Do you really want to know this?
Actually, I have never wanted to rule the world, although I have been sorely tempted when…but let’s not get into current politics or religion. As my mother often said, it isn’t nice.
But what if?
Yes, I would make voting obligatory, quality healthcare a given, teachers and librarians amongst the top earners in the country, and a good education free. All those things required to make a democracy survive and flourish. But what about story-tellers? After all, I have a horrible feeling that is what I am supposed to be talking about here.
I know many will disagree with me on this, but story-telling is the world’s oldest profession. My argument? Well, just to take one origin story as an example, story-telling predated the expulsion from Eden. That snake told a real whopper of a tale! So that second oldest profession had to come after.
In fact, art of any kind is the thing tyrants fear most. They set up guidelines about what can be done to best serve their interests. They exile or murder artists who don’t comply. Art engenders dangerous thinking. It rattles cages. It makes people think, wonder, doubt. All that noted, there can be good and bad in government-funded art. The WPA was a great idea, but Hitler’s and Stalin’s were not exactly stellar.
Today, many fear that writing is sliding into obscurity as spelling becomes a bit too fluid, ideas must be limited to 140 characters, and wit has died. OK, so I may be a bit nervous myself since I am a creature of the last millennium. Maybe civilization does better when spelling and grammar are standardized, although I would be the first to agree that English is in need of major revision. And little of substance can be said in 140 characters, although much wit was expressed in less. But many civilizations did very well without pen and ink. (Clay tablets and cuneiform, anyone?) When they did not thrive, it was because they lacked the story-teller, someone who painted on cave walls, passed on the culture of a tribe in song or poetry, the playwrights and the musicians.
So, yes, if I ruled the world, I would honor the story-teller, the artist who makes us think and wonder and doubt. But I would be willing to accept that the form might not be written but perhaps oral or visual. It really doesn’t matter. The story is the thing, not necessarily the form.