Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose values do you want in the White House when that crisis lands like a thud on the Oval Office desk? - Rahm Emanuel
Politics is in a crisis because it's separated from our deep humanity. - Marianne Williamson
A man has no more character than he can command in a time of crisis. - Ralph W. Sockman
The #1206 “fiction” series continues ….
In our near future ….
For the first time in the modern era, the residents of the planet Earth stood unified in silence as the message before them either frightened or stunned them. Across television screens, laptops, tablets and smart phones, the same message scrolled in the native language of the viewer.
The message read:
Greetings to the people of Earth. We have travelled a great distance over time and space seeking the best leaders of your planet. You have 24 hours to identify those of your species that best exemplify the leadership qualities we desire for an important mission elsewhere. Your planet will be rewarded handsomely for complying with our request.
6 hours later …..
In an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, the permanent and temporary members argued vehemently over who should represent the Earth on this historic occasion. The US ambassador argued that as the most powerful nation on Earth, the US should represent the planet. Other nations argued that as older nations, their cultures better represented the Earth in general. At the same time, bureaucrats in the bowels of UN Headquarters argued over the nature of the reward being promised.
Meanwhile, the leaders of NATO met in an undisclosed location in Belgium to review their military retaliatory options should the discussions with the visitors not turn out as expected. The participants also excitedly discussed the possibility of the reward being some type of military weapon that would provide them with military superiority.
The citizens of Earth waited in expectation of what their leaders would decide.
The visitors waited patiently.
12 hours later ….
The President of the United States stared bleary-eyed at the briefing notes in front of him. The UN was paralyzed and seemed unable to produce any form of selection criteria that could be used to offer the visitors the leaders that best represented the Earth. In addition, NATO representatives had expressed concern that Russia and China were both signalling potentially aggressive behavior and had armed some of their respective space-based arsenals. On the advice of his Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President agreed to move to DEF CON 2 to protect the US against any aggressive acts by other nations.
Meanwhile in Russia and China, Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping were informed that US military ready status had escalated and they notified their respective military leaders to take similar action in response.
The citizens of Earth waited nervously as their leaders had still not expressed their intentions.
The visitors waited patiently.
18 hours later ….
The UN Security Council meeting had ended in frustration with no solution in sight. Embassies around the world buzzed with activity as nations accused each other of unfairly manipulating dialog or using the threat of military action to exert influence over the selection of the leaders as requested by the visitors.
The “red phone” was silent as Presidents Obama and Putin had exchanged sharp opinions an hour earlier as to why each of their respective nations deserved the right to represent the Earth. President Obama had cut off dialog in frustration but not before warning President Putin that any aggressive act on the part of Russia would be met in kind by the United States.
The citizens of Earth feared what their leaders appeared to be contemplating.
The visitors waited patiently.
24 hours later ….
Military systems around the world began activating, target acquisition systems verified targets and the great military machines of the planet Earth became fully aware that their purpose was about to be realized.
Suddenly, with as little warning as when the visitors arrived, televisions, laptops, tablets and smart phones around the world came to life and a message from the visitors began to scroll across the devices in the native language of the viewer.
The message read:
We have selected the people whom we believe best exemplify strong leadership characteristics within your species. Here are the leaders that we have selected and taken aboard our craft.
What followed included descriptions of a teacher in Arkansas who went above and beyond to help underprivileged students, a six year old girl in Australia who raised funds to help a fellow student pay for cancer treatment, a young man in China who leapt into an icy cold river in his hometown to save a drowning woman and a wealthy businessman who turned all of his wealth over to a research company closing in on a cure for cancer.
The list of names was long and represented the best in humanity. It included people who sacrificed themselves for others, those who put themselves at risk for others, those whose love for the downtrodden was so strong that they dedicated their Life to lifting others, those who led by example (not by abuse of wealth or power) and those who spent their Lives inspiring others to raise themselves to their ultimate potential.
The list glaringly omitted what appeared to humans to be the obvious leadership candidates - those who comprised the wealthy, the powerful and the elite in government, business and religion.
The message concluded with a thank you and a reminder that the people of Earth would soon receive their promised reward.
As the visitor ship began to pull away from the Earth and return to its own time in the Earth’s future, two occupants of the spacecraft observed the receding blue planet on a large monitor.
“The people of Earth have indeed produced some incredible leadership candidates”, observed the first occupant, the commander of the vessel.
“Very true”, replied his companion. “We must prepare to deliver the reward that we promised. They have earned it.”
“I agree”, nodded the Commander. Tapping a small communication device on his collar, he informed the responding crew member to deliver the reward to the people of Earth.
“I’m not sure that’s possible”, replied the crew member. “As I observe the time dimension that we are leaving, there appears to be some type of military conflagration developing on the planet. It appears that some form of primitive nuclear weapon exchange has begun between the nations of the planet.”
“How unfortunate”, replied the Commander. “The reward of unlimited, unconditional peace amongst all creatures as we have shared with millions of planets was within their grasp. They were so close to learning that true power originates not from the wealthy and powerful but from within the power of the heart and Spirit of the individual. Unfortunate indeed that they have missed such a great learning opportunity.”
“Do you think their demise is our fault? Maybe the nature of our request and our reward created the problem that we are now witnessing”, asked his colleague.
“No”, replied the Commander. “We didn’t alter their behavior. Our presence merely revealed its potential – good and bad.”
His colleague nodded in silence as they observed the final gasps of Life on the planet Earth evaporate for eternity.
Back to the present ....
"Mr. President", came a voice on the phone, "There is a call from a Doctor Jerry Ehman on line 2 for you. He says it's urgent."
"Thank you, Janice", replied the President.
Picking up the phone, he spoke quietly. "Good afternoon, Dr. Ehman. How may I help you today?", he asked.
"Mr. President", came a quiet voice on the other end of the phone. "I believe we have a problem."
“Do you know what’s worth fighting for?
When it’s not worth dying for? – 21 Guns (Green Day)
To be continued.
© 2014 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved
The red phone, which provides secure communication between Washington and Moscow is in fact not a phone but a secure email exchange system between the leaders of the US and Russia.
Dr. Jerry Ehman is an American radio astronomer who discovered the Wow! signal in 1977, the first radio signal purported to originate from extraterrestrial sources.
I am intrigued by four themes or questions here:
- Be careful what you fight for and therefore choose your fights carefully.
- Not all gifts are beneficial.
- Who are the real leaders here on Earth?
- How do you know?
This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks.
While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)
This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.