The Way We Are
We are a generation of Gamers. We use technology to dull the past and lull ourselves into a state of complacency. We believe that virtual knowledge can substitute for living experience. In all, we are wrong. For we are meant to become.
It is our overuse of technology that causes the most damage to our psyche for it allows us to convert Reality into a fantasy world, where we feel in control, master and commander of all within our narrow domain. In Reality, we have isolated ourselves into a state of ignorance, remaining unaware and seemingly unaffected by the Outside world. We ignore the lessons of the past, which might otherwise help us in our decisions for a successful future. As Winston Churchill once stated, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
Lulled into this state of pointless complacency, we forget that our lives have an innate power of influence. In order to recognize our power of influence and wield it successfully, we must untether from technology. We must bravely face the vicissitudes unique to every generation, through living experience. It is living experience alone that provides the sensory boost required for all positve, personal growth, that leads to an overall influence for the good of society as a whole.
Once we have untethering from all distracting forms of technogy, searched the past for valuable lessons, and faced the problems of our generation through living experience, only then are we ready and able to weild our power of influence. Through this process alone can our capacity increase to the level where are able to comprehend fully the fact that every choice we make has an inescapable consequence of power. So, we must choose carefully, for our own sake, for the sake of society, and for the sake of future generations.
We must then be prepared to stand accountable for our choices and their unavoidable consequences. Only then will we be able to incorporate, within ourselves, the significance of Gandhi’s Reality and improve our lives and that of the society into which we are born.
My name is Liberty Hansdotter Singh. For the first thirteen years of my life, I lived in an isolated DormRoom inside of the Trinity BioDome, est. 2289. I was merely one of hundreds of thousands of Students who received their education and life experience connected to an ethereal entity known by us as, “Teacher”. She served as both CourseSupervisor and parental proxy for all enrolled Students.
My biological parents remained camoflagued behind Teacher’s auspices, forcing me to experience a manufactured, conformed, virtual existence, decided upon by their unmistakable caprice. Bound to this inextricable quaranteen, I was chained both physically and mentally.
The Student population was divided into a ClassRoom, each containing five Students who were grouped together according to their level of intelligence, emotional maturity, and social DEP score (Department of Education Perspective). Upon thorough evaluation of our Learning Index Score, or LIS, we were assigned to a Level and coordinating ClassRoom. Our mulitple Level education was divided into a two semester SchoolYear. Each Level had a main Learning Objective, and each semester was further divided by a five course cirriculum. Upon acceptable completion of all of the SchoolYear’s courses, we were allowed a brief virtual break, we called the SummerBreak. After the break, we were advanced to the next Level.
At the age of thirteen, I was enrolled in Level eleven. The main topic for our Learning Objective was the Twentieth-century. Our courses were: Political Science, Medical Science, History, Foreign Language, and Physical Accuity. Once we had completed all of the course work we were then ready for the SemesterFinal. It was the highlight for the semesters, and was administered to us as a ClassRoom. We always played as a ClassRoom, and it was part of the protocal fun to identify one another during our GamePlay.
The main reason that the SemesterFinal was so exhilerating was because it was transmitted in the GamerPlay Avatar, or GPA, format. The GPA format was a shared virtual experience that allowed us to mentally transform into another person. This person was usually one of historical significance who had been intrical to the course’s historical setting, development and outcome.
As Students we were expected to maneuver successfully throughout the GPA according to our knowledge accumulated throughout the course. Upon exiting the GPA, we were asked to provide an insightsul report of what it was like to “live through” the experience. This report was made by us, typed up in the PGER format, or, Post Gamer Experience Report. We were meant to believe that by “living through” another persons experience, it was the only true way to acquire knowledge. Our PGER was then assessed by Teacher, who gave us a feedback score in the form of a numerical Rank. My ClassRoom of Students maintained the highest Rank for our Level.
Integral to the enhancement of the Gaming experience was “CHIP.” CHIP is an acronym for “Cognitive Hypothalamus Intelligence Proceessor”. Implanted at birth, CHIP was surgically tethered to our brain stem and vagus nerve, thereby greatly amplifying our Gamer’s sense of reality.
The following chronical of my life is written in hope that the future generations will be enlightened to Gandhi’s Reality, and thereby may succussfully manuever through the life that they are born into.
Gandhi’s Reality states, “Acceptance of the truth behind our existence, unhampered by any assumptions, frees the mind to experience Reality, of the world and of oneself.”
To accurately represent my living experience and those of the significant Players of my generation, I have included many original records. Some are in a type-written format and others are digital recordings and their transcripts. They include Student Archive Reports, Surveillance Recordings, and Scientific Reports. Please pay close attention to the beginning of each transcript, under the word “Source”. It will inform you to as the person who is the main character in the archival report, and the date and place that the report was made. All records may be retrieved from the Trinity BioDome’s Crystal Library: Student Archives.
