An open letter to a future generation, Nation of Ute
I wish I could tell you, descendants of mine, exactly what it was that brought us to this point. But if I knew such a thing, I wouldn’t be leaving you this note. You see, if I knew, surely many others would have known as well. And I have enough faith in our species, as you should too, to believe that we possess the ability to prevent disaster if only we can see it unfolding. So I must assume that we didn’t see it coming.
Perhaps that’s too rosy a view of the world. I ask that you grant me this indulgence. You see, I’m writing this letter from a very bleak place indeed. I need to fill myself with all the hope I can summon. Hundreds of feet above me lie some of the most magnificent mountains you’ll ever see — evergreen forests spackled with Aspen trees, whose autumn gold makes the landscape appear like the fur of a calico cat. And when the wind blows, the fragile leaves shimmer like tiny tambourines celebrating the last days of their usefulness. And here I sit, hundreds of feet below it all, so far removed from that thin layer of vibrant life on the surface that worms don’t dare visit.
Every week, I work a series of twelve-hour shifts. My time off is spent reading and sleeping in the dormitories down the hall, and my weekends are spent hiking through the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains in the glorious Nation of Ute. It’s a simple life with a single purpose, and I cherish it.
My job is easy. If the red light on the wall flashes, I press the first button. If it flashes again, I press the second button, and then the third button for the third flash and so on and so forth until all the buttons have been pressed. While I’m curious about what would happen should I press the first button, I possess absolute certainty of the results, were I to press them all.
And that is why I’m writing this communication. I’m asking you, future human, child of my great-great grandchildren’s children, to ponder our progress. Whether you look upon these words as a peace offering from the past, a roadmap for the future, or a silly parable offering nothing more than mild entertainment, I urge you read it through and perceive its absolute sincerity.
The troubles of the Old Country are well documented. But we can’t blame our forefathers for their experimental follies. They were experimenting, after all. I believe the fabric of any society is built on science, politics, economics, sociology and so forth. These are all sciences, really. And like any scientific experiment, there are failures. In fact, good experimentation demands it. And so we failed, brilliantly, and at great cost to many people. With each failure, we progressed and evolved. A new nation rose between the oceans. A nation governed in a way that allowed a unique freedom. And with this freedom, we first expressed ourselves, then governed that expression. We allowed people the freedom to work hard and grow prosperous and then allowed others to cheat without breaking a sweat. After all, it would be unfair to allow one but not the other, right? We held life in the highest regard, above all else, and then we allowed everyone the tools to take it away. What good is life if it’s not constantly in peril? This country grew to understand that true freedom can only exist when good and evil are granted equal audience. Justice, equality and civility were pitted often against piety, tribalism and disrespect.
It wasn’t an ideal society. The ideal society is a myth. Societies are born diseased just as surely as the species that comprise them. Sometimes, the pox is a horrendous rash that visibly consumes the victim, destined to seethe in a festering mess of its own puss. Other times though, it’s a cancer, hidden for long periods of time. And when it finally grows large enough, it causes symptoms. These are subtle at first — body aches, fevers, and malaise — until finally, when the cancer is discovered, its growth outpaces any attempts to stop it. And while it’s true that all societies, like the species they contain, will die, the human being has the unique capacity to extend a single life. So it stands to reason that we have the capacity to extend the life of a society. Civilization building — like medicine — is a science, unfortunately though, without the Hippocratic Oath.
I’ll ask you to forgive me if this note digresses from time to time. The darkness of my gray octagonal room creates the illusion of so much space, my mind feels absolutely untethered. The only definitions before me are the soft halo of light around the page on which I write and the damp and eerie glow of the ghost lamp below the red light. It was installed as a safeguard against hallucinations. I will admit, there were times, before the ghost lamp was installed, that I almost believed I saw the red light illuminate. Thankfully it hadn’t, and I’m ever grateful to my hands that didn’t act upon my eye’s lies. Nobody has seen the red light flash since the war ended. And since the ghost lamp was installed, nobody has hallucinated otherwise.
You must know that it was the Nation of Ute that ended the war. There are sure to be historians that will tell a different story, but I have it on good authority that if we hadn’t committed that horrible act of treasonous patriotism, the United States of America would have torn itself into a vapor. I am aware that most would look upon an act of treasonous patriotism as nothing more than an oxymoron. But I assure you, there was a moment when an act of treason became a profound display of patriotism. And it was, at the same time, a failure, brilliant, and at great cost to many people.
Unfortunately, the cancer in the United States of America was much too far along. A cure would not be found. And our failure would not make the nation stronger. It only served to stop the war and end the Old Country, leaving two new ones in its place, divided in the most untenable way. It left a remainder — the great Nation of Ute, where I now reside — left free from the governing bodies of both America and the United State by the very buttons that lie before me.
This is an excerpt from Divisible, a political novella. The full novella is available in paperback on Amazon as well as all ereader platforms.
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