(C)2012 Steven G. O'Dell

The truth should have been obvious to anyone, but it never works out that way. Give people everything they want and they will be happy, right? Sounds wonderful...in theory. In practice, it's a different story, however, as we found out.

Our society had progressed technologically to the point where miracles were now possible. We had, in essence, become the gods we so often scoffed at. With the proper machinery, we could harness the power of Dark Energy and Dark Matter. We were now able to funnel, focus and combine those forces into any image we chose. We could replicate anything our hearts desired now--food, drink, luxury items and so on. Scale made no difference. We made items as large as we wanted. Gigantic ships that sailed the oceans were produced as easily as a plate of fine porcelain. The entire world was now prosperous. We were a 'post-scarcity' population. There was no such thing as want or need. For some time the world thought it had achieved the answer to all its problems. The hungry were now fed. The naked were now clothed. The sick had no paucity of medicine now. There was abundance everywhere.

It didn't take long, however, for a general discontent to set in. It was hard to understand it at first; hard to pin down the feeling and define it in thought, let alone word. When finally it came into focus, the word was 'de-valued.' The items were no longer scarce or rare, so they had become de-valued. The people themselves felt de-valued, unable to serve the needs of others as they had before. A simple gesture like cooking a meal for a sick friend was no longer necessary or common. People had become so wrapped up in their 'things' that they had forgotten to associate with one another as before. Why should they need to? They all had just what they wanted. What they had wanted was material goods--the emptiness of things. Now that everyone was rich, no one was rich. They had all things. A new industry suddenly was needed. An industry that took all of the 'things' they had thought they wanted so desperately and turned them again into Dark Matter of Dark Energy--returning it to its source. Disintegration Technology had been born. What the gods had created, they now destroyed. It was inevitable. And it was replaced by more 'things' they thought they wanted.

The change...no, The Change...came slowly. A change of thinking, a change of behavior and of need, came almost unnoticed and without fanfare, being noted and remembered only because it was so profound in its simplicity. As it had happened many other times in our history, though usually unnoticed previously, we were led by a child. An unknown, unheralded, unimportant child. A child who went from obscurity to becoming important through no desire of his own, but only by his actions. This time it was even more so. It affected an entire world that was hungry for change and didn't yet know where to turn.

This child had not been taken up in the ways of adulthood yet. He knew nothing but the imagination and fun of being a child and hadn't yet been convinced to divest himself of that which was truly most valuable to all humans. When he was discovered playing in his yard, he was building a structure from sticks, rocks, dirt and grass. He had done a remarkable job of recreating the most intimate details of his own family home, with just the rudimentary materials at his disposal. He had built each piece of furniture and placed it within the little home he had fashioned with his own two hands. The first to behold the wonder was a neighbor, who stood stock still and puzzled at first, then wide-eyed and finally wept like a baby as the implication of it all struck him. Mankind had almost forgotten how to create with the simple tools of mind and hand. The word spread soon enough and despite all that was done to protect the child from fame, he became somewhat of a universal hero for rediscovering what every child is born with and only loses in the rush to become an adult.

Slowly, but surely, the return to sanity appeared and people began to again do for themselves. The joy they felt resulted in neighbor sharing with neighbor again. Eventually a peaceful balance between human and machine was achieved. A law was passed that never again would they let such a thing happen. You know, however, how such things as laws can be. They are only as firm as human commitment decides to be.

Story © by respective author(s)
Licensed under the Creative Commons License