Monday, March 22, 2010

This is the Wisdom of Sci-Fi: Part 1

This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

This quote - if you didn't know - is from the infinitely famous and enjoyable Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and can be found under the section regarding the planet Earth. Douglas Adams is a genius. In so few words he has embodied one of the biggest problems with humanity: our obsession with money and our dependence on it for happiness.

As a species, we have evolved to survive. And the way we do it is by straining and straining and, at last, every few generations, giving birth to genius. The one who invents the wheel. And light. And flight. The one who builds a city, a nation, an empire.... Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something.

This quote -again if you didn't know - is from Ender's Game. This amazingly intense, liberating, and deep piece of art... is a children's book. Go into any B&N or Borders and look for it. You'll find it somewhere between Franklin the Turtle and The Berenstain Bears. I mean it's a rather empowering tale about just what people can do if they put their minds to it and even more so about how genius, when co-opted by others, can be used to the worst ends possible and in doing so pushes us to think for ourselves.

So next time you take your little brother or sister (niece or nephew or cousin, hell even your grandfather or yourself), to a place where these books can be found pick them up and give them a shot... you won't be disappointed.

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