"Yes...Indeed..." responds Akeem, standing in the center of The Chronicler lobby, surrounded by a teeming crowd of staff members, news teams, video crews, and sundry well-wishers that include a number of Earthlings, as he raises his glass of bubbly to clink against Natasha's upheld glass in an anniversary toast to their fallen savior. They drink to Taro Kajaani's great personal sacrifice.
Akeem is the center of focus for the video crews that transmit live coverage to Martians and the Moon, and for the network news teams that film this event for later showing on Earth stations. He maintains eye contact with his editor while he addresses the assemblage.
"Five years ago..." Akeem momentarily spaces away, looks at Natasha, says in a soft voice, "It doesn't seem possible..." He shakes his head and sighs. He looks up and again addresses the crowd.
"Five years ago...Professor Jyro Beerse and a small band of courageous Earthers, branded terrorists by Earth's regimes, gave their lives to warn us. As a result, all our lives changed. We were faced with an enormous challenge, one that threatened our very existence. Of course, this challenge is still with us today. It will always be with us. For this is the challenge of realizing the Human potential within each individual so that Humankind as a whole will prosper. It is the challenge of stepping beyond mere survival. It is the challenge of Justice, people. And you all know I do not allude to the result of legal processes but to Universal Justice. For only Universal Justice is binding on creatures of the cosmos such as we.
"Five years ago, a young Martian girl gave her life in order to right a wrong that she had been duped into committing by Earth Ministry of Media agents. Taro Paganini Kajaani is the exemplar of our challenge...She symbolizes the victory of Human Spirit over Human Nature. In order for us to continue meeting our challenge we must all overcome our petty natures and contemplate our universal natures. We must always be aware of this universal context, for it keeps our attention from being sucked back into local focus by the anomalous gravity of our self-centeredness. We must never allow ourselves to accept a universe of limited orb, wrapped like a blanket around us to protect us from cold reality. Limitations are the result of tired minds. Limitations are the result of not striving for answers. Limitations are what the few place on the many to force conformity which translates into predictability.
"Five years ago...we learned the true meaning of unification and of the power generated by such a harmonious state. We learned that by appealing to our rational, logical, intellectual spirits, we could overcome our irrational, emotional, fear-ridden natures. Five years ago we became a world of individuals-- Martians, yes --but citizens of the Cosmos first. We learned that only by each of us becoming interested participants could we develop and then contribute our own perspective which is the quintessential requisite for true unification to be achieved.
"As we have seen, Earth governments' unification claims are patently false. Their paradigm is not based on individualism but conformity. Feedback from the people is not only not wanted, it is not tolerated; representative democracies, notwithstanding.
"Five years ago when we resisted the temptation to lose ourselves in the conformity of madness that had been planned for us, we proved one very extraordinary point...We proved that the Earth governments' few ruling many Agenda is not all powerful!"
The crowd erupts with cheering and applause at the mention of the buzzword 'Agenda' about which Akeem has written extensively. In fact, since that Day of Discovery five years ago, columnist O'Sullivan has written about little else.
"We stopped ourselves from reacting as they expected. That single act of will created ripples. Full disclosure of Earth governments' deception-filled stratagem was quickly passed to the Moon colonists. They, too countered with true unification. That act created waves. For the first time the worthiness of the Agenda vessel was tested in rough waters and was found lacking. That crew has been busy bailing themselves out ever since. And, they are not keeping up."
Another spontaneous cheer arises against the backdrop of enthusiastic applause. Akeem waits for this response to attain its peak before waving it to silence.
"Those elite soldiers of the Agenda have finally met their match." The crowd is again aroused. Akeem shouts above the din. "They have been put on the defensive!" The audience quiets itself in order to hear every word Akeem has to say.
"When we came to understand that tomorrows are built on the foundations laid in the present according to the blueprints drawn from past experience..." There is not a sound from the lobby crowd. "...When we understood the full impact of the Agenda and decided to counter it by joining with our Moonling friends in the Colonist Video venture, we began building a future that excludes the few versus many paradigm..." Crowd noise builds. "...we began building a future that will truly be a future of the many, dictated by the many, for the benefit of same."
The lobby throng cheers and whistles. They stamp their feet and clap their hands. And even the Earthlings in the crowd feel the overpowering urge to share their approval.
For the Colonist Video (C-V) concept first put forth four years ago by Natasha and Akeem has been hugely successful. The proposal had called for official restrictions (as opposed to 'total ban' which would have negatively impacted the media reportage of this action) to be put on Earth video companies limiting what could and could not be filmed. These limitations were so strict, however that the Earth companies exhausted their possibilities in a very short while and, failing to get the restrictions lifted, they left of their own accord. Of course, while the many lawsuits filed still wend their way through the highest appellate courts in various jurisdictions, the strong Martian legal position has been vindicated so many times at the lower levels that ultimate victory is all but a foregone conclusion.
