actually, each person in the room was a child of someone, so they all represented the children.
The Director of the Department of Human Resources and Employment, Amanda Presley Bartok, represented workers and management and also represented the grandmothers. Smiling Jack Preston represented the grandfathers. His daughter, Wanda June, had just given birth to a baby girl, his first grandchild. They named the child after his recently deceased mother. When he held the infant, he was sure he saw a wink of recognition in the baby's eyes. Smiling Jack also represented the small businesses of the Mobile, Alabama area.
The fathers were represented by just about every man in the room except Abel Rebinowitz, the members of the security team of Dan, Don and Reid McCullers Benson, the Way Scans and Senator Sommes. Howard Beau was currently in the fathers category, though he did not yet know it. Alberta knew that she was in the mother's category because she had a vision when their child was conceived, at sunrise that morning.
It was a secret thing that happened to women of her people. They were given information, in various forms and ways, about the name of their child. The child told it to them. This information helped them to give their child a name at the time of the child's birth. After the birth, the correct name was whispered into the child's ear, so the child knew that it had arrived safely, to its correct mother. It was kind of like saying the right password. Sometimes, the mothers heard the right password at the time of the conception. Sometimes they heard it during the pregnancy. It was mostly a matter of paying attention to the person "in there." Hearing the password is the most reassuring sound a child can ever hear, at the time of their birth. It means that they are expected.
Lipton Wainwright, the advertising and promotions executive, was also there. The Way Scans had especially wanted him present. If he was an expert at selling billions of dollars of things people really did not need, he could help a lot to promote what people both wanted and needed. The man could put together an effective message, no doubt about it.
Benson and Arilla Saunders, the Co-directors of Global Travel and Freight Forwarding, also came. They were the founding members of the Mobile Chapter of World Without Borders and were experts on travel limitations, restrictions and travel warnings of various kinds, around the world. For example, Benson and Avery could tell you where, in France, a tourist may not travel. No one else may travel there, either. This is because there are so many bombs and perhaps old canisters of nerve gas lying around, maybe only partially buried underground. These little items are souvenirs, not yet cleaned up, from World War I and World War II. Yes, war leaves a heck of a mess.
Benson and Avery Saunders were better than the USA Government Traveler Advisory Services at letting people know the ins and outs of international movement of people or goods. They also knew more "unofficial" ways of getting things done internationally, in more different countries, than just about anyone else on the Planet. At times, Preston suspected that they worked for the CIA and he was sort of right. The CIA called them a lot, when the Central Intelligence Agency had a problem that needed solving abroad. This couple usually had ways of working something out that helped everyone.
The way Benson and Avery got their information and contacts was by traveling to a different nation, several times each year and getting to know people there. They never stayed in resort hotels. They usually tried to stay where regular people of the country stayed, when those regular people visited their capitol city or other large city in their own nation. Then Avery and Benson would ask around and try to find out where the meeting place was, for the really important local people. Then they went there and pretended they were lost tourists and gave their cards out to people they met. These bars and little cafes, were usually in or near places you could easily get lost. These important people usually had children in the USA, attending a University or Graduate School, so they were often happy to see friendly people from America, whom they could call on to give their child a hand, should the need arise. Let us just say, Benson and Avery had friends in high places, all over the Planet.
Tom "The Man " Winston was also at the meeting, representing the agents and those hundreds of thousands of promoters and deal makers of all kinds. We are not quite sure what they do, but if there is something to be done, and money to be made doing it, folks like "The Man" will be there doing it well. Tom was the one who devised and coordinated the whole "Star for Bail" program so we need not say more about why he, particularly, is in attendance.
Joseph Campo Lyndia, the Administrator of the newly renamed Mobile Care Center, came representing the Care Center and also represented the Insurance Industry that owned most of the health care systems. Insurance companies had figured out, long ago, that if you have to pay someone to give expensive care, you might as well pay yourself. Selfish and self-serving, as this may seem, this began the practice of managed care. The hospital/insurance system tried to keep people out of hospitals, which were actually very dangerous places. Many were saved from ever having to go into a hospital and were spared a lot of pain and suffering, as a result.
Fremont Jefferson Jackson came as a representative of those men and women who worked on the Mobile Alabama Stock Exchange. He also, was the only one everybody trusted to represent them knowledgeably, fairly and not for personal gain. Freemont never had nor would he ever have, a stock or a bond or a share certificate to his name. His river of wealth flowed from elsewhere.
George Merriweather Jenkins, whose middle name was taken from that famous figure in American history, Francis Merriweather, also known as "The Swamp Fox," attended as a representative of the building trade and the banking industry, as it relates to the construction and development of both residential housing tracts and commercial properties. George worked, on many projects with Gleaner Bead. Their work together included the design and construction of the Big Old Ear of Corn Building, wherein the present meeting was being held.
George Merriweather Jenkins despised Gleaner Bead for being a "colored" person and for being a woman, ever since he met her. However, he had impeccable manners and was a Gentleman of the finest tradition of the Old South. He was living proof that you might not like someone, in fact you might detest someone, but that you could still accomplish much, to your mutual benefit, by using common courtesy. Let us hear a round of applause for George! It is difficult to say if George's attitude toward Gleaner had changed any, since The Message. There was no noticeable difference in his behavior toward her. What may be in his heart is another story and it is a private one and none of your business.
Avery Lamont Winslow and his Uncle, "The Dean" came to the meeting to represent the consortium of movers and shakers called the Fortunate 500 companies. Each of the 500 had been either incredibly smart or incredibly lucky or both, to merit inclusion in the group. Uncle and nephew also came to represent the Petrochemical industry, the Chemical Industry and the large scale farmers, the Agribusiness industry.
The small farmers were represented by many people in the room, including the President of the United States, who had an organic garden on his home ground. The list of those in the room that were currently small farmers included: The President and the First Lady, Gleaner Bead, Anna Marie Brightfoot, et al. , Tom "The Man" Winston, Harrison Chambers, General Maxwell S. Parker and Letitia Cartwright Watson. Most of them were city dwellers. They may not have known it but one of the basic principles of most city dwellers, in other parts of the world is, "Always have a place where you can grow at least some food ", for a reliable food supply, in case of war, disaster or economic crisis. Many in the group would soon " join the club" by getting involved in developing small farms in their neighborhoods, such as the one being worked on by Susie Porter Carmen and her neighbors, around the Bidewell Mansion.
The legal profession was represented by Donald "Bubba" Purcell, Emaline's father and Lillian's husband. Bubba had recently been elected to the office of President of the Alabama State Bar Association. He was the only one running that was trusted by enough of the attorneys in the State, to get elected to the post. Bubba worked for "Right Cause", which was nicknamed "Lost Cause" by the legal community. Right Cause represented people who, guilty or innocent, would not have had a ghost of a chance for a fair trial in the Justice System, as it existed before The Message. Right Cause did a lot of Pro Bono work. They were mighty busy, but won most of their cases.
Bubba specialized in cases where it was obvious that his client was innocent. Bubba was usually able to present that fact clearly enough, to the prosecutor, to get the case dropped before it went to trial. It is scary how often his help was needed for cases like that. Without his intervention, the accused probably would have gone to trial and been convicted, legal defense for the poor was often so bad, prior to The Message. It was estimated that Bubba, alone, saved the taxpayers of Alabama at least 14 million dollars a year in unnecessary court costs and unnecessary incarcerations. They did not even count the cost to the family, that was sometimes destroyed, all hands lost, in the sea of that destructive process.
Estelle Feinstein came to represent the fashion and cosmetics industry. This combination of the business of fashion and the youth and beauty industry, that made so many wheels turn on the Planet, could not have found a better representative. Estelle was on the cutting edge of anything that had to do with health products, beauty products or any product or process designed by man or beast (don't worry, I won't take you there) to help stop the aging process or to make people of any age look and feel better. Prior to The Message, people had been scared shitless of turning into frail elderly.
Harry Feinstein had been invited to the meeting but was busy refitting some of his clothing factories and advising others how to do the same. The goal was that everything made would be sold and that there would be no waste of resources by unnecessary duplication of clothing production. Good plan, Harry. You are excused from the meeting.
The Way Scans were excused from school, to attend the meeting. They were performing their "community service" hours, which were mandatory for graduation in their School District.
Another person, in attendance at the meeting, was Melissa Mayberry, Sterlin Sommes' administrative assistant. She would be taking notes and would also represent those who kept the business of business running. What would this meeting, or any other meeting be, without administrative assistants? Without her, to keep the record, we might as well all just go home right now.
Before you think I left them out, Howard Beau represents the hunters and the fishermen and the lovers of the wild places, who have harvested the bounty of those wild places for generation's. Howard has studied both ancient and modern practices of harvesting, by those then and now, who do it for "a living". He presents the case of the modern day harvesters well.
Alberta represents the Tigers and people who live in places like Tiger Country.
There is, however, at least one other group that appears to be underrepresented at the meeting. Do you have it on your list? I hope so, because you would not be where you are today, reading this book, without this group. Got it? Of course, the Teachers! Teachers are not just the people in the classrooms. Most people in the world do not see those kind of teachers very much, anyway. Teachers are those classroom people, but they are also anyone who has ever shared what they know with another. Teachers are represented by everyone at the meeting.
The National Association of Teachers, in conference call that morning, had elected a group of representatives to the Tiger Summit. They had unanimously elected the Way Scans to represent them, based on an article written by Preston Sommes, about the group.
"We sure can't send a representative for all of the different kinds of teachers.", Willametta Hughes, the current NAT President said. "We can send these fine examples of good teaching, the Way Scans, to speak for us."
The group agreed to represent the teachers. No one else knew it, but they had decided to stay together by all studying to be teachers, each specializing in a different subject areas and then teaching at the same school or starting a school of their own after they graduated from college. The Way Scan School was to become world famous in the future. Like the Way Scans, most of the program participants had spend the morning discussing, with their group, what their group wanted them to say. There had been a lot of long distance calling and Faxing and communication on the InterNet. The planet was abuzz.
The representative of the telecommunications industry was Preston Sommes. He had been nominated by the industry to present their interests because he was an expert on what was emerging "in the field", all over the Planet. As his "fee" for representing the industry, Preston had requested a free phone line, that could be used to call, anywhere on the Planet, without charge. He had the line installed at the Friends of the Planet Office. Howard Beau took advantage of it to call Australia again. Rodney's wife, Prunella answered. Rodney had gone out to the desert to sing and had disappeared, too. She was not worried.
"Does it all the time, he does!", Prunella explained. "Don' worry, Love. He'll turn up!"
The meeting began on time. Well, some people thought it started about two hundred years, too late, but better late than never! The order for presentations, at the meeting, was determined by drawing a number out of a hat.
