A Letter from the 20th Century to the 21st Century Sent by Michael
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 100 03:45:24 -0800
Subject: A Letter from the 20th Century to the 21st Century Sent by Michael
X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649 -=[ Fun_People ]=-
December 31, 1999
A Letter from the 20th Century to the 21st Century
Sent by Michael Moore
Dear Twenty-first Century,
Greetings from the 20th Century! Now, let's get one thing straight from the
beginning: We did the best we could. We played the hand that was dealt to
us, we made our bed then slept in it, and we loved the one we're with. What
else can a century do?
Now it is your turn, to take over from where we left off. All we ask is
that you not judge us too harshly.
It is true that during the 20th Century we created, for the first time ever,
the means to blow up the entire planet. But, look at the bright side -- we
didn't blow it up! Instead, we used the splitting of the atom -- and its
cousin, radiation -- to pop our popcorn, illuminate our wristwatches, and
cleanse our food products. Although we have left you with a few thousand
missiles, armed and ready to launch, we're confident you will figure out
some way to either put them to good use, or dispose of them in their proper
I don't know any nice way to put this -- and I know it doesn't look good on
paper -- but, yes, we did slaughter more of each other in the 20th Century
than in any previous hundred-year period. You have to admit -- that took
some initiative! I mean, to beat out the bubonic plague century was no easy
feat! Even more interesting, unlike past holocausts, much of the carnage in
the 20th Century was initiated not by heathens and barbarians, but by some
of the most intelligent people on the planet. Danke sehr!
But, hey, how 'bout TV! We came up with that! And frozen foods in a box --
we invented that, too. Don't forget jumbo jets -- and jumbo shrimp! In the
20th Century, we figured out how to make ANYTHING jumbo sized! The 20th
Century also replaced the humans who used to help us on the telephone with
a robotic voice that sounds just like, uh... just like, uh... just like a
Did I mention TV? Endless hours of entertainment, complete with built-in
cues so we knew when to laugh, and a jiggly camera so we knew when to feel
"tension." We even got a whole network on TV devoted to showing us
fast-cutting videos set to music so that -- get this -- we actually KNEW
what the performers were thinking when they wrote their songs! This saved
us a lot of time we would have otherwise wasted trying to use our
One thing we are confident of is that you will remember our century as the
Golden Age of Big Business. It's been an era when the businessman has come
into his own -- and he's ended up owning just about everything and
everyone! The early 1900s got off to a great start. If you had enough money,
you could buy up whatever you wanted, obliterate the competition, fix
prices, and smash unions. True, there were a few of what we call "speed
bumps" along the way. Certain radicals started breaking up monopolies, got
laws passed protecting workers' rights, and actually tried to hold companies
liable for their actions.
Well, there's nothing like a great depression and a couple of world wars to
sober the people up and set them straight. A few other distractions, like
a "worldwide communist conspiracy" and Prozac also helped to pacify the
Did I mention television?
By century's end, the captains of industry had supplanted elected
governments as the ultimate power. Competition was eliminated, monopolies
reigned, unions were near-extinct, and the citizens stopped voting. They
stopped voting because they figured out that the two political parties on
the ballot were really the same party (though one of them did seem to have
a nicer face!) The two parties were bought and paid for by the rich, the
top one percent of the population which owned about 90% of the wealth.
So the other 99% of the citizenry decided they had better things to do with
their time than participate in a farce. Farce, a huge hit in the 1800s,
never played well in the 20th Century.
You will probably wonder why, then, we kept calling our nations
"democracies." This is a legitimate question. One that I wish you would
not ask. Unfortunately, we invented videotape in our century, which means
we have left behind many visual images of our citizens running around all
slaphappy saying ridiculously silly things like, "We are free! Free! Free!
Free, I say! We live in a DEMOCRACY!" Please explain to future generations
when they view these tapes that we meant well and we had to come up with
something to justify paying our taxes and sending our sons off to die for
what was never going to be theirs. People in your next century will ask,
incredulously, "What delusional drug were these people on? Not a single one
of their `representatives' represented THEM, for crying out loud! If the
richest one percent had both parties and all the politicians, how in the
hell did everyone else think they were living in a democracy?" Ask them,
please, to go gentle on us -- we know we've made an embarrassing spectacle
of ourselves -- and to resist, as best they can, laughing at us in the same
way we laughed at the last century for using bloodsucking leeches to cure
The United States of the 20th Century seemed like an odd duck in many ways,
even though we were the self-declared Leader of the World. With more wealth
and resources than anywhere on earth, we let 40 million of our people live
in poverty -- with 10 million of them suffering from some form of hunger.
