Just to start–realize that I do not believe in ‘homelessness”. One’s home IS one’s country. Secondly, it is this planet. One may be unaccommodated, [living rough], “alternatively housed” [tent cities, squats, vehicles] or in any number of other difficult living situations, but one cannot BE “homeless”.
You have a home. You may not have a “legal” address. Does someone who live in the Black hole of Calcutta in an illegal squat say they are “homeless” or do they say that Calcutta is their home but they are poor?
Now that that’s been clarified –let’s move onto today’s Ponderation topic.
I am a SciFi junkie.
I was pondering lately two significant camps of belief about how to resolve the situations of unhoused people while re-watching *Battlestar Galactica*.
Major plot holes aside for the moment, I began to wonder why I loved the *Farscape* concept so much more even if it was much “darker”.
Then I realized, it was about philosophy. How I believe we need to tackle and resolve human rights struggles, including economic disadvantages and the lack of adequate housing.
It is my viewpoint that only the de-housed can save ourselves by relying on our accumulated skills and wisdom regardless of what mistakes or disruption we may, in error or by deliberation, execute in pursuit of our mutual goal. There’s no organized “great plan” of action, no matter who claims to be selling the best brand of hotdogs in the ballpark of the global housing struggle.
It’s a situation by situation, call. Country by country. City by city. Space by space. Face facts. Reality check. No big authority is just going to hand over enough housing no matter how much weeping and moaning anyone does about it.
There’s fantasy–and then there is SciFi that is based in an alternative place/time while the storyline explores the human condition.
*Battlestar Galactica* is about a group of humans who, due to their arrogance of playing God with artificial intelligence technology, find themselves on the wrong side of a genocide rained upon them by their own robotic creations, the Cylons. Humanity’s planets are bombed out of existence.
Consequently, humanity becomes homeless, fleeing in their few remaining spaceships. Eventually they “triumph over adversity” by regressing technologically to the stone age, blissfully sacrificing their hard-won technological achievements as they come to terms with the prophesied Cylon-Human relationship because “God” intervened with ‘angels’ leading them to the promised land. Then we close with a shot of a toy robot for sale, thousands of years in the future. Full circle. Stop. Start again. Rinse. Repeat.
Farscape is about a scientist/astronaut who is accidentally shot through a wormhole alone in his experimental pod then finds himself, through no fault of his own, in another galaxy during a shoot out between escaping prisoners and their lawful captors.
“Homeless” is truly an apt description. John Creighton of Farscape is both physically and metaphorically, lost– light years from all he knows and the civilizations he encounters are far beyond his technological comprehension. It’s a violent, dangerous universe. He has no idea where he is, how to get home, or how to improve his situation. He is confounded by who is allied with whom, who is reliable–or not, and the political/social/cultural realities of his new situation.
For once, in a SciFi show–humans are perceived as *backwards*. They are physically, socially and mentally deficient in comparison to the advances of alien cultures. They are not the Great Masters of the Universe. Hell, in the beginning, John Creighton, our Great American hero, does not even know how to open a door.
He’s tentative, insecure and eager to please–the same response most people have in a completely alien, anxiety-provoking situation when they are suddenly faced with a complete sociological shift.
He’s just a nice guy, who accidentally bounced through a wormhole into the wrong place, at the wrong time. Others alternately bully and con the new guy. Not much different than popping into the local homeless drop in, the first time.
As time goes by, our hero becomes hardened from having to defend himself, with a crew of escaped prisoner allies, against other threats in the galaxy. In some cases, the crew is terrorized by others out of malice. Galactic authorities want the information on how Creighton traversed the wormhole so they can control territory and of course, control inter-galactic economics through warfare.
The political powers that exist want Creighton’s labour and his knowledge, but they’re not offering anything in return since they have no respect for his unknown species. He was not born into a powerful race or a respected class. His knowledge is a commodity but he, as a person, is expendable.
Nobody on our hero’s team wants to be there. Everyone has dangerous secrets, not everyone gets along very well yet they must learn to depend on each other, glaring flaws and all, or be destroyed by those that hold the power. Everyone is running from something. Everyone is an outcast. Everyone is alien to each other. Everyone has self-interests. Everyone has annoying personal quirks. They all have strikingly different values and ethics. There’s little common ground beyond the collective need to survive. They become the stereotypically dysfunctional faux family unit.
None of our heroes remain untainted by their experiences.
Creighton, who starts out as reasonable, compassionate and sensible is then relentlessly driven by the violence committed against him and the violence he must in turn, commit to survive, over the line of sanity.
No Universal Fairy Godmother steps up and directs the events. No “great plan” is in motion. Good people suffer and die merely from being in the wrong places, at the wrong times. The “bad guys” have justifiable, logical and often perfectly sensible reasons why they do “bad things to good people”. Sometimes, the bad guys align with our crew due to circumstances that threaten their personal survival. Some people are just plain helpful and pleasant. Some aren’t. Sometimes the good guys sell out to meet their own needs. The Farscape universe, like our lives, is in ever-changing flux.
The major characters are all displaced and simply trying to stay alive until they can work out their individual futures. They want to go home, or at least somewhere better. Everyone wants to improve the quality of their lives–good guys and bad guys alike.
Our protagonist, Creighton just wants what every ‘homeless’ person wants.
He wants to go home.
When he finally learns enough to jump a wormhole back to earth–he is so scarred emotionally from his ordeals, he can’t relate to “home” any more.