The Way Scans went first, presenting the teacher's message. The NTA had come up with a list of recommended changes in the school curriculum and the Way Scans fully agreed with them all. They were as follows:
1) teach many languages in schools, starting in preschool
2) teach children some a non-denominational method of meditation, at age 7 years old
3) teach an accurate version of history, not a nationalistic one
4) try to find out what each person's gift is and let them train to use it, if at all possible
5) people should have access to training anywhere in the world that they wish to train, if they are accepted by the school and can pay for their tuition fees.
Then Benson and Arilla Saunders were recognized, to report for World Without Boarders.
"Our committee, on the Movement of People and Goods Around the Planet, would like to report on the results of twenty years of study of this phenomenon." Avery stated to the group.
" The report shows that people go where they really want to go and so do their goods, no matter whether they are legal or illegal.", Arilla said.
"In other words, boarder guards and customs checks are simply employment opportunities and income generating activities for governments and do virtually nothing to stop anything or anyone from moving any place anyone wants to.", explained Benson.
"If a nation feels its government is useless without boarder monitoring, continue to do it and just follow these guidelines. They will actually allow anyone or anything in and out (as is now the case) and will not require vast amounts of resources for policing, which is a waste of money, anyway. " Benson added.
"The recommendations are as follows:
1)Free movement for the purposes of education
2)Free movement for technology of any kind or to train to use it.
3)No person should be made to move anywhere or to stay anywhere they do not wish to be .", Benson concluded.
Gleaner Bead, architect and city planner, discussed the concept of cities as multi-use systems for work, living areas and food production. Susie Porter Carmen shared specific information on Mobile, Alabama and her own neighborhood, in particular, as an example of what could be done.
Avery Lamont Winslow spoke next, to tell about both large and small scale food production systems, in light of the Principles in response to The Message. His presentation covered the trend toward large-scale farming and how large farms could
be used, if needed, to produce some food supplies. His detailed description of farming, with genetically engineered seeds and organic and other safe "inputs", described how the average person might contribute to successfully filling their own community
"The Dean" Winslow brought up the changes that could be expected in the practices of the major petrochemical manufacturers and introduced the topic of dangerous chemical retrieval, that had him so worried . He asked for participants for any suggestions they had, to solve this problem. Then they took a break.
While on the break, Don Millhouse Bo stepped out in the hallway, to check that the security outside the conference room was as it should be. Instead of the guard by the door, he found Freemont Jefferson Jackson. The small, dark skinned man looked at him with eyes so black, Don Bo saw himself reflected in them.
"The guard went to take a pee.", Freemont explained. "I'll watch here until he gets back."
"But you are one of the delegates!", Don Bo exclaimed. "We are guarding the President and the First Lady here!"
"I can guard them.", Freemont said. "I am an expert at telling which is the most dangerous thing any place I am at. In that, I am very much like you."
"Is that right?, Don Bo asked. "What is the most dangerous thing at the conference? Since you are an expert, maybe you can help us out."
"The most dangerous thing here, for you, is yourself, the other guard here with you and the Sheriff, Reid McCullers Benson are both in the same boat." Freemont answered.
"And that is just the way we like to keep it.", Don Bo acknowledged. "Then those we are protecting stay safe."
"Not necessarily,", Freemont told him. "It may be that the ones you are supposed to protect is the ones who fear you the most."
A vision of the fear in his wife's eyes flashed through Don Bo's mind.
"But what can I do?", Don Bo asked. The question just came out. He had not meant to talk to this strange man. The man was distracting him from his duty.
"You should be generous with your strength and make the one you seek to protect even stronger than you are. Then they can protect themselves, if you are there or if you are not there.", Freemont proposed. "They could even protect themselves from you, if need be."
Then Freemont returned to the Conference room, leaving Don Bo standing in the hall, deep in thought, with his mouth slightly open. He did not notice or comment when the security guard returned to his post. When Don returned to the meeting, it had resumed and was in progress.
Senator Sommes was asking some questions of LeDean Winslow. He wanted to know if The Dean thought that changing what large corporations, such as PetroChem, produced, so quickly, would cause a severe economic crisis in their business. In other words, would it wreck the economy?
The Dean was explaining, " We have been selling technology that is outdated, and sometimes unusable in the USA, to the rest of the world, for decades. It usually takes from five to ten years to just to get rid of stockpiles of materials that are dangerous, no good or outdated. We sell them to other nations. Sometimes we export our old equipment and manufacture out-dated products in other nations, too. Lots of tax write-offs there, Senator.", The Dean pointed out.
"At any rate, we need to bring products that are really useful, to every place they are needed. Our business will be bigger than ever, but it will need to be planned better than ever.", The Dean explained. "As I said before,", The Dean continued. "We have so many new products that can really help, we will be running at full capacity to produce them. We will need to expand production capacity to do so." That sounded like good news for business.
" I am only concerned about the products out there that are dangerous, especially what people leave behind when they vacate the wild places they inhabit now. Are they going to know to take their dangerous pesticides out of there with them, when they leave ? It is not the first thing I would think of to pack.", The Dean concluded.
Lipton Wainwright, advertising executive and public relations expert, had an idea. "Maybe this can help. There are certain kinds of products that are sold world-wide. Salt, matches, cooking oil, too. We could get the word out, on the packaging and in the advertising for those products. We could advise people on what to do with dangerous products like that. It might be worth a try.", he concluded. Good idea Lipton!
General Maxwell S. Parker got up to outline the Pentagon's proposal to act, in conjunction with the elderly population of each area of the Planet, to carry out the missions of distribution of food, materials and technology.
"Perhaps we can do some search, containment and transport of some of those dangerous substances.", General Maxwell offered. " We'll be in the neighborhood. " LeDean, Lipton and the General agreed to meet later to discuss the coordination of such a plan.
Ernestine Patton Parker reported on the on-going project at the International Food Exchange and the attempt to work out a barter system for supplying food to the people of the Planet. They were coordinating with environmental organizations, to try to get some idea of where the centers of human population would be, if the Ten Principles were followed. They would then be able to finalize their study.
" We have already identified the acceptable areas for agricultural production in the USA.", Howard Beau explained to the group. "Many areas farmed two hundred years ago are still farmland or land that can be farmed, now."
Sterlin Sommes had a talk with some of the major tobacco growers. They had agreed to stop adding addictive nicotine to their cigarettes. They were sitting on a gold mine, with land that could be used for agricultural food production, and no longer had an interest in increasing the consumption of tobacco products.
"Speaking of motivation.", Anna Marie Brightfoot stated, turning to Lipton Wainwright. "The prices of so many products are high because they have all those contests and promotions. Can you do anything about developing non-costly promotion ideas, so that the prices of things can come down?"
"Like what?", Lipton asked. He always like to listen to consumers. He got where he is by listening very closely to consumers.
"Like Educational information...Give out a natural remedy for bee stings and I will buy that mayonnaise for it.", Anna Marie told him. " Things like that."
"Or home improvement tips.", suggested Susie Porter Carmen.
"Pet care information.", contributed the First Lady. She was an animal lover and had been delighted about The Message. She had known about Tigers since she was a tiny child.
Lipton thanked them all for the input. He was tired of thinking of advertising that appealed to people's fears and insecurities. Time to move on!
"Food is ready.", Ana Marie Brightfoot announced.
They ate buffet style and the Brightfoot children served the beverages and the deserts to the meeting participants. The children were not essential to the process of food service, at the meeting. Anna Marie had wanted them to be there for the meeting's benefit. According to the tradition of his people, Wilhelm always tried to have children around when important decisions were being made. There were always children present at their People's Counsel meetings.
Wilhelm admitted he did not know why having children at the meeting helped. He thought that their tendency to move in so many interesting directions and to make such interesting sounds, might have something to do with it. While on the food break, the Delegates to the Tiger Summit circled the room, talking to one another. The security team eyed the group from the periphery. Dan Therber White kept an especially close eye on the dark-skinned man who seemed to be sitting quietly and just watching the others. The man looked innocent enough to Dan, but Don Bo kept staring and staring at the guy. That usually meant trouble of some kind.
Then, the man came up to Dan and said," You keep looking at me. Do you fear me for some reason?", Freemont asked. "I did not know that I was that mysterious."
Dan was unable to answer. The unknown had always been Dan's greatest fear, in any security situation. He was afraid of it in life situations, too.
"If you think I am a mystery, you should meet my wife.", Freemont commented. "Even I cannot figure her out, and we grew up together, in the same village. She says that I have no clue, just because I am a man. Women are the biggest mystery of all. .Don't you think?". Freemont asked and then he walked away.
"But where would we be without them?", Freemont muse aloud, looking back over his shoulder at Dan, before taking his seat, again.
Don Bo looked across the room at Dan. Dan had a look of puzzled bewilderment on his face. After the meeting, they needed to talk.
The meeting resumed and Dr. Alberto Jesus Ramirez discussed what had happened to the population of their region and to the demographics of the United States, since The Message. The world-wide trends were not yet clear. It seemed that the people who were happy and healthy stuck around. Those who were not, did not.
Dr. Ramirez discussed the need to have a high the level of wellness of all the world's people. Health must improve significantly. If people did not eat well and have the basic preventive health measures, such as clean water and a healthy living environment, the task of cleaning up the Planet for Tigers could not be accomplished. In a nut shell, people had work to do and they needed to be well to do it. In addition, they needed the support of their work place to provide conditions far a healthy family and a balanced social and artistic life. People might also need training to best use their gifts and abilities.
"You have to look at the whole person, but you also have to look at their whole support system.", Dr. Ramirez told the meeting members. "That is what we want to do at the Care Center." the Doctor explained. "To that end, we are developing systems to see that people have basic needs met, in the following areas:
1) make sure people feel safe and then work with them on all the rest
2) basic preventive health care for everyone between age birth to age 60 and beyond if the individual wants care.
3)health care systems for the basic need for food, shelter, clothing and employment . 4) use of gifts and skills as an essential part of each person's plan for wellness .
"I would like to congratulate Dr. Ramirez and his colleges in the Health professions.", the President said. "Their ability to adapt to the most profound social and economic changes, in the past five days, has been an inspiration to us all."
"We had a little motivation from the ones who "left us." Dr. Ramirez responded. "But, thank you Mr. President."
Amanda Presley Bartok talked about the need for full employment, in order to make many of the changes needed in the future. The concept of full employment, though it sounded wonderful to most people in the world, was something greatly feared, by economists. It was thought that full employment would fuel inflation and cause serious economic instability. The jury was still out on this one, but to avoid panic at the Federal Reserve Board, Amanda proposed that communities consider the following:
Allow those who wish to train in Neighborhood projects and be paid by the barter system while they learned. They would receive food, shelter and training for better paying jobs, if they wanted salaried work. During the period of Neighborhood Development work, they might help in a neighborhood school or library, do research for the neighborhood's projects, work part of the time on neighborhood food production and/or building projects and take part in the development of recreation and learning programs for all in the neighborhood.
