Earth Day 2050, a fantasy

Reprinted from April 23, 2012

The following story was created after I asked my 12 year old son what he would say to “Our Leader™’s” children if he met them in the future. His response is the quote written in bold at the end of the story. The children of today are wiser than the children of light.

*****

William had just passed his fiftieth birthday. He had spent most of his adult life known as The Speaker for the Dead, the one who went into the razed and grieving communities and cleansed their guilt by telling the truth of their loves and losses, their sins and graces, and their pain was eased.  Twenty years ago, after the collapse of the inland fisheries, he had moved north of Superior, found a spring fed lake in a tiny remote valley and built his cabin. He became known as the Guardian of the Spring. To those who came with respect he shared the water freely.  They were allowed to quench their thirst, and happily carried their water jugs, filled to the brim, back to their shelters.

The world had changed a great deal in his fifty years. Agriculture in the Great Plains had been devastated by decades of drought, the coastlines of the east and west and north Maritimes had been buried under rising seas, and the Great Quake of 2033 had destroyed the oil pipelines to the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Ontario had been annexed by New York, and Quebec had long ago separated to preserve a just society. After the Wild Western Separation, Alberta and British Columbia had disintegrated into warring fiefdoms, and only Newfoundland seemed to prosper, as an ice-free Arctic encouraged the surviving European trawlers to its ports.

With the death of the oil economy, North America had descended into chaos and anarchy and the remnants of the central governments disappeared. But north of Superior, climate change had extended the growing season and the winds of change had been kind. A few small settlements prospered here, and one was in William’s valley.

As Guardian of the Spring, it was William’s responsibility and honour to share the water freely with those who walked the Earth lightly.  But more often than not Marauders appeared who had heard of the pure waters and verdant forests. The Marauders had respect for nothing and their cruelty was renowned. Then it was William’s responsibility and honour to rid the valley of their presence. William’s reputation spread, and the Marauders stopped coming to his valley.  There was easier prey elsewhere.

Then there were they others who came from time to time. They were called The Shunned, the children of the politicians who had sacrificed the temple of the Earth to the money lenders. They were adults now, cursed to walk the Earth begging forgiveness for the evil that their parents had visited upon the water planet and all its living things.

It was the supreme irony that on April 22, 2050, Benjamin and Rachel came stumbling out of the mist and down the forest paths of William’s valley.  He watched them through his spotting scope and recognized them immediately.  They were the lowest of The Shunned, the children of the Great Destroyer, the one whose ignorance and greed had sacrificed the greatest country on Earth.

As they passed each shelter, the people turned their backs.  The Shunned were cold and hungry and thirsty, but not a single person offered them the slightest comfort. They approached William’s cabin cautiously; the Speaker for the Dead, the Guardian of the Spring had become a mythical hero, the one who spoke truth to power, and they feared him.  They stopped at the front porch of the cabin and waited. Only the Guardian could release them from this curse.

William opened the door slowly and stepped out into the early morning light. Benjamin and Rachel held out their open palms in supplication and were about to speak, when William raised his arm for silence.  He took a deep breath, remembered the sacrifices his mother and father had made to heal the Earth, and spoke the words he had been waiting fifty years to say,

Children of my enemy, why have you come? 

I offer no forgiveness for your father’s sins.

William turned his back, the morning sun warm on his shoulders. Benjamin and Rachel felt nothing but the cold winds of retribution.

And so, The Shunned left the Valley of the Guardian and wandered the scorched Earth, homeless and condemned, until the end of their days. So let it be written; so let it be done.

*****

“I will punish the children for the sins of the father to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 20:5

“For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7, 8

“What goes around, comes around.” Justin Timberlake

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

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