“500 million lives, to be paid thirty days from now.” The aliens stated there terms and would have no negotiation. They did not say what the lives were for, or even what exactly would happen to the people. The deal was set, and they would have no bargaining to alter it.
An emergency council of the UN was convened.
“I can’t believe we’re even considering this.” The representative for China announced. “I know that being so heavily populated my country will bear the greatest share of the burden, and besides that, these are real people we are talking about. We can’t just throw their lives away for technology! They’re worth more than that.”
“I agree.” The Indian representative added in. “We represent about a third of the world’s population and you cannot move forward with this unless you have our consent. We are convinced of this and will not be persuaded otherwise.”
This firm stance from the two eastern representatives seemed insurmountable. The NATO country representatives glanced at each other uneasily. Some wanted this technology, others wanted the human lives to remain as they were, but regardless of their wants, the matter seemed concluded.
“How many people have AIDS right now?” The South African representative asked the assembly. “How many will get AIDS in the next fifty years?” Their was of course, no response to this. “I know in the next decade alone we will lose more than 500 million souls, and most of those are prevented.” The South African representative turned towards the Chinese representative.
“My fellow honorable representative, how many souls would you save if cancer were cured? Would that not alone be worth the cost?”
The Chinese representative shifted uneasily. “Even if it were, who would pay this cost? I cannot believe that many people would willingly sacrifice themselves, and if they don’t what you are talking about is mass genocide on a global scale.”
“Yes.” The South African minister replied. “Yes it would be, and if we cannot gather the volunteers than I suggest we reject the proposal. However, I believe we can obtain the volunteers.”
“How?” The Indian representative asked. “Surely 1 in 14 people in the world are not willing to make that sacrifice.”
“Are you so sure my friend?” The South African representative replied. “How many grandfathers and grandmothers, being not long for this world, would not gladly give themselves up for their offspring’s sake? How many already dying men and women around the world would not give themselves up so that their passing could take on greater meaning. Even if these people could be saved by this technology, how great a gift is it to have one’s death be that of a hero? Would not this event be hailed for generations, nay, millennia to come as an of absolute heroism, and would not all the names of those who committed themselves to this be hailed for the remaining history of mankind as the stewards of a new and glorious era?” The two eastern representatives were considering this now. Their faces were pensive, but they were still on the fence, and needed a final push to sway them.
“Even so.” The South African minister continued. “There is a final thing to consider, some people to go first. Some group needs to stand up and lay their lives down as the leaders in this great sacrifice. I think you already know who I suggest.” The South African representative stood up. “We are the leaders. Our peoples have chosen us. This is our burden.” The lone man looked around the room, his speech concluded, and made eye contact with each country’s chosen representative. One by one, as he gazed at them, they rose to their feet. It took a half an hour for some representatives. Some broke into years. Some fainted and had to be revived. Some made calls to their loved ones, but at the end of the day, every last leader stood up, and volunteered to lay down their lives for their country.