" It is not yet clear if there will be enough workers to fill all the paid work positions, but certainly this could be a good employment option, to use the human resources newly coming into an area.", Amanda explained.
" Isn't that slavery?", Senator Sterlin Sommes asked. He was familiar with his family history as slaves and slave owners, and did not want to go there again!
" This is a system for those who would like to work for their neighborhood instead of another business, those who want to develop a business in their own neighborhood and those others who, for one reason or another cannot work elsewhere.", Amanda responded. "If what most mothers have been doing for years, when they did not go out of their home to work, is slavery, then this is slavery." , Amanda added. The female participants in the Summit got up and cheered.
"It sounds to me like you are giving both men and women other ways, besides work for money , to meet their basic needs.", Winston Bridges Brightfoot put in. "This option is not just for women!"The male participants got up and cheered, too.
"You'll be giving a day job to comedians and entertainers!", Toni Leonardo exclaimed. "My dream has come true!"
"And to the artists!", the President added. "My dream has come true, too!" In addition to his job as President he was a musician, so he understood the need to play.
"Since you brought up art..," Warden Letitia Watson put in, "There is a group of artists and entertainers that would like to propose the use of both prisons and military bases for helping large numbers of people receive art and creativity training."
Letitia could see that the group in front of her was not making the connection.
"The connection is the development of new and innovative technology and the active practice of some form of art, music or drama. If those things do not connect, in your mind, consider putting them together right this second.", Lillian Percell told them. "That is, if you want the words positive, creative and technology in the same sentence. Otherwise, we will just be doing our technology development the same old, and often destructive way."
"I would like to support what is being said here with every fiber of my being!", The Dean Winslow exploded from across the room. He had just taken up paint-by-number oil coloring. Never had he experienced such creative ideas, as those he had when painting.
The Dean was working on that picture of the dogs playing poker. Maybe it was the paint fumes or maybe it was the fact that the picture of the dogs was so darned funny or maybe it was because, for the first time in fifty years, he was not spending every waking hour thinking about "work.", but there was something great about the process. He did not know what it was and he did not care what it was. The Dean was having a good time. The "chemistry was right."
In fact, the chemistry was so right, while painting, he had come up with a new kind of organic fertilizer that was the waste product of an organism that could be raised in a greenhouse system. This little creature could eat old car tires and excreted fertilizer that was completely safe and could be used in any garden. " I think I can speak for the manufacturers of America when I say that we need to think of some better ways to do just about every thing we do.", The Dean stated.
"And we have just the prisons you can do your thinking in.", put in Letitia Watson. "We have to keep many of the prisons open, at least until we can relocate the populations around them. The prisons have been running their community sanitation systems and recycling centers. Those services cannot go away until the people around there do."
" And we have the artists to send right along to help the manufacturers and their product development staff train in an art form. ", Lillian Purcell spoke up, on behalf of the working artists.
"The beauty of it is they can go into solitary confinement to practice their oboe and not be embarrassed about making a terrible noise.", Toni Leonardo put in. "Where else would they have a chance like that?"
"There have always been great ideas, generated by men and women who were incarcerated.", Letitia Watson admitted. She was beginning to have some cracks in the foundation of the stone she had turned into working for the Alabama Department of Corrections. "Most prisons also have workshop space where projects and products can be created and tested.", Letitia concluded. "That might be helpful, too."
So, the idea of most of the Fortunate 500 going to jail, with artists of every kind, was born.
Lillian Purcell then got up to give her more formal presentation, on behalf of the artists. She began her presentation by asking, "Has anyone in this room been sick or bored in the past five days?" No one raised a hand. "I would like to invite everyone in the world to get a life by getting an art form. I would like to invite all artists in the world to assist in that process, in whatever way they can." , Lillian concluded. Harrison Chambers and Tom "The Man" Winston promised the help of the news media, to get her invitation out.
"Ah would alsah lahk tha classes ta be hald on tha militahree bases all ovah tha wahld.", Senator Sommes put in.
"Global! Make art not war!", Toni Leonardo exclaimed.
"A potentially global idea. ", the President commented. He had not heard that slang expression before and thought that Antoinette was referring to the current state of peace on Earth.
There was pressure from people all over the world for their governments to close their military bases, making war an impossibility in the future. Closing bases completely would have a severe economic impact on many urban areas. An alternative use of these bases was needed.
The recent meetings at the United Nations had made it clear that conventional war was completely obsolete. No men or women would fight any more. That morning, the nations that had been involved in military conflicts had their chance to go before an independent panel of arbitrators, to present their case. They were offered the option of submitting to the decision of the arbitration panel or of devising their own, non-military way, of settling the war. Other than one very innovative leader, from a small nation in the Caribbean, all had chosen arbitration. He wanted to have a battle of the Big Warring Chattering Teeth.
This leader, Bianco De Cruz Sanoma, had been educated in the United States and had once seen a clown act that gave him the idea. Small world? Compared to the size of the Universe, you bet. So how small is this world..? This world is so small we not only all actually know one another, it is so small that we all actually are one another. But, that is this story.
The subject of the military bases reminded the President of the call he put in to the King of Peace, the former President , earlier that day. He called for an update, on how things were going at the United Nations, and to the King of Peace of an idea which came to him when he dozed off after dinner the previous evening. "My greatest fear," said President to former President. "is that some hot shot, probably one of our own, is going to figure out that you do not need people to fight wars any more. I would like to get some creative alternatives in motion before that happens.", he shared.
Then he told the King of Peace his idea to put an end to destructive forms of war, forever.
"But you have got to promise not to mention my name in connection with this plan.", the President told the King of Peace. "The political system in the USA has not evolved enough, to allow my political opponents to let a plan like this survive, if they know it came from me. Give anyone you want credit for it. Call it the Chamoru Plan.. Call it the XYZ Plan. Just do not call it my plan."
There was little doubt that the world was headed in a new direction. Both men would do what they could, to make sure that the new direction for war was not the direction to ultimate destruction, orchestrated by perhaps one mad man or woman and carried out by one or more machines.
"There has been too, much destroyed by war, already.", the President stated to the participants at the Tiger Summit. "I would like to see the military bases turned into centers for peace, creative action and positive change."
"I think that the construction industry could help a lot with a plan like that.", George Merriweather Jenkins contributed. "The fort, or the military base was usually the first structure built in most inhabited areas. Those places will probably be part of the remaining population centers, in most countries." he advised. "The fact that we built our forts first, may have been a pattern in the past, but we have some chance to change their use to something more positive. Let's do it:", George concluded.
Then he volunteered to head the committee to coordinate a training program, in the construction trades, at every military base in the United States or that was operated by the United States, around the world. They could transform the bases, and at the same time, train others for work in the nearby community. The group decided to take another break and then have a final period of questions, answers and "brainstorming" before the close of the meeting. The participants needed to stretch their legs and some needed to use the rest rooms.
Reid McCullers Benson signaled to the others on his security team that he would patrol the Men's room during the break. One of his best female officers was in the Ladies Room. When the quiet, dark little man came in and entered one of the stalls, Reid became extra vigilant: He noticed how both Dan and Don had been watching this man, more than anyone else in the meeting room. The man in question had not spoken a word during the meeting. Reed had no doubt that the man was highly dangerous, in one way or another.
"We're likely to have a moment of truth here.", Reid told himself. This was his personal code for the times when "the shit hit the fan."
The toilet flushed. The little man chuckled as he came out of the stall and walked toward the sink, laughing quietly to himself. Reid was on ALERT! Every muscle of his body, every neuron of his nervous system waited for what came next. The man washed his hands and then turned to Reid and said, "In this country you hide your shit inside and it disappears without a trace. In Tiger country, we give our shit to the world, as part of our humble contribution to the life of the forest. It is one of the few things we can give, while we are alive. Why hide it?"
"Well, ", Reid explained. "We think it is bad manners to show our personal selves."
"Your shit is your personal self!?", Freemont exclaimed. "In Tiger country it is just undigested food."
"I don't mean our shit is our personal self. I mean our shit is kept private. To ourselves."
"If we did that in Tiger Country, our homes would really stink.", Freemont said. "Even birds know that.", he added and then he walked out of the Men's room.
Reid could not have told you whether anyone else came into the Men's room or not, during the remainder of the break. He did not think that the President came in, but he would not have taken bets on it. Reid was lost in thought. As mentioned before, Reid was born into a very poor family. They were the last folks, white or colored, in town to get indoor plumbing. When he was small and did not know any better, Reid did not miss an indoor bathroom. The outhouse was actually one of the few quiet places, where a person could actually have some solitude, in his noisy family. The woods were his other alternative and Reid would often go out to "take a leak" and stay gone for hours. The woods were dark and cool and quiet. He was master of all he saw there and even though it was earth all around him, he never saw a speck of "dirt."
Reid got a little older and the kids at school teased him about his poor clothes, his home haircuts and about the outhouse in back of their place. If it had not been for Reid, who got a job at age 15, and built their indoor "facility" with his brothers' help, they would still be "shitting in the forest".
How Reid had loved that bathroom! He built it in white tile and kept it spotless, as long as he lived there. This was a huge task, considering the number of people who used those facilities. It was never quite as clean, after he moved out of his parent's home to get married. This was true, even with only his mother in residence by that time, as Reid was the youngest of her five children.
His wife never seemed to be able to get their bathrooms clean enough for him, either. Her inability to maintain his standard of cleanliness was their main area of conflict these days. When he saw a mess in the bathroom, he just got out of control.
"I need help.", Reid said to himself when he "came to" and found that he had been scouring the sinks of the Men's room of the Mason Building. It was a kind of automatic reaction. The sinks were never clean enough.
He returned to the meeting , which was in progress.
There had been questions asked and answered and committees formed to take on certain tasks. A few people had not spoken during the meeting. One of them was Abel Rebinowitz. He figured he would let the religious community speak for itself, in Jerusalem on Friday. He asked the other person who had said nothing, Freemont, to lead the group in a moment of silence at the end of the meeting.
Freemont was an expert at that kind of prayer, which makes a space for Spirit to come through. To have the opportunity to learn this kind of prayer is the sole reason that any human was allowed to live in Tiger Country. Otherwise, the Tigers would have and could have eaten those puny people up, ages ago.
Chapter 14- After The Summit - The Long View
When the Tiger Summit participants left and the President and the First Lady went into Gleaner Bead's private office, the President put another call through to the King of Peace. The First Lady made him promise to send her love to him and the Queen of Peace. The First Lady though she was the coolest woman in the world. She thought so when she was a teenager when she saw the then First Lady on TV. Other people had rock stars as idols, but her idol was The Queen of Peace. The First Lady just kept admiring her more and more, as the years passed.
