Ticking Time Bombs

If there are only minutes to midnight why worry about what happens after?

Photo: keith ellwood

I have a question:

Let’s say you’re a guy in your late 60s/early 70s who is in a position of power in politics or industry whose interests do not align with those of the planet or its people. You lived through the Civil Rights era. You know how the verdict of history played out. You’re fully aware of the opprobrium and scorn that has attached itself to the names of those who stood in front of the schoolhouse door. You’re not stupid, you know that you can only suppress the vote and rig the system for so long. You see these millennials with their belief in fairness and equality, and the kids who come after them are even worse. Eventually — and not too far into the future, either — the people in your cohort who are propping up the old order will die, and when that happens you go right into the books alongside the George Wallaces and the Orval Faubuses and the Hendrik Verwoerds or, even worse, the 20th century’s most reviled mass murderers. You are one of humanity’s monsters.

But what if it didn’t matter? What if the planet went through some kind of catastrophe where there was no history left to write? What if the damage you did was so irreversible that the ability to place blame — or even the technology with which to record it — was no longer within the scope of our abilities? Why, you could spend your final years doing all the terrible things you’d always wanted to do safe in the knowledge that there would be no one left to condemn you for it. You could accumulate enough wealth and property that your descendants might even survive safely for a couple of years after your passing, or at least exit with you in high style. What would stop you from being as evil as you’ve always wanted to be — as the rapacious and inescapable logic of capitalism demands that you be — and then pulling the plug on everything on your way out the door?

I mean, this is a thought that probably needs to be developed further, but it is something I am rolling around in my mind right now for some reason.