Back to the Future

By Molly Kelly

Editor’s note. We’ve been running stories from National Right to Life News all year as part of our “Roe at 40 series.” This, from the December 1999 edition, is one of my all-time favorites. If you are not a subscriber to the “pro-life newspaper of record,” please call us at 202-626-8828.

[The scene is a home in Middle America. A woman enters, picks up her telecommunicator, and a moment later a face appears on the monitor. She smiles.]

“Hello, Margaret? This is Beth.

“I know it’s the last day of the last month of the last year of the Millennium but, what hype! Sure, this won’t happen again for another 1,000 years but for heaven’s sake, it’s not like it’s the end of the world! Sure, the year 3000 is huge but it’s not like it’s the first ever turn-of-the-millennium.

“Margie, I was thinking–have you ever wondered how the people back in the year 1999 reacted as time ticked down to the year 2000?

“I thought of that when we heard the news that a Time Capsule has been unearthed in what used to be New York City–and the contents are going to be revealed on the national tele-trone. Do you remember when they are going to open that?

“Let me see what time is it now…. Whoops, that’s just a few minutes away!

“I think I’ll tune in and see how our ancestors handled their millennium hoopla. Be interesting to see what they thought was important enough to put in a Time Capsule. Talk to you later.”

(An amateur historian, she picks up her voice-activated recorder to save her first impressions for her children.)

“This discovery sure is a big deal! It looks like it’s on every one of the 4,000 cable stations.

“The Time Capsule is caked with dirt; it looks pretty rusty. (Didn’t know much about proper preservation, did they?) The scientists just pried it open and they’re lifting out the contents.

“The first item looks like a sign with the letters Y2K on it.

“What’s that next item being lifted out of the capsule? It looks like some kind of old-fashioned surgical instrument. Huh? What’d he say? Oh, the reporter just explained that they decided to include it because it was used in the most often performed surgical procedure at the end of the last millennium. [Doctors must have saved a lot of lives with it!] It’s got a tag too.

“What! They must be kidding! I don’t believe it! It says it is a `curette’ [whatever that is] and it was used to kill millions of …what? Babies… in their mothers’ wombs! `Cruel-ette’ would be more like it. How barbaric!

“I didn’t realize that they were so uncivilized. But it was so long ago it’s easy to forget they almost did themselves in. Now that I think of it, I remember reading once in the history book how at a time of unparalleled material prosperity they became fixated on finding ways to kill people.

“They even had one guy they called `Dr. Death.’ Sends shivers up my spine. It must have been like a kind of collective psychosis.

“Obviously, they hadn’t learned anything from their own history, particularly the way they treated people of different races and religions. But even so, goodness, killing your own children? How insane is that? No wonder they later attacked the handicapped, the elderly, and, eventually, anyone who didn’t measure up!

“They’re pulling out some other items from the Time Capsule. What’s a `bumper sticker’? Oh, yeah, they put them on something called `automobiles.’ What does that one say?

“CHOOSE LIFE. Well … of course. Didn’t people know that’s a lesson that was over four thousand years old even then?

“Well, that’s what they did a thousand years ago. Say, kids, what should we put in a Time Capsule to be opened in the year 4000?

“Well, if we don’t want to repeat their deadly mistakes, I think we should include a simple stone tablet with the TEN COMMANDMENTS etched on them. Let’s be sure that the note attached to them reads ‘THOU SHALT NOT KILL!’”