Thursday, March 6, 2014

17314--Are We Still Boldly Going to the Undiscovered Country?

Hello!  This is another message from the 21st century.

Welcome.  You're probably aware that we've been making some interesting advances in several different scientific arenas  One of the profound warnings that we've carried forward with us is that we shouldn't let those technological strides outpace our spiritual growth.  Of course, we still have those folks in the mix who are trying to hold us back (you probably don't know who you are) while others are trying to grow and that puts us into odd spins, typically debating life aspects as basic as human rights.

The confusion we experience as a result of our technology can be amusing.  Fifty years ago our science fiction projections had us colonizing other worlds, traveling time, piloting flying cars, and being waited on by robots while we lolled about in skin-tight suits.  One of my favorite comic book covers from back then, in fact, features Superman lamenting  his capture by time-traveling bounty hunters from the year a flying saucer car!

Now, you know as well as I that that level of change hasn't come to pass.  On the other hand some of our advances have caused the sort of stir that came up when the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series debuted and people began to complain that it highlighted how we had already appeared to have surpassed aspects of the personal technologies used in the original Star Trek series.  The show inspired a lot of specific leaps, so we've made some successful inroads.  When I was a kid, I couldn't wait for a communicator with what would come to be known as a Bluetooth earpiece.  I knew we'd have them.  Even if they do drop calls, a smartphone is still a lot more versatile.  The best ones can almost duplicate a tricorder, too.

Even with all that and the medical and military advances, we're still conflicted over the path we want to take.  Do we want to punish criminals or rehabilitate them?  Do we treat them as evil or ill or even victims of their circumstances?  Is the murderer worse than the attempted murderer and is our correct response to their actions to sentence them to death?

We repeatedly preach the virtues of non-violence, but fail to maintain them in our individual lives or in larger manifestations of society.  We promote heroic ideals (Captain America uses an indestructible shield, Superman is an indestructible shield, Wonder Woman is a warrior who fights using bullet-deflecting bracelets and a magic rope, Spider-man uses sticky webs and nets, and on and on) of preserving life, but we watch our police use ever-bigger guns and other surplus military hardware in favor of tranquilizers, tasers, or a number of other incapacitating options.  When the police, our publicly sanctioned agents of "protect and serve", do use non-lethal options, there seems to be an increasing number of incidents where those tools are misused, captives and/or bystanders are abused, and people sometimes die.  On top of that, though it almost goes without saying, the primary tool associated with our police is the gun, a firearm designed to kill quickly even in the hand of an untrained user.  Maybe part of the problem is that humankind has what seems to be an inherent skill at weaponizing virtually anything, which runs in direct contrast to our concept of "humanity".  I suppose that runs hand-in-hand with legislators who are supposed to represent the people continuously voting for choices that support institutions that victimize the people.

Why is there such resistance to a future of peace and possibility?  I understand the logistical problems of flying cars, but the choice to build more prisons than schools confuses me.  I grew up with a love of reading and learning, so maybe that makes it hard for me to see the appeal of steering away from those.  The choice to take lives rather than save them baffles me.  Again, perhaps that's a symptom of my own life decisions.  I've always thought we had a collective goal of moving toward a brighter future.  Too much Star Trek and superheroes on my part, I guess.  I honestly thought "Don't go to the light!" meant something else.  Trying to kill each other off may make the survivors strong, but it doesn't mean that we'll get to the future enlightened if we manage to make it at all.  If we claw our way to the future and don't take our humanity with us, will we still have the audacity or even the right to still call ourselves human or have we been kidding ourselves all along?


  1. Some great thkughts in this piece. I too hope we can aspire to goodness over evil like Star Trek and the superheroes of old.

    1. It'll be important not to be undone by our dichotomies. Thanks for weighing in. Go have some chocolate.

  2. This was an especially interesting post because I recently started watching the original Star Trek series for the first time.

    I sure hope we'll be able to learn how to be a peaceful species. I do think there's a chance this will happen for us.