Peace in our time

A weekend blog. A short-story fiction of sorts. In my leisure time I consider Arthur C Clarke wrote some of the best. I think his legacy is safe…

It seems to me that a universal truth holds. That when explorers set forth into the unknown – enabled by advancements in civilisation technology – and motivated to seek out new claims of ownership and fame – the outcome is always the same. Any lead in technology presents real threat to whomever is playing would be host. The recipient to the uninvited guests. Arriving unannounced. From a place not known. Whether such host chooses to act in friendship or hostility the result is pre-ordained. The visitors get what they came for. The hosts plundered, usurped, vassaled, or slain. History tells us it is always the same.

So it was when our first explorers arrived. All that time ago. Arriving as the technologically more advanced. We the more enlightened. More sophisticated in our ways.

We were perhaps different to most. Less dependent upon our traditions. More disciplined to a cause. Honour in service. Contributing to a future of more. Investing in foundations. Learning but neither squandering or marvelling in what has come before.

We had overcome introspection, and our need for proprietary gain. We found uneasy peace through the gearing up of shared wisdom and so began advancing at pace. Less respectful of our elder’s ways, but more sure of our rightful place. We turned attention to the now, and committing to our future generations with grace.

Encouraged by our success – as we needed less – so we grew anew. Safer in our endeavour. Doing more dangerous things safer. The less risk we had to encounter, the more that we could face. Reducing our distance between each other, we instead put distance between ourselves and all physical interface. So we learnt what war teaches only in part. Communication, leads to cooperation, leads to collaborative success. Shared adventure, and shared awareness of needs. Able to then venture further. Optimising collective potential. Prioritising shared goal. Now leading this next expansion race.

This is how we were first to arrive. I think that is perhaps what hurt them the most. Our pace. Our ability to adapt but also make haste. To assess, to see, to make our intentions be. The speed of change we set upon them. Their fate was sealed the moment we met. We gauged their atmosphere but they had not the wit to gauge ours. For our leading edge met their face. But our face was still back home, taking in all from distant place. Safe in our own atmosphere.

It was with some good fortune that we encountered their strongest first. Fortunate for them. For in lost hope they saved lives. Not all, but enough.

They, of course, deemed themselves advanced. Like all do when competing with all-comer and yet feeling unopposed. And in comparison to their peers perhaps they were. Their place was claimed. In all that they knew to be home, they had conquered. And then prospered. A whole history of war to make better peace had made these people the first. The first to connect all upon their lands as one.

Imagine the shock-waves that ran through their kind. The news passing from one to the next. That the worst nightmares of fiction, of evil, or worse, had arrived. Arrived and made short work of their best. The panic as all wondered if we were coming for the rest. Knowing now they were not alone. A disruption to an entire existence. All suddenly unknown. Unreal. And so close to home. Not having the words or means to put name to our weapons, or our beasts.

Not that a fiction, or evil, or worse, had arrived. Not that we are anything as domineering to those we find. But first contacts determine power, and sometimes there must be clarity before we can be kind.

And like all conquered conquerers we meet, this is our shared first contact history. The less technically advanced are called savages. Yet we the vanquishing heroes must perhaps admit to being the savages. For being less when we could have been more. At least back then. A history of dark moments, one to the next. Mass murder. Genocides. Whole communities ravaged, or enslaved. Forced to submit. Powerless. Bewildered. Broken in body, disillusioned of spirit. No longer the superior race, with their crown displaced.

In this account like all others we claim betterment by time. That was long ago. We do not dwell on such moments now. It’s easier to forget how we arrived. What we forced our unwitting hosts to do to survive. It is not a history we can tell as the centrepiece of culture. Not to all of us who begin now to arrive. We who are now settling and claiming to be the civilised. The kind, the noble, and the just. We are superior but we live together with our usurped hosts. Respectful in our own way. We are no longer the strangers or the enemy.

Nor can they, our hosts, themselves claim an innocence. It is not like they had not lived the same. We now share language, and culture, and blame. We also respect their history, and allow them to celebrate their past. Hence, why it is an oddly appropriate reflection. Thanksgiving of a different kind. Their celebrations and commiserations not too different to our own. Just as distorted and reworded to make themselves right. Giving fair reason to their truth. Reason for their use of might. To bring worthy in their fight.

But nor are we necessarily friends. We are as neighbour to those that remain. And they live amongst us as equals – or that’s what we claim. They work with us, and us with them. We all move freely and interact. We share our technology with them. We have a peace pact. In theory any one of them could become a leader to us all. Indeed many have come to be great. But we retain all advantage, for being able to be more with less. They are living free. Freedom in name, but they are not free of form.

So that is how it comes to pass. That we were the first to breakthrough. No more curious. No more communicative. But more transient and therefore more quickly sharing perspectives and quicker to advance. Finding ever new place within. And soon we found more ways to be without. Less physical in our needs. More capable in our deeds. Less separable as creeds. Downloading enough of our being to be represented by a manufacturer class. Self-replicating in parts. Doing the dirty, the menial, and the dangerous task. Travelling the greater distance. Transmitting what was found. Making contact. Making assessment. Making ready. Until we could arrive with our spirit in tact. To make ourselves welcome. Ready or not – we arrive ready.

Soon we can all hope to hold heads high together. For we few are not yet finished closing distance. Communicating anew. Cooperating in the extreme. Collaborations close – almost as one. After all this time, since our scouts first arrived, we have compared history, and means. We see much upon which we agree. Our manner of expansion, exploitation, and growth. Our altruism. Our hypocrisy. Conflicts with idealism, analytical realism, and faith.

But we remain different. The them, and the us. We do not look alike. The biomechanics of our scouts give no means to unite our tribes. Or at least not yet. For we won the human race without even showing our face. And we have one more surprise to reveal. One more privilege of knowledge. And with it, we bring one more ordeal. For our Earth hosts offer form in an alien atmosphere. We offer a symbiosis of spirit and the real. And we arrive with the technology – so its a done deal.