Story type: Essay
The street railroad company in the Borough of Brooklyn has just executed some leases to endure 999 years. Leases of property have also been made for the same period, though, of course, a lease of 999 years will be about as binding 999 years from now as would a lease of the great pyramid executed the day after it was finished, if such a lease should be presented at present to the Egyptian Government.
These preposterous leases are interesting because they bring vividly before the human mind the certainty of wonderful and splendid changes in human affairs.
The street railroad leases are especially fascinating to the imaginative mind.
They deal with present conditions and will seem inconceivably primitive hundreds of years before the leases will have ended.
These leases deal with miserable little electric cars crawling slowly over the face of the earth, at either end an underpaid, overworked man, and in the middle a crowd of poor, dissatisfied, ill-housed human beings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine years from now the human race will not by any means have accomplished its destiny. It will still be struggling on toward the goal of real civilization.
But it will have grown far beyond the savage condition of life that marks the execution of these long leases.
Before these street railroad leases expire Brooklyn and all other cities as they now exist will have disappeared from the earth.
Perfect transportation, underground, overground and through the air, will enable human beings, if they choose, to live as far from their work as does the seagull or the eagle.
It will no longer be necessary to crowd together in miserable tenements, and homes will be scattered. Human beings undoubtedly will dwell in huge, splendidly managed structures, each in the centre of its own park, far from the noise and the brutality of modern city life.
Before the leases expire the combined cities of New York and Brooklyn and Yonkers and Coney Island and Montauk Point will have grown into an enormous, hideous human aggregation of fifty million or more human beings.
Even the city of a hundred millions may be seen.
But as that huge, monstrous city will have grown, so it will have died, as the monsters of former geological epochs grew and died in their turn.
The site of the vanished great city will be covered with gardens, and children in schools will be taught that human beings who once lived in the cliffs in the Far West afterward gathered together in horrible municipal ant-hills in the East, called cities, before they learned how to live comfortably. —-
Before those street railroad leases expire the present temporary mania for money will have run its course.
Once every important man felt that a certain number of slaves must be murdered at his funeral. Sometimes his favorite horse was shot. In scores of millions of cases his wife was burned alive with his corpse. We have outgrown that. Nowadays the great man who dies must leave behind him an accumulation of millions, which means that thousands of men have worked to give him what he did not need. Before these leases shall have expired that form of financial barbarism will have ceased to exist.
It is reasonable to hope that the coming thousand years will have seen the end of industrial feudalism, which has had its birth in our day, and which will run its course as did the military feudalism of the Middle Ages.
What a marvellous picture the world will present one thousand years from now!
The earth will be adequately populated.
Science will have conquered disease almost entirely. Each woman will be the mother of two children. She will not bring five or six into the world in order that two or three may live.
Competition will be replaced by emulation. The intelligent servant of government will work as loyally and enthusiastically for his government and for the people as the boy at college now works for his college football team.
The human mind will have wandered on many leagues in its search for a satisfying religion, getting always nearer to a clear conception of the grandeur of the universe, and further away from the superstition necessary to the moral control of a brutal semi-civilization.
Human beings will have learned that the noblest thing one man can do is to work for others.
Each will gladly contribute all his talent and strength to the welfare of all.
All will gladly recognize, applaud and richly reward the special ability of the individual.
There will be no poverty. Willingness to work will insure a comfortable livelihood. Education will have developed the average human intellect far beyond our conception. Nine-tenths of the human race have been able to read only within the past few years. What will a thousand years of universal education do? —-
The end of the leases of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company will find many of our problems solved.
It will find, however, the real work of man just beginning. The abstract work of the intellect, the proper organization of society as expressed in human passions, the study of the wonderful and beautiful universe outside of our own little planet, will then begin with the conquest of our material conditions.
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