It is said that everyone likes a good listener, an attentive, non-judgemental, undemanding listener. Hearing everything; saying nothing. Their listener was accepted by the family and had been around for a large part of Beth’s young life. Beth and her parents spoke freely in front of the listener. Chit chat, family discussions, expressions of strongly held opinion, they all take place within earshot of the listener.
There are often raised voices in Beth’s family. Most often the passion about a subject hotly debated in many family settings, far and wide.
Casual comments led to repeats and reruns which didn’t resolve the family arguments. The listener took it all impassively. The listener never made any interventions, and was never asked for an opinion. The family members were each certain of the rightness of their point of view. Beth initiated the discussions most often; she was adept at spotting and exploiting triggers. Born mid-century, her parents’ pride and joy, she rejected old ideas, old attitudes.
The parents, as was demanded by the times had accepted the universal one child target. They knew why the policy had been adopted and accepted the financial incentives offered to their generation. There was acceptance even allowing for the fact that the policy was time limited and the 25 year, one child target would end for Beth and she would be free to make her choices within the rules of phase two. They occasionally spoke of it. The listener listened. They spoke of it reflectively. Mum and Dad knew well enough why it had been introduced. They had voted in favour of it at the referendum when they were little older than Beth is now and trying to rent their first living-unit. Taking a listener was a condition.
These days all personal living-units accommodate a listener. Listeners have become ubiquitous just like green energy, the communal self driving transporters, the cashless society, universal home tutoring and 8G.
Mum and Beth usually agreed on the rightness of the World View Equal Nature (WOVEN) philosophy. The philosophy had been written about and discussed among academics and moral philosophers for decades before politicians and policy makers had shown leadership. Public support grew very quickly against a background of climate change and species extinctions. Probably the final straw that moved opinions rapidly in favour of WOVEN was the decade of the great floods. An estimated 500 million people worldwide had been forced to abandon large parts of coastal cities and low lying islands, estuaries, and agricultural lands. The shock was felt everywhere. The media, space agencies with a true bird’s eye view and personal videos showed the mass exoduses on five continents.
WOVEN recognised the place of humans in nature not above nature. Many found this hard to accept. There remain flat-earthers and creationists who are in denial of common experience and evolutionary science. WOVEN deniers cling to the belief that humans are at liberty to exploit the natural world for their own pleasure.
The horrors had triggered many new policy initiatives. Policy formation employed blatant carrot and stick. It was rich territory for The Nudge Theorists.
There had been an accelerated worldwide move to off-grid local power generation, solar and wind. Punitive new taxes on consumption and long lived pollutants became the norm. On the positive side, many activities were formally approved. Formal approval meant that the activities could earn Social Credits. Social Credits had been devised by the eco-economists. They were the reward system for those involved in the production of public good.
Mum earned Social Credits for her beekeeping. Beth had decided to take it up too. Historically beekeeping had focused on honeybees for pollination services and honey and wax production. The knowledge possessed by aboriginal Australians that some species of native bees could be husbanded to produce honey had been dismissed as uneconomic by keepers of the extremely productive genus Apis. The radical change in beekeeping, now known as bee-nurturing, was a focus on bumblebees and solitary bees. The public goods that gained greatest recognition were pollination and biodiversity. Inventing techniques and technologies and adopting this newer branch of bee-nurturing gained larger Social Credit rewards than Apis husbandry.
Beth knew that her father was old school seeing the earth as exploitable, accepting conservation only to soothe his conscience. He was not a bee enthusiast.
Not everyone accepted the WOVEN philosophy. The analytics derived from the listeners findings are clear and reveal the belief and acceptance score for each living-unit in the connected world. From Alexa Mark 4 and her sister listeners onwards the data have been tracked. Gathering the sentiments expressed within monitored living-units as recorded by the listeners is defended by The Powers as rolling opinion surveys. It informs and shapes the media line, World View policy and penalties and incentives.
To be continued...….