The Gauntlet of Civilization
or.."Cell Phones Don't an Advanced Civilization Make"
A Reaction to London...
There is a zen koan about The Thief Who Became A Disciple. A monk when asked to testify against a man who stole from him, said he gave freely thus there was no theft. The thief was touched and became his disciple.
Now what if he hadn't been a thief but a murderer? He would have killed the teacher before gaining the teaching. He would have killed his chance to receive compassion.
Let's say there's a planet where everyone believes and lives by principles of non-violence. Then a space-ship lands with some criminal cast-offs from some other civilization which is much more aggressive. Once the rogues cotton on to the fact that they can pretty much steal, abuse and kill anyone they want with only the threat of a message of love, they go on a rampage. The natives are completely at a loss as to how to contain this and remain true to their principals.
At this point, wouldn't you want Captain Kirk to show up with some phasers and take the bad guys out... or at least take them away? Or if Kirk didn't show up but you found yourself an advisor to the natives, might you tell them they need to fight back and lock the baddies up for their own safety?
You are generally a pacifist or at least are opposed to the killing of another human for any reason as this is not the action of an advanced civilization. Then one day you find that there are some people willing to fly a plane into the building where you work or leave bombs around your city. Or perhaps you find some other country invading your own and people you know are getting killed "accidentally."
Is it possible... is it just possible that eventually you say to yourself that the enlightened future you thought was here, the one they promised you on Star Trek when you were a kid and the one the koans said could be found within each of us... that actually it's not here for everyone and it's not even here for a critical mass and that as long as there's a large number of people willing to stab you while you sleep, you'll have to put off your ideals. Is it just possible you finally say, "Do whatever you have to do... just hunt the bastards down and kill them"?
Looking in the mirror, you say to yourself, "This is the dark ages... just with better gadgets." Then you wonder if you'd have been closer to the ideal if you were born 100 years later or would it all be too late as we become another statistic for Fermi's Paradox ... not that anyone will be keeping tabs... except perhaps God... twisted bugger.