"It's not idol, it's ideal.", the Queen of Peace explained when they met for the first time. "It's the ideals that one should be following, not the people. Ideals can never let you down." The Queen of Peace was right, as usual.
The conference room was now empty, except for the three security guards. They came together, from their surveillance positions around the room, to the room's center. There was to be a briefing session to discuss how the security for the meeting had gone and to identify problems or ways to improve what they did. Dan and Don always did this at the end of an assignment. So did Reid. It helped them improve their work performance.
"Let's take a look at what happened here today.", Don Bo stated.
"Think about the whole meeting and then say the first thing that comes to your mind.", Dan told Reid. "We find that helpful in picking up on small things that might not be obvious."
There was silence for a minute and then :
"The people in the greatest danger, in the room were us." Don Bo stated.
"That is always the case" Reid admitted. "We are the first to move to defend others."
"That is not always the case.", Dan stated.
"No it is not." Don Bo agreed.
"I do not defend my wife. I beat her up.", the three said in unison.
"So do I.", they all said, again in unison.
Then the men each shared the experience they had when in contact with Freemont Jefferson Jackson. Those contacts were the most important events, security wise, because they were unable to perform at their security job, for a period of time, after contact with him.
Due to this unexpected interruption in their ability to perform their duties, Dan and Don both decided to take a leave of absence, until they got themselves and their family situation sorted out. To begin that process they each shared what they learned from Freemont.
"I learned that I fear the unknown about everything, my wife included.", Dan explained. "My wife is the most important person in the world to me and I cannot stand it that she is not me. She has the mystery of her own thoughts and her own life and her own destiny. She can just die sometime and leave me and I will never know when.", Dan said. "I cannot stand having something that important be so unknown. When she moves, in any way, to be independent of me, I feel I need to make her feel afraid. I cannot stand to see her look like she is not under my control", Dan added.
"That is sort of how I feel." Don Bo admitted. "I have to keep showing my wife that I am stronger than she is, so she will think that she needs me. Part of me thinks that if she thinks she is weak, she will never have the courage to go away."
"I learned that I probably beat my wife up because I expect her to do the impossible.", Reid told them. "I expect her to clean up my past. I thought it was my bathroom I wanted clean but I was wrong."
"We all need help." Don stated.
"Does this make us nuts?" Dan asked.
"Deeply disturbed individuals, is the term.", Don Bo told him. They had just completed a sensitivity training with the head of the American Psychological Association and were told they were supposed to call crazy people, "deeply disturbed individuals ", these days. You could no longer call anyone crazy, not only because it was not nice, but because a crazy person might not get convicted, if brought to trial. There were people who killed others and kept body parts in their frig who would not ever be called crazy, in the system of justice, as it was prior to The Message. Dan, Don and Reid looked at each other and started laughing like maniacs. OOPS! Like crazy. OOPS! Like deeply disturbed individuals. Don, Dan and Reid probably would not be called crazy. No one other than they, themselves, would call them deeply disturbed. They, however, would call themselves deeply concerned about their own lack of control.
"What do we do about our wives?", Reid asked.
"We do not do anything about them.", Dan answered. "We do something about ourselves."
"The first thing I am going to do is to tell my wife what I learned here today and then I am going to stand out of her way. She can do whatever she needs to do for herself. I promise I will not try to stop her from doing that! No matter what she decides she needs." , Reid told the others.
"I'm going to pay for Rita to train in self defense." Don proposed. "I wonder if that will help?"
"There are three basic things to remember for any action plan.", a voice spoke to the men from the doorway. It was the First Lady speaking. She had heard the part of the conversation about women doing what they needed to do. She had been hearing conversations like it all her life. She had heard it so often, she had perfected a formula to give people as a framework for a any such action plan.
"These are the three basic principles you might wish to follow in your interactions with others - wife, child, friend, nation, whatever.", the First Lady explained. "First, do not hurt anyone. Second, do your own work on changes you need to make. Third, do good if you can with any time, energy or resources you might have left after doing the first two.", she concluded.
"Now let's get going, guys." she told Dan and Don. "We want to have dinner with the First Family, tonight." She was referring to the children that lived at the White House. They got going.
Alberta, Howard Beau and Freemont picked Betsy Ross up from the offices of the International Food Exchange, after the Tiger Summit. Betsy was there to discuss world food-use patterns with Addie McCracken, the Coupon Lady. They were discussing non-meat, complete-protein combinations, from various parts of the world. Addie was taking notes.
The Jacksons were invited go again to the Brightfoot home, to help finish off the remains of the food prepared for the Summit. There was enough left for another Summit. They left about half of it for the kids at the Big Ear Day Care Center, for their lunch the next day, and some for the employees of the International Food Exchange.
"Italian women always make too much food.", Howard Beau told Addie. "It's genetic. Take this into consideration in your food distribution system planning."
The families were soon together again, at the Brightfoot home and Howard Beau and Alberta had just announced their Union to their gathered relatives. Wilhelm gave Freemont the high five. "You win Freemont." Howard's father told his friend. " United in under a week!"
The parents had expected a union, from the first time they saw the two together. It was just a matter of "when". In honor of the occasion of the announcement, Betsy Ross was telling them all a fair story. The story she was telling was to honor the new couple. Actually there were three of them if you counted the new life that Alberta carried within her. Some people did not.
In Tiger Country, the prospective mother did count the life, but the society did not, until the child had lived through its first year. During that period the child was seen as part of the mother. How did they stand on abortion? You figure it out. I will give you a hint. It is somewhere between how they stood on murder and how they stood on cutting one's own toe nails.
This was Betsy Ross' story:
" Once upon a time there was a prince who was one of seven children. Every night he would go to sleep and the other brothers and sisters would turn into birds and fly away to a far off land called DC. There they would do things, like lobby their elected representatives.
One day, the prince was walking through the swamp and a big bad developer came along and wanted to make the place into a parking lot. The prince tried to stop him, calling on all the powers of mind and spirit that he had. At first it looked as though the developer would devour the whole swamp but the Prince managed to save some of it.
Then along came King Message and everybody thought that King Message had all the answers and was going to fix everything up really quick and nice. King Message helped a lot. He gave a little treasure of wisdom here and a jewel of an idea there and the gold of illumination, in the form of another good idea, over there. But pretty soon, King Message had all but faded away. People did not even remember him anymore
It was clear though, that the battle for the swamp was not over and that the developer would just keep trying to get more and more. He had a city monster to feed and you know how cities can be! Then an even bigger monster, called agribusiness came, to help ruin the whole world with its beastly self. By this time, the beauty had got together with the prince and they made a really good beast-fighting team. They asked the developer to join their team.
So, the beast-fighting team went into action. The team was composed of the beauty, the prince the developer and a lot of their friends and even some people who did not like them very much. Together, they decided to try a new approach to swamp- saving.
First they worked on knowing themselves, until they could see that the Beast was someone worth knowing, too. The Beast, like anyone or anything else, knew a lot and it had knowledge of things they were interested in knowing more about. As they learned more about the Beast, they found areas of common concern. There were a few things that they agreed on fully. They also knew a few things that would help the Beast and so it got to where the Beast wanted to know them, too. They got to know and respect each other a little. The Beast-fighting team became a Beast-knowing team.
The more the Beast and the team knew one another, the more they could work together to find solutions for problems instead of just fighting about them. It was actually the prince and the beauty and the team and the Beast, all together, who saved the swamp and the forest and the wild places on the mountains and in the deserts, all over the Planet.
And the Tigers lived happily ever after. Amen!", Betsy Ross Jackson exclaimed and her audience applauded and cheered.
The party, though merry, broke up early. Howard Beau and Alberta made their final trip out to the cabin, to spend the night there and to pick up the last of Howard's belongings. They had a busy day planned for Thursday.
Thursday was the day for reporting back, to national and international agencies, on findings and plans, presented at the Tiger Summit. Thursday was also the day for the meeting at the United Nations, where peace plans would be presented by the arbitration panels, to the parties involved in peace negotiations. Howard Beau and Alberta wanted to watch those meetings with Preston, at the Press International Offices.
The world was watching and hoping that the process for positive change did not seriously derail at the UN . "World leaders can be real weenies, sometimes.", Preston told Alberta. "But, maybe this time they will give Peace a chance."
"Maybe this time peace has a chance.", former President said to President, on Wednesday evening. "The arbitration committees loved your idea. Excuse me, the XYZ Plan. We couldn't call it the Chamoru Plan because that is what the Farm and Countryside Repurchase Plan is being called.", he explained.
"What is the Chamoru Plan, again?", the President asked. "I know I have heard about it somewhere, but I can not remember what it is. "
"It is a plan started about ten or fifteen years ago by some people from Guam.", the King of Peace explained. "They had some family land and bought some more. Then they made a pact that their land would never be sold or developed or lived on, even by themselves. They were allowed to visit it on special occasions, for ceremonies and such, but otherwise it was left alone. If someone in the group needed to sell their land, they agreed to sell it to the group, as a whole, or to another individual in the group."
"That sounds like a good idea.", the President said. "I want to do that, too. There are a couple of mountain areas, near where I grew up, that are really special to me. Can I do it there?"
The President was told, "First, find out if anyone owns it. Then you and maybe some other people buy it. I will send you a copy of the Chamoru Land Reserve Pact to show you how you can write the paperwork."
"But, shouldn't we be saving Tiger Country first?", the President asked.
"It is good to save land you have connection with." the King of Peace explained. "Then you keep an eye on it. That keeps you connected to the dream and it also keeps the dream connected to you. It also keeps off destructive squatters."
The King of Peace was a practical guy, in a lot of ways.
"Practically speaking,", the King of Peace continued, "that is what your suggested XYZ plan is proposing for the warring sides. It is keeping the leaders connected with their land in positive ways. I can't wait to see the reaction when the plan is explained to them, tomorrow ! "
"I guess we will see who really has the welfare of their nation at heart!". the President responded. "Did anyone come up with their own way to settle the war?"
"Listen, " the former President confided. " I have to tell you the idea that one of the world leaders came up with... You take these two sets of huge chattering teeth...."
Thursday morning, Alberta and Howard Beau woke, for the last time, to the sunrise outside his cabin in the swamp. The final load of research instruments and belongings was in the car. They would never return to that wild place again, except in their minds but they would both spend a lot of time traveling there and elsewhere in that manner.
Humans would continue to use information from aerial surveys and satellite pictures, to let them know how things were going in wild places like the swamps. The technology was so good, it could use sound waves to let people know what was happening underground and under the sea. Other instruments took samples of the atmosphere and its layers. It was enough information already! You didn't have to be there!
