9/29/2006

When I am King: It's Official

When I am King...


Everyone will run for public office.

Only through the fear of future elections will we all be able to live the lives of saints.

Religion can be one way to educate and encourage people to lead good lives, guilty of sin. But this approach simply does not scale. What is sin in a world with war, terrorism, and Paris Hilton? Is it eating a second Twinkie? Is it turning Right on Red without stopping first? Is it socking someone in the jaw because you felt like it?

Religion simply cannot cope in the context of modern society with just so darned many ways for us to be Really Bad. Sure, eternity in hellfire sounds pretty awful, but if it's in the next life then it is pretty easy to ignore. Heck, I can't even imagine what my next week is going to be like; how am I supposed to see the afterlife as a motivator? And after all, the good guy always figures out how to escape from certain death between the end of one book and its sequel; maybe the bad guys can too.

But fear of public exposure; now there's an incentive.

If we all lived with the knowledge that some day in the future we would run for public office, that fear would freeze us in place. The publicity, the exposure, the Committees for Congressional Interrogation, the tabloid spreads .... These are all too real, too tangible, too sickening to ignore.

Sure, it might take a couple of years to sink in, but after the humiliating defeat and public undressing of so many normal, basically law-abiding citizens, people would begin to get the hint. Don't you slow down to just above the speed limit when you see someone pulled over on the highway? Only until you're past the scene, I know: but what if there was someone pulled over every 200 yards along the highway? Or what if (trying hard to armwrestle the metaphor back to where it started) someone new was drawn and quartered in the press every day for living a life not too unlike your own?

First, the extra-marital affairs would die down; the combination of the embarassing publicity and easy avenue for betrayal would make these transgressions too much of a liability. Next, the financial kickbacks and petty bribery; again, there would be too many others that knew, and too much certainty of public exposure. Eventually, even the less sensational offenses like hiring undocumented workers, tax evasion, and murder would disappear.

Ours would evolve into such a high state of law-abiding banality that nothing would be done that could ever be called out in future hearings.

The downside is that everyone would become complete recluses, afraid to venture outdoors for fear of being caught in the act of doing anything illegal, immoral, unethical, or otherwise publicly floggable. Nobody would stir outside their home unless completely necessary; restaurants would go out of business, relationships would wither, the birthrate would go down, and we would become a nation of hermits.

Traffic would therefore be drastically improved, which is reason enough for this brave new law.
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