He can’t share his feelings with anyone except his ‘alien’ shipmates. His experiences have made his universe larger, more threatening and his viewpoint is beyond the comprehension of those in his world that remained in their comfortable lives. There is no common ground of understanding, no matter how much his loved ones reach out for him. His knowledge of galactic power-jockeying and how that impacts on his personal situation, as well as the future of the Earth and the universe–is too great a divide to cross.
His previous conception of “home” as a “safe place” is forever destroyed.
By the finale, what he’s seen, what he’s experienced and what he’s done to insure the survival of his cohorts and his newborn son, literally “blows his mind”.
My problem with Battlestar Galactica is that the “hand of God” reaches down and intervenes with blatant biased favoritism. There is no doubt all fates are guided by this unseen force. Suddenly, all of the learning that the survivors go through, abominable abuses of each other, acts of heroism, commitment, betrayal, compassion, love and horror–EVERYTHING is “part of the plan” and therefore, all predestined. In this world view suffering is excusable and readily surmountable because it will lead to a “new home”. Everything will turn out just fine [including gargantuan plot holes] because it’s all “God’s Plan”. Most of the crew get a lovely new start on a leafy new unpolluted pioneer world complete with a pre-civilization race of humanoids for breeding purposes. Hum “It’s A Small World After All”. Fade to black.
All the BSG characters turn out to be nothing more than marionettes playing their assigned roles on the stage of some obscene morality play as an unseen, all-knowing God pulls the strings.
It never occurs to the writers that “primitive” tribal people might have their own agendas and that the Battlestar survivors are invaders. They’re just conveniently available for procreation to ensure the survival of the human race. It’s all “God’s Plan For the Future Of Mankind”.
I have to cynically analyze a prime time TV show selling the futuristic concept that some God must commit genocide on billions of lives repeatedly through a karmic eternity, then turn the survivors of each holocaust into homeless refugees because “we have all been here before and we will all be here again” simply to hammer home the point that humans are stupid and as such, must keep repeating our experiences, ad nauseum until we “get it” –if humans weren’t such sinful critters putting our technology before worshiping God then we collectively deserve to suffer for the sins of the few guilty parties.
Included in these justifiably nuked “sinners” are billions of religiously fundamentalist peasants who never touched a computer. Billions of children and non-military labourers–equally sinful. They all deserve to be slaughtered, starved, hunted and homeless on the altar of “God’s Great Plan”.
Frankly, that kind of god figure makes the Daleks appear positively beneficent. At least the Daleks just screech “Exterminate!” then get it over with. They aren’t conning anyone that it’s done out of “love”.
I don’t doubt there’s a political agenda pushing BSG as the “Greatest SciFi show ever”. Entertainment is fine. I like to be entertained. I actually enjoyed much of BSG, for what it’s worth. I DO think, however, that we need to analyze the message it’s sending because like it or not–we are affected by the general population’s acceptance of such philosophies espoused by public entertainment.
In such a “there’s a greater plan” world we might as well all hold hands, wailing “Oh Give Me A Home Where the Buffalo Roam!” at the top of our lungs while quoting some ancient dusty tome so that in God’s Great Housing Plan, pastel painted, rent-geared-to-income suburbs will magically appear on the distant horizon fully furnished, including big screen plasma TV’s. Then we can float gently towards our eternal rest homes while being filmed through a Vaseline-smeared video lens provided by Faux news and proceed to watch ourselves on our new tellies.
What we do to each other, how we can acquire more housing, or what we suffer to accomplish it–doesn’t matter if it’s all part of “the plan”. Now don’t you just feel like a special and unique snowflake? Why does no one ever question what happens to the “not-quite-as-special” snowflakes that simply exist to suffer and die as minor characters in some Great Cosmic Plan?
I find “God’s Plan” idealism a far more dangerous concept than our Farscape team of pragmatists who must make questionable decisions, live with guilt, shame and remorse while they cross ethical lines to survive as they rely on each other’s good will, trying to rebuild broken trust, hoping for the best against overwhelming odds–even if the ending isn’t supremely happy because it’s unlikely any of our Farscape team will ever be going “home” again.
It’s no wonder Farscape was canceled a few years ago over the voracious objections of a tremendously growing fan base as it careened towards it’s ominous conclusion yet recently, BSG stayed on the air as a rapidly diminishing population of viewers chronically complained of awkward plots and badly written scripts.
The do-nothing-and-pray fantasy of “divine intervention” is much more palatable to corporate sponsors, incompetant and uncaring government bureaucrats/politicians, fundamentalist religious leaders and all too often, the media-brainwashed public than the morally tenuous reality of desperate people pulling together dysfunctionally using desperate means to survive and knowing that after being de-housed, even if the situation is rectified at a later date, there’s no going back to “the way it was.”
We are forever, fundamentally altered by such experiences.
If we’re all waiting for the Hand-of-God-Governments to swoop down and solve the housing problems with some half-baked Deux Ex Machina plot–we may as well hand over the entire planet to the Cylons/Peackeepers/Scarrans/Daleks/Corporations/Republicans/Conservatives right now.
Otherwise, we might be wise to lay our differences aside awhile and start teaming up the best we can to grab some of our planet back before the series is cancelled.
MetisRebel I tolerate dissent readily. Debate me, go for it. Jump on it. However, I expect that we are adults and no matter how much pain and suffering any of us have been through, or how personally affected we may be by this, I believe we are capable of tolerating dissent. In fact, the true measure of freedom is the extent to which a society tolerates differing opinions.