“Happiness, the pursuit of which humankind spent its entire short life chasing. By the time they found it there was no time to enjoy it, and even this were for the lucky few that made it past 80 years old”
Gasp! The room of students were shocked
“Teacher, they only lived to 80? Thats crazy, my parents are 530 years old, how come people used to live such short lives?
“Yes, good question Portguas. Before we discovered the science that extends our lifetime, it was very rare to live past 80 years. Many people died of sickness or conflicts at even earlier ages. Some even died before they were even eighteen!
“But thats almost as old as us, thats a little bit scary to think of”
“Put it aside! Smile and appreciate. This is all ancient history, the average lifespan of humanity is 1500 years, thanks to the serum, that modifies our DNA to prevent aging. It is only possible to pass away from violence, and with our extended lives war and violence is unheard of.”
Sir? What is war?
“I can cover that in the next history lesson. For now lets move onto private study. Open your text books to the chapter “Wellness starts from your choice” and continue reading in silence”
After class I was cleaning up the desks around the room. The children certainly know how to mess up the room. Pens and papers littered the floors, especially around Nirvana’s desk, which presents a mess as an artform. It may of been my distraction that allowed me to fail to sense the presence of two suited persons awaiting my attention by the door.
They were sporting “wellness squad badges” and their facial expressions beamed positivity enough to intoxicate.
Startled, I switched my attention over to them.
“Greetings and salutations officers! What an amazing day it is to be alive!”
“Greetings citizen. You were filmed teaching children about the concept of death. Lessons about history and mortality breeds negativity. Please explain your actions”
“Knowing how bad things were in the past, and how humanity has progressed will grant a higher level of appreciate for the beauty of life”
“Deviation from the core values of optimism, wellness and smiles is in direct violation of your position and a negative thing to do. Consider this a warning. Have an amazing day!”
“Always! Appreciate the message. May your day be wonderous!”
At that, they both spun on their heels, and quickly strode from the room.
It wasnt always like this, harbouring the only real thoughts in your head and projecting this fake persona to the world. It was only the last 300 years or so that optimism was passed into law. Being careful how you speak and your facial expressions is important and slipping up can lead to dire circumstances.
This is certainly more apparent to be seen working for the department of knowledge. A fanciful name at best, what is taught here is indoctrination. There is some leeway here and at least I get to influence the next generation, small though it may be. My quality of life is also significantly better then your average worker, let alone the poor sods living below the city.
After my riveting discussion with those fine gents, I felt lunch would give me the uplift I needed to get thru my afternoon lessons. Walking past the monitoring rooms, the walls of the corridor leading to the canteen are plastered with motivational posters
“Reach for the skies!”
“Do today what was impossible yesterday!”
“Stay positive to stay above the ground!”
“Only the happy truly live here ^_^”
Always such an empowering hallway. Its always important to feel super amazing after walking past posters like these, even if its only externally, after all there is always someone paying attention.
Upon entering the lunchroom I found my usual crowd, They were all teachers and we liked to discuss curriculum content. We would even have quite heated debates about this from time to time.
The three of them were sitting around a square table, an empty chair seemingly available and awaiting me.
There was Niles, the math teacher. He was exactly what you would picture a man of numbers to be like. Slightly greying hair, horned spectacles (mostly for show, his sight was perfect) and usually wearing a sweater vest. Niles was a strong believer in having students unplugged and learning with pen and paper. He was a bit of a relic in that respect, but he seemed to garner a lot of respect from the students for it, even if they complain every day about it.
Next to him, laughing between gulps of stew and short breaths of conversation, was the language teacher June. She was a passionate teacher who always seemed fit to burst into laughter at any given moment. Her teaching method was generally one of “talk until someone pays attention”. Which being a language teacher, this worked well for her classrooms.
Finally, a little bit to the side, cautiously examining his lunch was Jasper, the Medical knowledge instructor. He was certainly a quiet one, though when he got talking about serum science and genetics he would talk until dawn if you let him.
As I came to sit in my spot, i joined the group part way into their conversation.
