As my private jet banked steeply upon final approach, the amazing site of the Hopi Complex came clearly into view. There surrealisti- cally resting on the Mars-like landscape of the Southwestern desert was an otherworldly complex of solar panels, wind turbines, and a sprawling futuristic city, anchored in the center by a massive circular structure. My first impression was that it reminded me of a shiny silver tire lying flat on the ground, with its open center covered with a gleaming glass dome. It had to be many hundreds of thousands of square feet in size and definitely did not do justice to the pictures I had previously seen of it.
As our craft descended unsteadily through thermal-induced turbulence and dodging menacing thunderheads, the two-mile- long runway grew larger in front of us. We touched down in almost one-hundred-degree, scorching Northeast Arizona heat as our plane taxied on the tarmac. Surprisingly, there was no terminal building to be seen anywhere—only six flexible boarding gates that protruded out of the ground like giant metallic worms.
As the spooling turbines wound down, one of the worms gen- tly bumped the jet, and its door opened. We disembarked down a refreshingly air-conditioned Jetway to a long escalator that deposited us into a cavernous, underground terminal complex. There standing
at the end of the escalator was a tall, lean, handsome man who looked right out of a Bollywood movie.
“Ah, Mr. Morris, I presume?” said the smiling stranger with perfect ivory teeth and a Hindi accent. “I trust you had a pleasant flight.”
“Except for a few bumps on approach and some scary thunder- clouds, quite enjoyable,” I replied.
“Let me be the first to welcome you to the 2,500-square-mile Sovereign Nation of the Hopi and our Hopi Complex,” he contin- ued. “It may surprise you to know that you are now technically on foreign soil, Mr. Morris. However, as you are an American citizen, no passport is required.
“But let me properly introduce myself. My name is Raman Narayanan, Professor Lightfoot’s administrative assistant. And as you have probably guessed from my accent, I am from India.”
“But may I also properly introduce myself, Mr. Narayanan?” I replied. “I am Peter Morris from The New Yorker Magazine, and as you know, I am here to do a series of interviews with Professor Lightfoot. We at The New Yorker are so thrilled that the professor has agreed to share his life and story behind this amazing project and huge leap in human development.”
“So let us get started, Mr. Morris,” Raman urgently replied as he led us through the terminal to a transportation dock.
There we entered a futuristic four-person pod that quickly sped us into a dark underground chasm. Within a minute, we arrived at another transportation complex where other pods were continually coming and going. From here on, Raman started a comprehensive tour that did not do justice to the enormity of my surroundings.
The terminal was built underground like many other structures here because soil temperatures at around thirty feet down are a con- stant fifty-seven degrees. This makes cooling and heating much more efficient, both in the freezing winters and hot summers. Most trans- portation, likewise, was underground, consisting of a maze of tunnels that sped personnel quickly around the complex in these quiet pods.
When we finally exited our pod, we were in the main transpor- tation center of the Hopi Complex, two stories below ground level.
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Raman ushered us into one of many elevators, which in seconds opened up into a spacious sun-drenched reception hall at ground level. The first thing that jumped out at me—and likely to most everyone else who entered the hall—was the large gold-lettered ban- ner that dominated the far wall.
“That banner above us, Mr. Morris, sums up the entire purpose of this place,” Raman proudly exclaimed, noticing the object of my gaze. “Please take your time reading it.”
The World Free Citizens Rights Manifesto
We, the people of this earth, solemnly join together as members of a Free World Citizenry under the organization of a Free Nations Alliance to declare that our nation’s leaders must honor and promote these basic human rights:
Freedom of religious belief.
Freedom of information, a free press, and free assembly. Freedom of economic opportunity, including freedom
from corruption and nepotism.
Freedom of access to education.
Freedom to democratically elect our leaders.
Freedom to live on an ecologically healthy and peaceful
After I slowly absorbed the deep profundity of the manifesto’s message, Raman then continued.
“Let me now show you our massive administration center that you see in front of us,” Raman said as he led us through a towering glass door into a beehive of teeming activity.
