I started watching a post-apocalyptic television show, thinking, “this looks entertaining.” Seven full season later, I’ve decided that this show is more of a post-post-post-post-apocalyptic story. Honestly, at this point, I’ve lost count of how many times the world has ended. (Insert eye-roll.) But, I’m still watching.
I love the absurdity of it – which is why I keep watching. They’ve been on a space station for 100 years and they still have gauze packed in sterile paper packages? Our local squirrels and critters eat the communications lines and blow transformers almost as fast as the utility companies can repair them; but sure, that old satellite tower still functions 100 years after a nuclear war. The grungy, unbathed, mud and blood covered warrior women all have clean shaven armpits? They’re rationing water and soap, but they managed to shave their armpits?
Again, I just keep watching, despite all the bits that seem out of place – let’s be honest, it’s a fictional future, who’s to say these things are out of place?
But what I’m really starting to question is all the fighting. Episode after episode. C’mon, people, talk to one another instead of walking into every situation with guns cocked and spears at the ready. Especially when you’re all that’s left of the human race.
In every post-apocalyptic or end-of-the-human race type story there’s always the “Voice of Reason” character(s). There’s always that person trying to reach a compromise and avoid death and destruction; that person looking for the answer that causes the least amount of damage and grief; that one scientist using research to argue against the majority decision. Yet, for some reason, the person, or group, crying out for a different, more just solution, is always outnumbered, over powered, outgunned or outmanned.
I’ll be honest, I’m usually rooting for the less violent option but am not surprised when the fighting begins, or the world ends. Why? Because we all know that every good story has conflict; and in so many familiar science fiction stories, that conflict is most often resolved in a destructive manner – nuclear annihilation, genocide, war, hostile alien take-over, or my personal favorite, the belief that the only way to peace is through war or brute force.
But what if, just once, the story didn’t unfold in the usual and violent way? What if just once the person working towards reconciliation, peace, and justice was successful? What if the destruction was averted? Would anyone watch, or read, that story? Would anyone be interested in a futuristic story in which humanity just quietly slips into the future?
There isn’t much of a market for a story about humanity achieving peace and living in harmony on a planet that isn’t dying because our population has stabilized to a sustainable level and we’re using our resources wisely. That type of tale is more suited for the Hallmark channel than the Scyfy channel. And even then, I’m not sure anyone would know how to market it or follow the storyline.
But real life is much more than the fiction we read or watch – even though some of the best inventions seem to leap from the pages and screens of good science fiction. Collectively, we’ve got issues that are overwhelming when taken as whole; the planet is heating up, resources are running out, species are dying and we can’t figure out how to get along with one another. And that’s not accounting for the personal dilemmas we each deal with on a daily basis – family crisis, employment, our health, etc.
There’s no denying it, right now the future looks bleak; making every End-of-the-World/Human Race or science fiction story line plausible – especially when we’ve got global pandemics, mysterious monoliths, and claims of actual aliens living on Earth. Yet, everyday we slip through time, slowly moving into the future.
We’re propelled day by day into a future that generations past wouldn’t believe to be real, and generations in the future will view as crude and primitive. Everyday we discover new answers to old questions and new questions we’ve yet to answer. Everyday some piece of science fiction becomes reality, and reality looks more and more like the future predicted in older science fiction.
As the news remains bleak and full of despair, we’re propelled day by day into a future that looks more and more like the future depicted in science fiction – both the good and the bad parts. We make scientific advances and breakthroughs that make the fun parts of the future look possible – flying cars, jetpacks, and life saving medicine. While at the same time, we slip closer to an end of the world event in which the peace makers and scientists are drowned out and outnumbered by those with their guns cocked and spears at the ready.
But our world doesn’t end, and the post-apocalyptic future is postponed one more day. All those, “before the world ended” scenario remain fictitious – for now. And the news cycle continues with it’s impending doom, despair, and occasional wonderous technological breakthrough.
That leaves me, at the end of particularly difficult days, thinking, “Well, at least the world didn’t end today.” And if I’ve learned anything from science fiction, I’ve learned that any day the world doesn’t end is a good day.
Here’s to many more good days.