Their daughter, She-Bird, would grow up to design a remote control three-dee camera, that could go anywhere and take "photographs". These would then be broadcast, to laser image projection theaters, live, to a waiting audience. Every show was different, depending on what was happening in the swamp, on a mountain top, in the desert, or wherever the camera went. As wildlife became more abundant, the audience would be "joined" by birds, animals and, yes, even other kinds of life forms that would never have been seen if people had actually been present. The She-Bird, as the camera came to be known, captured everything, except smell, for the audience. If you have ever smelled a swamp, you might say, "That is OK!". It was enough that the people of the Earth could see and hear the lands of the Earth healed.
"We must see this place as healed.", Howard Beau told Alberta as they sat watching the sun rise over the swamp, for the last time. "Then we will know where, we are going... our goal for success. It is just step by step to that point."
Again, the life of that wild place spoke to both Howard Beau and Alberta, as they sat in quiet contemplation of the land around them. When they were filled with that joy, beauty and perfection, they left. Returning to the Friends of the Planet office, Alberta began a summary report of the Tiger Summit, for dissemination to the other environment organizations, around the world. Howard Beau cleaned the kitchen and the bathrooms. When Preston Sommes then came in with a large pile of faxes and letters, for Friends of the Planet, Howard Beau was just finishing his clean up.
"Help me with these Preston." Howard Beau asked, when he came out of the kitchen and was presented with the pile of questions people wanted answers for. "You're the writer:", he told the older man.
"The ones for other geographic areas should be forwarded to agencies, in those areas, for specific guidance for that location.", Preston responded. " We can take the ones from around here and pass some to other environment groups, if they know more than we do about answering the question." he directed.
"Then we will give our best try at an answer for what is left...", Howard Beau proposed. "I'm not sure I cleaned the bathroom right, how can I let anyone else know how to do anything?"
Alberta reassured him. She was sure he did a great job on the bathroom.
"I used only biodegradable cleaning products!", Howard volunteered, hopefully.
"Hey, Alberta, we need to have you do a jingle for this company, 'BioSafe Industries'." Howard Beau added, holding up a bottle of cleaning liquid, with an interesting logo on it. Their label says that their product formulas are in the public domain. They are available to anyone who wants to start making these products. They want other people to make them all, so that everyone on the Planet can use them."
"Wow! I never read that label.", Alberta admitted. "You see how changing jobs, once in a while, helps everyone?"
"I'm personally cleaning the bathroom, this evening when I get home.", Preston told them. "I'm convinced."
"What about the letters?", Alberta asked. "Any local ones?
"Here is one from the Party On! Limousine Service." Howard Beau read. "The business owner, Freddie "Steering Wheel" Wilson. He thinks his limo is a big waste of fuel and he fears it will never be used again. What should he do?"
Alberta had some ideas about that subject. While on a break at the Tiger Summit, she asked Smiling Jack Preston, about the automobile. He was the owner of the largest new and used car dealership in the Mobile, Alabama area and in the State of Alabama, as well.
Smiling Jack had responded, "I do not know what will happen to the personal automobile. It looks like people will be taking trains and planes for long distances and may not be commuting as much, to work, anymore. People have almost always used public transportation systems in cities. That won't change."
"I think Detroit will be making buses and trucks, kind of like the way it was in World War II. They may be making small farm equipment and personal vehicles that can be used for transporting things around town. Those will probably have a large cargo area, behind. Busses can start carrying more personal freight ,too, like they do in other countries. In fact, what I have just described is pretty much what is done in other countries, right now." Jack explained.
His comment on the role of businesses, like Smiling Jack's New and Used Cars was, "We will change or die. We can rent cars to visitors to the area. We can sell a whole range of vehicles, from neighborhood buses and vans to those scooters that carry freight. We can also sell small farm equipment. Who knows what will happen? Maybe we can just turn the big parking lots, now full of cars, into greenhouse space." he added.
Smiling Jack had once read a magazine article, written by the manufacturer of the world's most expensive work of art on wheels, the Ferrari. This car was rarely a practical vehicle. It was practically worshipped by some who saw it, however. It had power. The article had predicted most of what Smiling Jack just said. This article was written about twenty-five years prior to The Message. Its predictions would come true in about the year 2000. Who said artists never know what is going on? They often know what is going on even before it happens. Sometimes, way before it happens. That counts as knowing.
It turned out that the personal vehicles that Smiling Jack would sell, in the future, were the only model of personal vehicle manufactured and every neighborhood group had at least one. As other cars in a neighborhood wore out and were recycled for their metal and glass parts, these vehicles were used by the whole neighborhood, as common vehicles. People used them for transport and deliveries and went inside them for quiet aloneness, the real reason that most people commuted to work, at the time of The Message. People also went into the car to scream, without bothering anyone else. Young couples still went in to kiss and do the things they always did in vehicles. The cars were also emergency vehicles for the neighborhood.
"Limos are huge cars!", Howard Beau told Alberta, in response to her question about Steering Wheel Wilson's letter. "People love riding around in them."
"Actually, most people love the idea of riding around in limos." Preston interjected. " Personally, they remind me of funerals. That is the only time I have ever ridden in one."
"Why do people ride in them then?, Alberta asked. "I did not think that people have "Party On!" times here, when someone dies."
"Some people do have parties, " Howard explained "but mostly the family of the deceased is supposed to be so upset, they are assumed to be incapable of driving safely."
"We need to find other incapable people, then.", Alberta suggested. "Maybe if we can find a lot of them, in one place, Steering Wheel can take them in his very big car."
Preston agreed to write to Steering Wheel to suggest he make a deal with some child care centers, dance studios and a few bars. Those clients would be too young or too drunk to drive themselves anywhere. Alberta, Howard Beau and Preston continued going through the letters. It was decided that some of them, such as the letter from Steering Wheel, were general letters. They could have come from any city in the world.
Preston decided to write a newspaper column, devoted to such issues and put it out over the wire service. He could also tell about good neighborhood improvement ideas and keep readers advised of new developments in helpful technology, on a daily basis. He would also send the column out over the InterNet, to include an international readership. So, The Preston Report was born. It eventually won Preston Sommes the Pulitzer Prize.
For his column, Preston often called on the help of experts. Estelle Feinstein helped him a lot on the Health Food article. She was an expert once consulted to prolong the lives of the wealthy, now called on to improve the lives and health of every one. Knowledge is knowledge. Once you have it you can do just about anything you want with it.
It was Estelle's feature of Preston Report that finally got physicians to work with health food stores to accurately identify food and herb products and supplements that people could use, right away, to quickly bring themselves up to an optimum nutritional state. People had to be able to work and could no longer wait around to do their health on a hit or miss basis.
Cutting out the cost for expensive advertising and packaging and adding in the cost of educating physicians and nutritionists, the vitamin and youth rejuvenation industry was making more money than ever before by selling their products to the world, instead of just to a rich few. Were they complaining? I think not.
That Thursday, the three of them at the Friend's of the Planet office had fun, before lunch, trying to come up with some good answers to problems people might be having with The Message. Then, they went into the Big Ear for lunch and had more fun there, where they involved some of the other diners, in the problem-solving process. This was especially appreciated by the people eating alone. After that, Preston made it his practice to drop into The Big Ear on a daily basis, to get ideas for his column. The Big Ear became one of the most important "Think tanks" for the city, perhaps for the world, since the ideas generated there went world-wide over the PI News Service.
While Alberta, Howard Beau and Preston were busy at the Big Ear that day, General Maxwell S. Parker was walking into the United Nations building. He was there representing the United States Government, the US military establishment, American Petrochemical industrialists, Agribusiness corporations and the telecommunications industry of North and South America and their world affiliates. He had come to offer the combined assistance of these groups, to delegates to the Peace Convention, in order that they have the resources needed to carry out the terms of the Peace Plans as would be proposed to each group, that afternoon,
General Parker had resigned his commission in the Military, the evening before the UN meeting. His current mode of dress explained why. He no longer wore the uniform of the United States military. He now wore a Tee shirt that read: ' I Am A Warrior For My Planet' . There was a picture of a back yard vegetable garden on the shirt. The pants he had on where the ones he played golf in. He had a Detroit Tigers baseball hat on his head, which he removed, as is polite, when entering the building, The King of Peace, met him at a side entrance and ushered Maxwell into the conference room full of delegates. Maxwell walked up to the podium.
"You have , before you, maps of the territories that were in dispute in each of your conflict situations.", he told the audience. He waited while translators did their thing. "I would like to assure you that I am an expert on war." Even without his uniform, people recognized Maxwell. He had issued military briefings, for the Pentagon, to the watching world, for the past decade.
" I have studied war with some of the finest war minds in the world and we have come to a conclusion that you have all, already, lost the conflicts in which you were engaged." Maxwell went on, to explain more fully. "Most of you are smart enough to know that what I am saying is true, but in case you are not clear, each packet has, as part of its contents, "before" and "after" photographs of your various nations. You may open your packets, now. " There was a rustling of paper as the Peace proposals were opened, "You will see in Picture 1 , the way each area of your nation looked before the war. In Picture 2, you will see the way it looks today. Now these are only for areas that we happened to have news photos to document. You know what the rest of your country looks like."
He remained silent while delegates looked through the packets. Sounds of dismay and, sometimes, weeping and wailing could be heard throughout the room.
"I remember this park!", said one delegate to another. "I first saw roses there as a child. I though it was a place of miracles! " The park was now a large hole in the ground.
"We show you these photographs to illustrate that when one of these places that we love is destroyed, we have already lost too much. We have also lost too much when one of the people that we love is lost in war. We also show you these pictures because we want you to have guidelines for you to begin the new battle for control of your nations and territories. The battleground is the same, but you will be using weapons of construction rather than of destruction."
Max asked delegates to turn to the maps of their territories. Each had been sectioned off into zones that would be assigned to each combatant. They were to use all forces and means at their disposal for rebuilding and reconstruction programs, in those areas.
"All moneys, all resources and all technology, that you request to rebuild your assigned territory, will be given to you. The populated areas will need to have environmentally safe systems for sanitation and water, but otherwise the areas destroyed should be exactly the same as they were in the past, unless in some way, you decide to improve them, beyond what they were."
"You will have a period of three years, to try to do the best rebuilding job possible. Then the people of your country will vote on which side in the conflict will be their new government and what political system they will live under. My guess is that this will be the government that best meets their needs, whatever their needs are." , Max told them.
The delegates did not look completely convinced, that this was going to work. Max continued, "Look at it this way, folks. People fight wars because they think that their system of doing things is better. For whatever reason, to whatever ends, they think it is the best. So, now is your chance to prove it. You will have everything you ask for, to do the job. So do it, if you can!"
