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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Malcolm Hulke on Dragons & Distrust: Part 2

An SM-64 Navajo cruise missile
reminds us of an earlier era in Florida, USA

When Malcolm Hulke wrote "Frontier In Space" for Doctor Who in the early 1970s, war between the world's superpowers, the United States and the USSR, seemed inevitable. Indeed, it was already taking place. As the Cold War progressed, year after year, both sides circled each other like snarling dragons. While they occasionally belched fire on each other, for the most part they "defended" themselves by building huge stockpiles of weapons--including nuclear weapons--for a war they believed was inevitable. A war to end all wars, in which no one on our planet might survive.

As I watched the story last week, "Frontier In Space" reminded me of a more recent war. The United States believed that Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs, or weapons of mass destruction, which they could supply to terrorists. A few officials argued otherwise, but government leaders were swayed by overwhelming "evidence." So in March of 2003, President George W. Bush declared war, and the United States invaded Iraq. Two months later, he declared "Mission Accomplished." The United States had won its war. Unfortunately, it never secured the Peace. After eight years of constant violence, the United States pulled out of Iraq, but the violence and instability in that country continues.

Thankfully, few of us need to decide whether we will declare war on others. Or do we? Life brings conflict, setbacks, and disappointments. Each day we have to assess the statements and actions of others. Can we believe what they say? Can we trust them to act in our best interests? It doesn't help if they've lied to us in the past, or if we gauge their actions as unethical. It's easy to adopt the attitude of the Earth President, or the Draconian Ambassador, and demand proof of what the other person says before we believe them. In other words, judge them guilty until proven innocent. 

Skepticism and cynicism are easy attitudes to adopt, and safe positions to hold. But shutting others out limits our daily actions, and curtails our potential achievements. No "victory" ever comes without cost, and afterward we will face the long term consequences of our actions. The world is still dealing with the aftereffects of the 2003 War in Iraq. Likewise, the world is still affected by the Cold War, as aging weaponry and nuclear material find their way out of Russia. Can we believe that our own little interpersonal wars will not cast similar ripple affects through the ponds of our lives for years to come?

In "Frontier In Space," the Doctor's nemesis, the Master, developed a way of projecting sound that acted on the fear centers of the Human and Draconian brain. This caused crew members of ships on both sides to "see" those they most feared (members of the other superpower) instead of the Ogrons. After the Human and Draconian fleets had pounded each others' planets to rubble, the Master planned to send in the Daleks to conquer the survivors. In his egomaniacal mind, he no doubt believed that, at some point, the Daleks would exhaust their resources, and he would end up ruling the Human, Draconian, and Dalek empires. Until the Doctor and Jo stumbled on his plan, he was succeeding brilliantly. After all, how could any Human ever trust a race of people who looked like Dragons? How could the Draconians ever trust a race of people who looked so different from them? How likely is it to believe that a third party must be initiating or intensifying the conflict between them? 

Thoughts to muse upon, courtesy of the late, great Malcolm Hulke.

Dragon Dave 

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