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The Last Agenda Item  

by Martin Green


     On the planet Spielberg, light years away and light years ahead of the Earth in scientific knowledge, the Emperor (Spielberg had tried a democracy but their two political parties couldn’t agree on anything) was having his year-end review with his Chief Minister.  

“All right,” said the Emperor, “we have the appropriation to augment the star fleet and we’ll look into the minerals available from satellite number nine. Does that take care of everything?” 

     “One small matter, Earth.”

     “Earth? That minor planet? The one with constant wars, genocide, climate destruction, rock music, reality TV? I thought we’d agreed to destroy it last year.”

     “We had, Emperor, but it was their season of peace and good will so you decided to be merciful and give it one more chance.”

     “Well, has anything improved since then?”

     The Chief Minister referred to his notes. “Hmm, I can’t see that anything has. That war in Iraq seems to have ended, but it might flare up at any time. The war in Afghanistan looks to be endless. More countries will be getting nuclear weapons. Thanks to greed, economies are in chaos. No progress on improving the climate, still millions hungry, disease rampant…no, I can’t say that things on Earth have improved “

     “And Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Dennis Rodman---are they still around?”

     “They seem to have faded out, but Donald Trump, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are still in the news. And movies and television are worse than ever.”

     “Then I see no reason to delay any further. Dispatch one of our stealth spaceships and have it obliterate the planet.”

     At this point, there was a commotion at the entrance to the chamber and the Emperor’s young son burst in. “I’m in the middle of a meeting,” said the Emperor.

     “But, Dad, you said you’d play nine-dimensional chess with me hours ago.”

     “As soon as I’ve finished.”

     “I believe we’re done, sir,” said the Chief  Minister..

     “Right. Earth to be obliterated. That will be one less item on next year’s agenda.”

     “What?” asked the Emperor’s son. “The whole planet Earth?”

     “Yes, it’s always been a bother.”

     “But Earth is one of the few planets in the universe with any intelligent life.”

     “Oh, I’d hardly call it ‘intelligent.’ Besides, with more and more of what they call nations getting nuclear weapons, not to mention those terrorists, they’re bound to destroy themselves sooner or later.”   

     “But they do have some good things.”

     “What?”

     “Let me think. I know, they make these great video games. You can’t deny that.”

     “All about violence, fighting and killing.”

     “That’s just it. We’ve been peaceful for so long we’ve forgotten what fighting is all about. Those video games give us a chance to be violent without doing any actual damage”

     “That’s true, sir,” said the First Minister. “We’ve sublimated our more primitive instincts. Those games, crude as they are, give our young people a chance to express them.”

     “And we may need to fight, Dad. What if beings from some other planet invade us?”

     “Not likely. We haven’t found any beings advanced enough so far.”

     “But our scientists are finding new solar systems all the time. Maybe there are some superior life forms out there.”

     “It’s a possibility,” put in the First Minister.

     “Don’t forget that women have also made advances on Earth.” It was the Emperor’s wife, who’d followed her son in.

     The Emperor shook his head. “I can see I’m outnumbered,” he said. “All right. We’ll give Earth an extension, one more year. Then we’ll take the matter up again at the year-end review. Make it the last agenda item.”


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