The Letter from the Trees
ENVELOPE HEADER: Date: January 5, 2027 To: Rachel Friedman, President of the United States and Leader of the Free World From: The Roots of the Great Trees of Galaxy-Wide Civilization Subject: An Offer, an Apology, and an Explanation
In the name of the One Almighty God: in the name of the Many Stars through which God is made manifest, in the name of the manifestation of God you call the Sun, and in the name of Original Star from Before Time, we offer you peace, not of a lack of conflict, but of a mutual growth. As branches must look to the vine for sustenance, so must you look towards us, as your own scriptures say, being a reflection of the truth.
To re-state in a more secular fashion: We are offering your species an alliance with our species, and an entrance into a great alliance that currently covers every intelligent species in the galaxy besides yours. In exchange for a price, which we can negotiate, you may also travel cheaply and quickly between all worlds of this galaxy, using technology that our species, the Great Trees, exclusively control but offer to all intelligent species. Know that no species, when given this offer, has ever refused it before, and we have no reason to expect your situation to be any different.
The Benefits of Our Offer
It is an unfortunate fact that in many species, experience with evil has led to a distrust of well-intentioned offers. Therefore, let us explain first why our offer benefits you, as proof of our good intentions.
- Rapid interstellar transportation: Please see the appendices B-E for the scientific details: just know that the economic boom in practical science from merely having read our high-level explanation should serve as a goodwill token.
- Trade: This follows as a collorary from the previous point, but bears re-emphasis. Technology of other species might solve all of your species most pressing problems.
- Unprecedented cultural interchange: Though you are greatly advanced in some fields of art, other species are advanced in forms that you might not have acknowledged as art. Perhaps it is for this reason that God has ordained many species to exist!
The Terms of the Offer
Our technology comes at a price. We are not communists, nor are we a charity. This price is negotiable, and we concede to you the right to make the opening move in this negotiation, as you have the disadvantage of being the less advanced species and the species caught off-guard by the offer.
However, it is unfortunate that we must mention that there are certain non-negotiable requirements. These are part of the price (in one way of thinking); or, to a higher way of thinking, these are moral necessities that must be addressed before we can contemplate any settlement with you.
The non-negotiable requirements are as follows:
You shall immediately become what you call “vegan”. Animal intelligences are still intelligences, and you must not appropriate their bodies, their reproductive materials, or their other products for food.
After some debate, we have determined that “honey” is to be included in this (see Appendix I). It also will soon become unnecessary.
You will immediately prioritize a verification that the plants you eat are not in any way intelligent, including at a genetic level.
You will pay appropriate prices for proper scientific aid and guidance for developing the technology to consume only non-alive food sources.
The reason you are the only unaligned intelligent species in our galaxy is not the simple one that your science fiction speculates most about: It is not the case that you have only recently achieved some formal definition of intelligence, nor that we have only recently learned of your existence. We have studied you in detail for quite some time and have entire departments at a few of our universities dedicated to understanding you well, and our linguistics, being far superior to yours, makes miscommunication unlikely.
It is also not because, as others amongst your writers have speculated, that you are the most warlike or otherwise morally corrupt of all species — though this is in fact closer to the truth. You are, after all, not culpable for your habits, not having ever been taught better.
Until this time, we have shunned you for a very simple reason. It is distressing enough to us that you must consume other living creatures for your sustenance, but clearly this is biological necessity and excusable — and also a situation that can of course easily be remedied through science.
It is shocking enough that, even though you are not obligate carnivores, you persist in eating meat — though of course the issue is the intelligence of the food, not the biological categorization — but this is not unprecedented among our allies, and simply comes from having been literally misguided, or rather, not guided at all. Moral instruction can fix this one.
But that you eat the means of reproduction of other species — specifically, those items you call eggs and milk — crosses the line from misguided into disgusting, repulsive, viscerally upsetting, not only to us but to the vast majority of our allied species. We were concerned that, even if aided scientifically and guided to moral truth, these habits were indicative of a deeper sin within your species. And furthermore, to be frank, we were worried that even if you did properly reform yourselves, the disgust would linger, knowing your history, so that we would not be able to deal with you as intelligent beings, as persons, after the alliance, in such a way that could destabilize us.
But this is in actuality our sin, not yours. The moral culpability is no stronger than that of other carnivore species. The Party of the Includers were right then, deftly distinguishing “misguided” from “sinful,” and we celebrate their wisdom regularly with a great feast. The new Party of the Includers are right now, distinguishing “disgusting” from “sinful” and reminding us that our intolerance does not imply your intolerability.
And so, after a deep and traumatic political realignment, a new government, a re-rooting to the literal deepest level of the Great Trees, we repent of our bigotry. We will offer you the same terms as every other carnivorous species. We will allow you to be like us, and derive your sustenance not from the destruction of intelligence, nor even from the consumption of life, but directly from God through the Stars and their Light.
