New Arguments

Please take a few minutes to read this observation from J. Michael Straczynski.

“If I might be permitted an observation.

You, reading this on your monitor, or your smart phone or your tablet, you who have the latest iOS or Windows or Linux, you who track the latest apps and sites and watch with rapt attention as the Higgs Particle surrenders its secrets…you, who believes you are living in the twenty-first century.

You are wrong. We are not living in the twenty-first century.

We are living in the 1960s. We’ve been living there for the last fifty years. I don’t care what the calendar tells you, you’re wrong.

How do I know this?

Because right now, at this very second, we’re having the very same arguments, over the very same things, that we argued about in the 1960s, and the 70s, and the 80s, and the 90s, and the Oughts. And nothing’s been done, nothing’s been decided.

It’s just the same old arguments, over and over, for FIFTY YEARS.

We’re still arguing about equal pay for women.

Still arguing about environmental issues versus corporate laissez faire.

About whether or not some sexual practices should be allowed.

About excessive government secrecy and spying.

About voting rights and citizenship for minorities.

About bomb blasts and body counts.

About casual cruelty masquerading as policy.

Arguing about the rights of gays.

About a trigger-happy military.

About who is the latest suspected socialist.

About the media as source of all social ills.

About the war on drugs.

About health care.

About social security.

About birth control.

About evolution.

About nuclear power.

About abortion.

About guns.

And I’m tired of it.

I’m not saying these discussions aren’t important. Obviously they are.

But can we get on with it? Can we actually decide some of the things on the list given above and move on to NEW questions?

Can we move out of the 1960s?

Can we have some new arguments?

I would love to see new arguments.

I would love to see Congress wrestling with whether or not to declare our Mars colony the 51st state.

Would love to see filibusters and debates over whether someone who has received 51% of his body mass from artificial sources still constitutes a human being.

Arguments over whether the new mega-high-speed rail that puts the ones in Japan and China to shame should go from LA to New York or Miami.

About voting rights for synthetic people.

About the FDA’s analysis of mindbridge implants that let two people stay mentally joined forever.

About new safety standards for air-cars.

About deployment of the 45th Robotic Division past their warranties.

Those would be wonderful arguments to have. New, fresh, inspiring arguments.

We’ve been arguing about the same things, over and over, for fifty years. The same drumbeat, the same talking points, the same positions and policies and nothing ever gets done because it’s in no one’s INTERESTS to get anything DONE, because for as long as those same arguments continue, those with a visceral stake in the outcome of those arguments will continue to come out to the polls to vote in those whose viscera says the same thing about the same issues.

And so we roll on, decade after slow decade, with neither side resolving anything even when they run the table, with influence over all three branches of government.

Fifty years. Arguing over the same things for fifty years is like eating the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner for five decades. Soon the taste buds diminish and fail and you don’t even realize what you’re eating anymore.

If you’d said to me as a kid in the 1960s that we’d still be arguing over these things in 2013 I’d have laughed in your face. Impossible. We’ll resolve at least some of these things by then. Has to happen. Got to. The alternative is ludicrous.

Do you…you the person who has read this far without going off to tweet or instagram or download, you the person who actually believes you are living in the twenty-first century…want to be having these same arguments fifty years from now? Do you want to still be living in the 1960s in 2063?

Do you want a hundred years of arguing without resolution?

Do you think we can do better?

We have to do better. This can’t be it. This can’t be the end of the American experiment, sucked down into a century of social quicksand.

We have to be better than that.

We have to be.

New arguments.

New arguments.

God of microscope and test tube, god of provender and starlight, stern god who maketh quantum quandaries as much as the architecture of butterfly wings, let us have some new arguments.

I realize it is much to ask.

But it is long past time to ask.”

 — JMS

1 thought on “New Arguments

  1. Daniel

    How many here do you think this “You, reading this on your monitor, or your smart phone or your tablet, you who have the latest iOS or Windows or Linux, you who track the latest apps and sites and watch with rapt attention as the Higgs Particle surrenders its secrets.” refers to?

    Also, don’t you realize the pay gap between men and women, has shown equal pay for equal work is the reality. If one believes otherwise it is that person who is living in the past, or so married to an ideology they cannot see it.

    It is shocking that we are discussing many of these issue though, I agree. But this has a reason, many of the reasons are contrived and deliberate, not just a lack of progress.

    Part of the answer may be in this “We have to do better. This can’t be it. This can’t be the end of the American experiment, sucked down into a century of social quicksand.” America, is not the world. I have seen much of the internet discussion forums carrying debates and discussion as if it is. The world outside America has a lot of extremely different aspects to it. In fact, in first world nations, it is unique and has realities the reverse of it’s brother and sister first world nations. Crime, social justice, religiosity are, in the U.S. the reverse of the rest of the first world.

    So to see the problems within the society of “the American Experiment” being representative of the world is a huge error.

    Evolution, is not a national issue in any other first world countries the way it is in the U.S. Neither is gun control, or if a person is a socialist. Re evolution, that is part of science and as such will always be discussed and explored. That is a good thing. It is one of the greatest things about science, it does “evolve” it’s theories, it does find new data to back them up and tests itself by trying to disprove it’s own theories.

    The discussion on evolution that is a farce, is the one around creationism trying to have it taught as being part of the whole picture. But it is not part of the full story, it is not part of science. It is a tactic as religion is not allowed to be taught in American schools.

    Also remember, that while discussion from the 60’s may still be going on, what is being discussed in relation to them is not the same. That is progress. We are not discussing whether homosexual relationships should be criminal, we are discussing, in some places, same sex marriage and adoption. We are also not discussing if a person should be allowed hold certain jobs if they are gay.

    Don’t see things in a high contrast black and white. See the shades between, where a discussion was in the black, it is now almost in the white. The fact something is still being discussed in some regions, does not mean it is the same discussion as it was when it started.


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