Raman went on to explain that the administration center was the largest of seven individual departments, spaced around the circu- lar, five-million-square-foot building. From this central nerve center, all communication between the leaders of all the nations in the Free Nations Alliance and their individual citizens were coordinated. The
other six departments focused individually on the six principle points of the World Free Citizens Manifesto and monitored their successful implementation within all the member states of the Free Nations Alliance.
Each department was nine stories high, contained thousands of personnel, and equipped with myriad types of high-tech equip- ment. It would have taken us perhaps days to visit each one, but there would be time for that later.
As Raman glanced at his watch, he cut short his enthusiastic tour and said, “Ah, I see it is now time for you to meet with the great man himself—and to start your interview.”
He guided us to a special elevator, and after waving his hand over a biometric reader, we ascended rapidly to the top of the Circle.The elevator door opened to a paneled waiting area guarded by an efficient-looking receptionist. She glanced approvingly at Raman and then spoke quietly into a mouthpiece.
“Professor Lightfoot has been anxiously expecting Mr. Morris,” she said pleasantly as she directed us through an opening door in the paneling.
Through the door was a spacious circular office, perched on top of the main building, cantilevered out over the desert floor far below.
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Standing with his back to us and looking out through the sheer glass windows that surrounded most of his office was a tall, thin gentleman in a smart gray suit. He turned slowly to reveal a weathered darkly tanned, flint-like face with a chiseled jaw and straight, broad mouth underneath a flat nose. His eyes, lined with age and half squinting, became sparkling and rounded as his flat, thin lips broke out into a broad welcoming smile of perfectly white teeth. It was impossible to tell his exact age, but he was perhaps in his seventies or eight- ies. His archetypal features and long, flowing, salt-and-pepper hair screamed Native American—and that deep, earthly wisdom that so often accompanies it.
“Mr. Morris,” he said enthusiastically as he reached out and shook my hand with bone-crushing strength. “So very nice to have you here with us, and I trust that you will sincerely enjoy your stay here at the Circle.”
As Raman turned and bid us goodbye, the professor gestured for the two of us to sit down on a long cowhide couch and asked if I would like something to drink after my long flight. Slightly embar- rassed, I sheepishly replied that I would enjoy a cold beer.
His warm smile broadened as he walked over to a small refriger- ator and took out a Heineken and a Perrier. While he was occupied, I could not help but notice that the rounded back wall of the office was a long case filled with colorful, indigenous, and worldwide reli- gious art, along with many plaques and assorted citations.
As he sat our drinks down on the coffee table, he chuckled and said, “I can assure you, Mr. Morris, that I am living proof that the old saying about Indians not being able to drink alcohol is quite true. I had to learn the hard way.”
After drawing a sip from our respective libations, Professor Lightfoot continued, “I see you have noticed what I like to call my ‘embarrassingly obscene trophy case.’ However, I am forced to put this stuff somewhere, so let me give you a short tour of its contents.”
Walking over to the expansive case, the professor gestured to a central item and said, “I am most proud of this one in particular. It is the Nobel Peace Prize I received two years ago. Most of the others are awards and commendations from the United Nations and other
various organizations and countries. But compared to the three items you see above the case, they mean little to me.”
We stepped back, and he pointed to a small replica of the World Free Citizens Manifesto that I encountered down in the lobby. To the right of it was a large gold poster featuring a green-and-blue globe in the center with the words “The Golden Rule” written below it. Rays of light streamed out from the globe and ended with the symbols of all the world’s thirteen major religions. Next to each symbol was a variation of the Golden Rule taken from each religion’s sacred texts.
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“Ah, the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Isn’t it intriguing, Mr. Morris, that all these religious philosophies have the same basic tenant of goodwill toward all man- kind? A unifying principle, don’t you think? And that leads us to the symbol on the other side, which was inspired from the ancient Hopi symbol of unity. We have adopted and adapted that as the symbol of our worldwide alliance.”
The Unity Symbol
“Look at it closely, Mr. Morris,” he continued. “In the center is an open hand, signifying the universal human gesture of peace and friendship. Surrounding the hand is a circle, which is a sym- bol of never-ending progress and advancement for all peoples. The four dots within the circle represent the four corners and directions of our entire planet. And the rays streaming out from the peaceful center represent the infinite hope we all have in mankind’s essential goodness.
