2050: The Year of Promise and Hope
The dystopia prediction of 2040 yields to the power of love and global community
Note from the author: When my story Message in a Bottle from 2040 was published, many of my friends and a few other readers let me know that in this time of coronavirus and political uncertainty, a story so dark and dystopic, while understood, was, bluntly put by one friend, a “downer.” I thought about that and other helpful comments and went back to the keyboard to write this sequel, a story of hope and caring. I do believe we are on an arc of peril in 2020, but that does not mean we cannot bend that arc toward righteousness and humanity if we put our minds, hearts, and shoulders to the task. JM
Dear 2020 America
Like father, like daughter
My name is Lucy, and I am the daughter of the man who sent you a message in a bottle from 2040. His message was filled with the history and images of political malfeasance and ignorance, rebellion, hatred, distrust, international conflict, plots, and cabals that shifted the tectonic plates of humanity in the mid-to late-2020s and persisted for a quarter of a century. Those lost years marked America’s failure to thrive as a free republic.
My father wrote the message as a Cassandra warning should you find his bottle cast back in time. He paid the price for his narrative; the Red State dark forces about which he wrote took him away, and we never saw him again.
Back then, at the nadir of our sorrows, many of us were living in Internment Zones (IZs) in remote parts of what we had once known as America. My family was in an IZ in part of North Dakota that was not far from the Canadian border, though the wall that was built to keep us in prevented any hope of escape.
The Black Curtain
It was known as the Beautiful Northern Wall by the governing powers in the East, but to us it was the Black Curtain separating us from the truths of the madness that had swept the country in the 2020s and ’30s.
To our south, east, and west similar barriers had been erected to enclose us for, “your own good,” in the words of the Dissidents Separation Agency (DSA) IZ authorities.
In part, I must admit that our isolation behind these walls was a good thing. There is no doubt in any of our minds that we were hated and demonized to such an extent by the Red State that we would have become hunted prey for the Red State vigilantes who feared our intellectual curiosity, our love of science and logic, and our appreciation of all the natural gifts that once defined our nation.
Weaponizing fear and hatred
Most of all, I think, they feared our unquenchable desire to help those in need and to love our fellow human beings. Fear of love is a terrible thing when it is weaponized.
And that is what the Red Staters did; they blended fear and hatred and spread the potent mixture with a ferocity that overtook the hearts and minds of even those who previously held no prejudices against us. Any hope that we might find sympathy in a nation turning away from the light of knowledge withered under the onslaught of the new Know Nothings.
Images on the wall of our cave
The only example I can conjure to describe our conditions by 2040 was the one Plato used in Republic, in his allegory of the cave where prisoners in chains faced a blank wall upon which moving, vague shadows from a fire behind them played out weird scenes that became the prisoners’ reality. We here in the IZ knew only what our keepers wanted us to see and imagine…and fear.
What we didn’t know — what we couldn’t know because we had no mechanisms for communicating beyond the Curtain — was that the goodness in the world beyond the shores and barriers of our America (we still call it that here…it is our need for tradition, continuation, and normalcy) had not abandoned us. A universal conscience greater than self-anointed brute force was at work on our behalf, though it would take years to manifest itself.
The message in a bottle to us
Our hope was delivered by a drone. It was small and white, with a bright red maple leaf design on each of its six sides. I was told later that several of these drones were found hovering close to the ground in other parts of our IZ, and in IZs around the country.
We knew we had been watched by drones for years. The Red State used them to monitor our IZ and to identify any activities that suggested large gatherings or meetings — day and night.
Drones and helicopters had been used to supply our small stores and clinics and to broadcast propaganda messages by loudspeakers. We assumed the airspace over our IZ was under the strict control of the Red State.
And why not? In the beginning of the roundups, DSA had employed drones to mark the houses of dissidents and signal our movements to the Internment agency squads.
My father told me it was an armed drone that hovered in our front yard in 2028, telling us to stay in place until the DSA trucks arrived in our neighborhood.