“… one of the boys tells me – It isn’t his job to know what x is, and that if the teacher doesn’t know then clearly it is unattainable knowledge…
“This is clearly not positive behavior from the boy, I didn’t reprimand him, but he was escorted away a couple of minutes later. Dang efficient those Wellness Squad are indeed! He came back into class for the next lesson, happy as can be, so he must of had a good talking to”
June jumped in
“We are looking at taking out the prefixes un and de across the entire curriculum. Soon surprise guests (June had a way of talking in italics that very few can mimic) will replace the uninvited. There is too much pessimism in words starting with un in particular. Unexpected, unintentional, destabilise and such words carry too many feelings of mistakes or not appreciating whats life in all its splendor. Huge steps are being taken everyday to further the frontiers of optimistic communication”
June was what i would call a child of the new world. She was only 196 so she didn’t know what the world was like pre-serum. Brimming with pride and not a single repressed thought or emotion, I don’t think she has the capacity to comprehend being unhappy, fear or even death, and how these things can affect your overall mood.
Frankly, I am just a tad jealous of her, it takes alot of effort to maintain a positive image 24 hours a day. Forcing myself to grin and smile to holo-ads, laughing on cue is important as well. Let alone watching what you say and how, a simple slip of the tongue showing displeasure or lacking appreciation can put you in the Wellness squads black books and lose you your serum-subscription very quickly.
Finally, Jasper noticed my arrival
“Ah, exhilarating that you could join us for lunch Beach, I was afraid your history lesson went awry”
“It went well Jasper” I said, “But always opportunities!. The Wellness squad found my curriculum about life expectancy somewhat morbid. I stand by it though,without an understanding of the conditions of the past, the appreciation for today is only surface level, or habitual. I want the students to have a true grasp of how good they have it and having a comparison point is vital for that”
Once again, June jumped in.
“Completely agree with the Wellness squad on this one Beach, they really know their stuff! People don’t need to know about such topics like death and war. How can anyone expect to be happy knowing such things used to exist?”
Jasper piped in
“If you end up teaching you planned lessons on war history you will end up in rehabilitation. We are fortunate we are government workers, even mentioning some of these topics outside of this building would be risky. What if one of your students starts blurting out things about death in the streets?”
“and then they come to my optimistic language lessons and I have to work it out of their vocabulary. You could be teaching much more useful content Beach”
“Indeed June! thank you for the feedback”
The conversation gently dribbled away at this point, and I made sure to take some notes (its always important to take notes, so people see you value what they told you). The rest of lunch was consumed in relative silence, with the general clatter and clank of dishes the backdrop for small snippets of conversation.
There were virtual lessons in the afternoon session. When I was a child doing virtual lessons meant visiting historical landmarks via a headpiece. I’d visit ancient cities like Rome, Venice or Melbourne, taking a walking tour and experiences cultural events. I always enjoyed the sporting festivals of the past, the Olympics being a favorite.
The experience for my students was certainly different. The past was something of a shadow, and did not warrant too much scrutiny, and lessons about it were seen as “provoking a regressive response”. Instead, my students were flooded with positive images and serene music. They would gain insight into how this city operates and learn about the various societal structures they would become a part of, usually this content was narrated over non-intrusive visual content, such as a beach or a flower-filled meadow.
Suffice it to say, the students felt very relaxed and informed after their virtual lessons.
After my afternoon lessons my students wished me a jolly farewell, and I lovingly responded. Maintaining a doting and compassionate teaching style was important to ensure the students can approach me and seek life lessons.
The walk home after school was something a delightful trek for me. Most of the other teachers used the sky-rails, to avoid some of the thicker crowds and intrusive advertising. I preferred to walk, even though there was a stigma attached with seeking to talk home alone. As I walked down the street the imposing Department of Education towered behind, and the residential sector loomed ahead. Holographic images bombarded my every attention, some portrayed as my mother asking for cleaning supplies, one was portrayed as my childhood crush offering a strip tease. The advertisements knew what made the viewer tick, and based off where my attention lingers they would evolve and adjust to better sell me products.
