You couldn’t call it a village. A few houses only, in the middle of nowhere. Not only could you not call it a village — it was not called anything. It had no name. That’s where men were settled by the government program to rehabilitate men incarcerated for violent crimes. There were rapists, murderers, gang members — not the kind of people that most of us would look for to build a circle of friends.
But don’t assume for a moment that the atmosphere in the settlement was grim or eerie. Part of the conditions to be released there was that these men had seriously participated in Non-Violent Communication training and in a new variant of Alcoholics Anonymous, called Violence Anonymous. It was unprecedented what camaraderie there was between all the men who lived there. They not only had participated in NVC and VA but they continued with these self-help therapies.
Anger was unheard of in the settlement. As soon as one of the men even felt any anger, he would ask others to surround him and hold him. And everyone loved to help everyone. When inside the center of such an ‘anger hub,’ a man could feel safe to rage without hurting himself, others, or anything. Generally, the anger didn’t last long before giving way to sobbing, ‘violent’ shaking, and roaring laughter. They all got familiar with these signs and the goodness of deep emotional healing as well as most people know how well a glass of water may quench one’s thirst.
Another way the general atmosphere of warmth and closeness was maintained was that alcohol, tobacco, and even coffee were not allowed — not available. Not even ‘innocent’ recreational drugs. The men felt either great or would sit down (or stand up) to receive support to go through some bad feelings to return to relaxed happiness.
One of the conditions for their release inside the program was that they had to stay in the non-village for at last two years. Visitors not allowed. Leaving neither. There was a modest grocery shop, a medical doctor with a pharmacy, and that was about it. Other stuff they bought done online. And most men worked online too. They slept, cooked, and ate together. But the weekly highlights were the creativity evenings. From choral performance to improvised standup and the open mike, anything that released a generous smile or good laugh was available. And pornography and any sex at all were forbidden by a unanimous vote. But talking about an urge to become sexual was not taboo at all. Their philosophy was: Later, when you’re in a steady relationship, you should enjoy sex with your better half — not now. No sex for the sake of sex. Men who wanted that ‘freedom’ were free to return to jail and get into another program for their return into society at large. But this hardly happened.
Another thing that didn’t happen was violent speech, slander, and oppressive ‘jokes’ or behavior. How could one be a racist or supremacist, arrogant or a bully when one is happy and surrounded by close friends? There was plenty of unusualness around. The sight of only men, smiling from ear to ear, with occasional clusters of men around one guy sobbing. But what’s wrong with that? These men were having the best life they ever had. Their greatest time was when they could help another and their greatest talent was their empathy. They were going to be great spouses.
They were such a happy bunch that even a limited number of ‘sociopaths’ had joined their program and community. Just the fact that they had little empathy didn’t mean they couldn’t learn to be vulnerable and weren’t lonely. They learned to open up, to cry again, and to be close and warm.
But after their compulsory two-year stay, most of the men didn’t leave. Rather, they decided to look for friends and partners online and live with them in the village. They requested and received official recognition as a village and its name, U2, was also approved. It had put itself on the map, literally and figuratively. They made bylaws that stipulated that closeness and happiness, empathy and camaraderie, drug-free and porn-free life, and deep therapy experience and continuation were all their binding ways of life. Modest, non-provocative clothing was mandatory too.
Soon, U2 was flooded by women and homosexual and heterosexual men without any violent background. They enjoyed the safety of being among so many happy, relaxed, warm men and of a non-oppressive society. They gladly subscribed to U2’s bylaws because they realized they had little to lose but their unhappiness and loneliness. Many classes were given about how oppressions worked targeting non-Whites, women, GLBTQs, young people, working-class people, people who were mentally or physically ‘different,’ Jews, seniors — you name it, and how to be a good ally in general. They learned how to preserve and recycle. It was easier to care for nature and the planet once one cared about oneself and each other.
And it didn’t stop there. Soon, interviewers and guided tours with decently clad outsiders became a regular sight in U2. They wanted to know what their secrets were. Democratic society, with all its liberty gone wrong, freedom to feel and be bad (until caught), clearly needed an upgrade. And that is how a tiny settlement, in the middle of nowhere, became the epicenter of a worldwide evolution of democratic society into a human-centered humane society where people could live the way life ought to be.
Even cold (and lonely) dictators came by to learn how to let go and allow for a peaceful transition to something good for everyone. (many old-timers of U2 became therapists.) And every nation profited from the end of wars that followed. And now that people had stopped killing each other, more prominence was given to medical science to end all illness and stop and reverse aging, practically bringing the end of death into everyone’s reach.
Let’s do it.