I know it has been a while since I actually wrote a Science Fiction Today post, but in the current political climate I am reminded why we started writing them in the first place. I am honestly sick of most politics today. We keep congratulating ourselves for throwing more and more money at situations without bothering to take the time to examine why things are happening. One thing I love about doing Science Fiction Today is that we can take a step back and imagine the entire world differently.
Part of what is great about trying to look at things from a science fiction perspective is you are no longer constrained by what the world looks like now. Some of the ideas we present really would not work in today’s world, but who knows where we will be in another 50 or 100 years and what could that mean for the problems that we are currently facing?
Taking a Step Back
With the 24 hours news cycle and the way politics seems to be running now-a-days we are constantly bombarded with the problems of the world. With technology we are able to see what is happening almost anywhere in an instant. We keep stepping closer and closer to situations, but this often distorts the true issue. We become so focused on one piece of the puzzle we no longer see the bigger picture. Every once in a while it is good to take a step back from an issue and try to really look at it. Does the issue actually stand alone or is it connected to some larger issue? How does this issue potentially affect another issue or at closer examination is it just a surface issue that is a symptom of a larger problem? If we ever want true change in this world then we cannot just look at this one issue, but understand where this issue started and how it came to be or what would a good solution.
So often in today’s system we look at the problem or situation once the boulder has already built up momentum rolling down a hill. We then trying and figure out a way to stop the boulder when it has already reached maximum velocity. We do not even think that the solution might be looking at why the boulder started rolling down the hill in the first place and maybe if we looked at the whole system that caused the problem we might actually be able to stop the boulder from ever starting to roll.
Power of the Ought
This is the piece that I really love about science fiction and why it works so well when dealing with complex situations. So many time we can get bogged down in any sort of brainstorming by won’t, can’t, and just general negativity. Science Fiction is about what is possible. Now everyone’s idea of how the world ought to be is different and some people probably have a grim view of what the world ought to be. There is power in looking at how the world ought to be.
In the midst of all of this stupid incessant bickering that politicians seem to be doing now-a-days it is nice to think of a time when civil discourse could win out, when people can actually feel like they can vote for who they feel would be best suited for office instead of voting just to make sure someone does not get elected. Part of what is great about good science fiction is that it is still somewhat grounded in reality. Now some of the technology may not exist yet, but that does not mean that it is not a possibility. It dares us to look beyond the current make up of the world and imagine a different one.
A Third Option
Now one of the big things that this does for me is to let me explore a third option. We live in a world – especially in America – of binaries and it feels like we are becoming more locked in to those binaries every day. No longer nuanced discussion, it is either yes or no. I really do prefer to throw out your binary assumptions on the issue. You can call me naive or whatever, but I swim in a sea of gray because there are very few things that are truly black and white in this world.
These are not simple issues, but the problem is people respond better to simple solutions. There is a reason that Trump talking about building a wall to block off Mexico sounds like a good idea to people. As John Oliver explored this week it is not as easy as it sounds, but it sounds easy. It isn’t until you start looking at it that it begins to get complicated. At the same time it works because when thinking of just two options, let them in or keep them out, there is little wiggle room. If we actually started exploring a third option then we might actually get to a solution. The binary system that has flourished in this country doesn’t work for the most part, but broad sweeping statements sound good on the news.
Now I know that the Science Fiction Today posts do not necessarily bring real solutions, but some of it is trying to get above the fray. These issues are ones that have deep seated biases that make it difficult to look at. So instead of looking at what it is like now why not separate ourselves and look at what could be. Allow ourselves to think about a new way of doing things and maybe just inspire us to explore a different path altogether. I have stayed intentionally vague in this post because as soon as you declare a party or a position then you have split your audience. It is not about a party – it is about the ideas.