Saturday, November 10, 2007

lessons from B5

A friend of mine recommended that I give the Babylong 5 tv series a try. Fortunately for me, the public library had the series readily available. Being the left to right sort of person that I am, I watched all 5 seasons in order. There were many times when a character would say something profound enough that I would reach for the pause button and capture the thought. Yes, I'm that much of a nerd, I actually take the time to capture good quotes. B5 was riddled with them and I would love to give the series a rewatch and capture more of them.

The relevant one for this week was said by the character Marcus, a ranger steeped in wisdom, knowledge, and skilled in battle.

I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair.

Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair? And all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?"

So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.

~Marcus, ranger, Babylon 5

At least when bad things happen in life, it is not because we are being punished for misdeeds. It is simply that sometimes.... poop happens and all you can do is find a shovel, step into your waders, and slog through it.


T&A said...

Nice quote. I've never watched the show. I'm a fan of the Star Trek franchise though. I'll have to check it out. :)

Poodles said...

I just picked up my new Hallmark Star Trek ornament for my tree this year. I'm that kind of a nerd.

Crazyman Bob said...

At the risk of abusing the new online Ayn Rand Lexicon, I felt this quote to be appropriate.

If you hold the wrong ideas on any fundamental philosophic issue, that will undercut or destroy the benevolent universe premise … For example, any departure in metaphysics from the view that this world in which we live is reality, the full, final, absolute reality—any such departure will necessarily undercut a man's confidence in his ability to deal with the world, and thus will inject the malevolent-universe element. The same applies in epistemology: if you conclude in any form that reason is not valid, then man has no tool of achieving values; so defeat and tragedy are unavoidable.

This is true also of ethics. If men hold values incompatible with life—such as self-sacrifice and altruism—obviously they can't achieve such values; they will soon come to feel that evil is potent, whereas they are doomed to misery, suffering, failure. It is irrational codes of ethics above all else that feed the malevolent-universe attitude in people and lead to the syndrome eloquently expressed by the philosopher Schopenhauer: "Whatever one may say, the happiest moment of the happy man is the moment of his falling asleep, and the unhappiest moment of the unhappy that of his waking. Human life must be some kind of mistake."

Now there is certainly "some kind of mistake" here. But it's not life. It's the kind of philosophies used to wreck man—to make him incapable of living—philosophies, I may say, which are perfectly exemplified by the ideas of Schopenhauer.

Richard said...

A good choice C-man Bob!

It can be tough seeing evil as powerless when religion and collectivism are so ubiquitous, distorting ideas and truths, wrecking lives, and causing devastating violence and destruction.

Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself of two groups of people. The great innovators through history who have managed to retain independent thought (at least in some contexts), and those today who appreciate and support the ideas produced by such thought. They are the people who bring our human world forward, the rest are only useful lessons in what not to do, or be.

Xavier Onassis said...

Couldn't agree more with Marcus.

Nothing pisses me off quite as much as hearing someone say "everything happens for a reason."

NO IT DOESN'T! The universe is a cruel and random place where sometimes, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

It just fucking happens! Pull up your pants, tighten your belt, put your game-face on and deal with it.

Reg Golb said...

If stuff just happens, then what makes it good or bad, (for that matter what makes a person good or bad)
Something that is currently bad can be looked at as good later and I would venture more often than not.

Protium said... been drinking again Reg?

King Aardvark said...

Shit happens.

Richard said...

I respectfully but strongly disagree with X.O.'s premise that "The universe is a cruel and random place..." [NB: randomness does not exist in nature, it is merely a reflection of laws we do not know or uncountable events that we cannot track. As for cruelty, the following puts it better than I could:

Natural Law
- my italics -

She's friendly
but difficult --
too big
to have enemies
or grudges--
means well,
but always does things
her way.
Take the wrong approach,
She’ll ignore you;
ignore her,
she'll knock you
six ways to Sunday.
Look at things her way;
she'll kick a path
through the underbrush
just for you,
level off a mountain
or two --
with the heel of her hand --
but sometimes
steps on people
if they're not careful
She's agile,
for a big gal -
but she's blind;
it's up to you
to watch
where both of you
are going.

- Eric Layman -