But this new drone was different. The soft whirring of its propellers was comforting and not threatening. As we gathered around, it dropped a small cylindrical shaped package, and with a surprising burst of acceleration, the drone lifted away and flew out of sight toward the north.
The fall of hate and the rise of love
I am my father’s daughter, and just as he took a chance to send his message ten years ago, I chanced reprisal and picked up the cylinder. I unscrewed the cap and withdrew two sheets of paper.
I was sure the DSA drones were being directed to us, curious about our illegal gathering, but our crowded circle did not break, and as I read the two messages, the community watched my tears flow. At last…we were not alone.
You are not forgotten
“Take heart. The world has not forgotten you. A coalition of countries and of peoples who have not, and will not, countenance the shredding of democracy and the burial of free thought have been actively opposing those who illegally and immorally took from you your country and freedom.
It has been a hard-fought battle, and though some violence has been necessary, our combined strategy bends toward the economic rather than militaristic, toward cooperative efforts rather than piecemeal actions.
There are still recalcitrant parties whose refusals to let go of their self-serving interests will do them more harm than good. The world around them is changing and they will feel the sting of that change in short order.
We have reminded them, in the words of the novelist Antoine St. Exupery, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” We are encouraging them to grow large hearts when it comes to the interests of their banished former fellow citizens.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Many of those nations who, in the earlier days of your isolation, sought to seek to align themselves with the outrageously corrupt leaders of your country have come to see the need to deal with the reason and stability of honest brokers of science and peace.
They found the cost of doing business with ill-fashioned oligarchs far too worrisome and expensive.
Those of you who are old enough to remember the inroads China had made so close to American soil may take heart in knowing that they did not last in the Western Hemisphere.
The enemies retreat
The Chinese say they retreated because their supply lines were stretched too thin across the Pacific, and that may be true to a point. But those of us who know history, know the ancient memories of armored conquerors accompanied by pestilence and death were too strong in the hearts and minds of your southern friends.
The Chinese adventurism could not subvert those proud cultures formed in the crucibles of invasion and rebellion.
And as if those elements against them were not enough, a regime change in Beijing, their ouster from Australia, and a massive natural disaster, resulting in the the collapse of the Three Gorges Dam, drew them back to their shores and caused them to tighten their belt.
China’s failure to ride on the backs of America’s illegal government was repeated time and again around the world.
Friends who never forgot
The Quislings of the former American administration who allied themselves with Russia are no more. Their fortunes — political and market shares — fell when Middle Eastern, Saudi, and Emirate powers tired of Russian chaos and closed the taps on the Russian economy and decimated the Russian military.
There is much more for you to learn — most of it good, some sad — but we here in Canada and our allies around the world are looking forward to meeting all of you and helping you rediscover the wonderful America that cannot wait to have you back.
The gates will soon open and the wall between us will fall.
Be of good cheer. Tomorrow’s sun will rise on a better world.”
The message from 2050
There was first a silence, and then a collective sigh following my reading of that first page; I can only describe it as a sigh that comes when a terrible weight has been lifted off one’s shoulders.
I turned my attention to the second page, and read:
“This poem was written by an American who escaped the violence in the early days of the Red State rebellion. He has been living here in Canada for 15 years, working tirelessly to free you, his fellow citizens. He wanted us to be sure you knew you were never forgotten. This is his message to you.”
Of All These
When I count among the stars
The possibilities of other worlds,
And the whos and whys and wherefores
Of planets with two suns and three moons
And when I contemplate the ocean depths
And the songs of the great whales
And the smile of the dolphin
And the pull of the tides
And when I walk across the Blue Ridge
And taste the rain
And smell the good earth
And listen to the murmur of the stream
And when I feel the first breath of spring
And spring swells to summer
And summer melts into fall
And fall crystallizes into winter
And when I see the road ahead is not to be feared
And all in front of me stretches to goodness
And goodness whispers of peace
And peace will be absolute
Of all these, not one would be so dear
If, in all this life,
In all this world,
Love was not here.