To the editor,
Many fine newspapers have recently lamented over the future of our beautiful planet. We are told that polar bears grow hungry in the Arctic, oceans threaten to drown skyscrapers, and that we—poor, frail humans—must swelter as Earth becomes Furnace. And, even if we wished to forever fuel the vast ovens of our power stations and continue this perpetual warming, we are warned that the coal must run out, the gas will soon be completely burnt, and that the wind and tides and sun can never provide enough energy in their place. As I am not in the habit of swelling panic and as I seek, quite conversely, to alleviate our mutual problems, I propose a modest solution that might lift our world from its present deplorable state.
The same mournful publications inspire this brilliant panacea. They show us the world, and we see. We see the Irish, tumbling over each other in the streets, hauling their green-white-gold cloth upward, occasionally disabled by the saltires of their Anglo-foe. We see crowds in Egypt clutching their striped fabric. In the bottom, the streets are red with blood. Overhead, black riot helmets cruise powerfully through. And at last, white shirts—thick, eagled—pierce a fine clean streak through the middle of it all. We see the stock exchange in Manhattan, its great columns wrapped in a vast woven swathe of honourable stars and stripes, shepherding the blind, dumb followers below. We see the walls of Afghan caves, covered with pure black textile and with Kalashnikovs littering the floor. We see Israelis and their massing foes, bathing in blue stars and pan-Arab blotches as they find no peace. We see the world under flimsy fluttering emblems, and we see it scuttling to fight.
This is my inspiration. At last, we can put these miles of fabric to good use. As our fuel runs dry, the flags of every nation can become the new nourishment for our fires. Reams of cloth will stoke our generators and keep the turbines spinning. Only benefit will come. Our thirst for energy will be quickly quenched and we will see a global surge in productivity. As crowds disperse in the squares of contested capitals, people will finally be free to work, to think, and to live. As mechanics turn their eyes from tanks to tractors, as muscles forget battlegrounds for meadows, and as propagandists turn their pens to art, we will leap forward over the fresh ashes of our past. Even those who fret about the emissions of these great fabric fires will surely have their fears calmed. The night’s sky, lit by the burning dyes, will glow in a multitude of colour and we may all only wonder in silent contentment at that terrific sight.
And what of our desire for a symbol and for a flag? Must we be deprived of our basic human desire to unite and muster around a common cause? The final part of my proposal easily allays this silly naïveté. We will keep one small factory. The cloth, rolling from its looms, will be sent to hang high above the prominent buildings in the prominent capitals of the world. This banner will display the only meaningful symbol: A woman and her smiling genitalia, spewing all the crude beauty that is so common to us all. Against a colourful background, it might look rather nice.
Your most obedient servant,