Monday, May 12, 2014

Letter to a Future Tyrant

Dear Sir, Madam, or Sentient Computer Overlord,

Congratulations! Though guile, hard work or insidious machinations, you’ve managed to wield undisputed, absolute power.

Most likely you ascended by convincing people of your flawless abilities or maniac vision. You might have used your charisma or physical force to murder thousands or millions of people you marginalized or demonized. Despite how you achieved the position of world dictator, I feel it incumbent to write and warn you of the eventual ramifications of your meddling.

I’m speaking from a framework of the late 20th century to early 21st century, and don’t know what your world looks like or how it operates. I’m assuming if humanity didn’t unleash nuclear hellfire, that there is a functioning society in your time, and that it operates much as ours did; people are born, have childhoods, fall in love, work, have children, get old and die. In my time, we even had moments of reflection called prayer, where we’d thank the great wizard in the sky we called God. Assuming religion isn’t abolished or outlawed in the future, I’d like to think people in your time still gather peacefully and pray.

One problem from my time hinged upon these prayers. People began praying for everything, and to not pray meant you were some sort of secular humanist or subversive. As they did in the past, politicians began summoning God for protection against people who thought differently. People turned against each other, persecuting those who sought reason and understanding through science and logic.

We became too obsessed with material culture, with acquiring things. We cloistered our minds against any new ideas, fearing them like a child fears an imaginary closet monster. People became isolated, partisan politics dominated and strength determined by who had the most guns and money.

In short, we were intellectually bankrupt, and extinguishing the flame of knowledge usually leads to social decay and disorder.

These conditions probably fermented your rise to power.

Despite our technology and over 7,000 years of human civilization, we comfortably descended into a new Dark Ages, one where humanity contentedly pushed buttons while ignoring each other. We stopped dreaming. We failed to look forward. We turned our backs on everything history taught us, on the valuable lessons of our ancestors.

Maybe you capitalized on this weakness to further divide us. Using Machiavellian tactics you crafted a world where you became the savior, the guardian of tomorrow. You became the sky wizard, promising prosperity while shackling everyone in chains.

Here’s the thing about humanity maybe you’ve realized. Humans are hopeful. We naturally desire a better situation, and no matter how bleak things get, we fight to maker things better.

Even though you terrorize a population into submission, your reign won’t last a thousand years. Emperors, kings and dictators throughout history always die, and their crazed, debauched reigns always crash and burn, whether through revolution, war or social change. History does not stand still, and neither do people. Time will eventually wash away your misdeeds and you’ll be regarded as a ridiculous nightmare as Hitler is to us.

There have always been people like you throughout history. Delusional, egotistical sociopaths who claim God is on your side. You view your fellow man as chattel, and through slavery, war or some other goofy excuse, you murdered, raped and sold millions to slake your insane appetite. Empires are always lubricated by the blood of the weak.

Yet even the most powerful leaders are often felled by their own delusions.

You failed to calculate that no matter how repressive your rule, there will always be those who resent you. In trying to bend humanity, you break them.

You become the schoolyard bully.

Everybody hates bullies.

One day, your frightened subjects, who spent years quivering in terror at your very footfalls will cease being afraid.

The tide will turn against you. The flood of resentment will eventually topple you and like every megalomaniac in history, you’ll ask yourself how this could’ve happened.

You’ll be exposed as a sham, a charlatan and a thug. The reality you fashioned out of force and might will implode.

You failed to grasp a few universal truths: Kindness works. Compassion is necessary. Compromise is essential.

Treat people with dignity, no matter their ages or genders, or whether they’re straight, gay, in a wheelchair, overweight or mentally ill. It’s okay if you don’t agree with them, but all people have basic human rights, even if they believe in a sky wizard or not, or even if their skin color is different from yours.

Freedom should be embraced and the marketplace of ideas must flourish. Diversity is not just some politically correct buzzword; it could spell the difference between a content populace and one enslaved.

The United States in my time is a democratic republic slowly transforming into a plutocratic oligarchy. The gulf between rich and poor is growing wider. Corporations and the moneyed classes are gobbling up everything, and sowing an atmosphere of paranoia. We’re teetering on the edge of the abyss, peering at the bottomless pit of your reality.

One need only review history to grasp at how power has been misused and abused over the centuries. Empires rose and fell and at one rare junction, men plotted to seize power for themselves, for the people. This began a brief experiment called the United States of America, which proved too fragile and succumbed to hubris and greed. 

Where does that leave you, oh munificent leader perched upon a throne of human skulls? 

In charge of puppet world, a sycophant's paradise. 

Obey or perish. 

So enjoy what precious little time you have left. Eventually, time will bury you. Worm food rotting in a box. Forever dead. The grave your ultimate reward. Despite all of your rapacious ambitions, your reign will eventually fade, your name forgotten. 

I write you this message from the past not to cajole or torment, but to enlighten and persuade. A man's deeds are how he's remembered, how he forges his legacy. What we do now could shape the world for years to come, even if it's trivial and small, such as a kind word or unselfish gesture. 

Make your legacy matter. Choose love over hatred, courage over fear. See good in yourself and others. It might be too late for the rulers of my age, who are obsessed with superstition and blinded by ignorance. We'd rather drown public discourse by shouting instead of patently listening. As your days unfold torturing and impaling your subjects for not genuflecting when you walk past them or setting people of fire for not bidding you a good morning, heed my words.

Don't be a dick. 

Your several cloned offspring will one day thank you for not unleashing the mutated hounds upon humanity and razing the Neutral Zone all because you were cranky after your nap. 

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