I can imag­ine a bet­ter world, can you?

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Opinion - GINA BARRECA Gina Barreca is an English pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut and the au­thor of “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” and eight other books. She can be reached at www.gin­abar­reca.com.

In Gi­naLand, ev­ery­body would be able to change a di­a­per, change a tire, change the dress­ing on a wound and change their minds when pre­sented with a more con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ment. In Gi­naLand, peo­ple would not fear hear­ing from those who hold points of view at vari­ance from their own but in­stead wel­come vig­or­ous and in­formed de­bates. Town Halls would re­place sports events as the most highly prized com­pe­ti­tions be­tween well-matched ri­vals.

In Gi­naLand, all elected of­fi­cials would have a real ed­u­ca­tion, mean­ing they would un­der­stand world his­tory, not only their own, and show mas­tery over sev­eral lan­guages, in­clud­ing their own.

They would un­der­stand, too, that there is more than one ver­sion of his­tory: they would have taken cour­ses in clas­si­cal rhetoric, in geopol­i­tics, in eco­nomics, in phi­los­o­phy (Eastern and Western) in com­par­a­tive lit­er­a­tures, in the sci­en­tific method (and its ap­pli­ca­tion across the dis­ci­plines) and _ nat­u­rally — they would’ve con­tex­tu­al­ized all of this within a deep un­der­stand­ing of the arts.

As ed­u­cated cit­i­zens, they’d be able to do all of this as well as be able to pass the tests given to new cit­i­zens en­ter­ing our na­tion. Of course, we should all be able to do this al­ready, but have you tried? Those tests aren’t easy, es­pe­cially given that we are now liv­ing in a world where ma­jor news out­lets are forced to re­mind peo­ple, as I just heard one an­nouncer say with­out any irony or sar­casm on the ra­dio, that “Canada is just north of the U.S. bor­der.”

I wish I were mak­ing that up. In Gi­naLand, satire would be ob­vi­ous and no­body would have to in­clude a sub­ject line say­ing “FYI: Not From ‘The Onion’” be­fore email­ing a hi­lar­i­ous, but real, ar­ti­cle.

Politi­cians would emerge from an in­formed elec­torate, show­ing mas­tery over or­di­nary, ev­ery­day tasks of life: They would have solid rep­u­ta­tions as good cit­i­zens, gen­er­ous com­mu­nity mem­bers, hon­est tax­pay­ers, re­li­able neigh­bors, loyal part­ners, trust­wor­thy bosses and in­tel­li­gent racon­teurs. They would be aware of fa­mil­iar phrases such as “sec­ond lady,” “prim­ing the pump,” and be able to dis­tin­guish be­tween homonyms such as “pres­i­dent” and “prece­dent.”

Nei­ther sex nor money would be a mys­tery in Gi­naLand. Mak­ing wise choices con­cern­ing both would be part of both pri­vate and pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion, ad­dressed with nei­ther shame nor taboo.

Of course kids need to know about sex. As a standup comic Elayne Boosler once told us, some folks are afraid of talk­ing about where ba­bies come from be­cause “birth is a mir­a­cle.” “Hey, pop­corn is a mys­tery, if you don’t know how it’s done,” Boosler points out. As for those who be­lieve that “if you teach sex ed­u­ca­tion in school, kids will go ahead and do it,” she in­sists it doesn’t work that way: “I had four years of al­ge­bra,” says Boosler, “And I never do math.”

In Gi­naLand, learn­ing how to un­der­stand, man­age and pro­tect your money would be as im­por­tant as un­der­stand­ing, man­ag­ing and pro­tect­ing your sex­ual im­pulses. Taught at an early age and dis­cussed at ev­ery stage of de­vel­op­ment, you’d learn that noth­ing is writ­ten in stone and that ev­ery­thing is in flux.

The only shame sur­round­ing money in Gi­naLand would be liv­ing by the 10 x 10 x 2 rule, which is pay­ing $10 mil­lion for a 10,000square-foot prop­erty that you use two weeks out of the year. This would not be re­garded as a re­ward for do­ing well but lit­er­ally an em­bar­rass­ment of riches.

Vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in Gi­naLand are highly val­ued and ev­ery­body is ea­ger to take pride in his or her skill. A good me­chanic, a good en­gi­neer and a good or­tho­pe­dist will re­spect each other equally and meet for a “women’s night out” on a reg­u­lar ba­sis with­out any­one com­ment­ing.

Schools, from kinder­garten through univer­sity, in Gi­naLand are fully funded and free, as are the many li­braries, mu­se­ums, the­aters, parks and pre­served lands, be­cause shut­ting the doors on knowl­edge, beauty, cre­ativ­ity, sci­ence, na­ture and his­tory are not the way to go.

Joyce Sch­lemm, my friend from Lac Brule, Que­bec, age 97, de­clares that in JoyceLand, “If ev­ery­body could just have a good break­fast, ev­ery­thing would be OK.”

Gi­naLand is my land. What hap­pens in yours? And how can we make the best of th­ese ideas hap­pen in the world we share?

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