"Think about the alternative . War is a business that can only grow. It has done so since man invented it. Now, will it be a war of destruction or a war of construction? You get to choose." The King of Peace pointed out as he stepped up to the podium.
"Are there any questions about the terms of the peace plans?" he then asked. "As you can see, the territories are not always the same size. At times one side may only have one city to reconstruct, because that place has the worst damage."
Delegates were pouring over the documents before them. The delegate from the Chinese government raised his hand with a question. He was recognized and he asked, "On this map of Tibet, my government has only one, small monastery that it must repair. The opposition has all the rest of the nation to restore to its former state. Is that really fair?"
"That particular proposal was formulated by the opposition leader in exile, The Lama.", Jimmy Carter explained. "He made it quite clear to us that he felt that this was the only honorable plan he could agree to, as fair to your government. In addition, he extended an offer of meditation training for any of you. You will apparently need that training to rebuild even one small monastery."
The Chinese leader sat down without further and The King of Peace continued, "In overview, each side in the conflict has their territory to rebuild and repair. We have tried to make the tasks as equal as possible, in terms of the need for man hours and ingenuity and creative thinking. There is still room for negotiation on the division of the territories, but that can be done in the next few weeks, as your respective nations look the plans over and vote to accept them. A negotiating team will keep working with both sides on the details.", he assured them.
" The goal is to restore the nation to its pre-war condition or better, to provide for the well-being of its citizens and to offer a place for them to live and work. The side that does that the best will probably be the one to rule after the three year reconstruction period.", he reminded them.
"And we get whatever supplies and equipment and resources we need to do the job?", one of the delegates from the Bosnian conflict asked, from the floor. "Who pays for that?"
"The United Nations pays for it.", The King of Peace answered. "You and I know that policing the world, with an army, is the most expensive job imaginable. We will be saving billions of dollars just giving you everything you need to fight constructively. Oh, I should tell you that we are also extending this offer to the rest of the world, too. So, if any of your sides wants to surrender right now, all sides can work together on the plan for national improvement, right along with the rest of the world not at war."
There were quite a few takers on that one. About half of the nations surrendered to one another, on the spot. Cooperation would prove to be the most efficient path for change and, at the end of three years, most of the nations had more or less done the same thing. Life was so improved, for most people, it did not matter any more who or what kind of government was running things.
The exceptions were those nations that had leaders that were just in it for the wealth they could accumulate. People quickly left those areas until there was no one left to govern in those spots. Those "rulers" were left in their palaces, as though they had gone to sleep with their wealth...And thickets of rose bushes surrounded the palaces and they slept for 100 years.. OOPS! Wrong story!
The meeting of the peace delegates broke up quickly. The King of Peace explained that any nation sabotaging the work of the other side would immediately disqualify themselves from ever holding power in their territory or any access to future aide or assistance of any kind from the UN. Then he sent everybody home.
"Now we will see what the religious leaders can do tomorrow." The King of Peace told Max. "What we did here today is a breeze, compared to what they are up against. I can say, though, we would never have been able to settle these issues, if the religious leaders were not going to work out issues like Jerusalem. "
"Amen.", Max agreed.
The peace delegates hit the ground running for the War of Construction. They could not and did not wait to get started. They poured out of the United Nations building and took the first flights out of the nearest airport, heading for home. Prior to the flight, and sometimes in flight, they faxed copies of the territory, to various drawing boards in their various nations. Around the world, planning was started before their plane or helicopter hit the earth, bringing them home.
The United Nations was ready for them. The United States and every other major power in the world was backing this to the hilt. They were taking the orders of what was needed and they were saying "It's on the house." Sometimes they were the ones making the request. It was still "on the house." The only items not on the menu were armaments or weapons of any kind. Well, Swiss army knives were OK, but nothing else.
The world already had enough weapons. Iceland and Greenland had taken on the task of disposal of armaments that were crowding things or taking up too much space in other countries. It was their job to find places to put all this junk and to try to coordinate a system of doing something constructive with as much of it as possible. They had their work cut out for them but they are clever people and did a good job with the task.
The United Nations also did an excellent job of coordination of the world's resources and of the orchestration of the job of locating needed materials and advisors and getting everything where it needed to go. Of course, they had the military of many nations to help with the planning and logistics for it all. The UN had been doing projects, like moving food and handling the movement of people and supplies, for decades. They just got a lot more help doing it, planned it better and did not have do it in response to a sudden war or natural disaster. All that helped to make this work more effective and more efficient and to cost a lot less.
"No more useless cocktail parties.", said the President of the United Nations. No one has time for such things now." That was OK with just about anyone who had ever had anything to do with the United Nations.
Howard Beau spent the remainder of Thursday with Alberta, making conference calls to other regional organizations. They would be meeting next week to finalize the plan for their region, their nation and their continent. That meeting was to be hosted by Senator Sterlin Sommes and one of his counterparts from South America. The meeting would be in Costa Rica, a nation long known for doing what it could whenever possible, to better the lives of its people and preserve its environment.
Freemont spent Thursday at the Quickie Market. He was no longer needed to support the members of the Stock Exchange, except with his usual cheerful good will and an occasional stock tip. Things had either returned to "normal" on the Exchange, or the men and women there had got used to the ups and downs. It was probably a combination of the above.
The Way Scans went to school and watched the United Nations' meeting in their World Government class. "Now that is what I call a World Government.", put in Toni Leonardo. The class agreed with her fully.
Gleaner Bead, Susie Carmen, and Amanda Bartok met with the Realtors, construction companies, city planners, financiers and architects of the city. The began work, that would continue for several weeks, to make a city plan for the Mobile Alabama area. The plan would try to meet the needs of the people and of the environment.
"Tell me what yah need.", Senator Sommes had said. "Ahhl try ta get ut fah yah.", he promised them all.
By the way, you must be wondering why the Senator is the only one who speaks with such a broad accent. All these other folks are from Alabama , too. He has a speech impediment. That is why he was so shy as a youngster. The Reverend Ike "The Preacher" Ham taught him to use his disadvantage to advantage. The impediment became Sterlin's own, distinctive "southern" style. Ike was a miracle worker in his own way.
Ike spent Thursday traveling to Jerusalem, with The Lama, whose country was on the list of International Zones of the Human Spirit. The Lama would attend the meeting of the world's religious leaders to vote on its inclusion in this classification. The Chinese Government did not recognize such areas as "spirit" so they sent no representative to Jerusalem but they did adopt the UN plan for a war of reconstruction in the proposed Zones. The Lama was not worried about the terms set by the UN agreement.
As the religious, as well as political leader of the Nation of Tibet, he knew that the monasteries were the focal point of their civilization. The monasteries were built by the human spirit and the human spirit would heal them, no matter if the healers took the form of Tibetans, or Chinese people. As far as The Lama was concerned, they were all on the same side. The Lama hoped that working on their one monastery would heal the Chinese Government and its people. They needed the chance for healing. It was to have this chance that they went into the Nation of Tibet in the first place.
"Rebuilding one monastery has got to help them more than destroying them all, did.", The Lama told Ike. "I have hope for them, yet."
Chapter 15- The Seventh Day
Friday dawned clear over the Holy Lands. Religious leaders from around the world arrived. They came from every direction imaginable. One was rumored to have flown in, without assistance of a plane.
Leon Stein was perched in the balcony of the ballroom of the Universal Inn. They usually put the band or orchestra up there, when there was music for an event. His cousin, Kendall, who was in charge of security for the meeting, let Leon sit there to observe the meeting. Leon felt like God, above all, looking down on the flock milling around. They were a noisy bunch and sounded a lot like sheep, too. They didn't look like sheep, though. Most of them were wearing golf clothing.
The meeting invitation had said not to wear religious apparel and the only other clothing most of them had was golf clothing or sleep wear. The sleep wear was of such variety and interest that no one wore that and we will definitely not go there. Besides that really is not any of our business.
It was interesting to Leon to note how many of the leaders played golf. It was hard for him to tell who was whom, without the religious paraphernalia. There were no name tags either. No one thought they would be needed. After all, who would not recognize the Pope?
"I wouldn't recognize the Pope!" Leon said to himself. "There's five guys down there could be him.."
It was probably for the best that things were so casual. The "street clothes" requirement had made security precautions almost unnecessary. Most outsiders would not know one holy guy or gal from another. In a lot of cases it was hard to even tell who was a guy or a gal.
"I think I just saw Elvis.", the Archbishop of Canterbury told Desmond Tutu.
Though lay persons might be confused, many of the religious leaders knew one another well. They had attended so many meetings and conferences and convergences and counsels and hodowns, with one another over the years, they were often on a first name basis.
Can you tell me the first name of the World Leader of the Church of the Later Day Saints? Most of the other people at the meeting knew it. They were also looking forward to having the baked beans the Mormon brought for the pot luck lunch. They were world famous and delicious. Apparently the recipe had been given to one of their women leaders by and angel... But, that is another story...
It was a Global meeting. A good time was being had by all. It was rumored that many were comparing golf handicaps. At any rate, the meeting was called to order by the Head Rabbi of the Holy of Holies Temple of Quito, Equador. All took their seats. They began the meeting with a moment of silence, to be filled in as needed or required or deserved, by each participant. Those not allowed to sit. by their religion, stood or lay down on the ground. Then the speeches began. While that was going on, things were happening elsewhere in the world.
The President of the United States went on live television, broadcast via satellite, around the world, backed-up by a view of the leaders of both political parties, the joint Chiefs of Staff , the Supreme Court Judges and a guy wearing a "Warrior for the Planet" Tee shirt. The joint session of Congress was in front of him. The rest of the bunch, including every member of his cabinet and just about anyone else of government importance was there, too. It would come to be known as his "State of the World Address."
There were no identified religious leaders left to do the opening prayer so it was lead by Walker T., the advocate for the homeless who had come to DC with Senator Sommes. He led the group in a moment of silence that was dedicated to the highest good of their endeavor together to help the Planet. Then the President announced the bipartisan proposal for changes, in accord with the Ten Principles as given in Response to The Message. The President asked the Congress to enact legislation that would assure that no President would serve more than one term of office, which would remain a four year term.
"Let the President do what he or she knows is best, even if it isn't popular." the President recommended. He also requested that they look at changing the system of identifying candidates by their political party in elections.
"We need to build a system that deals with the issues and a system of identifying candidates by their qualifications for the job, rather than by political affiliations.", he told the world. "The way we do it now is the political equivalent of hiring your brother-in -law. It does not usually work in business and it probably does not work for the best in government."
The President then touched on a plan for involvement of the USA, with the world's other major powers, in assisting with the War of Construction Peace Plans. The Plans were already effective and meetings set, or in progress, for peace and reconstruction planning.