My hope is that, armed with the unhampered and unassumeed Reality of our true existence, the following generations will possess the fortitude to untether from technology, enough, to accept and act upon their individual and combined force of influence and make the sagacious decisions that will be required of them, ensuring not only their survival, but the continuing survival of the human race.
Liberty Hansdotter Singh
December 7, 2445, PND
Trinity BioDome: Student Record Archives
ClassRoom: #7161945, Section 10, Level 11
Student ID #: 10-DO-831959
Student: Liberty Hansdotter
PlayDate: August 3, 2359
I settled into my BioChair, ready to transition into my Political Science GPA. Shutting my eyes, I felt the familiar vibration of the GameProgram load. Teacher’s command system sychronized with my CHIP, and I sensed a moderate electric charge hitting the base of my skull, initiating the GPA. My BioBracelet pulsed rapidly, responding to my increased heartbeat and respiration.
The initial transition into my Gamer was like standing at the top of a cliff and then jumping off. The sensation of falling was not unpleasant; rather, it was the anticipation of landing that caused the intense trepidation.
As CHIP’s power surged through my brain’s synapses, I sensed an immediate increase in my cognitive capacity. The targeted pulse of electrons created a brief yet deep sense of well-being that overcame any fear. I drew in a full breath and let it out, sighing contentedly.
The final transition into my Gamer felt as if I were being pulled out of my skin. The transference would’ve been brutally painful if the action had not been so instantaneous. Instantly, without warning or any drift in awareness, I became someone else, possessing all of his or her cognitions and sensations, along with access to all of their memories. The only part of “me” that remained was my observing ego. Without it, I would have gone insane.
Although I’d Played many GPAs, I never fully relaxed until I knew where I would land—or more accurately, into whose person I would land.
In this Game, I landed into Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
I opened my eyes at dawn. A pink glow outlined the landscape in the east. The air was permeated with the odor of a thousand men.
I sensed a person sitting next to me who was twitching with anticipation. I opened my eyes and watched as his breath formed a shroud around his face, soft and ethereal in the cool morning air.
He must have sensed I was awake, because he bowed his head and pressed the palms of his hands together, resting his fingertips lightly on his forehead. I intuited that his nervousness made him too shy to speak first.
I rose on my elbow, adjusting my position to face my newest acolyte directly. At sixty-one years of age, my body complained with stabs of pain in the effort. Nevertheless, I thanked God for my body, focusing my energy on gratitude rather than on discomfort, and the pain drifted to the background of my consciousness. I put on my glasses.
“Son…” I whispered, keeping my voice down so I wouldn’t awaken the others.
“Sahib,” he whispered. Without raising his gaze, he handed me a small glass bottle filled with cloudy water.
I took his modest offering. As I sipped the water, I noticed some nameless particles swirling near the bottom. “Thank you.” I returned the bottle to him.
He turned in my direction but kept his eyes downcast. “Some say you are a prophet; other men, a saint.” His voice was barely audible.
“I am neither a prophet nor a saint. I would say I am a politician trying to become a saint.” I smiled at my own humor, hoping to lighten the mood.
Just then, the brilliant morning sun announced her arrival by sending her first golden rays over the landscape, enlightening my vision.
I studied the seeker’s face and recognized the uneven skin tone of a man who’d spent his days laboring under the hot sun. He was clean-shaven, bearing several small nicks on his chin and a larger wound under his nose, raw and red. His thick, black hair was short and uneven, most likely cut by an untrained hand. Clearly, he had shaved and bathed in anticipation of our meeting. I appreciated his effort, but noticed that all of his preparation could not remove the stained line of dirt beneath his newly cropped fingernails.
The man dropped his hands onto his lap and raised his eyes. A beam of light pierced them. They were bright with life.
Habal, my biological son, gathered a bowlful of nuts and dried fruit and placed them in a bowl for my morning meal. He set the bowl next to me. I nodded my thanks. After thanking God, I ate the mixture in two mouthfuls.
I listened as the other men in our group moaned as they awoke stiff and sore from sleeping on hard ground. Over the course of nearly a month, our numbers had grown from seventy-nine to well over a thousand.
I smiled patiently at the young man beside me. He was still too shy to continue the conversation. For me, he was but one of thousands, all who were searching for truth. For him, I perceived that this moment would become his crucible, the moment that he would transcend his social restrictions and become a believer.
Deciding to break the silence, I looked into his eyes and tilted my head to one side. “What do you seek?”
“I seek the truth, Sahib.” His voice was a hoarse whisper.
My face erupted into a withered smile. I spoke slowly, with short pauses between my words. “Son, I have searched for truth my entire life. Why do you think I can help you?”
At this moment, Habal interrupted us. “Please, Father, lead us in prayer.”
