|CAUTION: Spoiler Alerts for Blood and Metal listed Below|
Whenever I’m asked whether or not I agree with Glenn Beck’s by now famous Nine Principles he presented in his 9-12 project, I always answer that I believed "In a Remixed version." Some people might be wondering why I say that.
It’s basically a point of view issue. I don’t have the same point of view as Mr. Beck; I doubt anyone does regardless of how much they do agree with him. Or anyone else for that matter. What I have for my remixed version not only presents what I show as my point of view, but it would also be the basis behind Eric’s activities on Maatla in Blood and Metal.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m writing a counter of Glenn Beck’s principles, far from it. I’m convinced that, while me and Glenn have different points of view, we’re actually seeing the same thing. It’s safe to say that we’re basically saying the same thing in different ways. While debate on the two points of view is encouraged, we need not go to blows over it.
Glenn: America is a good place, not perfect, but good.
Remix: Any sentient being on this planet, regardless of their status in the world, has a capacity of goodness, even nobility.
The remix should be obvious: If Glenn would say "America is Great," to say, Sarah Knothole, it would just go over her brunette head, go through the video wall behind her, and skewer Shawn Hannity before ending up in Bill O’Riley’s thick skull. And while some people would want to see that happen, I doubt Glenn would want it on his conscious.
America can very much be a good place, but why? What makes America good? It would be something Cheyenne would ask, but it far from childish. And people would bang their heads to the wall coming up with a proper answer.
I think that I’ve discovered my answer when Sarah reveals part of King Acorn’s message to Eric near the end of book 1:
"This country, this United States of America, it’s nothing I’ve ever seen. As you know, child, I encourage everybody in my kingdom to achieve their dreams and potential, but I’ve never seen it put into practice as much as it is here. I grant you, child, it’s not a perfect country, but then again, no country really is, but America’s unique Republic style of government tends to allow its citizens to flat out achieve greatness in levels I’d only expect from royalty. And it’s technology is almost a century ahead of anything form Maatla. I’d even dare say that not even Alberect could hold a candle to the kind of devices I can hold in my hand." — King Acorn Knothole, Blood and Metal, Book 1
If there’s one thing American that people really admire, and what draws people to this country the most, is the concept that anyone on this country can actually achieve success in their lives. They can create a world-changing invention, discover cures for diseases, make something that inspires others, build whole empires. Become President. Publish a book. Regardless of who you were when you began. Granted, it isn’t easy, in fact it sometimes seems impossible at times. But it does happen.
If I was ever asked why makes America good, even great, I’d tell of the successes made by everyday American People. They’re out there, and with a dream, a little hard work, and enough balls, you can even join them.
Glenn: I believe in God and He is the center of my life.
Remix: A person’s personal spiritual path is important.
Just before I go on, I have to go on record and say that I have nothing against Christianity. I was raised a Christian myself, and despite not being a church-goer anymore except when they sell fish—not because I’ve had a crisis of faith, but because I became a Night Owl. I think I always was, I was born on 12:45AM—I still consider myself quote-unquote ‘saved.’ But I have to tell everyone there, whatever or not there’s just one God, there are a gazillion religions out there. Even within Christianity.
And if you doubt what I said, go look under Churches in the phone book. And for the sake of argument, Glenn Beck’s Mormonism counts.
(Snide Remark: Sometimes I look at that section in the phone book and wonder what Jesus was thinking about when he said, "No man comes to God except through him?" (John.14:6) Note that I’ve not only included Chapter and Verse, but also put Christ’s words in red? I be giving Him props!)
That’s why I’d expanded Principle #2 to include other religions. Someone could use a path of spiritual enlightenment that might not be on the beaten path, and it could be just as good. Like what O’Riley said in Who’s Looking out For You, "If a human lives a good life, holds sincere beliefs, but just happens to be Hindu, an all-just and all-merciful God is going to set this guy on fire for eternity?" (p. 112) Or Muslim, for that matter?
Yahweh might be jealous, but he’s not completely heartless. You’ve got to royally piss God off to get the express elevator to Hell. Crashing loaded planes upside the Word Trade Center, would work just fine.
Where does this come into play in Blood And Metal? Maatla has one major world religion, the Modern Church of Gaia. That church was founded over 2,000 by a prophet named Donnovan who’s story reads of a combination of Jesus, Mohammad, and Ghandi. Donnovan claimed that the many relgions in the world have a single goddess, Gaia by name, at it’s core. Eric might not be a practicing member of this church per se, but he will work with them as much as he can, and encourages the public’s worship practices as well. Eric would relish comparisons between The Church and Terran relgiions, and see where not only they differ, but how they’re alike. Also on topic is the obvious:
"I heard Gaia’s a nice girl as Goddeses go. I’d like to meet her one day. Even hook Her up with some dude Gods I know, like Jesus Christ. Nothing too serious at first, dinner and a movie, comparing notes over drinks, walks on a park, good times." — Eric, line to be said later.
