Recently I’ve had a small surge in the number of people who subscribe to this blog; they came lured by posts relating to photography.
I did tell the first few new subscribers they should look at the rest of my stuff before subscribing. I warned them it’s not just photography and brilliant fiction; I also write about stuff which to some is controversial. Be it religion, politics, skepticism, science, entertainment, or Taco Bell, I am nothing if not awash with opinions.
At any moment someone could make a sudden movement, look at me the wrong way, or utter something I don’t agree with, and off I go into one of my rants. My friends (all three of them) have learned to be selective when it comes to reading my content.
This serves as fair warning to new subscribers . . . you might want to follow suit.
However, this post is a reprinting of a piece which was published at Slice of SciFi in 2009, and as such it’s relatively benign. The link to the piece at Slice of SciFi is HERE.
Why reprint it? I’m trying to consolidate all I’ve done, am doing, and will do, into one place. Plus, it’s an easy way to get new eyes on something many have not seen.
. . . but yeah, it gives me a daily post that does not consume too much of my time, and thus gives me a breather while I work on generating new content.
Note: there are minor edit from the original. I tell myself I’m a better writer now, and it’s not to fix mistakes; it’s to improve readability.
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The Star Trek Universe
For many, the attractions of the Star Trek universe is the quasi-Utopian idea of a society which has done away with money, where the main interests of humankind are the pursuit of knowledge and exploration. This presumes some sort of world government, and a fairly homogeneous society united for a common goal.
I’m not sure this should be a goal we should strive for, let alone a possible future for the human race. Sure, we can dream of a united purpose across the world, but I bet every one of us has their own ideas as to what that should be. And that’s the rub; what works in fiction is often simplified and glossed over for a desired story point. What is the likelihood of a true world society, a planetary government? I say nil.
Mind you, it sounds like a great idea and . . . wait; there I go again! When I say it sounds great I mean much more than that. Like when others say it, I mean it sounds great as long as it retains a version of society and a way of living I am familiar with. It means it sounds great as long as the system of law is based on something like the Constitution, minus the corrupting influences of powerful entities and powerful self-serving individuals.
Even if Vulcans did show up at our doorsteps and helped trigger money losing its influence on people, we would be left with lots of other issues which have proven highly resistant to any solution, let alone a logic-based solution. By the way, if any Vulcans are out there monitoring this, please consider giving passage out of this mess to them who embrace a world view based on logic and respect for others . . . ah, who am I kidding! Vulcans of the Star Trek universe seem to have as many petty problems as everyone else. Plus they dress weird.
As I was saying, even if we could rid the world of energy worries, and devalue the importance of money (in the real sense of the word, not the way it’s being done these days), we are still left with the most powerful of corrupting human traits; the desire for power. It is all well and good to imagine a world united as one, but in that vision you still have a political, or other type of bureaucratic organization running the place. It’s impossible for me to imagine a world in which people recognize and agree on only one general way of doing things. It’s even harder to imagine a world without religious conflicts, or united into one unifying religion, or no longer occupied with religion other than at the individual level.
As long as humans have been alive they have organized in groups based loosely on conforming beliefs and world views, and aimed at the collective survival centered on finding and gathering available resources in competition to other groups. Moreover, these groups invariably develop an attachment to whatever piece of real estate they reside in, are fiercely protective of anyone who might encroach upon it, and highly resistant to other groups suggesting there are better ways of doing things.
And within each collective there have always been individuals who are not content with just survival, but who, like crazed squirrels, want to gather up much more that what they really need. This particular trait seems to be present at all economic and social levels, and is highly resistant to change. The desire of some people to own multi-million dollars homes, million dollar automobiles, and exclusive sections of real-estate, that desire is not going to abate because we resolve our energy or money issues. Take away money and energy worries, and we are still left with people who want much more than they actually need. I can’t fathom that particular trait being supplanted by a thirst for knowledge and a hankering for exploration. After all, most of the people who adorn themselves with all those obscenely expensive trappings have the ability to pursue knowledge and embark in exploration, but they show very little inclination for doing anything other than enjoying what they have, and pursue more.
Then there’s the human desire for recognition and/or control. Not everyone, but a significant portion of humans believe they have what it takes to lead other humans, to bend others to their will. In fact, they see it as a personal responsibility to affect the world around them to follow a given vision, usually one of their own making. Never mind their vision is based on their personal experiences, experiences which do not necessarily match those of others. Never mind sometimes achieving the vision means hurting those who do not agree with it. They hold the belief “they know best”, and if everyone just followed along, or is forced to follow along, the world would be a better place.
Fools! Only my vision offers the one true path to a perfect existence! It’s only in my vision, my world view that humanity has a smidgen of a chance to achieve . . . ah . . . sorry; got a little carried away there. Mind you, it’s all true, but I’ve given up on people ability to recognize my way is what is best for them. These days I am content to just sit and wait. One day they will see the truth, recognize the lost opportunity, but it will be too late then, for even if asked, I will not . . . er . . . again, sorry.
Kidding aside, there have been stories of peaceful, prosperous, and benevolent societies since the beginning of human history. I think they are a response to what we see around us, a desire for our lives to be a little more than the constant struggle of survival, the constant worries, and the countless issues, large and small, we must deal with on a day to day basis. These stories invariably have as a theme the foolishness of people for even aspiring to such things. Invariably, no matter how perfect, no matter how Utopian the society, there are always underlying problems, and these problems eventually boil up to the surface and bring about the end of the “perfect society”.
Except in the Star Trek universe. In part it’s because what we see are the adventures of a relatively small group of individuals; individuals who are already joined in a relatively common vision and purpose. But who is to say their vision and their purpose is best for all? They are but a reflection of a vague and undefined desire for something better than what we have, but until we get there, we really won’t know if it’s really all that it’s cracked up to be. Of course it is moot speculation for it does not appear as if we are headed toward a unified humanity under a single system of government.
Truthfully, I’m glad. I think the end result would be a loss of individuality, innovation, and opportunity for people to shape their own future. Not that the current state of events offer any rosier a future for any of those things. But as long as there are differing visions, and despite possible conflicts arising from those differences, there is likelihood some of those visions conform to our own individual views. For there is nothing worse than being trapped in a life one does not like, and have no possibility of ever escaping to where life may be better. Just knowing somewhere else there exists a better life offers enough hope for most people to keep going . . . unless that better life is a fantasy world we’ll never see.