PROGRESS REPORT EARTH 2012
A short science fiction story which tells you why the Earth probably wont end in 2012.
I bowed low before the Elders.
The conference hall I entered was completely bare, with a shining marble like floor and three seats for the Elders in the far corner. Soft dreamy white curtaining was draped all around the room so I could not see what kind of walls there were. From the subtle fragrance I knew that it had been sprayed with atmospheric ion-concentrates, which controlled the temperature, ambiance and setting. Unseen to me, the Elders were now sitting in a dream paradise location, on grass lawns surrounded by sparkling mountains , with trees and birds and a twinkling stream nearby. Their appetites had been artificially quenched by the most delectable food from distant alternative earths we cannot comprehend, and yet no resources had been wasted. No beings harmed.
They were strikingly beautiful forms but there was an air of immense age about them...perhaps in the icy grey eyes or the very slow, disciplined, deliberate way they moved.
“ You’re back rather early” commented the Great Tuan, nodding to acknowledge my veneration. “ITs only been,what, four days...?”
“There was...an accident” I mumbled in embarrassment. It had hurt like the Dickens being ground to bits under a speeding container on a dusty rural road in a town called Puttlam, in Sri Lanka, on Earth, but following the release through death, of my soul a great weight had been lifted, Id found an incredible freedom I can hardly describe, as if a terrible deadline had been brought forward and cut short. I was practically walking on sunshine. It was simply priceless. And thankfully I could not remember the pain. Much.“There was a.. bovine, involved, a transporter accident. I died.”(well, basically a stray cow had jumped in front of my motorbike and we had smashed into it and hurtled into the path of an oncoming 3- tonne container traveling at almost twice the speed limit. My earth wife was struggling for her life in a dusty town hospital in Puttlam, as I spoke, but I was not allowed to think about her. As soon as I had landed back at the Axis, they had reformatted my EQ-memorybase. The two score Earth years of family involvements, juvenile memories, silly fears, victories, emotional moments, loves, hates and aspirations that had driven me on Earth were now deleted, including the memory of the love I had for the woman I had loved and the child she was carrying. But they could not take away my memory of course, since I was here to report on the situation and they needed all I had.
“The population has increased seven fold since our last visit. Nine tenth of the humans are living in poverty and hunger. The rich ones are stripping that planet like weevils. Female humans are still treated on par with animals in most of the area” I shuddered. Beside the Tuan , the Priestess Erudita sighed like the breeze through leaves, and I saw her beautiful nostrils flare in distaste. “ They have for the most part abandoned any of the first Precepts and now only think of survival and of killing and using any other defenseless human or animal they can, including their own children. Non human beings, the disabled and human children are in terrible danger and are being exploited without any limits for the sheer greed, lust and sheer entertainment of the humans. A few enclaves of Protectors try what they can to save or protect the innocents but they are fighting a losing battle against a new religion that is sweeping this planet.”
“What do you mean new religion? What happened to the First Cluster of religions ?” said Erudita, examining her faultless nails thoroughly.
“ They are highly diluted, and misrepresented by false prophets. The new philosophy is called Consuming or Consumerism. It is based somewhat loosely on, I dunno, lets say Maslows wants . But it goes much further beyond. Much much further”
“ Who is this Maslow? Do you mean the Earth beings want more than just food and clothes and shelter? Is that the problem?”
“Maslow was merely a respected ancient Earth dwelling scholar. He outlined a set of new age wants which he identified in people. He said that people want not just food clothing medicine and shelter...they want love, respect, recognition...job satisfaction...things like that. But this Consuming religion has an outreach system called Marketing which works in such a way as to exert subtle mind control and increase not only these wants but to go way beyond...so people want now to be VENERATED, to be WORSHIPED, to have the BEST material things, like owning airborne transporters and luxury road machines, better than their neighbours, to have two or three very extensive abodes, to be ETERNALLY young and virile, and to be constantly ADORED by MANY of the opposite sex...and to wear fur coats, and stuff” I added somewhat stupidly at the end
“What you mean - all seven billion of them want everything ?” Erudita cocked a quizzical, disbelieving eyebrow as the Tuan shook his head in disgust and extinguished a cigar he was smoking virtually in the Eden setting.
“ Well, mostly. There are a few vegans and conversationalists fighting this trend but the Consuming thing is much much stronger, so these people are mocked at and marginalised as nut cases in popular culture. Unfortely the Marketers are pretty much well in control. There are new communications media called the tele-vision or somethng and another called the Interlink- through this they spread their messages, which seep into the receptive minds of these new humans”
“Messages such as?” said Sixa, the third elder, who had been quiet so far, because he was taking down notes.
“ things like...eat this, drink this ...wear this ...only if you have this will you be happy...and they show visual presentations of very happy humans who have supposedly had all these things ...the sausages, and the ice creams...and the digital screens and the new and umproved mobile tele-communicators...they have large boards on the roads, beautiful females who got beautiful from rubbing these pastes, so they sell the paste... and women want them...its absolutely endless! ”
“ So are people happy when they see these boards?”
“ No they are sad, they feel that their life is worthless unless they can get some of those things. In fact I think they are happy until they see those boards and pictograms...”
“ so why do they look at them if it makes them sad and feel low down?” asked Erudita clearing trying to understand the mentality of the unbelievable human being.
“ they are mostly forced to see these, the boards are everywhere and everytime they read a circular or leaflet, and every time they put on their news machines...in fact even the so called hand-phones are now sending these messages which make you want something. Its out of control”
“does not the administration comprehend that these mind –altering messages are causing damage to the ordinary people, causing dissatisfaction and discord and destroying the Earth as a whole?”
“ I believe their minds are the most damaged, and dissatisfied- those of the people within the administration- they want many road machines, many palaces for one person , many females and stocks of alcohol- and they want the commercial currency to be hoarded in mega collections for themselves...they do the worst of this Consumerism, on a large scale cutting trees, killing whales, felling whole forests at a time, ...they work with support from the Marketers...There is basically no way of stopping them, sire”
“So at least are they happy?” asked Erudita, hopefully.
I had to think about that, hard. They sure didn’t look it, all the bloated dictators, and corporation heads...if you weighed the currencies and powers they possesed against that of the ordinary drunkard they should have been so happy that it went off the happiness scale – but it didnt look that way. They were just constantly shooting each other, fornicating and desperately drinking paste from rhino horns to make themselves more successful with the females... they just didnt look as happy as even George of the Jungle... ..I didnt answer.
Erudita sighed again and looked at her co –councilors
“ Sixa, could you and Najar here please produce this final report by Marsday. We need to have another meeting with the High Elders to decide what to do about Earth. Perhaps we can mark it as a convict planet and send only Sinners of the first three levels there, you know, the universal Lapsors, and the child molesters and such like. ...-They can be sent to those fur farms as racoons-. Uh meanwhile, make a note,I personally feel it is actually useful to retain this planet in the system, it can be allowed to degenerate into what we liked to call Purgatory those days. Please make sure that no one from the soverign platforms is sent there, not even to the developed world, there is too much pollution and cancer. We will meet again when the report is ready. Council adjourned.”
In relief I bowed again and left the room slowly wondering if my poor earth wife was free yet.