I’m a wart on the face of the planet. That is the kindest thing my critics have to say of me.
When I die, I hope they’ll put that on my tombstone.
In every direction, in every land, peace reigns. Not just peace between nations. Indeed, there are no nations – just cultural theme parks displaying the proud pasts of empty people. They do not see it, but their pasts have been sucked dry by the absence of their independence. Pride is not always peaceful.
But in every land, there is peace. Earth has realized utopia. Wealth is distributed evenly, the environment is worshipped, and poverty is widespread. A traveler can look at the faces of those with 50-year life spans – and see that they are truly happy. Their world is self-contained. There are few choices and no real risks. Like children, our kind are happy.
Of course, it has been long time since I’ve seen such faces. I am a wart on their world, and they would devour me if I were to allow them to.
In my land, some are rich and some are poor. Some are powerful and some are weak. And the dynamic constantly shifts. But I am a rare breed. I have both power and wealth. The wealth begat the opportunity for power. And when power was given, the defense of our independence lead to greater power. And with the power of taxation – light, but taxation nonetheless – has come far greater wealth.
Our cities rises high above our island home. The island itself has expanded outward with our physical development. Our economy is driven by undersea resources and the ingenuity of man. Our lands draw the brightest and most ambitious the earth has to offer. Our people are strong and proud.
And even they think I’m crazy.
Three years after the battle of St. Helena, a battle which secured my place in this world, I began a new project. Not a war, an exploration.
I sought to reopen the door to space.
We have satellites up there, of course. But I wanted people to go.
And so, at tremendous expense, our little island nation has devoted huge resources to pursuing my goal. To go beyond the limits of our earth.
Internationally, the papers universally rail at my wastefulness. ‘What,’ they ask, ‘could possibly justify the expense.’ They want our little nation to spend the money on feeding their poor and supporting their faltering economies. But our money can not fix them.
On the island, the criticisms are similar. I am squandering funds. I am sucking the marrow from the world’s only effective economy.
But I have power over men and none over the stars. When I look at the night sky, when I see those stars, they pull me. I can not resist them. And so I spend. And in laboratories and test centers and launching pads, I develop a manned spacecraft.
Everyone says resources are being wasted. The nations of the world launched another war to stop me from stealing the earth’s resources. But the armies are backward, their soldiers lack courage and their commanders have forgotten how to think.
And so I continue to build.
And then, finally, after fifteen years, I am ready.
I know, on the day of the launch, that I am alone.
I am a condemned man.
With each count, “10, 9, 8…” I can hear protesters worldwide cursing my name for the wasted fuel. When they reach “Blast Off” I am thrust back in my seat. I feel myself leaving the constraints of an earth who people have constrained themselves. And then, finally, I am in orbit.
I am to circle the Earth for fifteen minutes. And then I am to return.
As I enter orbit, I pull my notes from my console. I’ve prepared words – words of poetry to share what I am feeling. Words of beauty reflecting what I see. Words of insult thumbing my nose at those who hate me. I’ve seen the pictures and I know what I will say.
I turn on my radio. But then I look out of my window. I look down at the earth. And what I see overwhelms me.
My words escape me.
And then I realize that in fifteen minutes, I will return to a world that hates me. 15 minutes is not nearly time enough.
I look down at the surface of the earth. I look up to the stars. And I make my decision.
I disengage my reentry systems.
And then, through the crackle of my radio, I pass on the only words I can.
“It is beautiful here, I think I’ll stay.”
I imagine they’ll celebrate my death. And then eventually – perhaps – they’ll realize the beauty of what I’ve done.
I am a wart upon the world. But it won’t go on my tombstone.
I don’t intend to have one.