Still, despite this I enjoyed walking home from work. It was about a twenty minute walk, and without it I would do very little to no exercise at all. There was an inherent risk that comes with walking the streets by yourself, if a patrol stopped you its fairly easy to justify, selling the point of “loving the exercise”, but if your caught doing it too often they will generally rectify it by making you seek social interactions forcibly. Social interactions are a staple of modern society and seeking to avoid them is a slippery slope to oblivion.
After the fifteen minute walk back from my work I arrived back at my living sector. The outside of the building was covered with graffiti spurring its readers to “Suppress the power!” and “Live YOUR life, not theirs!” and other radical messages. I imagine the writer of this would now be on vacation. A small woman in overalls was spraying the wall with a green bubbly liquid and the messages were dribbling away, leaving only the lime green paint on the wall. The living sector building was insurmountably tall, to the point that seeing the top from the ground is impossible. The higher up one gets, the more expensive the rooms become, with the top floors being reserved only for politicians or celebrities.
I lived on the eighteenth floor, being a government worker had its perks after all, after greeting every person I met in the lobby I made my way to the elevator. All the while the speakers blasted the latest musical number “If I had eyes for you, they’d be yours in a giffy” with a beat that made it hard to not skip just a little along the way, and with the bright yellow and blue walls of the interior, one felt like they were walking on the set of an early history children’s show. In the elevator, a screen dominated one of the walls, displaying various stats about the economy, in fast moving lists of numbers. Generally most screens displayed this kind of information between sundown and eight o’clock, or the latest news from the celebs.
While I was excited to know about the economic results (the guys in the wealth department telling me how they have gotten record numbers, putting them all in a fervour) I wasn’t too interested in the celeb scene.
Making it to my apartment, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to be working for the ministry of knowledge. The spacious two room apartment of those of us lucky to work in a ministerial role was a whopping fifty square meters! There is even a separated section for the restroom. In my old place, I had to share this much space with three other adults, and there was a communal restroom, so this is a huge step up. The kitchen was chaotic, but mostly clean. Pots were stacked on top of each other at assorted angles that would make Issac Newton turn in his grave.
In yesteryear only the truly rich could afford a kitchen sink, now it was standard that each household had a sink, and even better all ministerial workers have one per household.
The muffled music from the next doors sound system waffled into my attention
“…and if you get tongue-tied … I’ll be there to guide your joy back to my side..
…and if your smile won’t work… then I’ll help with the pliers…”
Most music played over the network were all computer-generated. There are still musically talented people who can compete with AI crafted music, but such a talent is few and far between. Generally artists will work in the prop’ department, and rarely do they strike out on their own.
Another sound entered my attention, the rhythmic thudding of my neighbour at work. There was another way to make it big in this world, or at least big enough to live a better then average life, and that was in Passionate Industries. One of the larger corporate bodies, it has business ranging from advertising that can integrate with a mind for greater effect (highly technological and advanced) to legions of passion worker that dealt with the low technology mind influences, the primal act of sex that keeps the populace from revolting. The pay was good, and the only real cost was permanent infertility, a small price to pay for a life of semi-luxury.
There were certainly times that I crave that kind of attention, no matter how amazing a life its nice to lose oneself in the moment and experience a temporary rush of endorphins and adrenaline. If you were to believe the adverts from Passionate Industries, that a daily dose of adrenaline can improve your mood by over 150%, then you’d never feel depressed every again. Still I prefer to suppress my negativity with an overarching appreciation for my place in the world.
For now though, my only thought was of rest. Walking home from work, while certainly enjoyable, is also very tiring. Before I go to bed I need to record my daily positivity message, switching my attention to the wall camera I got myself into position and got ready to record.
“Beach Grafton commencing recording”…
“Taking a breath of this crisp air has reminded me of the joy that is every living moment in this beauteous city of ours. Forever remaining appreciative of the fact that my lungs are working, my mind is pure and my heart shines for all of you.”
“Stay true to your word, every person you meet can bring you joy and a positive outlook will help you overcome any challenge you face.”
“Beach Grafton, signing off”
There was an audible beep to indicate my recording had finishing and the grading of my message was beginning.
Moments later my results came in over the sound system.
