Rebecca Whyte Decides to Change the World
Rebecca Whyte is black. Not just black, beautiful. Not just beautiful, irresistible. She’s not just proud Ethiopian features with a smile that radiates such compassion and love, she glows. She’s light itself. She can take the dark out of the nighttime, but never turns the daytime black. She’s as warm and brilliant as the sun, as subtly illuminating as a full moon. Several decades from now, as Rebecca lies on her deathbed surrounded by friends and family and TV cameras from every continent broadcasting her every labored breath to an audience in the billions, Gaia says, “Maybe you shouldn’t have made her quite so attractive.”
And God replies, “You could be right. But at the time, what with the human family such a degenerate danger to self and others, it seemed like the thing to do.”
Rebecca Whyte is only eight when she confronts her domineering father. “Why’re you so mean and bossy to Mama? You act like she has to do whatever you say. She’s as smart as you are. Our whole family would be much stronger and happier if you listened to her and only did things when you both agree. She’s not your employee. She’s your partner. You should treat her that way.”
Her father is stunned. For a minute he feels like hitting her, but no one could possibly hit Rebecca. Amazingly, he finds himself gradually and effortlessly changing his relationship to his wife. He talks to her, consults her. They still argue, but they both know they’re arguing to agree. And the family does get stronger and happier. Things just go better. Fewer mistakes. Fewer accidents. Less drama. More success. They enjoy each other more, and Rebecca smiles more, which is always such a treat.
Rebecca remains blissfully unaware of her power. She has no idea that most 8-year-olds can’t change their own family dynamics. Still, the positive change resulting from talking to her dad encourages her. She continues to be completely honest and focused on making everyone around her happy.
In high school, she’s president of the student body. Her campaign slogan is “Winning Together”. She still hasn’t realized the dangerous implications of that word “winning”, but she never tries to win for herself. She wants everyone in the school to be happy. She talks to everyone, melts them with the light from her smile, and helps them all get something they want from whatever the school as a whole is doing. She brings jocks, nerds, greasers, hippies, Young Republicans, overachievers and underachievers together for parties and sports, of course, but also for improving the whole school’s academic performance and even community service. Under her leadership, West High is exceptional, a shining beacon, the school on the hill. It wins more games, meets, debates, and academic and service awards than any school in the history of Anytown. That’s how Rebecca comes to see the terrible side effects of winning.
The greater West High’s success– in sports, in academics, even in community service—the more enemies it makes and the more intense the animosity. West High becomes the school to beat. Everyone in every other school focuses laser-like on defeating, undermining, badmouthing, and bringing West High back to earth. As a senior, Rebecca repents her slogan and reaches out to leaders in other schools. She tries to open her concept of winning to the whole city, but it’s too late. Everyone is convinced that West High kids think they’re better than everyone else, and West High kids really do think they are. After all, they win, right?
As a college freshman, Rebecca stays far from school politics. Instead, she studies political science, then sociology, then psychology, then comparative anthropology, and finally, wildlife biology. She follows a question. Why do people fight so hard to win when life would so obviously be easier, safer, more efficient, and more fun if they stopped competing and started cooperating instead? Through her studies, she develops some theories about why, but discovers that her true interest is not explanation. It’s change.
Rebecca decides to change the world. To do that, she feels she needs to change politics, that is, she needs to change how individuals and groups make decisions and even how they think about the decision-making process. Sensing somehow that changing global or even national politics could be sort of hard, she decides to start small.
As a college senior, she runs for and is elected president of the student body. Here begins the hopeful story of how Rebecca Whyte changes the world.