Starships will fly again

The night before Star Trek: Discovery premieres, I am watching the Deep Space Nine episode "Far Beyond the Stars." The episode aired close to twenty years ago, and dealt with the racism of the United States in the 1950s.

Qualitatively, how much has changed, since the show, since any of it, if racist ideas are spoken out loud again with the backing of the President, if the "sensible" middle of the United States would rather protect some assumed rights of the racists marching than defend the people the racists target, if in this era so many people are still asking whether a starship should have a black captain or whether a black writer can succeed on their own merits?

None of us are free from hypocrisy. Even the best people fighting to change the world cannot help but have some poison from this present poisonous order flowing through their veins; how can they not, when the toxicity is not just in words and ideas but in the drinking water?

There's a quote, likely apocryphal, attributed to Zhou Enlai. Soviet premier Nikolai Khrushchev, meeting Zhou, told him that while Krushchev was the son of illiterate peasants, Zhou was the scion of nobility, the mandarins of the Qing Empire. And Zhou retorted, "yes, but each of us is a traitor to his class."

I write because I am angry. That's the source of a lot of what I do: I am giving shape to my underlying sense that the world is wrong, this is not how things are supposed to be. I also write because I am hopeful, even faithful. This is the one piece of faith I have: that things can be better and I can play a valuable part in helping things be better.

It's faith because if I give it up then there isn't any point to doing anything but surviving. It's also a dependent plea for life: if the world becomes better, if the world is a place I can make peace with, can I do anything else but survive?

So I inhale the poisoned air so I can go on breathing, and the poison flows from the factory that makes the computer I use to write. Whatever wealth I have is extracted from the poisoning of others, and of myself.

The best any of us can do is poison the poisoners, repudiate our own pasts, and wish and work to make ourselves impossible. This is the only way that impossible dreams can come true. This is the only way to found the Federation.

Edmund Schluessel

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