Once the Earth video companies vacated the planet, it paved the way for a virtual colonist monopoly on filming rights. Martians and Moonlings began making their own skillfully crafted astronomy and planetary features which they did not start releasing until nearly two years of abstinence boosted the demand among billions of Earth humans. At the same time, many "unconfirmed reports" leaked by governmental officials suggested the colonists were building military installations thereby explaining the recent imposition of "unreasonable restrictions" on Earth-based video companies.
Of course, the C-V planning committee had anticipated this response from Earth governments. It realized the Earth elite would try to create a believable illusion of colonist aggression in order to put their derailed Agenda back on track. The failure of the covert EMM Martian operation had been a stinging defeat for the Agenda stalwarts. When Akeem and Natasha, on that Day of Discovery, had returned to Tri-C as heroes and had been able to soothe the Martian masses enough to debate before reacting and, after a week of full intra-network coverage of those debates, had convinced the Martian people that to react according to their passions would be tantamount to suicide, support was won to abandon defensive build-ups and weapons production in favor of creating an effective counter-Agenda stratagem that would take the fight to the Earth governments' elite.
The C-V committee was formed. The restrictions put into place. The films were made craftily laden with pro-colonist subliminals. And then, the committee waited. Not without heated differences of opinion the committee members waited for nearly two years while a consensus was being solidified among Earth government officials and pro-Agenda "experts" that Martian military installations were, in all probability, under construction. During these long dark months, the committee had become sharply divided into two main factions: Those in the majority that felt the wide daily exposure to the so-called objective experts' testimony would ultimately negate the intended effect of their film campaign. And those in the minority, Akeem and Natasha, who insisted they wait.
It had been Natasha Adams' strong convictions that had kept the committee in check. She had based her intransigence on decades of experience. She had charged the other committee members of having only their intuitions to go on. Her defense of established precedents over intuition was too strong an argument to act against. Natasha Adams had surmised correctly that an arrogant Earth elite would become more bold in their assertions, never for a moment considering the idea that the colonists might be planning something. History had taught her that Earth elites inevitably begin to believe their own fictions. So, to wait was the very best thing to do. Once a consensus of opinion was reached among pro-Agenda experts that, in fact, a military buildup was occurring on Mars, she knew it would not be much longer before these same experts would begin to identify sites by name.
It took twenty-two months before Natasha Adams said it was time. Wealthy Earth entrepreneurs were contacted. The reasoning was that they intimately understood the profit potential in cornering as much of this market as possible. The sums of money paid to C-V,Inc., though extraordinary, were secondary to the main objective: Destroying the anti-Human Agenda-ites.
Natasha Adams' plan was ingenious. After the "experts" had committed themselves, the C-V films were offered with a generous bonus thrown in. Each purchasing customer received a round-trip passage to Mars gratis in order to produce a free two minute on-location video commercial for the entrepreneur to bring back home with them to hawk their wares. This offer was too good to pass up. Unbeknownst to the buyers, of course, each commercial was filmed against the backdrop of a location agreed upon by government officials and pro-Agenda "experts" to be the most likely areas for covert military installations. Wide, sweeping, panoramic footage dispelled in two minutes all the Earth governments' claims made over the preceding twenty-two months.
But, that was not the most striking aspect of Natasha's plan. Her genius was in the use of Earth's monied elite, the entrepreneurs, to divide the Few. For when those commercials had run, the eight mega-nations immediately banned them. With so much money to be made the entrepreneurs wielded their authority. Since the commercials had already run worldwide, people all over Earth were stirred up by the controversy. They wanted to see those films. The governments would not relent. This forced the market underground. Profits for the entrepreneurs multiplied exponentially. And, so strong was the demand among the Earth-bound masses for celestial fare, that governmental edicts against and sanctions for possession of C-V films had no effect whatsoever on the levels of public consumption and, in fact, may have increased non-compliance via propensity for any taboo to act as an enticement. Additionally, the revelation that pro-Agenda "experts" had all been so wrong, made obvious in the commercials, led to further erosion of the people's trust in government. It also fomented worldwide dissension among outraged news media personnel who greatly resented having been used by their governments to spread disinformation. This led to confrontation with media management/owners whom, for the most part, being soldiers of the Agenda, initially sought to support their government's position and threatened the dissenters with loss of jobs. But the dissent was so widespread-- in every station and affiliate, with massive public support --that to follow through with wholesale dismissals would have completely undermined station credibility and viewer loyalty and therefore ratings would have dropped impacting management/owners on a more intimate level, viz., their personal economic realm. With their own standard of living at stake, media management/ownership relented. The result, anti-government sentiment, was immediate and has steadily escalated. And every government response, regardless of orientation, exacerbates their declining image amongst the citizenry which translates into a loss of strength from which the Earth elite may never recover; a loss that portends the ultimate undoing of the Few-ruling-Many paradigm.