I nodded. “Come. Together we will pray.” I rose to my feet, slipped on my sandals, and adjusted my homespun. I turned to the seeker. “What is your name?”
“My name is Akanksha.” The young man stood and bowed deeply before me. “Sahib, what should I ask for in prayer?”
“Prayer is not asking,” I replied. “It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness.” He followed me as I walked to the designated prayer area. “It is better to have a heart without words than to have words without a heart.” The other men in the group followed quietly behind us, their palms pressed together with their fingertips resting lightly on their foreheads.
“Baba, please,” my son implored, “it is our final day, and we need to hear from you for increased courage and faith.”
I acknowledged his request with a nod and began to pray. “Forgive, O merciful and blessed Vishnu, all those sins of mine, of commission or omission, mental or actual; whether done through the hands or the feet, the speech, the ears, or the eyes.
“In the early morning, I bow to Thee who is like the sun, who is perfect and ancient. Let Thy will be done.”
I paused, feeling after the words of the Spirit. I thought of my new, young friend and added, “The face of truth is overlaid with a golden lid. O God, remove it so that we may see the true light.”
When my prayer was done, the men in our group shuffled about, gathering their provisions if they had any or, if not, stood and watched the others. I waited patiently until the group had quieted down and then said that which I had spoken each morning of our sojourn: “We are marching in the name of God.”
I collected my walking stick and set off across the landscape. Even though by body felt weak, I walked quickly, setting the pace for others. This day we would reach our final destination: the Dandi Sea.
While walking, I kept one eye on my young acolyte, who was working hard to keep up with me. By midmorning he had fallen behind, winded and footsore. I shook my head in disappointment. The modern generation was very delicate--weak and pampered.
We halted for our midday meal, and Akanksha collapsed to the ground. He ate quickly and then laid his head back and closed his eyes.
I sat upon my heels and looked at him. With good humor I said, “It has only been a few miles this morning.”
“This is not… what I expected.”
“Over the past twenty-three days, we’ve marched twelve miles each day, sometimes more.”
Akanksha looked at me. “Yes, but I sought you out to learn the truth, the inspiration behind your march.”
I smiled. “We march for truth. We march for God.”
“Yes, yes,” Akanksha said impatiently. “But what is the truth that sustains your march?”
“God is truth.” I was purposely evasive.
Akanksha’s face scrunched up; my response clearly frustrated him. “Yes, forgive me, Sahib, but I have no God. I am subject only to the status of my birth.”
He was alluding to the caste system, a tenet of our faith. For too long, it had placed a black mark on our Hindi creed. I knew caste had nothing to do with religion. It was one of the cultural traditions I was hoping to abolish. I felt deep compassion for Akanksha, recognizing all he had suffered under this unjust practice.
“Specifically,” I said, “we march to protest the tax that the British Raj has placed on salt.” I paused, allowing my words to resonate. Others joined our audience. “Generally, the march is much greater than the tax. We seek to inspire our people to join our civil disobedience campaign, which will hopefully result in our independence.”
Akanksha kept silent, yet I could see he was absorbing my words. I continued, “Do you know the meaning of ‘satyagraha’?”
“I have heard the word, but I am not certain of its meaning.”
“It is a word of my own invention.” I smiled. “The word satya means ‘truth,’ the equivalent of love, and agraha means ‘firmness’ or ‘force.’ My translation is ‘Soul Force.’”
This explanation caused Akanksha to sit up and open his eyes. “God, truth, love, and force. Are they synonymous?”
I chose not to answer him directly. “The aim of our satyagraha is not merely to prevail, but to transform. We hope to influence the British and our Muslim brothers in such a way that all parties may be uplifted. To accomplish this, all must be brought closer to a sense of their common interest.”
Akanksha began to laugh. It started with a low, quiet chuckle that grew into a maniacal roar, sounding as if he were possessed by an evil spirit. His laughter, though, soon subsided, exhausting itself. “The British are not my concern, and I am certainly beneath their consideration. It is within my own society that I suffer. I am untouchable. I am not allowed to worship in the temples of my faith. I am not allowed to draw water from the same well as those of a higher status. I live at the periphery of my own people.”
I approached Akanksha, took him by his hands, and pulled him gently into a standing position, forcing him to meet my gaze. “Your suffering is the result of custom, not religion. Truly spiritual beings understand that these customs are wrong.”
Akanksha’s eyes filled with tears. I stared at him intently, encouraging his hatred to melt under my gaze of my unconditional love and acceptance: the healing balm of all mankind. He tried to wipe the tears from his eyes, but I held his hands tightly.
“Any system that is harmful to the spiritual well-being of man is wrong.” I squeezed his hands, dropped them, and then gathered a piece of my homespun to wipe his tears.
Akanksha smiled back at me. He had received what he had come for: acceptance as a whole man. On the turning of a single moment, he became a man freed from the disgrace and discrimination of the caste system.
