Friday, January 1, 2010


And so, a new decade starts.

Still people war with each other.
Still stupidity rules as government.
Still children go hungry.
Still, 1500 children die every hour.

What glorious futures were envisaged by the great science fiction writers? Wonderful transports to alien frontiers, technological delights to clean and entertain us.

Yet every day we come closer to the sort of future offered to us by Harry Harrison in his cautionary tale, 'Make Room, Make Room'.

At the end of the book, as the 21st century is about to dawn, amidst the over population, food shortages, housing shortages and water shortages, a religious zealot called Peter claims the Armageddon.

Andy, the books main character, assures him that the new century has begun and there is no armageddon. He tells Peter to go home.

"Home?" Peter blinked dazedly as the words penetrated. "There is no home, there is no world, for it is the millennium and we shall all be judged. The thousand years are ended and Christ shall return to reign gloriously on Earth."

"Maybe you have the wrong century," Andy said, holding the man by the elbow and guiding him out of the crowd. "It's after midnight, the new century has begun and nothing has changed."

"Nothing changed?" Peter shouted. "It is Armageddon, it must be." Terrified, he pulled his arm from Andy's grip and started away, then turned back when he had only gone a pace.

"It must end," he called in a tortured voice. "Can this world go on for another thousand years, like this? LIKE THIS?"

Then people came between them and he was gone.

We have not yet reached the point depicted in 'Make Room, Make Room'. But we are well on the way. We have learnt few of the lessons that Harry Harrison has tried to teach us.

Perhaps a Messiah will come and rescue the worthy. Perhaps Jesus will stand again amongst us. But what will his words be?

Will he admonish his followers for their differences? For being Christians by a thousand names yet not once linking arms despite their differences?

Will he ask why we, the keepers of the garden but not the owners of it, have raped it, have starved it, have sucked it's very life from it to support our own boundless desire for experiences and materialism?

Will he look at the thirty-five thousand hearts that stop beating every day and ask why we let it be so?

And if Jesus doesn't come - if all those who have faith in this are wrong, what then of the world?

2010. Give or take a tick of the clock, it's here.

"Can this world go on for another thousand years, like this? LIKE THIS?"

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