I sit down and write and because it’s the time of COVID-19, I expect to write something profound. I want to have some major insight that will go viral. Did you read that? people will say. For years to come, chunks of my writing will be reprinted on coffee mugs and motivational posters with images of nature or kittens. People will write about what I wrote, how my work saved their lives when they were at a critical moment, in a future time when they were facing a different crisis. My writing will be read at weddings and at funerals, and world leaders will reference my work in their speeches during times of crisis.

The elders of various wisdom traditions will nod gravely as my words are read aloud at their most solemn gatherings.

There will be classes given on my COVID-19 essay in dozens of languages, and there will be scholars who argue over the translations and whether they captured my work’s true meaning. There will be children named for the deep well of emotion that arises upon reading my work. Joy. Compassion. Oneness. And because the world will have changed so dramatically upon the spread of this masterpiece, these children will not be bullied or taunted. Instead, they will become leaders in a new, enlightened society, that speaks to the truth of interdependence and is founded in love.

Humanity will thrive, and people will begin to care for the planet and all its life-forms with a deep understanding of ecology and the divinity of nature. They will discover new ways to live that honor this divinity while providing abundant resources for all.

Banners will fly, in all major cities, bearing my image and a few of my most famous words. There are so many.

There will be a new era of artistic expression, and people will gather worldwide to celebrate the beauty and pain of the human experience. Entire universities will form around the exploration and scrutiny of these art forms, and their alumni will be celebrated in ceremonies given in cavernous halls, broadcast to billions worldwide. For some, these celebrations will be a passing joy, but others will see the opportunity for praise and accolade. They will flock to the universities best known for producing the most celebrated work, leading to competition and aggression.

Wars may be fought over my writing, over differing interpretations that lead groups to value one phrase over another. A sentence to which I gave little thought becomes a nation’s basis for a frenzied stockpiling of weapons of previously unimaginable power. Societies will arise and flourish, each clinging to a different aspect of my profound words before being wiped away by warmongering fundamentalists who wave flags with misinterpreted slogans supposedly drawn from my writing but completely missing its basic truth.

Leaders will capitalize on fear and seize power, outlawing any interpretations of my work that undermines their rule.

The military delirium will grow. The world will be divided into those groups to be feared and those to be conquered. A new epoch of violence will arise, driving the need for more powerful weapons capable of staggering degrees of destruction. A demagogue will emerge, twisting my words to manipulate a powerful nation-state into twitchy fear, until his power is threatened and he launches a first strike against a rival nation-state.

Missiles will be launched.

Nearly everyone will die in the ensuing cataclysm.

The Earth will smolder for thousands of years to come, and the few remaining humans will mutate into fur-covered quadrupeds who survive on roots and insects, trembling in fear of their sharp-clawed predators. Eventually these post-humans will die out, outmaneuvered by other species. The planet will teem with life and flourish for aeons.

Many years later—millions, perhaps—an alien race will land here, having used up their own planet’s resources. They will mine our Earth, its minerals and useful gases, stripping it bare of life until it is a smoking husk of its former glory.

As they ready to abandon our home, the aliens will discover bits of my work, chiseled into stone by ancient warlords. Their advanced technologies will allow them to instantly make sense of these strange symbols, but the found fragments will be missing any relevant context. The words that I wrote during the time of COVID-19 will at first bewilder the aliens, and then lead to debate and study.

The wisest of the creatures will order the destruction of these teachings, demanding they be ejected into the nearest star or supernova. But they will be overruled by the alien masses, who take the ideas in these fragments into their heart-like organs and spread them across the galaxy, planet by planet.

Destruction will ensue. Millions of alien races will perish, until powerful insights derived from bits and pieces of my wisdom allow a previously subjugated species to create weapons of inconceivable power. Faced with aggression, the aliens will unleash these weapons prematurely, and a tiny miscalibration will the laws of physics, and create a supermassive black hole that envelops entire galaxies. As it grows, it will overtake regions of the universe, and eventually, the entire universe itself. Eventually, there will be nothing left but darkness.

All over a Facebook post.


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