The wise words of Bene Gesserit-trained Imperial Historian Princess Irulan of House Corrino speak of a sea change in human evolution that ring true for us today, even though they were more specifically referring to giant sandworms, Fremen warriors, and transcendent human consciousness. But we, too, have reached a fork in our path and must decide how we move forward: together as a united species or wallowing in our tribalistic feuds and barbaric beliefs.
In the Dune universe (original Frank Herbert version, at least), being called a human is a term you have to earn. Any old moron can call himself homo sapiens, but being a human comes with the responsibility of using your higher mind – the part that gives us the gift of rationality, creativity, and compassion – and overcoming your baser animal instincts. Unfortunately, I do not have a gom jabbar
with which I can cull the lesser prospects, nor do I have Paul Muad’Dib’s prescience and cannot tell you how the near future will turn out, but I do predict our path ahead is difficult. Many of us will not make it, and we will have to leave some behind. But I do have hope that there will be some that forge ahead to start building a better sietch among the dunes.
The 2016 elections in America are playing out like a badly-written morality play, with both sides becoming almost cartoonish in their hatefulness or inclusiveness. It’s a little too easy to paint one side as evil and the other as good; we all know that’s not how human beings work. But what we can do with a better degree of moral certainty is qualify each side in degrees of tribalistic or globalistic:
He Who Shall Not Be Named (a.k.a., The Donald) clearly represents the atavistic and primal instincts of our caveman forbears, hoarding resources for his tribe and his alone with all Others being hostile aliens and those who would Take What Is Rightfully Ours. What was once the Republican Party has become a squabbling pack of rowdies, clawing and biting at any perceived threat to their small worldview or privilege. You’ll hear justifications of every tone and creed… from the purely emotionally biased (“I just don’t LIKE that Hillary woman, I don’t trust her!”) to the misinformed pseudo-intellectual (“Studies have shown that a strong policy of corporatism is the best way to encourage growth!”). But don’t be fooled. It all really boils down to selfishness and fear of the Other.
That’s not to say the Democratic party’s hands are clean; far from it. Until fairly recently, the Dems were the stronghold of the same racists and anti-establishment, pro-Confederacy lackwits that have now infested the GOP, and the Democrats happily manipulated them too. The “party of the middle class” has long been in bed with corporate special interests and has done its fair share of trying to tip the balance in their favor by illicit means. But there’s an underlying difference in philosophy that is truly essential: the Democratic party (not that I’m discounting independent parties, but I only have so much time in the day to blog) is working towards equity and inclusion. Towards making us all a little more human.
I doubt either presidential candidate would pass Reverend Mother Mohiam’s gom jabbar test, but I dare to say that the Democrats are trying. Much like Princess Irulan, Hillary Clinton may not be cut out to be a Bene Gesserit, but she’s a fair sight better than Baron Vladimir Trumpkonnen would be.
So the point to all this is that being human means continually striving to be better, not just as an individual, but as a species. People like Baron Trumpkonnen don’t want progress, they want stagnation and exploitation. We must embrace our diverse strengths and work together against our weaknesses. There is a gom jabbar pressed against our necks right now, even if we don’t perceive it, and if we don’t at least strive to rise above being mere animals, we may feel its sting all too soon.
Long live the fighters!!