01Jun 2016

The Letter

Posted in Short Stories

     "Ladies and gentlemen: The President of The United States."
     The President stepped up to the podium and looked out over a sea of reporters
from every country on earth. His message would be broadcast via radio and
television around the world. While the content of the President's speech had not
been leaked, its importance had. Reporters with contacts in very high places had
heard comments like “You won't believe it,” “I don't understand it,” “It's not
possible,” “It shouldn’t be made public.”
     The President raised his hands in a motion that asked for silence.
     He began, "Ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to bring you a message of
crucial importance to the future of our civilization. But first, a few facts. As you
are all aware, a few years ago we launched a series of NEATs – Near Earth
Asteroids Telescopes.”
     “Oh, my God!” was the horrified reaction from the crowd.
     The President held up his hands:
     "No, we have not discovered any life threatening asteroids on a collision course
with earth." He paused, and hesitated slightly as if his next sentence was not part of
his prepared text. “What we have discovered is a warning of a danger greater than
almost any asteroid could threaten. Let me continue. Two years ago we discovered
what was first thought to be a very small asteroid. Further investigation determined
that it was, in fact, an artificial satellite. We checked all records and databases around
the world in an effort to determine its origin. We found no such record. Exhaustive
efforts turned up nothing. Either the record of its launch had been lost, or the satellite
was of alien origin.
     “Six months ago I authorized a mission to retrieve the satellite.
     “For the past three months we have been studying its contents. We have
discovered, ladies and gentlemen, that this satellite was launched almost one million
years ago. We know its launch date and its exact place of origin. We know that the
civilization that launched it was a little more advanced, technologically speaking, than
our own. But there is little to be learned from this satellite in the way of technological
advancements. The elements used in its construction are the same. There are a few
alloys that appear to be stronger and lighter than what we currently produce, but
nothing beyond our capability.
     “The crucial importance of this satellite is in a letter and a map placed inside the
satellite. The letter is in another language, but its author, anticipating that its reader
would not speak his language, provided a legend for easy translation. The letter has
been translated into twenty-nine different languages and will now be broadcast
simultaneously around the world. On the large screen behind me, you will see its
English translation appear as I read it aloud for our radio audience."
     The letter rose from the bottom of the giant screen as the President read:
     "Greetings from another civilization:
     “Since you have recovered this deep space probe, you are obviously an advanced
technological society. You must have discovered certain principles – principles that
any rational being, anywhere in the universe, must discover in order to become a
technological society. You must have discovered that reality is an absolute, that it
exists, that it exists without contradiction, and that it exists independent of the mind.
You must have discovered that the survival of a rational being depends on the non-
contradictory identification of the facts of reality – that survival depends on reason!
You must have had an age of reason, and enlightenment. And you discovered
how to reshape your world for your own comfort and pleasure – you had an
Industrial Revolution!
     “My world too made these discoveries and rose to these achievements. But
my world is doomed.
     “In my world there are no principles. The first principle we abandoned was the
concept of an objective reality – that reality exists independent of the mind. We
are taught that reality is subjective – no, very subjective – that it’s a product of our
imagination, and everyone's contradictory view of reality is just as valid as any
other – forgetting the fact that imagination requires a thing to imagine. We ignore
reality – and reality will wipe us out. We have abandoned reason. Reason is the
non-contradictory identification of the facts of reality. But since we have abandoned
the concept of an objective reality, reason is not possible. Without reason,
understanding, purpose, or any meaning in their lives, the vast majority of our
species has turned to faith – a belief, without a single fact of reality to support it.
Well, God help us! There is, now, an open attack on the Industrial Revolution:
we are taught that we must consume less – not that we should create more; we are
taught that our ancestral savages had an idyllic life; we are taught that every life form
on our planet has a right to exist – except our own.
     “Our culture is doomed to return to savagery, where reality is feared instead of
understood – because we have given up our means of understanding – reason. I'm
not sure I fully understand the reason for being unreasonable. Perhaps, it's that no
one with enough influence has risen to say – ‘You can't get away with it!'
“I am the chief engineer of this deep space probe and, as such, have had little
influence on the direction of my culture. Perhaps, if this letter is made known, I will
have some influence on yours."
     As the last piece of text rose from the bottom of the screen, one could see what
appeared to be the beginnings of a map.
"Ladies and gentlemen," the President said, "as I have said, we know this
satellite's launch date and its exact place of origin. This satellite takes two hundred
and forty-seven years to orbit our sun and, according to the orbital counter on
board, has made four thousand and nine orbits. And, as you can now see on the
map behind me, was launched from the east coast of Africa.”

            All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.


Mark Joseph I am a leftist but thanks to capitalism I have sponsored long winded prose showing up on my newsfeed. Thanks to this post I am now a neoliberal ancap right winger and love the free market
Capitalism For Canada On a free market, do you think I can buy a sarcasm detector?
Spencer Mathews Such politically charged bullshit. Would be good otherwise.
Dolph Springer It's not "politically charged bullshit", it's a social commentary piece, prose with a relevant message and lesson to be learned.
Gina Diamond This would be an awesome book or movie, I swear!
Calder Knowles This is really good. Makes a person think.
James Fenn Message in a bottle.
Steve Miller Epic
Greg Johnson Beautifully imagined story.
Louise Lamontagne Definitely an Objectivist? Cheers!
Capitalism For Canada Yes, I’m definitely an Objectivist.  Cheers!

Add comment

Sending comment. Wait please...