J. Michael Straczynski said Babylon 5 was meant to be a teaching experience. For this reason alone, I am more than willing to open myself up to a new genre of media – Science Fiction. I plan on watching it from a personal perspective and gain insights into my own life as well as how I understand the world around me. I imagine it will be a vulnerable experience, especially if I allow it to tap into my psyche. If I watch it from this place, I believe my shortcomings will be highlighted, my weaknesses challenged, and the potential to make change realized. I wish to evolve and what little I do know of B5, I think this journey will make a significant difference in the ways I see myself and the world. I am apprehensive of this project for these personal reasons, which is why I am committed to it. The only way to learn is to come out of your shell, witness, change, and ascend.
I truly believe the comprehension of Sci-Fi takes a certain kind of mind. Watching the first episode was challenging for me. I wasn’t sure what was going on, I couldn’t remember the characters names, and the plot went right over my head. I had to watch the episode twice and get some Elaine Barlow cliff notes. I hope the more I continue watching, it will become easier to understand.
When I first start a tv show or movie, I am always intrigued by the characters. I wonder what kinds of people they are, what personalities they have, and how they will grow and change by the end of the story. All the characters in B5 were so different from one another, yet similar in the emotions they share. Everyone just seemed angry for their personal reasons, particularly Londo and G’Kar. They experience their anger in very different ways and for different reasons… and in ways I can relate to. Londo is angry. For him, it’s an emotional response to sorrow, grief, loss of face, shame, and powerlessness. For over a hundred years, his people have lost stature in the universe. They were once “sharks” that knew how to bite, but along the way forgot that they even could. Londo painfully holds on to his sense of pride and the reality of it sends him spiraling out of control and into rage. The reality of what his people have become, a “race of lunatics and cowards” frustrates him and makes him feel helpless. Even more upsetting is the fact that he is in the position of wanting to protect what little pride he has left and to do that, he is willing to lose pieces of himself (e.i., giving into G’kar’s request on the vote). He also gives into being a coward. I think, there comes a point where you have to accept the reality of who you are and what you have become even if it was the result of circumstances that was outside of your control. If you spend so much time reveling in the past and everything you once were, you come to regret all you are now. It incapacitates and immobilizes you from moving forward so that you can build yourself back up.
G’Kar also has a sense of pride and anger that comes with that territory. He is angry similar in the way Londo is, but different because his anger is rooted in a sense of great injustice done to his people. Delenn asked him when the “cycle of hate” would end. He responded that it was a “cycle of injustice.” I truly believe that all G’Kar is interested in is building a strong and powerful nation of Narns. He wants to redeem himself and his people and “rightfully” take back what was once his. He is an opportunist and has a sense of entitlement to any opportunity that would serve him well. In our everyday world, there are many people who carry around a sense of entitlement because of an injustice that was “done” to them. I think the more we feel entitled to the things we think we deserve from other people’s efforts, the less we would work hard to achieve our own dreams. I also believe it perpetuates a cycle of helplessness and making all the wrong decisions. While I understand G’Kar’s position and goal, the way he is going about reclaiming power for his people is damaging. It hurts the possibility of developing positive relationships with others, it creates mistrust, and it sets the stage for making wrong decisions that would be counterproductive to his goal. The lesson for me is to realize your dreams by working hard and getting genuine help along the way.
From the first episode alone, there were many thought provoking lines to gather, but there were two very profound statements that spoke to me. The first is spoke by Commander Sinclair. He said, ” The best way to understand someone is to fight them; make them angry. That’s when you see the real person.” Personally, I struggle with anger. When someone doesn’t understand me, if I’m treated disrespectfully, or if I’m met with criticism with unkind words, I have a tendency to easier become distraught and upset. I’ve always respected people who are able to stay calm and collected in the face of being told some nasty thing both true and made up. It is a virtue I am striving for even though there are some days my demons get the best of me. Sinclair is right on. You can truly know a person if you can see how they can conduct themselves in the most vulnerable of positions. How they react, respond, and cope tells you everything you need to know about who they really are past the surface.
The second line that I took note of was spoken by the dude in the Babcom talking to Sinclair. (I don’t know who he exactly is.) He said, “Earth can’t go around policing the universe. Earth has to take a neutral position.” It reminds me of a quote I once came across. “I am, indeed, a king because I know how to rule myself” by Pietro Aretino. As a therapist, it makes me think about my own limitations and my own countertransferences (opinions and biases) I have of other people. We are trained to have a heightened awareness of these emotions because it is only natural to experience them with people who are different and similar to you. It also makes me think about how I can’t force people to change even if it is for the good. The only stance I can take it to offer the best guidance I can by being in the best place I can be in. Another thought that comes to mind is that we live in a society where all people do is judge, criticize, discriminate, and curse one another. We often tell me people how they should think and behave. We try to change people we don’t accept and pass judgment on those we have not bothered to understand. As a country, we do the same as well. America put themselves in the position of making decisions for other countries and cultures. But we barely know how to operate our own country. We barely know the difference between right and wrong. We barely understand each other. And we barely understand the meaning of humanity. So, given this significant limitations, how are we capable of being moral spokesmen for people of other nations that have been around longer than we have breathed air as a country? We all have to start somewhere to become moral people. I have to start with myself.