“The Hopi have had this symbol and have believed in what it represents for many centuries. The name Hopi—or our full nameHopitu Shinumu—literally means ‘the peaceful people.’ We Hopi believe that any people who learn to live in peace with each other and in harmony with nature are also truly Hopi people.”
“I have read that the circle is the most universal of all religious symbols representing mankind’s quest to achieve order within diver-
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sity, among other things,” I interrupted, almost spontaneously. “I believe it was the noted Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who referred to the circle as an ‘archetype of wholeness.’”
“Yes, Peter, there is no doubt that the circle epitomizes our quest to achieve order within our diversity and integration within all creation. But I would like to discuss more on that later.”
The professor then brought our attention back to the case and gestured toward his religious art collection. He pointed to a beauti- fully carved Hopi doll and explained, “This is a wonderful represen- tation of one of the many kachinas, or members of the spirit world, that guides all of Hopi life. This one is called a long-haired kachina, and it represents the life-giving rain that the Hopi must have to water our corn and other crops.”
He then turned and gestured out the window toward a huge nearby thunderhead that was streaming shards of heavy rain earthward.
“The long hair you see on the head of this kachina doll rep- resents that rain you see coming out of that massive cloud, and that looks very much like long, dark flowing hair,” Professor Lightfoot continued. “In this arid and barren place we live in, rain is life itself to the Hopi. In fact, in the Hopi tradition, we have many more songs extolling our love for life-giving rain than we have songs about love!
“But I digress, and as I know that your time is quite valuable, Mr. Morris, let us talk about how you would like to proceed with your interview in our coming days together,” he said with an inviting smile. “You never know how many days I might have left.”
“I am the one who needs to apologize for taking up your most valuable time, professor,” I retorted, “as I am sure your work here continues to be most urgent. I propose to ask you a series of ques- tions starting with your upbringing and moving on through your life up to this point, including how this amazing place came to be. Is that acceptable to you?”
“My life is an open book, my friend, as you will soon find out. But before we start—and as we will indeed most likely be friends—I should like to refer to you as Peter, and I would insist that you call me Jonathon. Agreed?”
With Raman now gone, Jonathon continued, “I would now like to personally finish up the tour of our facilities Raman started when you first arrived. But before we do, I would like to point out some of the main features of the complex up here from our compre- hensive vantage point.”
From the window, Jonathon pointed to the south where there were six large Siemens electric turbines slowly rotating in the hot desert wind.
“Those turbines supply up to fifteen megawatts of electric power for this complex, and along with that fifty-acre array of solar panels that you see on the hillside to the west, all our power needs are met. Below the panels you can see a small lake, which is really a water storage reservoir that we use to pump water up to another reservoir that you do not see on top of that elevated peak. When the air is still or it is nighttime, the water from the upper lake flows down through hydroelectric generators to produce power in those off-hours. The cycle then repeats itself almost daily. We are thus self-contained and energy independent.”
On the shore of the lake to the west closest to the Circle was a gleaming resort-like building with dark soaring windows, billowing fountains in the front, and smaller annexed banks of rooms jutting out on both sides.
“That is our retreat center and guest accommodations,” he explained. “That is also where you will be staying while you are here visiting with us. I think you will find it quite pleasant, with all the amenities of a fine resort. Its main purpose, however, is for hosting retreats and seminars for world leaders—along with their ministers and prominent legislators—focusing on alliance principles.”
On the far side of the lake could be seen what appeared to be a bustling pueblo-style village of two- and three-story terra-cotta houses.
“That modern pueblo out there is where all of the eight thou- sand committed employees and their families live who are the life- blood of this endeavor. They are from every continent and country in the world, and they all make a two-year commitment to work
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here in any one of the Circle’s seven departments. We also employ a large number of the local Hopi people who work mostly in sup- port services and at the airport, located just opposite this side of the complex.”