"The war zones in our own nation, the United Sates of America are advised to do the same.", the President urged. "It is time for the Americas, both North and South, to fulfill their promise as the "New World." We have only been working at it for a very short time in human history, but let's see if we can get it right, or at least try to.", he concluded. "Let's make our cities places that people can live in creatively and well. Let's stop fighting each other and begin our war against harm to the Earth. Let's be the example of kindness and put away our plans for domination of the rest of the planet. It won't work and it's making a heck of a mess. "
The world was watching. They got the message. The nation that could mobilize more wealth and resources than any other human group in the history of the Planet, was getting behind change for The Message. The press conference ended with another silent prayer for the world's religious leaders, whose meeting in Jerusalem was in progress.
Participating in this prayerful moment were all the people of the Planet, who were watching or listening to or otherwise tuning into the President of the United States. That was just about everyone, except the world's religious leaders and those people who are probably the First People of the various spots on the Planet where they had managed to survive. A lot of them, coincidentally happened to be praying at that moment, too. Many of them got where by knowing just when to pray. Some of them lived lives where they did not do anything else but pray. The wave of prayer went out and around the planet and hit Jerusalem five ways to Sunday. It knocked all the religious leaders off their chairs and right onto the floor. The ones who were already on the floor stayed there. It is not clear if prayer can move mountains, but it can apparently shift some pretty heavy butts.
At the time the prayer hit them, some leaders were having doubts about the potential for the conference to help. They certainly had been to many that did no good at all. Doubt is good. Doubt gives people an opportunity to think of better ways to do things. So does a break in the meeting's proceedings for everyone to pick themselves up off the floor and dust themselves off and start all over again. The beauty of the doubt! An opportunity to let the perfect answer come on through or to stop and use the rest rooms. The meeting took a short break.
In truth, most of the delegates had been dozing. What with jet lag and the incredible boringness of most of the speeches, the need for a reassessment of the proceedings was in order. They were having doubts about it. Good...Good..Doubts are probably what got you interested in this story in the first place. That wondering if there might not be a better game plan.. just maybe.. But that is your story!
While the religious leaders of the world were using the Mens and Ladies, farmers of the USA were getting together to figure out where to farm and how to do it better, once it was decided where food would be grown. In the USA, the areas designated for agricultural production were to be the lands farmed prior to the American Civil War.. The year 1860 was the target date. There were lots of written records from 1860, that told where people lived and what they were doing. Other nations picked events or dates that were significant to them.
The issue of what would happen to farmed areas that needed to be returned to the wild. was being discussed for the State of Alabama, a farming state, at a meeting at the State department of Agriculture. From this group they would try to get some feel for how the issue of land ownership and human relocation could be addressed. Here is what they did:
They took a detailed aerial survey of the state. They projected the survey photographs onto the wall, onto a big piece of paper. They colored red any city with more than a million inhabitants and a blue buffer zone , "a no man or woman's land", around the city. In purple, they marked off the infrastructure, railroad lines, roads and marked the airports, seaports and docks. .Then they put in all the locations of the radio and television stations and other communication systems, especially headquarters for international communications.
Then, in green, they colored in the already identified wild places, such as national and state parks or wildlife reserves, and county parks outside the city limit area. The area of already identified wild areas was pretty big. There were also a couple of large, privately owned wilderness areas, one owned by a private hiking and rock climbing organization and another by the "Bluebirds" of America, a youth organization.
They colored in, all the schools, colleges or university campuses and grounds, some with significant lands endowed to them, that were not inside the boundaries of cities. The education committees would be looking at which institutions could be combined, to allow some of these lands to be designated as wild areas. What was left on the map, were the farm areas and any industrial complex, usually for processing farm outputs, like a cannery or a chicken processing plant, and, of course the prisons.
For areas that were highly industrialized, such as the location of the large Petrochemical plant and the oil refinery, a large neon pink zone was made around these locations. The farmers would leave that problem for the industrialists and the environmentalists to work out. The farmers were there to look at the farms. Then a map of the area, as it looked in 1860, was superimposed over what they had up on the wall. This is what was found:
Many areas, farmed at the time of the Civil War, were either inside a city boundary or had been abandoned as farming areas. Farms that had been abandoned were not currently in use because the land was not good for farming. It had gone back to being a wild place. Much land that was excellent farmland had remained in use as farm land and was still being farmed. In most cases it was now owned by a large corporation rather than by many small farmers. Many of the farms that had been there before 1860 were no longer working farms. Some lands still had people on them that did other, non-farm jobs. Some families owned lands and did not live anywhere near them. They lived in cities or town, now.
It was now the job of the Farm Board to see how many working farms existed, in this "farm potential" area, and to identify who owned them and what they produced, now. For farms outside the 200 year zone, these farm - owning families or businesses would be identified and a plan for use of their lands to grow trees, to grow grassland, to be purchased by people under the Chamoru Plan and let return to the wild or other options would be explored. There were lots of ways that the plan could go. Farming expertise was certainly needed in the cities. They would become the locations were most of the world's food was both grown and consumed. The technology to do that was certainly there. So were the resources. So was the climate, as most cities were already located in the areas where it was best to grow food, most of the year. Cities would change to accomplish this.
Mall parking lots became hydroponic farms. Neighborhoods became food-growing cooperatives. Some of the wealthier neighborhoods, the ones where everyone had swimming pools, became fish farm areas for the whole city. High schools combined the use of athletic fields and some of the football fields became corn fields, again.
There was certainly plenty of work in the cities for anyone who had been a farmer or who had even lived on or near a working farm. People whose families had lost their land now were given homes in the city just to share their expertise as food and fuel production experts, for their neighborhood. People from other nations were especially welcomed. They often knew how to grow food without a lot of equipment and chemicals, an added plus!
How do you grow enough food for everyone in New York City? In New York City? This was a perfect example to look at for the builders and urban planners, that would be facing this problem all over the world. History helped answer the question and a look to the future did as well.
Question: How do you grow enough food for everyone in New York City?
Answer: In many, many different ways.
It also helped that a significant percentage of the population of the city abandoned it like a sinking ship, when given a choice. Some "left us". Many returned to their nation or city of origin, to help with their national or local rebuilding projects. This left lots of living space and business space empty and available for food growing purposes. New York is kind of like a forest, in a way. It has large vertical areas that catch sunlight, called tall buildings. In the forest these are called trees. In New York City, the buildings are a lot taller than even the tallest trees ever thought about being. I will not tell you the many ways that this sunlight catching space was utilized, in the Forest of New York, as the city came to be called. I will tell you one way. It had to do with the development of vines that crossed the kudzu vine with several food producing plants. Vines were planted on and around abandoned buildings, which they quickly covered, the buildings acting like trellises. New York was no longer known as the Big Apple.. It was more like a Big Zucchini. They grew lots of other things there, too. New York City actually became one of the primary food producing centers on the Eastern Seaboard.
Educational leaders were also meeting on Friday. Schools would be changing a lot, with so many people moving into cities. In addition to educating children, there would need to be lots of educational options for retraining and relocation of the adult population. It was not clear how this would be done with existing resources, at the time of The Message.
The idea of neighborhood learning centers, some of which already existed in the form of a local school, began to emerge. The maximum use of school facilities, for all ages, was what was needed. Children also needed to be able to get out of the classrooms more, to take part in education activities, in their neighborhoods, as they occurred.
For example, the woman comes to install the equipment for the neighborhood fish farm. Everyone in the neighborhood comes to watch. She is going to tell you all how to clean the filters and feed the fish. As many people as possible need this information. This is a major educational event and should be treated as such. Any child with half a brain is invited, if they show even the slightest interest in learning about this, no matter what their age. People began to see their children as capable of a lot more than playing around.
This kind of learning opportunity has existed, for most people for most of the time we have been on the planet Earth. The fundamental goal is sharing the access to all information, in the community, by all citizens of the community, regardless of race, sex, economic status, occupation or age. Once this is understood by all, learning is Life. Once teachers, students, educators and citizens realized this, it was just a matter of allowing people the time and situation, to learn what they want to learn.
One thing that did develop, in most cities around the world, were the neighborhood learning centers. Sometimes they were in schools. Sometimes the schools were in the learning centers. All of these places had the same basic equipment and the same training for anyone who wanted to use that equipment. In this way, the planet was connected, for so many of the functions needed for positive change.
Most churches did not change at all. The population tripled and they had more services on different days of the week to accommodate the growth. Churches had already been doing community help work, before The Message. They just kept doing it.
The committees for conversion of the Military Bases and other Military Institutions and War Schools also met, all over the world. These centers, once devoted to war, now were to become centers for social change and creative problem solving. Many of these military bases became locations for colleges and Universities. In the USA, the moving of the remote "ivory tower" Universities to the everyday world of community involvement, on the Bases, did a lot for the transformation of these Universities. From bastions of the intellectual, they became resources for everyone's education.
The committees for the transformation of hospitals to Care Centers also continued their work. The Care Centers would be the first place a new-comer to a city would go. If they wanted or needed help, they got it there. If they did not need help, they were asked to contribute whatever knowledge or skill they had, to at least one community project or training program to help others. Sometimes, both those things would happen.
It was up to each person decide what they needed If not sure, there were mental health people they could join, on a painting or home repair or renovation project that would help them figure it out.
A written reminder of things to keep in mind was given to each person that entered the Mobile Care Center. It read:
1) be a flexible as leaves blowing in a heavy breeze
2) do not be afraid of a change of plans
3) have joy with it or do not even think about doing it any more
4) life is too short to...(you fill in the blanks as needed)
People also got help with any health problems they had at the Care Center. Doctors still worked there, for that. People got help with housing for temporary housing options and then could look though computerized listings of profiles of neighborhoods that told what each neighborhood had to offer and what skills they were looking for in their neighborhood. A listing for anyone by race, sex or sexual orientation was banned from the system.
People were accepted into a neighborhood by a Neighborhood Committee, made up of people from every background, race and gender. Segregated housing was no longer in existence. Since The Message, most people thought the idea of segregated anything was hilariously funny. Some quaint reminders of the system, like different rest room facilities for men and women, persisted in the United States, but that was about it.
Auto manufacturers from the major auto producing nations also met on Friday. They needed to take on the huge task of equipping the world movement of goods, at least over short distances, once it got to where it needed to go by ship, train and plane. They would not just be doing this for wealthy nations any more. They would be doing it for all the world's people. There was little doubt that the personal car might disappear, but a huge variety of transport vehicles and smaller load-carrying transportation, for in and around urban areas, would be needed wherever people lived. Auto producers decided it probably would be a good idea to make these vehicles electric and solar powered. Their discussions also included the production of small farm equipment needed for urban food growing, harvesting and transport. Get busy folks.
