Eden in Babylon is a new piece of musical theatre that focuses on a hypothetical movement to mobilize a group of intelligent young people who prefer to sleep outdoors. For many, this preference is connected to a reverence for Nature; for others, to a penchant for pushing the human body past its limits; for still others, to a sense of adventure associated with hustling for a living on the urban city streets.
Though the Kids (as they are called) are very focused and driven, and though they do their best to care for each other, they still feel directionless, and in a sense, lost. This causes them to seek out a charismatic leader, and they find him in Winston Greene.
Unlike the Kids, who mostly come from broken homes in an underprivileged class, Winston hails from a wealthy dynasty, where his parents have sheltered him throughout his life. As the show begins, Winston breaks out of a forty day period of abstinence from all external influences. As he bursts into view to announce his Enlightenment, he instead finds himself being hauled off to a psychiatric facility. It is there that he meets the Kids. Like Buddha, who hailed from royalty and did not truly begin his spiritual journey until he first encountered the suffering of poverty, Winston is moved to join the Kids in their minimalistic lifestyle. So he escapes from home shortly after his release from the psych ward, hooks up with the Kids, and learns the values and mores of outdoor living, in Nature, and on the streets.
Winston’s parents are naturally concerned, so they file a Missing Persons Report, and hire an expensive search team to find him. Meanwhile, Winston and the Kids elude those who are searching for him, moving from place to place, and adopting different disguises. Eventually, Winston is caught, and his parents decide that he needs to go through the criminal justice system in order to learn his lesson. This enrages the rest of the Kids, and they storm the gated community where Winston’s parents live, and vandalize the house where Winston was born. Meanwhile, as rumor has it, Winston dies of multiple causes in the Santa Rosita County Jail.
Because I intended to parallel the life of Buddha at the show’s beginning, and parallel the life of Christ toward the show’s end, Winston’s alleged death is an analogy for the crucifixion, where Jesus died for the sake of his followers, and the salvation of many to come. But since I’ve already given away most of the story, it would pain me to let you know whether Winston is also “resurrected” in the end. Suffice it to say that the show ends with an extremely happy ending, where a dramatic increase in communication between the Kids and the members of Winston’s birth community result in a decision to let the Kids live indefinitely in their homes, as long as they repair the damage.
Because I am a person who has lived and worked comfortably among those in America’s upper middle class; and who has also functioned reasonably competently among those who hustle for survival on the streets, I consider the creation of this musical to be a spiritual calling of mine. My personal opinion is that classism is the biggest problem we face in America today. Not racism, sexism, or ableism — though they are all problematical enough. That the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is almost an axiom of everyday living, and no doubt has been the case since the dawn of human history. But never have I seen a Presidential cabinet composed largely of billionaires; and never have I seen so many homeless citizens scattered about the city streets, sleeping in cars, or hiding in forested areas, as I do today. The middle class, in the meantime, has all but vanished. Yet the Great Middle Class has long been the liaison, the mediator between the class extremes, the facilitator of positive communication and trust, between two disparate factors of our society.
I have never seen more division in America than I see today. Whatever happened to the koans of morale? “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” “United we stand; divided we fall.” “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Let’s strengthen the weakest link in the chain of America, before that chain is broken beyond repair. Let’s strengthen the Homeless People of the United States of America — before this great nation, of the people, by the people, and for the people, perishes from the Earth.
Eden in Babylon
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