“Beach Grafton… 68% rating…keep on shining…”
“Overuse of the the word joy is not suggested, and this is not a city of challenges but of character developing opportunities, take note and improve further”
Taking a mental note not to use the word “joy” for the next weeks worth of my daily messages, I sauntered off to bed. The 68% result isn’t of concern, I only needed to be at least 60% to keep my position at the ministry, but if I want to move up in the ranks I’ll need to start hitting 75% frequently, especially when it comes to quarterly citizen reviews.
Walking to bed I threw my clothes to the floor and picked up my PJ’s. The temperature set to a cool 18˚ and jumping under my sheets I hummed one of my favourite mantra’s to help me fall asleep.
stay cool, stay great, never a reason to hate
stay cool, stay happy, keep a smile and be not sloppy
stay cool, stay true, always act brand new!
Repeating this over and over in my head, I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face.
“Once upon a time there was a great uprising. A great many people in the country of Germany wished for everyone to be the same as them, and Germany wanted all the land it could get. The other countries surrounding Germany were quite happy being themselves and were also of the impression that their boundaries were set. This caused a confrontation, with millions of citizens from either side sticking to their own beliefs and arguing over it. This was called the World Wide Argument, and it happened twice in the 20th century. Of the millions of people arguing, many were so tired from arguing that they never spoke again.”
“Wow that must have been tough!” one of the students butted in.
“Yes Clive, the second argument was considered to be the largest argument up until the Great Debate of 2056, which we will discuss next week. A very interesting debate and one that reminds us to be truly ourselves and stick to your beliefs, I expect you’ll all love to learn about it”
“Wasn’t the lesson today meant to be about war?”
“Apologies students, I misread my notes last time, War is when two groups of people have an discussion about their beliefs, so in a way it relates to what we are discussing today”
“Surely if two people disagree then that doesn’t change that they are both correct…right? The people in the past should of learned that when they went to school.”
“All the more reason why you should appreciate the age of enlightenment we live in today students. They did not have dialetheism in their curriculum, and it wasn’t discovered until the late 21st century”
“So people could be wrong? Didn’t that make people sad?”
“It certainly did Jonas, which is why it is important to consider everyone’s feelings when talking, and always encouraging people to follow their hearts. Stay true and stay happy students!”
“We will teacher thank you!”
“You are welcome! Now the early 20th century also had an event in America called the Great Depression. Many people couldn’t find work and struggled to stay happy which was where the event got its name. Perhaps we shall discuss that at our next historical lesson.”
“For now open your text books to chapter Gratitude for platitudes and take notes on the importance of diligence when spreading your messages.”
At that the students got to studying, I began to note down the students that didn’t seem interested in reading so I could plan alternative learning strategies for them. I wouldn’t want to suppress their creativity for learning in their own way.
Whilst my students were immersed in private study. I engrossed myself in some private studies of my own. I had recently become engaged with the theories and stories surrounding one
John F Kennedy. One of the greatest Presidents of the United states of America of the mid 20th century, he pioneered the US peace corps, one of the longest lasting groups still active in today’s modern world, though they now go by just the peace corps. He was a strong believer in foreign policy and world-wide efforts to improve the quality of life, and his policies influenced the movements towards optimism and self-entitlement. He is famously known for his speech where he is quoted in saying
“Ask not what your country can do for you, instead ask, why should you even have to ask?”
Sparking a fervour in movements towards civil rights, JFK was also heavily involved with Soviet forces around Cuba, which is an island lost during the great debate of the early 21st century. He sent spies and citizens to Cuba to try to spread the word of optimism and democracy, and though his efforts were futile, still he persevered and tried the same in Vietnam, famously quoting
“Pay any price, bear any blessing, meet any friend, support everyone…to assure the survival and success of liberty”
Strongly believing that while he understood that America and the communists were on opposing sides, still he would befriend and help them in any way. To this day JFK’s teachings still influence modern politics, the education system and the far reaching welfare system for 4th world countries.
Though his tragic car accident cut his presidency short, he is an inspiration to the peoples of the world today. Every citizen should know of his story and aspire to be just like him in every way. Perhaps I’ll add a quote or two from his works into this evenings positivity message.