John Wickerson rose to the cheering ovation of the crowds. With one fine, manicured hand he silenced the masses, with the other he adjusted his sleek, black tie. Upon his smooth, angular face lay a pair of NewTech glasses, calibrated to shield the eyes from maximum glare. As the great man stepped out into the morning sun his freshly tailored smart suit readjusted itself to the heat of the sun, nano-fibres tightening to release the many small pockets of heat-trapping air, cooling and ventilating his body.
The podium was made of sleek, black synthesized oak, the original great trees having went extinct over centuries of woodcutting. A small laser-mic rested upon its smooth surface, transmitting his voice directly into the head-jacks of the populace around the world.
“I am John Wickerson," said the figure, his young voice bright and rich, "the new leader of the Fifty-first state. As I promised then, so do I promise now: Change!”
“Change!” echoed the crowd, fists held high the in air,
“For ten years our country had languished in the pits of tradition, slaving our way through the ecosystem. For ten years we were bound by the environment, blinded by religion, shackled by practice, condemned to remain stagnant forever! For ten years I watched as good men and women, with healthy minds and souls were forced by the boundaries of our once-barbaric society to work, toil and sweat for their lives!”
“We thought things were so for a reason. We believed so firmly in our roots to show us the way. But little did we know that the roots had rotted, the tree was dying, and the fruit - and seeds of our future – were slowly being poisoned by the sickness of ages past.”
A brief cloud passed over the stadium, obscuring the morning sun. Moments later a low hum could be heard echoing over the sky, as the cloud was dispersed into water vapor and air. Nothing would disrupt the perfect, sunny mood of John Wickerson’s speech.
“But then, salvation came! The light of Progress came to our aid! With its caring arms it sheltered the seeds, with its mighty hands it rebuilt the tree, and with its loving heart it opened to way for more Progress to come, that all seeds may grow and not die, without pain, worry or struggle.”
“Progress!” screamed the crowd,
“They brought us technology, showed us the light. Our crippled were healed, our men and women restored. Our industries are automated, that no man be oppressed for the benefit of others. All our previous systems: our failing economies, our flawed beliefs, our outdated practices – were abolished and remade anew! Now we need not worry about finance with the abundance of produce, and no child need waste precious time on painful things like education or work. With Progress all things shall be met!”
Throughout the state men and women cried and screamed in joy, as their mood calibrators pumped dose after dose of serotonin into their minds.
“Once I was but one of the down trodden, a worker in a factory producing cars. But ten years later, I stand here today. With Progress, everything has changed!”
“And so, in the name of Progress I bring to the Fifty-first state the latest development of Progress: the EarthNet! Now all citizens of the Fifty-first state may join the wondrous Dreamscape, where all your imaginations and dreams may soar. No more would we have to toil to see our dreams come through, no more would the poor inventor have to trudge his way through the hurdles of our so-called society, wasting years of precious genius and creativity. Now we can be satisfied! Now we can be Changed!”
And as the cheers of the crowd burst into ovation John Wickerson returned to his seat, and pressed a single button underneath the armrest. For a brief moment the world flickered, as the stadium, the cheering, and the sky went dim. John blinked, taking a moment to re-orientate himself, before removing the head-jack that linked him to the Net. Quickly, he erased all records of his recent imaginings. The Automated political system of Progress did not take kindly to those who dwelled in past victories.
Outside the glass panels of his house what remained of the Stadium slowly crumbled, pulled apart by giant hovering claws and wrecking balls the size of a bus. A single camera floated, a mere fly amongst the rest of the machines, monitoring the Progress of the Stadium. Once more John Wickerson was left with nothing to do.
John simply sighed, throwing his head back on the armchair. The red velvet piece of furniture had been passed in his generation for centuries, one of the last reminders of the old world. He ran his fingers over the armrest, recalling the precious moments he spent with his grandmother in the very same chair. At times like these, the relic gave him comfort.
Outside the weather continued bright and sunny, maintained by the technology of Progress. Forever it would remain that way, until the time for the next Change came once again.
The New Year has come, but have things truely Changed? Which leads to the next question: Should they?