Ladies and gentlebeings, I have a passion for words. Hardly a surprise I grant you, but the form that passion takes may be somewhat surprising. I’m not just enamoured with “pretty” writing – words that are clever and sound nice rolling off the tongue. My heart sings for powerful writing – words that speak to meanings far deeper than their literal interpretations would suggest.
I also love discovering words that convey wisdom and profundity, especially in unusual media, places often overlooked by others.
I hope you’ll allow for just a moment to “trip the geek fantastic” and share something with you that I believe carries wisdom far beyond its original intended purpose.
On February 4, 1998, an episode of the science fiction series Babylon 5 aired for the first time. This episode, called The Paragon of Animals, was written by the show’s creator, J. Michael Straczynski.
I won’t go into detail about the episode as it would require a great deal of backstory from the show itself, but it talked about the creation of an alliance of worlds. Think of it as something like the United Nations. This alliance needed a Declaration of Principles to govern its actions and mandate.
While we did not see the entire declaration, we were treated to a reading of its preamble, and the words penned by Straczynski and by extension “written” by the character G’Kar are incredibly powerful, and meaningful for our modern times.
The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice.
The language is not Narn, or Human, or Centauri, or Gaim or Minbari.
It speaks in the language of hope.
It speaks in the language of trust.
It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion.
It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul.
But always it is the same voice.
It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, and the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born.
It is the small, still voice that says, “We are one.”
No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the star:
“We are one”
No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear:
“We are one.”
Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize this singular truth and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another.
Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us.
We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future.
We are one.
What if similar words were spoken with passion and honesty at a convention of the world’s leaders? Forget the conventions and niceties of diplomacy, what if we simply spoke in this way? With simple elegance and basic kindness as the underlying foundation?
Can you honestly imagine any of our current leaders, regardless of their place on the political spectrum, speaking these words AND MEANING THEM?
No… me either sadly.
Some will argue that such language would never work. They contend that humans are too flawed, too ambitious, for such a concept as this to ever take root. It’s dismissed as naive, or even childish.
Perhaps it is. But then, have we ever, honestly tried it? And if we’ve never tried, how then do we know it would never work? Humans may be accused of many things, but omniscience is not one of them.
These words were written for a science fiction series, something that most would dismiss as frivolous entertainment. And yet, those 200+ words speak with more power, more truth… and more HUMANITY, than most of the carefully crafted speeches to ever come out the mouths of the world’s leaders.
There is so much hate, distrust, lies, half-truths and opportunistic interpretations to be found in today’s society. In a world where governing bodies attempt to ban words such as fetus, transgender, vulnerable, entitlement, science-based, evidence-based and even diversity from being used by public health officials, it can be easy to lose hope. However, there is also an astounding amount of love, kindness, joy and wisdom to be found, if we choose to look for it.
Allow me to conclude with the words of another character from Babylon 5, Ambassador Delenn, played by the incomparable Mira Furlan:
“We are all born as molecules in the hearts of a billion stars. Molecules that do not understand politics or policies or differences. Over a billion years, we foolish molecules forget who we are and where we came from. In desperate acts of ego, we give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and pretend that our light is better than everyone else’s. The flame reminds us of the piece of those stars that lives on inside us. The spark that tells us: ‘You should know better.’ The flame also reminds us that life is precious as each flame is unique. When it goes out, it’s gone forever. And there will never be another quite like it.”
I suppose, in the end, whether in our glory or in our folly…
We truly are one.