He then pointed to a hillside close to the Circle and said, “You see that small hill? Believe it or not, that hill contains a huge under- ground cavern that has well over a million square feet of computer servers, requiring many megawatts of power running constantly to operate! The cavern is over one hundred feet below ground level and has an intricate, deep subterranean cooling system to keep all those servers cooled efficiently. That is the main reason we need so much continuous power.
“On those servers are contained the encrypted names and iden- tities of all the over four billion citizens that make up the World Free Citizen Alliance. They all come from the nations who are currently members of the Free Nations Alliance. Every member is assured of complete anonymity and total security against those who would wish to compromise them or to do them harm.
“Any World Free Citizen or group can communicate electroni- cally with their country’s representatives and also among themselves, regarding their leader’s performance—or lack thereof—even down to the local level. Thus we have a very efficient and real-time checks and balances that forces any country that agrees to be a part of the Free Nations Alliance to live up to the Manifesto’s standards.”
Seeking clarification, I finally asked, “But how can most or all of those four billion souls be connected to one another digitally when much of the world is still so impoverished?”
“We have now almost completed the total Internet penetration of most of the world by using a vast fleet of solar-powered, perpetu- ally flying drones, in conjunction with a vast satellite array, that beam signals back and forth from areas without electronic infrastructure. We also supply micro solar and battery equipment for the billions of minicomputers we have dispersed to such areas.”
The extensive research I had done before my trip did not do justice to the breadth and expansiveness of this incredible place, I paused and thought. Also, Jonathon reminded me of a proud, doting father showing
off the family’s vast empire and that if this engaging patriarchal soul were my father, I could not have been prouder.
Jonathon then motioned that it was time to move on. Descending back to the lobby, Jonathon ushered us into the main administrative department, greeted some employees, and used an encrypted sensor to open a large paneled door into a circular meeting hall. The first thing I noticed was that there were no seats or desks for participants to sit, only graduated circular floors.
“This is where the 186 representatives of the Free Nations Alliance meet regularly to discuss issues and plan the alliance’s expan- sion. They meet in this hall digitally, along with the ten outside mem- bers of the World Free Citizens Alliance database oversight board.”
Smiling at my puzzled look, Jonathon continued, “We have a circular bank of heliographic projectors that projects each member three-dimensionally onto the various meeting spaces. Each member then has a high-definition three-dimension monitor that shows him- self and all the others present as if they were all right here physically. A real-time, real-life virtual meeting—and with no excuses for being absent!”
From there, Jonathon led us out of the virtual meeting hall and into the open central area of the Circle building. It unfolded into a beautiful semitropical park, lush with every imaginable tree and shrub. Colorful birds and butterflies buzzed and soared above us as we stepped onto a meandering moving walkway. We passed bub- bling streams and peaceful grottos, all being enjoyed by hundreds of employees, obviously on a work break.
“Look up above you, Peter,” Jonathon said, “and tell me what you see.”
Through the trees, I could see a beautiful, clear blue sky with a few white, fluffy clouds. The sunlight seemed more radiant than I had ever seen before.
“I see a radiant sky protecting a very inviting Garden of Eden, professor,” I exclaimed.
“What you can’t see above us, Peter, is a clear plastic insulated dome that covers the entire fifty acres of this park and has special properties to magnify and diffuse whatever sunlight is available. The
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humidity and climate are kept perfect by underground dehumidifi- ers that recycle the water vapor transpiring from all this vegetation back into liquid water. That water is then used for both irrigation and to blend into our drinking water. Yes, Peter, it is a self-contained Garden of Eden.”
We continued to meander through what was referred to as the Circle’s Peace Park until we arrived at what I assumed to be the very center. In stark contrast, there before us was a dull, ugly brick-and- concrete barnlike structure—so very much out of place in this idyllic oasis. The words “Never Again” were inscribed above a dark, fore- boding entrance. Jonathon took my arm and guided us through the opening and onto another moving walkway that took us into what could only be described as hell itself.
The walkway moved us by heart-wrenching exhibits of some of the worst atrocities man has ever unleashed upon his fellow man over the past century. From the Killing Fields of Cambodia; to Nazi con- centration camps; to the Rwandan genocide; and on to depictions of human trafficking, forced starvations, and mass brutalities—we thankfully finally made our way back out of this Dante’s inferno.
