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Old July 6 2009, 12:35 AM   #597
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Location: Hoping for a left-wing Westminster on 7 May
Re: Star Trek: Destiny Book 3: Lost Souls - (SPOILERS)

What this boils down to is a fundamental difference in values.

If I am understanding them correctly -- and if I'm not, please feel free to correct me -- Trent and ProtoAvatar think that accepting one's limitations is the same thing as submitting to them and never working to improve yourself, that accepting your own death is disrespectable, and that heroes should always be the direct agents who solve their own problems. And Trent in particular cannot believe that there can be hope for a better future in the face of extreme suffering; there is no hope if there is no Utopia.

I would argue that that view of life is both unrealistic and one that would, if one adopts it in real life, would prevent most people from finding real growth or real happiness. I would argue that it is a philosophy that would, inadvertently, lead, if adopted en masse by society, to ethnocentrism and blindness to one's own failings. I would argue that accepting your limitations is not the same thing as submitting to them and allowing them to rule your life, because I would argue that if you do not accept your limitations, you will never truly understand yourself -- and therefore will never know which parts of your nature can be changed to become stronger.

As for the question of how there can be hope in the face of such despair... Trent, I'm not trying to insult you, but I really question how you can claim to believe in the idea of hope for a better future if the fact that people suffer can so completely undo your belief that life can improve. How is it genuine optimism if there is no hope for a better future just because bad things, of whatever magnitude, have happened? I would argue that genuine optimism means cultivating an attitude of hope independent of circumstance -- means recognizing that all conditions are temporary and no conditions are permanent, and that therefore conditions can be changed for the better, even when those conditions seem overwhelming.

(As a side note, I find it amusing that Trent criticizes the Destiny trilogy for being so destructive as to render all hope for the future dead at the same time that Sxottlan criticizes the violence for being insufficiently meaningful because, in essence, he doesn't care about the planets destroy and and, "I shrug, thinking everything will be rebuilt in short order.")

Again, I point to Europe. It would have been very easy to look at post-World War II Europe and imagine that life would never get better, that Europe was doomed to become a land of poverty and suffering forever. And, indeed, had Europeans and their allies made other choices, it could have been. But they refused to accept that. They refused to allow the worst detestation in human history to lead to them to think they could not build a better future.

And the Europe that exists today is a better Europe than ever was built before World War II.

Anyway, this is basically a difference in fundamental premises about how one views life. I don't think they're reconcilable. Some people want Utopia, and others want something closer to home.

I want something closer to home. I welcome the changes that the Destiny trilogy have brought to the Trekverse. I like seeing a galaxy that more closely resembles our own world, and a Federation that more closely resembles our societies. Not because I want to see that the worst of us continues into the future, but because I find stories about men and women facing problems similar to our own, who nonetheless triumph over those problems in ways that we do not in real life -- without being somehow fundamentally "superior" to us or "better than" us or fitting our ridiculous and dishonest concept of "heroes" -- to be far more inspirational than the story of someone raised in Utopia who never faces any real problems.

The story of Jesus doesn't resonate with people because they think he was perfect (a few fundamentalists aside). The story of Jesus resonates with people because he was tempted, because he went through the Garden of Gethsemane and was weak -- yet still achieved something in spite of his weakness.

So it is with the Trekverse. That's why I find a story like Reap the Whirlwind or Destiny are more meaningful than one where Our Heroes Triumph Because of They Never Give Up (TM). I've seen that story before. It's old and cliched and it's dishonest.

But that's just how I view the world, and I could be as wrong as I think Trent is.
Democratic socialism is the hope of human freedom.
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