Giving one last check of the papers on the desk, the woman closed her briefcase. "Strange", she thought, "how this all started when I received that legacy. So much has happened since then." A couple she had known for many years had left her the legacy, with its detailed formulas and precise descriptions of the results of thousands of trials. Following their fatal accident, a large box had been delivered to her with a note saying: "You will know if or when to use this."
Life in America had changed drastically starting at the beginning of the 21st century when religious zealots took over the government. Women's reproductive rights were the first to go along with the hard-won anti-violence laws. Thus encouraged, rape and violence toward women quickly rose to horrifying levels as many men felt compelled to reassert their God-given right of ascendancy over women.
This in turn led to a concerted effort by women to regain their equity. The struggles were violent and bloody but in time, women held a majority in all state governments and in Congress. And now, here she was, the first woman President of the United States, standing in the Oval Office pondering the past and contemplating the future.
"It has been a rough 25 years," she thought. Violence always begets violence, and the whole world became more dangerous every year. Countries that had formerly existed at peace with their neighbors now threatened aggression. In the perennial hot spots like Ireland and the mid-East, terrorism reigned supreme. When it seemed as if all was lost and the world could not avoid or endure an impending full-scale nuclear war, the large box had been delivered to her doorstep like an omen.
It was her bold decision to act that changed the world. "Well, to be fair," she mused, "it took more than one person, and certainly all credit should go to the vast network of people all over the world who helped." She owed them so much for their part in the project they had code- named, The Lotus-Eaters, borrowing the term from the wanderings of Odysseus.
It was somewhat of a misnomer, of course. When she had opened the box and discovered what her friends had left her, she called in the special, most trusted women and men in her life for advice. All agreed that the times called for drastic measures. If there was any chance at all, it lay in the formula for "Lotus," and their ability to implement its distribution throughout the world.
The many trials that had already been conducted showed that it was harmless to plants and animals. However, it specifically targeted and obliterated aggression and violence in humans. Minuscule amounts of Lotus did this without affecting other facets of the human psyche.
Energy that had formerly gone into aggression and violence seemed to channel into innovative and progressive behavior. There was no dream-like state induced either because, if anything, one's energy increased. Best of all, Lotus did not effect people's initiative or ability to defend themselves if threatened.
So after days of soul-searching, she ordered the production and mass distribution of Lotus. It took every bit of her courage to come to this decision because her bold executive act would affect all of humanity. However, the result brought a whole world back from the edge of chaos. This caused her friends and confidants to give her a special nickname, and she smiled at the memory. They were all together in the Oval Office listening as the reports come in when her Vice President raised his glass to her in a toast, quoting a famous phrase: "... a world in turmoil cried out for a hero... A mighty 'President', forged in the heat of battle... Her courage will change the world." Everyone had solemnly drunk a toast to her.
"Yes," she thought. "The courage of the many people who trusted my judgment and helped in the Herculean task of secretly distributing Lotus all over the world certainly made a difference." Countries pulled back from the brink of war and issued statements of peace; efforts were mounted to drastically improve conditions for those in the poorer nations and crime nearly disappeared.
That was almost a year ago and the effects of Lotus were beginning to wear off. Questions were being asked and answers were demanded. Most people expressed a positive opinion. They felt that Lotus was beneficial to the world and should be continued.
But protests against the use of Lotus were growing, especially from a group, calling themselves "Mars." They claimed that Lotus discriminated against men because aggression and violence were part of the "normal male makeup." They argued that the unauthorized use of Lotus by the government deprived them of their manhood. Some women also came forward to corroborate the assertions of these men.
These protest groups insisted that men were capable of curbing their own aggression and violence. Choosing to do this was their right. Since a democracy must answer to its people, and other countries were also involved, a special United Nations forum was scheduled to hear their complaints, listen to explanations and to vote on whether Lotus use should be discontinued.
The President was now ready to go to the U.N. and listen to the will of the majority. She alone knew that a second exposure to Lotus would be irreversible, so if the people could manage their behavior in a positive way without Lotus, she was willing to go along with them. She started for the door, then paused and returned to her desk where she activated a device and set its timer to go off in 24 hours. Then, she put the device, which was blinking off the seconds merrily, into a secret compartment in her desk and locked it up.
Hope for humanity's ability to change was O.K., she mused, but it was better to prepare for the worst. If things turned out well then she would have plenty of time to stop the device that would signal the seeding of Lotus throughout the world -- and this time the effects would be permanent.
Flanked by her usual contingent of presidential bodyguards, she exited the White House and walked toward her limo. One bullet took most of her face along with her brain. In the nanosecond before oblivion she thought of the blinking light on the device in her desk... and smiled.
Copyright 2000 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M