I grabbed my walking stick that my son held out for me. Reverently, we walked the final mile to the sea. Before long, the soil beneath our feet grew bumpy, littered with salt-encrusted earth. The lapping waves of the Dandi stood before us. I stopped and bent to scoop up a wad of salty mud.
I held my fist up to the crowd. “With this, I am shaking the foundation of the British Empire!”
“Hurrah!” the men cheered.
“This is the salt that the British have taxed unfairly, the salt that is indispensable to our people. I know that God alone owns this life-giving mineral. I thank God for this moment. I may have broken men’s laws, but in doing so, I have honored God.”
My son was ready with a small clay pot that he had warmed over an open fire. I placed the muddy wad into the pot and boiled the substance, extracting the salt. My son scooped the salt from the pot, blowing on it to cool it down. He transferred the warm salt into my hand and I raised it high above my head and turned to the cheering audience. “Now, follow me!” The body of men bustled into action, each setting a pot over a quickly assembled fire. Each cast his muddy mass into a pot, boiling it down to salt.
As the men worked, I gazed out over the Arabian Sea. Magnificant colors and shapes exploded over the seascape, then fractured into a giant kaleidoscope. At first, I thought I was hallucinating due to lack of food and sleep, but the sensation was too intense. A profound love washed over me, so overwhelming that it seemed to radiate beyond the confines of my physical form. Simultaneously, I became encased in an immaterial field of pure tranquility.
Abruptly, Vishnu appeared before me. He was as large as a mountain, occupying my entire field of vision. Then, gently, he shrank down to the size of a large man, muscular and strong, possessing a handsome, ageless face. He smiled at me, but said nothing. Paralyzed in his presence, my knees buckled and gave way, sending me to the ground. Slumping under the weight of my numb limbs, I could barely summon enough strength to whisper his name, “Lord Vishnu.”
“My son…” His voice, a soft flapping of butterfly wings, filled the universe.
I raised my eyes and gazed at his perfect form. His body was blue, and he had four arms. In his hands, he held a lotus blossom, a conch shell, a mace, and a disc. A drape of glorious, shining robes covered his body, patterned with scenes from his life. But the scenes were not static like the normal print of fabric; they were animated, live performances that twirled upon the stage of his glowing garment. In one scene, Vishnu floated on the water of a flooded earth with a lotus blossom springing from his navel. In another, his azure torso exploded, giving birth to everything that existed in the universe.
I dared meet his eyeline and discovered his eyes radiated with a fierce yellow light, as brilliant as the sun. I felt an inner rush like a mighty wind pass through me and all of my human weaknesses appeared before me in a series of snapshots, one after the other. Filled with excruciating shame, I lay naked and flayed before him. The disclosure of my iniquities was the greatest punishment possible.
“Forgive me!” I cried, but my voice carried no sound. Bruised and tormented, I lay upon the fractured earth for moments of endless time, waiting to return to the dust, of which I was created.
Then, a warm, soothing breeze rose from the ground and flowed over me. It lifted me from the earth, and held me aloft before tumbling me through the air, buffeting me mercifully, and cleansing me of my transgressions. The breeze calmed, and I floated back to earth. I lay there, completely spent, knowing that the wind had purified me and that Vishnu had been the creator of the wind.
Akanksha, tugging on my robe interrupted my vision. “Master, are you well?”
My head was still spinning with images of Vishnu, yet I had the presence of mind to answer, “I am well.”
“Surely we will be punished for the crime committed today.”Akanksha’s cried.
My mind cleared and focused solidly on the present. “That may be,” I replied, “but the truth is that this salt never belonged to the British government. It belongs to our people, given to us by God. We are here to help our captors understand this truth.”
“I doubt they will accept your truth.”
“Acceptance of the truth behind our existence, unhampered by any assumptions, frees the mind to experience Reality, of the world and of oneself.”
I looked at the cooled salt still in my hand. Suddenly, the crystals flew up and spun in the air, growing quickly in size until they transformed into planets orbiting a glorious sun. Next, I was propelled into the sun’s orbit, until I was close enough to see the sun’s surface erupting with violent nuclear explosions. I stared at it in awe, drawn in by it’s powerful gravity and just before I was to be vaporizied, I was catapulted past the sun and out into the sparkling heavens. I flew beyond countless stars and out into the sparkling, finite. expanse of the universe.
Another sun appeared in the scene, dark and menacing. Abruptly, it’s iron core heated to a billion degrees creating a supernova that split into millions of particles, and I along with it. My corporal being was obliterated into the essence of my creation: matter consisting of billions and billions of subatomic crumbs. I existed only as an entity of thought.
Thus divided, I lost momentum and was sucked through the firmament by an invisible force. Then the universe converted to black, and I was alone in the void.
I landed with a thump in my BioChair and lost consciousness.