Glenn: I must try to be a better, more honest person than I was yesterday.
Remix: Everyone, including myself, needs to constantly improve themselves, to be better than they were before.
Glenn: The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority.
Remix: Families are sacred. The people you should be closest with is your family members.
These two Principles are almost a total port from Glenn. I just have a different way to say the same thing. Glenn personalizes it, I merely switch to a more global scope. It’s just the way I roll.
Glenn: If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
Remix: Karma cannot be mocked. Whatever you do, be it for good or for evil, can never be returned in void.
I’m a firm believer in the concept of Karma. You might not be convicted of double murder, but over time all that smug clavier attitude by getting away with it is going to come to bite you. And all along the way to your eventual conviction, which could be on an unrelated charge, you’ll be surrounded by people who know what you did and will never make you regret it.
"Mark my words, people. Alberect will find justice for what he did to your King. Justice by the courts, by a spear, by my left arm, by Princess Sarah’s Pimp Hand, makes no difference; it will come." — Eric, line to be said in Book 2
The major part where me and Glenn differs is major: Granted, you must be punished for crimes, but what should happen when you do good? Nothing can be more disheartening, discouraging, and downright scaring to anyone than the belief that ‘No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.’ Or even worse, that there is nothing you’d ever do in life that will ever be worth any reward.
I speak from personal experience as a recovering Hikikomori. It’s a Japanese term for someone who stays in their bedroom or apartment all the time, never ducking out for air, much less for a job, friends, or even a love one. You probably heard of them; they’re 35 and still live with their parents, who’s probably penciled in ‘Possible Sociopath’ on their permanent record. The main reason that made me such a hermit is that I could catch hell for practically any reason—or even no reason at all—from anybody (Parents, Teachers, Principle, Peers, Cops, Complete Strangers, et al) and my main goal in life as a teenager was to keep myself from as much trouble as possible. If you’re a teenager and that is your current life goal, you really need to sit down with a Moleskine and re-evaluate your life. (Oh, just to be on the record, this occurred in the mid 1980s. In the Heartland of America. The Japanese might have put a name to this phenomenon, but it’s far from new.)
Eric would naturally want Justice done to Alberect and his ilk, but he would also want to encourage goodness in others. Especially the youth in Vinantos. He sees a kid that was just dismissed as a ‘Weed Eater’ by someone—and on Maatla, pot is more or less permitted—and he could see someone who could become a scientist, a doctor, an inventor, a farmer, a builder, the creator of Maatla’s version of the Internet, someone who could reverse Mechanization . . . if someone would just shut the bleep up and see that in the poor kid?
There will be a chapter where Eric is encouraged to give Vintanos’ education system a major overhaul, taking out the old hardliner faculty and replacing it with a community involved group of parents and mentors, charged with promoting successful young men and women instead of cookie cutter rote learning and discipline too strict to be productive.
Glenn: I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and not a guarantee of equal results.
Remix: Every being by their nature has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, although it does not mean that the results of their efforts to be identical among seperate individuals.
Once again it’s the personal vs global differences of scope. Just as the next one.
Glenn: I work hard for what I have. I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
Remix: People are entitled to the fruits of their labor, whatever they may be, and they have the right to do with such fruits whenever they wish. This should include charity, but this should be given by the individual, not by authority.
One of the biggest events in recent Vintanos history is called "The Shrug." Eric would be immediately reminded of Ann Rand as he hears of the various businesses, inventors, and scientist left their home countries en masse to Vintanos to escape demands on their home countries that became so unbearable that it proved impossible for them to exist. The then King of Vintanos, John Galt Knothole (the first king to be a Knothole) opened up his kingdom for these prospective ‘Strikers’ with the promise of a reduced public burden, thanks to assistance from the Church, who usually assists with the community responsibilities. They will also be appreciated with their accomplishments, rather than vilified for being ‘better off than the others.’
The Biblical-like exodus of bright minds from the neighboring kingdoms into Vintanos collapsed those countries back to the Medieval times, their people little more than peasants under a group of feuding states, while Vintanos rose to a level similar to the 1930s of America, clearly one of the most advanced city-states, if not the most advanced city technologically, in all of Maatla. Only the city where the head of the Church is located, Vidicia, can rival Vintanos.