The thick silence was finally broken when Jonathon exclaimed as we looked back, “That building was moved, stone by stone, from the ruins of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Everyone who stays here or works here is required to view this exhibit, just to remind us all of what mankind is capable of and why what we do here is so important. As the renowned philosopher Edmund Burke said so profoundly, ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,’ we believe that most men and women on this planet are good people who want the best for themselves and our race—and our job here is to empower them in that quest.”
Still recovering from Jonathon’s powerful lesson, he led us back through the park to the administration building and a pleasant lunch in the commissary. There I slowly regained my composure and energy level.
Now back up in his office and seated again on the rawhide couch, he continued with some more background information about the complex.
“You know, Peter, there are some interesting reasons why this large building is built as a circle,” he said, moving on. “First is prac- ticality. Our weather can be quite harsh, and this design allows for our pleasant atrium to be accessed easily by everyone in the building. Also, the circular design makes it relatively simple to add working spaces to all seven divisions by adding a new layer of offices around the outside of the circle. We have already added another 50 percent in square footage since the original construction. We are also plan- ning on adding another layer in the near future as our needs grow. The inner reflection park is left undisturbed as well.
“There are also some strong spiritual meanings to this circular design as well, such as a circle having no beginning and no end. Call it the circle of life or the timelessness of creation or whatever, but I prefer to look at it as a representation of the unlimited potential of human consciousness. All of us are in this mystery of life together— for better or worse. Everyone here looks at this place as a coming together of over four billion souls, mutually encouraging one another to reach their fullest human potential. As the Buddhists say, ‘My search for freedom and meaning and happiness has everything to do with my commitment to your freedom and your happiness and your meaning.’”
Then Jonathon grew more serious. He leaned forward to look deep into my eyes and continued, “One must understand that the underlying principle in all we do here is the principle of nonviolence.We have just seen downstairs examples of just what violence can do to the human race. The rights of citizens are trampled by violence,whether that violence is in the form of physical harm, corruption, discrimination, or religious persecution. Overcoming violence— overcoming oppression, that is—happens through consensus, trans- parency, and unity, never by violence. One does not fight fire by pouring on more fire.”
After a pregnant pause to emphasize his point, Jonathon contin- ued, “Another important aspect of our World Free Citizens Alliance here is that we are not a political organization in any usual sense of the concept. Politics is left to each participating nation’s preference for political organization—be it a republic, a democracy, or what-
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ever—and to the United Nations. Our country representatives are solely responsible to the Free Nations Alliance and to the protection of its citizens’ rights. No politicians. Why this is so important will become clearer later in our interview.
“Oh, and one last point I would like to make before we close out this long day together,” he said as we were both starting to become quite weary. “You may be wondering why this large complex is located in such a wild and remote part of this planet. I will tell you that the brief answer is both practical and prophetic.
“Practically, as a truly independent international organization, it is important that we are located on land such as this indepen- dent Hopi Indian Nation, which is recognized worldwide as its own nation within the borders of the United States of America. When foreign statesmen visit here, they are technically visiting a neutral country without the embedded prejudices of a superpower.
“Prophetically, there is a centuries-old tradition among the Hopi people—and also among other distant cultures such as the Tibetans—that the apex of lasting world peace, ecological prosperity, and brotherhood will come from this four-corner area of the North American southwest desert. Again, why this is so important will be revealed in depth as things unfold.”
If my experience of the past hours was any indication, I was hopelessly intrigued and overflowing with a million questions beg- ging to be answered. But before I could continue, Jonathon spoke with finality.
“It is now late, and as you have had a long day, my friend, Raman will now take you to your room for a good rest.”
As if on cue, Raman entered the room, and I got up to leave with him.
At the door, I turned to thank Jonathon, but before I could speak, he said, “I have agreed to this in-depth interview with you, Peter, because I have followed your work and know that you are a journalist of integrity. The twists and turns of fate that have led up to this present reality needs to be comprehensively told. And so until tomorrow, my friend, until tomorrow.”