Global Do-Over

By Ryan Matejka

Written: 2016
Words: 425
Genre: Sci-Fi

Based on the writing prompt: Humanity is granted one supernatural 'Do Over' if 51% of the population can agree on what needs to be fixed.

It has been seventy years since we discovered the rare temporal element, and fifty since its true ability was identified.
There was just enough of the element, our scientists said, to go back and change one thing. It could be anything from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the extinction of the Tasmanian tiger, but the effects would be irreversible and there was only enough of the element to make one single change.
All the world's superpowers got together for the first time in ages, and for the common good, a worldwide vote was held to decide what the do-over would be used for. All parties agreed that a simple 51% vote would be enough to determine the change. Naturally, campaigns were held. Everything from Brexit to the botched release of a recent space-exploration video game were hotly debated, with news stations offering round-the-clock coverage of the various rallies and opinions.
The deciding day came. The votes were counted, recounted, challenged, counted again, accused of falsification, and then finally settled. People gathered together around their computers and televisions, in bars and at home, to see the announcement of the results.
24% in favor for reversing the stock market crash of 2007.
32% in favor for electric cars to overtake gasoline cars in their infancy.
41% in favor for the elimination of Adolph Hitler as a baby.
3% in favor of other miscellaneous changes.
It was okay. Nobody really expected everyone to come to a decision right away. There was, however, hope for the next year, and if not then, the year after that.
Few thought we'd be holding the same worldwide election every year for fifty years. Imagine constant campaigning, constant scandals, a whole generation raised to understand that everything they do and their very existence could be undone, and new college courses designed to prepare students for their profitable careers as alternate reality researchers and predictors, all for the greater good of humanity.
The discovery of a single element led to the biggest global cultural change since the internet.
And today, on the fiftieth year of voting, I'm confident that there will be fifty, a hundred, and a thousand more years without a majority decision. Humanity just can't come together and agree on changing anything worth a damn. Humanity, as a whole, is too selfish and stubborn.
That's why we didn't tell people how much of the element there really is.
That's why we just let them believe that the last fifty years of peace and prosperity is somehow because they willed it.

© 2018 by Ryan Matejka