I start my explanation with this take on Ann Rand’s famous book, incorporated in the world in Blood and Metal, to dictate my fears of a Real Life Atlas Shrugged on Earth, especially in America under the current Congressional climate. (If I were running an oil or drug company here today, or even worse, a bank, I’d be telling congress at my first grand jury indictment that I will immediately stop all business and leave the country forever, because I cannot conduct business in such a hostile environment. They’d cheer, of course. For about five minutes. Then they’ll realize what they’ve brought upon themselves.) I also wanted to express the real sticking point I have against Objectivism, which I’m sure is caused by not fully understanding their concept of "Self-Interest" like with most of their critics. Just as you can drive people away by oppressing them in ways depicted by Miss Rand, or myself in those past two paragraphs, you can also have people who are so focused on their own interests that they end up doing harm to others, including themselves. The same philosophy that created Mr. A. also created Bioshock.
I once chatted with a friend about my concerns about the philosophy, and I said that there should be a balance between individual rights and cultural responsibility. It’s an elusive balance, and it’s not just Eric who’s trying to nail it down. Most of these companies that were part of the shrug will seek to partner with Eric, with the hopes that an Terran invention that Eric brings with him could revolutionalize all of Maatla much like what they did on Earth. And if they get a profit out of it, so much the better.
Glenn: It is not un-American for me to disagree or share my personal opinion.
Remix: The sharing of opinions and ideas should be encouraged, and disagreeing with anybody does not equate with animosity with whoever you disagree with.
There is one thing I want you to keep in mind about Blood and Metal: This is not, I repeat NOT, a project made to bash the current President, Barack Obama. Not only is it untimely, and so far outside the scope of the books that it might as well be on another planet, (Okay, the story itself is on another planet, but that’s not the point.) but I have grown so sick and tired of all the Bush Bashing that I just tune it out. (Personally, I think that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed will make a lot more damage than any president.)
"I’d even say that we’ve made it to the Promised land. Now we’re in the business of building something on it." — Dr. Ombacain, Blood and Metal 1
I might not be on the same side as Barack on many things, but he’s the first president since Regan that I actually like. Not only is he the first African-American President, shattering the image of America being a racist country, but he also has a vital opportunity to be the Democrat version of President Ford, bridging some gaps between people that have grown to Grand Canyon widths and finding a way to bring decency and respect back to the office. That’s why I mentioned Obama in a positive note in the opening parts of the book, and if someone ticks me off enough, I might write him into the book, personally wishing Eric good luck before the portal. I really have nothing against our new president, despite being of different views.
And that’s the way it should be, for a lot of people, which isn’t quite found here in the online world. I have a golden rule for those willing to edit and critique my work: Be honest, be thorough, and be civil. I don’t mind if you disagree with me or think that I’m not exactly the next big thing online, just don’t be an asshole. There’s too much of that online. Eric would want the same way; wishing to hear an honest debate on varying topics or problems and hoping that he can find a good way to address whatever problem in front of him.
Glenn: The government works for me. I do not answer to them. They answer to me.
Eric: Any government over you, regardless of it’s nature, is not your master. They are your servants, and they are here for the people they govern.
That is something King Acorn made sure that Princess Sarah remembers. Being a monarch has a responsibility for their people. The King (or Queen) exists to represent the country of Vintanos and all who reside there. Ruling with the people’s best interests in mind, instead of being a heavy handed master over everyone they see, is how one properly rules a kingdom. After all, not even the tightest of grip would keep people from leaving the country of a tyrannical ruler, or worse, staging a violent and bloody revolt.
Nothing in Blood and Metal would depict this principle more than the factors surrounding Nicolas and Eric. The Captain of the Royal Guard is next in line after a single Princess, and he feels that it would be best to take control over everything in Vintanos and put the city into a war footing, in the goal of taking on Alberect in a traditional ground war. It is the people’s resistance to Alberect’s rule that caused Sarah to assume the throne as ‘Acting Monarch.’
As the story progresses, the populace would start to learn more about the Republic style of government that Eric’s America comes from and would want that kind of rule in Vintanos. In fact, if Nicolas starts to talk with the people discussing Sarah’s ability to rule further down the story, he might be shocked to hear that, although some would agree with him about Sarah, that they might like to see Eric—alien though he is—marry her and take up the throne, saying that he’s got a firmer grasp on things.
This will bring things to a head when Blood and Metal reaches its climatic stage, where Nicolas appears to be the dinosaur unable to cope with the evolution of the world around them, an evolution Eric rides up to the climatic scene where the two finally clash.
My remixed principles are still in a state of flux; while I’m sure I got the spirit of what I have in mind down, there will be details that can be adjusted in time. As I’m writing Blood and Metal, I’ll also be connecting with other people, creating a network as I promote my book and getting out of that hikikomori hole in the meantime. I’m certain that these principles can be improved on, both in the book as well as in my personal life, and this site’s blog will show it.