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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Those Utopian Dreams: Part 1

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
Isaiah 11:6, New International Version

In The Bionic Woman TV show, Jaime Sommers teaches an elementary school class at an Air Force Base near her home in Ojai.  In the episode “Claws,” a student named Katie brings a male lion into the classroom for Show and Tell.  The lion walks into the circle formed by the students’ desks and lies on the floor.  Katie explains she is helping Susan Victor, who runs a wild animal sanctuary.  Jaime then allows the entire class to rise from their seats, and quietly approach the lion.  The children kneel down beside him, and gently stroke his soft fur and mane.  The lion closes his eyes, reveling in the attention.

Some of the charm of the bionic shows involves looking back on us, as a people, at an earlier stage in our societal development.  Before the rise of the Internet, and the so-called Information Age, people found it more difficult to share experiences and opinions.  Without detailed information readily at our fingertips, we didn’t realize how difficult it was to transform our dreams into reality.  Thus, when it came to embracing Fiction, we found it easier to suspend our belief.  We believed we could replace parts of our bodies that we had damaged beyond repair, and build better, stronger, and perhaps even wiser people.  There were no limits to what we could accomplish!  Through the application of Science and Willpower, we would return our world to the utopia depicted in the Bible.  Humanity would return to the Garden of Eden.  Farmers would sow and reap their crops, untroubled by weeds, insects, or pests.  Humans and animals would coexist harmoniously.  Like Adam and Even, even the fiercest species would bow to us, allow us to name them, and follow our every command.

With facts so readily available now, few still believe that bionic enhancements such as those Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin received lie in our immediate future.  And only a miniscule percentage of us still defy the Law, and keep wild creatures as pets.  There have been too many attacks, in homes, wild life sanctuaries, and zoos, to believe that we can ever tame such savage creatures.  Thus we can only look back on an episode like “Claws,” in which gentle children kneel beside a domesticated lion, as a relic of an earlier age: when we dreamed greater dreams than we do now.  Or, as Science Fiction author David Brin might say, at least until we can figure out how to uplift them.

Still, it's fun to look back.

Dragon Dave

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