READER BREAK: Now it is your turn. Identify an industry or an institution and think about how it might change under the circumstances surrounding The Message and The Response. Have fun with it!
We now return to the Faith...I mean the meeting of the faithful, the Religious Leaders of the world. These leaders got back to their meeting and decided to skip the rest of the opening comments and get down to the business of the International Zones of the Human Spirit.
The list of Zones was huge and covered places that ranged from the Nation of Tibet to Niles Canyon in Alameda County, California. There were a few holy springs in the hills of Italy and some in the Philippines that were only several feet across. Apparently, the Planet was pretty much covered with holy places. None of this was news to most of the people at the meeting but they were not quiet sure what governments would do about having that many sites declared open to all comers.
The Reverend Rhee Tan Wow, of the Church of the Shining Light, Seoul, South Korea, read the resolution to the group. It said: "We, the religious leaders of the world, do propose that the following locations be designated as International Zones of the Human Spirit. As such, these Zones will welcome anyone who wishes to visit them, as long as they follow the rules of conduct appropriate to that place. They may visit as often as they like and are able to do so. Their business there is no one else's concern, unless they wish to make it known. These places shall be open to all people, for all time. If the Zone is located in a Wild place, it shall be open to no person or group, unless for the purposes of a ceremony, as decided by the policies set down by the area's advisory group, according to rules concerning visitation to that area."
Then there was a listing of the proposed Zones and Jerusalem was on the top of the list.
Places like the city of Jerusalem were to have City Counsels or Boards of Supervisors, to run the city services, just like any other city was run. The city could have a sales tax on goods sold and even things like parking meters or parking tickets, to raise money. They could not charge a fee to enter or leave if they wanted to. Nations, like Tibet, could be run like countries. They just could not stop people from going in or out of the country. Otherwise, everything was the same as with any other nation. There was no major objection to the "off limits" clause for when a holy place was in a wild place.
"Let the butterflies go to those places. Let the birds and the turtles visit them without fear.", said the Pope when asked what he thought about human exclusion from these spots.. "They deserve a place to worship, too.", he added.
There was no major objection to the idea of a Counsel or Board of Supervisors, to look to the running of the services for the Zone. It was suggested that the governing body be elected from the general population of the area near the Zone and that men, women, the elderly, and people from as many races and ethnic backgrounds and as many religions as possible, be on the board, even if they did not particularly believe in the Zone as a place of power. It was more a matter of respect than of reverence that was important. They should just believe in the importance of keeping the Zone open to all and have the skills to do so.
"But we are getting into government things here.", stated Effie Van Froud, Lutheran Minister of the Body of Christ Church of Hamburg, Germany. "Can we really dictate how certain places, within sovereign nations, be governed?" She had hit the nail of ecclesiastical concern right on the head. The debate was on. The long debate on the theological pros and cons began with theories on the nature of God and man, the meaning of The Message, with all kinds of other issues coming in to play. It was becoming clear that thirteen generations of humans would be born and die before these debaters would finish, let alone the group come to a decision.
Cameramen and news crews took a break. They went out on a tour bus that would take them for location shots in Jerusalem, that could be used for their evening news broadcasts. Newsman, Harrison Chambers was heard to say, "We've got to have something to show viewers that is more interesting than a room full of old folks in golf clothes, I do not care who they are."
That was why there were no reporters and no cameras, to record what happened next.
Leon did not actually see it start, because he had fallen asleep in the balcony. What woke Leon was a really strange sound. It was very loud and sounded like the twanging, over and over again, of a huge rubber band. The sound woke up most of the sleeping delegates, too. Now the sound was like someone had stretched a shaft of moonlight and was playing it with a bolt of lightening.
"Where have I heard that sound before?", Leon asked himself. Then he remembered. "Australia!", he said aloud. As he spoke, there was a shimmering in the air and a vortex of swirling energy appeared near the podium. It grew larger and the air started to gleam and then the sounds of voices could be heard, as the vortex opened and the dancing and singing people came through.
They were some of the First People of Australia and Rodney Porter-Jones. There was also the musician, Bobby Rae Vandee, who had been made an honorary member of the group, lived and hunted and studied with The People and had dedicated his life to learning their music and their songs. He was playing the instrument known, in English, as the bull roarer.
In their language the instrument is called (rough translation) "Who cares about time and space, anyway !" or "the Tiger call" or "the voice of the stars."
"I found them.", Bobby Rae Vandee said, into the microphone. "The People ( they called themselves The People, as did members of most First Person groups) would like you all to join them in the Spirit Place. There is plenty of room and they thought that it would help you to reach this difficult decision, very quickly. Who will come?"
It is questionable if, singly, any of them would have set foot inside the vortex but none of them wanted to look like they were hesitant to enter a place of holiness. In addition, they were all concerned about the amount of time this conference looked like it was going to take. A lot of them had religions to run! The chance of making this decision quickly sounded very tempting.
The People began playing their instruments and dancing back through the vortex and then the delegates began to follow. When all who wished to enter the vortex had done so, the vortex closed and the music stopped. Leon looked over the empty room. One lone person sat among the many chairs. Leon could not even tell if the figure below was a man or a woman, from where he was sitting.
"Scared to go?", Leon asked.
The person answered, "Been there. Done that. I am already in favor of the proposal. I do not need to go anywhere else to make my decision. I will just stay here and have a little quiet time."
It was really quiet there and Leon watched and waited for the return of the religious leaders. The one person who had been left behind was nowhere to be found, either. It was just Leon there waiting and he hoped that thing about a quick decision was the truth, because if not, he had single-handedly lost all the religious leaders of the world. This conference had been his idea.
While Leon waited, the religious leaders walked through the vortex of energy, a number of prayers were said in a number of languages. Then they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The light got closer and closer and a definite opening to the Spirit Place appeared. Those at the back of the procession could hear the exclamations of surprise as the group exited the vortex. They all emerged, astonished, into the burning Australian desert.
The sand was so hot, the heat was coming up through their shoes and burning the heck out of some holy feet.
"My brothers and sisters!" the voice of the Reverend Ike boomed over the crowd. "I move that we accept the plan, as read. Do I hear a second to that motion?"
"I second!", yelped the Sanke Priestess from Des Moines, Iowa.
"All in favor say Aye! ", yelled Ike.
There was a resounding chorus of sounds somewhere between Aye and Ouch!
"I take that as unanimous:" Ike bellowed. "Now get us the heck out of here before one of these old folks has heat stroke!"
The People started up their music and the vortex opened at once. The religious leaders of the world, to do them justice, made sure that the feeble and those on the verge of collapse got back through first. The People stayed behind and waved good bye. They were a cheerful bunch, but had no wish to return to Jerusalem.
In years to follow, not one of the religious leaders would comment on what had happened to them in the Spirit Land. "An enlightening experience in decision making.", was the most the Pope would say in his memoirs.
The newsmen and women returned to the room shortly after the religious leaders did. They found the group looking disturbed and many wondered what had happened when they were away filming the streets of the Hold City.
"It looks like they have been through a lot.", Harrison Chambers observed.
" Have they made their decision?", the commentator asked.
Swami Guru Divini stepped up to the microphone as the news cameras began to roll. He was usually clothed in robes of gold, so many of his followers did not recognize him. Dressed as he was, in Dockers and a tee shirt, he looked a little like Woodie Allen, without the glasses.
"We have accepted the Plan.", he stated and then stepped down. Then he stepped back to the microphone and announced, "This meeting is now adjourned to the pot luck lunch in the main dining room."
There was another moment of silence while they said their individual and collective thanks to whatever deity (ies) were required.
"The feeling that seems to pervade the room is one of overwhelming relief." noted Harrison Chambers, speaking into the camera. Right again, Harrison. That is why they pay you the big bucks.
The rest of the world was relieved, too. The prospect of putting up with weeks of speeches had almost become a reality. (piercing Hollywood scream heard here) Instead of that, it looked like people could now go just about anywhere on the Planet, where people were allowed to go, to visit a Zone of the Human Spirit.
"Those places belong to everybody.", people told one another.
"We have to look out for those places - take care of them.."
People who had never "owned" anything in their life (or lives) now owned at least a tenth of the planet, in common, with the rest of the world's citizens. They had an investment here... You get the picture.
Alberta, Howard Beau and Preston Sommes were together again, at the Press International Offices. It was five minutes to one week since The Message was heard.
"What do you think will happen?", Alberta asked Preston. "Do you think another Message will come?"
"I think a whole lot of other messages have come, already!", Preston answered. "Some have come from you, and some from me and some from the Presidents of Nations and some from Princes of the Church. The most important ones have come from each person on the Planet."
Howard Beau thought about the message that he had given and received while out on the swamp, that final time. It was the message of his land healed. Perhaps it was healed in his own mind. Perhaps it was healed in the mind of the land itself. Perhaps, together, they could create that healing place as part of physical reality.
Alberta carried a similar message. She carried the message of Tiger Country healed. She remembered the way it looked when she was born there and had been taken to be introduced to the world, as was the custom of her People. She had opened her tiny eyes to the magnificence of the forest and her ears had been filled with the sound of the Tiger roaring, an excellent omen. Her eyes and ears had been repositories for the messages of Beauty, from the world, ever since.
Her family knew enough to let her see the face of the Mother and the hear the Mother's voice, as soon as possible after her birth. The proper introductions are quite important.
Preston, Alberta and Howard Beau sat together, thinking about all that had happened in one short week. They wondered if the change would continue. Would people really do what was needed to Save the Tigers? Would they do what was needed to save themselves? Could they be kind to one another and to all else that lived on Planet Earth? Did they really understand that no other way would work?
Maybe people would just go back to "business as usual." On the other hand, everything is always changing, so "business as usual" does not really exist. If things are always changing, why not change them for the better?
The hands of the clock tick, tick, ticked. It was an old fashioned time piece, given to Preston by his granddaddy. It really ticked. The time had come.
Beneath a pile of green goo, in Tiger Country, there was a stirring of the earth. The sun was just rising there. A pale shoot of forest vegetation emerged from the dark earth and reached toward the rising light.
All over the Planet people listened and what they heard was the sound of one Planet changing, as Well.
So you want to know if this could "really "happen. If it happens in your mind it really happens and if it happens in your dreams it really happens. If you want to know what happened when it "really happens" then you need to make it happen. Go on! You can do it ...one Neighborhood at a time.
OK! I can see that you still have some doubts. The Watchers made me promise not to tell what happens tomorrow but if you read the next book in this series, "Different Minds", you will be able to find out what it is, was, or will be (depending on your perspective) like in the Urban Population Center at Mobile, Alabama in the year 2025. I told you that you could do it!
NOTE TO THE READER
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|Copyright 2014 Earth Neighborhood Productions. Updated 1/17/2014.|