Oh God, We Can’t Stop

Illustrated by CSO '15
Illustrated by CSO ’15

What luck. After 25 years of fruitless research, I tentatively present that my team may have finally found another long-lost piece of history’s puzzle. From this day forward, our understanding of twenty-first century life will never be the same.

The anthropological community has long assumed that humans in the twenty-first century lived a life dictated by media. For the last hundred years of archaeology, the cornerstone of twenty-first century human life has been a single musical composition. Indeed, the consistency of our findings has been nothing short of remarkable, and just four years ago, the Academy finally recognized the piece that begins “It’s our party we can do what we want,” as the most important manmade creation of the early 21st century, crucial to our understanding of how we lived so many years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of transmissions, however faint, of the composition have been found in every corner of the Earth that is known to have been a human habitat in the early twenty-first century. The remarkable ubiquity of the piece has led the phenomenon referred to as the Red Cups Constant, our “RCC,” to be considered our most important anthropological finding to date.

It is my great pleasure to announce that, after several years of excavation, my team and I have discovered what we believe to be the only other set of extant artifacts from the twenty-first century: a diary we found excavating deep-sea in the body once known as the “Indian Ocean,” from the 20th century island nation known as The Maldives. From geological evidence gathered in the last few decades, many have concluded that the nation ceased to exist in the early part of the twenty-first century, as one of several areas to succumb to the rapid rising of sea levels during the period. Using the RCC as a lens, we have been able to parse these cryptic documents, and we even think now that we may unearthed startling insights about that most prolific twenty-first century musical masterwork.

The first page, dated March 12, 2038, begins, “If you are reading this, it is likely that I’m already dead.” The author identifies himself as Jahm, a resident of the “Kholumadulu Atoll” of the Maldive Islands. The author appears to be under a certain amount of duress, writing that “the Maldives have begun to recede into the waters of the oceans that birthed them.”  He goes on to describe how the island nation’s salvation rested in the hands of the reigning powers of the early twenty-first century, the state’s existence relying on reductions in carbon emissions. Before long, however, it was too late. Those powerful nations that warmed the earth did not necessarily bear the brunt of the consequences, and, having very little incentive to change their behavior, forgot them in time. “This is our house. These are our rules.”

Indeed, it is this author’s belief—and this has been no small source of contention within our team– that the words, “It’s our party, we can do what we want” may in fact be an insight into the balance of political power in the early twenty-first century. That is but one of many things that I hope to discuss when we make the entirety of our findings open to the public, and I can hardly express how excited I am. Finding anything would be intensely gratifying for any researcher, but a finding of this magnitude is truly overwhelming. I’ve never felt such an intense joy, and honestly, never such a relief. These artifacts may be my life’s work, and I can’t wait to present my results in full at the World Anthropological Conference at the end of this year. However, that is some ways away, and I know you want more. Very well. I leave you, reader, with this final entry to Jahm’s diary, reproduced verbatim. 

As the island home my family has owned for centuries sinks into the waves, I cannot bring myself to abandon it. Why should I? To spend the rest of my days raising doomed children in the arid wasteland of a world we have inherited? Even with so much at stake, we will never be able to conquer our destinies, to change our course before the smog and soot blackens the air and we are trapped in an endless night. We’ll never see the sunlight, alright? My loving wife, if you are reading this, I am more sorry than you could imagine. Remember, only God can judge ya. Forget the haters, ‘cause somebody loves ya. I love you, but I will die with the home that I love, the only thing my family has ever had. There is no future in this world for me, and my last hope is that this diary reaches you. As I sink into the sea, I am comforted with the knowledge that mankind will likely never change. This is the way it’s meant to be, and we can’t stop. And we won’t stop.”

– AKJ ’15

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