About 45 million of our people had no means to health care. No other
industrialized country treated their people in this manner. There was a
higher literacy rate in Cuba than in the USA, more children were immunized
in Jamaica and Kenya than in the USA, kids were better in math in Jordan
than in the USA ... well, after a while, you'd think someone would have
asked the Americans, "Just what in God's name makes you people #1?"
I'll tell you what our secret was. French fries. NOBODY made 'em like we
did. Even if you went into an American-owned establishment like a McDonald's
in Paris or Munich, they STILL didn't taste like they tasted here in the
USA! Mmmm. Just writing about it makes me want to "Biggie Size It" right
now! Personally, I think it was the lard -- we just didn't have any
kerpunctions about slapping in as large a chunk as we could fit in the
fryer. Sure, we may have ended up a bit "larger" than other humans around
the world, (we ended up nearly 30% bigger than we were in 1900), but do you
want the Earth's Only Remaining Superpower to look all weak and scrawny?
And consider how we adapted to our new size -- our American ingenuity led
us to build huge automobiles called "S.U.V.s," our movie theaters now have
"stadium seating," and nobody shops for a small size in the men's section
at Wal-Mart. No wonder foreigners and terrorists were so jealous of us!
The other thing that kept America ruling the world for the latter half of
the century was our arsenal of weapons -- and I mean the ones in our
bedrooms! Two hundred million adults with 240 million registered guns! And
just to show everyone how proficient we became with these firearms, we
killed 35,000 of EACH OTHER, every single year, with our OWN guns, proving
to the world that we will shoot at anything coming our way. You have to
admit, that's quite a sacrifice just to show how brave and determined we
are. Or let me put it another way -- you want to kill a Beatle in America?
No problem! Easy as saying, "I'll take that Magnum in the window!" You want
to kill a Beatle in Britain? BIG problem -- they don't let their citizens,
even the deranged ones, own a handgun! Not even for sport! So, if you want
to off someone in merry ol' England, you have to use a damn kitchen knife.
No wonder they lost their friggin' empire!
So as we enter the new century and the new millennium, let us give ourselves
a pat on the back (even though the new century and the new millennium don't
actually begin for another year -- but who gives a rat's ass! If WE say it's
the new millennium, IT IS, and if WE say the water is safe to drink, IT IS,
and if we say Bob Hope was funny, well, dammit, we're Number One, so we can
say whatever we very well please! Sure half the world still doesn't have
safe drinking water, but are you people in the 21st Century going to look
at the glass as half-empty or half-full, 'cause I'm a half-full kind of guy
myself, and my glass of water came right out of a plastic bottle from France
and it looks pretty darn clean to me!).
Yes, you, the people of the 21st Century, can send a man, or woman, to Mars,
thanks to us and a number of our missing NASA landers. You can find the cure
for cancer, thanks to us giving you so many reasons to. And you can figure
out how to make these damn cell phones keep a signal for more than 30
seconds. Of course, that will cut into the phone companies' profits
(they've made billions off the most overheard line of the late 1900s:
"Hello?... Hello?... Hello?... Can you hear me?... Hello?... Oh, there you
are! Uh... Hello?... Hello?... Dammit, I lost him!").
Profit was the reason to get out of bed in the 20th Century. Success was
measured by how much cash we made. By the end of our century, the biggest
financial rewards went to the people who sat around all day playing with
their money, moving it around in one big guessing game. If you were a good
guesser, you made more money. Gone were the days when you made your money
from your hard work, your ingenuity, or that new invention you created. You
were no longer rewarded for discovering cures or solar systems nor were you
recognized for your generosity. A person's worth was determined by how they
did with their mutual funds as opposed to how they did with their kids. A
candidate was guaranteed a public office if he had raised the most money,
as opposed to winning that office by raising the REAL issues and gaining
the public's trust. A movie was no longer judged on its artistic merit or
its ability to entertain, challenge, or lift the human spirit -- all that
mattered was who was #1 at the box office.
I know I keep mentioning that term "Number One." It seems to have been an
obsession of ours. Maybe you can correct that in the next 100 years. Like,
how about giving some credit to the SECOND and THIRD richest men in the
world? Whoever hears about them? All we heard about was Bill Gates, Bill
Gates, Bill Gates and how his wealth "was more than the combined assets of
the poorest 100 million Americans!" Now, if we would have just paid more
attention to the 2nd and 3rd richest men, we'd know that their combined
wealth with Mr. Gates was more than the combined gross domestic product of
the bottom 146 countries! How's that for some numbers? Try to top those in
the Twenty-first Century!
Maybe you will.
Here's to the next 100 Years -- may you take what we have given you.
And forget most of it. Except the french fries and Ghandi and Dr. King.
December 31, 1999, 11:00pm EST
At the 45th Paralell, exactly half-way between
the Equator and the North Pole
(You may forward this to other inhabitants of the 21st Century)
© 2000 Peter Langston