From David Brin: “I knew I liked the guy, despite resenting the soul-sold handsomeness… The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), begun by George Clooney, is an attempt to use technology to deter civil war and atrocities—in this case against citizens in Sudan. SSP combines satellite images and field reports with Google Maps to track movements of troops and displaced people, bombed villages, mass graves and other evidence of large-scale violence, providing public access to updated information. This is the kind of accountability we need…shining a light into the dark.”
And here are my thoughts:
[speaking about a perfect world, where all this would be unnecessary] Although that sounds good in a perfect world, there is no such thing, and people being what they are, they would eventually become mercenaries for hire to who pays the most. The Templars are an example – they lived for God, but were corrupted by money, power, etc. With only a charter and no real nationality, their loyalties can be bought and sold.
It’s just that the problem as I see it is that no perfect word can ever exist – they all would corrupt eventually – look at Utopian literature (something I studied eons ago). They can’t exist, man being who and what he is. And even with “help”, like Soma (Brave New World by Aldous Huxley), to make citizens compliant, it never lasts. Wish it could. Won’t. So what do we do then in the real world? Strive for utopia, or just try to make each step a good one?
I see such programs as Clooney’s being massively important in those “steps” we take – gradually try and clean up the world’s dirty corners, and work towards a better life for all mankind. Will it ever happen completely? I doubt it – there will always be pockets of bombasts, and those who follow, like sheep. But the more we shine the light, the brighter it becomes.
Because we can’t be perfect, but like a Buddhist, we strive to be the more in each lifetime. So the more we eradicate this stuff, the more people who can live without fear, death, hunger, etc. No, we can’t save them all, in a realist way, but each life we save is precious. That person might grow up to be integral to our planet’s success. Be realistic, while saving as many as you can. A form of triage, but in this case, unknown triage – we don’t know which ones are always saveable and which are not, but we have to try. But don’t expect perfection. Or the disappointment will kill you, and you will fail. Accept that you can only do your best, and sometimes do better.
[speaking of who mann two hundred years ago might regard this world as utopian] There is truth in that – we have a come a long way, but we have traded some of those “good” things for other losses. And as for the future, not trying to be argumentative, just pessimistic I guess, why is it that most modern SF writers tend to write dystopian future novels? Maybe I just read the wrong stuff, but try Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Wind Up Girl – it’s a prime example.
[discussing that writers write about dystopia because conflict sells] Conflict yes, but writers used to write about conflict that is solved by the good of man – read Nevil Shute’s “Kindling” (UK – Ruined City). Many authors worked with conflict years ago, but solved it through man’s humanity. Now it’s a given background that is basically unsolvable, except for small changes. Again, I may be influenced by who I read. So going back to Mr. Brin’s shining a light on dark corners (sounds like a book on sex I have from my grandmother circa 1900 – “Searchlights, or Light on Dark Corners”) – those small conflicts can be resolved and the light gets brighter in that corner, but we have to be vigilant in shining it everywhere. But to me, we will always be sending out that light, since there will always be places and people that need it.
[regarding some perceived inconsistencies in Wind Up Girl] Realistic is not the heart of that book – it portrays a world that values food, calories, seed – basic elements. The Calorie Men, etc. It is just one example of many, and the first that came to mind since I loved it. Sorry. But there are so may – it seems every SF book I read, even hard SF, has a core of dystopianness about them.