Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 2, chapter 2
Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.
Rae hesitated. She looked at the faces of her friends silhouetted in the fire’s light.
It wasn’t that she had nothing to say – just the opposite. She felt as if she were bursting at the seams. In the past two weeks, she had witnessed and experienced so much that she felt she could speak for a lifetime and not do justice to it. She’d glimpsed peace and richness and beauty that surpassed her ability to describe.
But the more she thought, the more she realized that her experiences could be distilled into a single lesson. There was one great shining fact that united everything she had seen and learned.
“Everyone is so happy here.”
“Is that so strange?” Jane said, with a quirked eyebrow.
“No. I mean, it shouldn’t be. I’ve always believed that happiness should be the default state. But when I lived in New York, that was so rare. Everyone was angry and frustrated all the time. They were stressed out about work, or frazzled by their commute, or afraid of what the future would bring. People were anxious about everything: that they’d be fired, or that their company would go out of business, or that they’d get sick and couldn’t afford to see a doctor, or that their landlord would jack up the rent, or that someone would break in and kill them in their sleep. They were always on edge.
“When people are afraid for so long, they get angry. Their minds grow small, their empathy dries up. They grow resentful of others’ successes and accomplishments. They’re eager to believe lies and bigotry. They tell themselves that poor people are lazy or irresponsible, that they must have done something to deserve their suffering.”
“And here?” Jane asked.