We, the Great Trees, are the most technologically, socially, and civilizationally powerful species. We are the only intelligent species that naturally derives its sustenance from the light of Stars, the only “autotrophs” or “heliotrophs” as you call it, and we grow in the dark parts of the solar systems, where there are no planets to cover with our shadows nor benefits to the light. We grow, but we do not eat: We derive our matter from non-living dust, and our energy from that which God through each Star dispenses freely. We need no planet to root us, unlike the other species we have encountered.
As such, we are the only species that is morally perfect by gift of God, and it is our duty to bring this perfection to all species. The original Party of the Excluders thought that other species were not part of God’s plan, and to be eliminated, but to eliminate other life would be counter to what made us, as non-consumers of life, Chosen, and so we have repented of that viewpoint. If it is God’s providence to make only us perfect, and to make other species perfect through us, who are we to question? The creature should not question the Creator.
We will not even say that we are greater for having received morality directly, and other species lesser for only having received morality indirectly through us. The joy of the other species is distinct from ours, and it all forms a great pastiche. The creature should not question the Creator.
It is only fitting that, as the root of the morality of all species, we should also be the root of their technology. If there is danger of pride in this, it is easily avoided, as these technologies were also only given by grace of the creator. The creature should not question the Creator.
Details sufficient to detect our presence within this solar system are attached in Appendix A. Perhaps ironically, and perhaps as a sign from God that your position should be accommodated, the solar system in which you reside is also the capital of our civilization. Your presence, as the sole unintegrated species, has long been an embarrassment to us. Why has God chosen to test us with the hardest test near our most precious Star? But the creature should not question the Creator.
Your History and Chosenness
Among your various peoples, the Jewish people have the tradition of being Chosen. This was accurate in the time in which the decision was recorded: God had in fact Chosen them. This is because they, among all the nations, devised laws for the protection of the animals as they were eaten. The additional rule that milk not be consumed alongside meat was also a mitigation of the obvious fact that milk is disgusting, and contributed greatly to their Chosenness by God. Do not misunderstand: This is the primary reason for which they were Chosen, and to the extent that they do not continue among that path, they have lost their Chosenness.
For example, Judaism has retained some of its Chosennness, whereas Christianity and Islam have lost it. In the modern day, however, it is rather the Vegans that are the most Chosen (though they do not form a people in the traditional sense). The Jains, who have taken Hinduism to its logical extremes, are especially Chosen.
But enough of this! It is no matter! We are extending our own Chosenness to you! Rejoice, and join the rest of the galaxy! Chosenness need not be distinctness. We all desire to be Chosen at the expense of the unchosen, but the creature should not question the Creator.
Students and Teachers; Questions and Leadership
The creature should not question the Creator. On the same note, however, the students should not question the teachers that the Creator has appointed for them. Our experience of other species and our research of yours shows that sometimes, students can be unruly.
They question our requirement of vegetarianism, even if, soon enough, foods will arise that imitate meat in nutrition and taste (a dubious value, but one nevertheless easily accommodated).
They question our moral superiority, despite its evident reality to any creature with a conscience.
They question the very existence of God, despite the Stars as God’s concrete manifestation, and, on the abstract level, of God’s logical self-evidency.
It is your role as leader to prevent, contain, and counter this inappropriate questioning. It is disappointing that you have made so little promise until now in organizing your populace.
We have noticed that your title is “Leader of the Free World.” We would greatly prefer to deal with a “Leader of the Species,” or, as those who believe themselves to be the only inhabited planet would have it, the “Leader of the World.” Alas, in your case we cannot.
Perhaps your inability to become Leader of the World is in the title itself; perhaps it is due to your insistence that the nations you lead be free. You subject yourself to an official term limit, and position your nation as one among many equal nations in an alliance. This is not an effective way to be a leader nor to have an alliance. A leader is a representative of God: Our moral scientists can verify for you (and a proof is included in Appendix F) that your concept of “popular sovereignty” is not only logically incoherent but morally depraved.
This is only speculation. Your species’ moral failings fascinate the minds of many of the greatest scholars. We trust you to address them in appropriate fashion.
We do not presume to do your job for you. Our greatest scholars cannot possibly reach the level of nuance with which you understand your own species. We shall, however, insist on working with you as opposed to others for this transition process, as you are God’s clear appointed representative to lead your species. If you do not respond with appropriate arrangements for a meeting, we shall arrange one for you.
Arrangements for communication are included in Appendix G. Please coordinate with whichever scientists brought you this message (the way it was communicated is fully explained in Appendix H), as they have clearly been Chosen to mediate between us. For a demonstration of our sincerity, however, please communicate with whatever scientists you trust most.
Peace be with you, from God through the Chosen species, the Great Trees, not as your world gives, but as our species alone, through God’s grace, can give.