In just five years the Agenda warriors have not only been rebuffed on Mars and the Moon, but now, on Earth as well. Their need for depopulation worsens daily without any viable means of achieving such reductions, as Earth-based war is out of the question. At least to the extent that would be needed; large-scaled. Not to mention the fact that arming a citizenry hostile to its own government would spell quick disaster for the regimes of the ruling elite. And, whereas the colonists had not reacted as anticipated by the Agenda-ites, whereas the C-V committee had debunked governmental experts' claims destroying even the illusion of colonist aggression and then set the monied elite against the political elite, the anti-Marsist insurgency outlined in the Agenda, has been effectively rendered null and void. Further, with the recent reportage of this whole affair to the peoples of Earth generating huge outrage, prospects for the Agenda-ites appear bleak, indeed. Their coercive reign across the span of Human history is in the process of collapse; their empires, about to be divided equally among the Many.
As Akeem Shalom O'Sullivan looks out over the bright faces of the crowd that stuffs The Chronicler's lobby, he spots Terence B'tswana and immediately smiles. The elder gentleman has been coordinating C-V activities on the Moon ever since some anonymous Earth scientist forwarded the antidote to cure him of the lethal virus which had presumably been created by the self-same donor who must have succumbed to his conscience.
Akeem motions for B'tswana to join Natasha and him but Terence declines with a shake his head. His smile and twinkling eyes say continue.
Lost for a moment in reverie, Akeem is inundated with memories of that Day of Discovery when Taro had given her life to right a wrong. He blinks away his tears.
"We are, all of us, more than once in our lives, faced with a situation when right and wrong are clearly defined in the Universal context, when we are faced with a choice between easy and difficult, forgetfulness and contemplation, between earthly delights and cosmic responsibilities...At these special moments we must not allow ourselves to redefine wrong as right even though to do so would immediately ease our minds and, to ease one's mind in time of conflict seems the most natural thing in the world to do. But, at those moments, we must remember that we are beings operating on a celestial scale. The difficulty of maintaining that perspective in such situations is compounded by the fact that when faced with a choice between Universal right and wrong, because the event forcing us to make that decision is so blatant and soul-stirring, we often find our sense of universe extends only to the boundaries of the event that holds our total attention. The moment is so personal and profound that we exclude all else. We believe that we operate in a vacuum, that our choices between right and wrong are but singular decisions and are, therefore of significance only to ourselves.
Let me assure you, what we decide at such moments matters on a macrocosmic scale. For, when we choose wrong over right we become an alien cell in the body of Universe. When governments encourage many of us to choose wrong over right and we comply, a conglomeration of alien cells becomes an organ alien to, but contained within, the body Universe. Such an organ-- us --becomes a non-functional entity that is destined to vestigially fade from being, as have the tails of our Earthly simian ancestors. We will be irrevocably excised from the universal context.
"So, whenever we come up against such a choice, we must not elevate wrong to right paying lip-service to a rationalization of Justice when it is our greed for ease of mind, forgetfulness and blissful ignorance, for earthly delights that craft our decision to become an alien cell.
"No...like Taro Paganini Kajaani, at those moments when universal right and wrong are so starkly presented, we must always keep in mind the greater context of our decision. We must always choose to serve the greater good. We must always choose in favor of right over wrong. For this has to be the way of the Many if we are to achieve Humanaissance: The evolution of the human species to one day indelibly establish ourselves in the Universal context."
The depth of silence is reverential; Akeem's small voice, sure and powerful.
"We have come a long way in just these five years. The unprecedented undercurrents of enormous discontent among the Earthly masses are ominous harbingers for the Agenda-ites. I have no doubt whatsoever that Humankind stands at the brink of emancipation from the Few ruling Many paradigm. We stand at the threshold of a New Age.
"And...it has all been made possible by the lone act of one individual who, when faced with her special moment of decision, chose Universal right; to be true to the Many."
Akeem Shalom O'Sullivan again raises his glass in salute.
"To Taro Kajaani...Human patriot."++
Steven Lance has published a book of short stories entitled "Vulgarian Goulash," now available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.