Minbari Mondays, Infection, and Purity?

This is the continuation of our fictional letter (reviewing each film and episode of Babylon 5) that I receive each week from Ranger Mayann.

Here is her sixth report:

Nih sakh sh’lekk, sleem wa, Greetings from Tuzanor:

In this sixth report, still in your Earth year 2258, the second year of operation of the station, the only ambassador to be seen in this incident is one from the distant past of a dead world: an ambassador who is built to bring destruction.

As Mr. Garibaldi informed the human reporter, working for your news agency called InterStellar Network News, or ISN, how to navigate the station, Dr. Franklin was being offered an adventure by an old professor of his, while the esteemed professor’s subordinate was murdering a customs officer in one of the station’s docking bays.

The doctor showed what you humans call grouchy behavior both to Garibaldi and to his old professor.  Perhaps you humans could benefit from our Minbari meditation training?

The doctor, for some reason, missed signs that even one of my people would have noticed. It was clear from his arrival that the doctor’s old professor was lying.  Was it not also clear, that the professor was using the doctors own vice, his ego, to manipulate him?  Why do you Humans allow this?

I must admit that I am also mystified about the Martian war machine wanting to discuss the common cold: were not your Martian colonists also resistant to the human rhinoviruses?

Dr. Franklin, to his credit, questioned the motives of an Earth-based corporation, IPX, the one that financed the dubious adventure to which he was being invited, but yet again, the doctor allowed his suspicions to be talked away by his blustery old teacher.

Coming back to another Earth-based corporation, this one a network for news reporting,  ISN, we see Mr. Garibaldi attempting to save face for the commander, by talking around the commander’s delay in meeting with the reporter.  He informed the reporter how, after walking many miles through a desert, he became close friends with Commander Sinclair, but met only with a shameful attempt on her part to make Garibaldi lose face.  Such stories are what we Minbari treasure above all, to learn more about the history of Sinclair…

Commander Sinclair and Garibaldi were then forced to confront the professor regarding an artifact found on the dead planet from which it had been taken. Fortunately, they were less willing to be deceived than the doctor.  

As with Lt. Commander Ivanova, a word of warning from Commander Sinclair goes far.  But, his warning applied implicitly to the professor, without Sinclair having to say the words. Again, showing the wisdom which would later make up much wisdom from our world, the wisdom from which we would learn. Except, perhaps, for his early habit of performing duties which could have been delegated to his security personnel.

But then, the commander had to do that which only one of his wisdom could do: to convince a living machine that purity does not exist except in mathematics. You Humans would take a very long time to be able to learn that lesson from Satai Delenn.

In the end, the commander was successful, and the doctor had to confront his old professor, who tried, yet again, to stain the honor of your doctor, this time unwilling to be manipulated by his old teacher.

And Garibaldi risked their friendship to be honest with Commander Sinclair. True to his growing wisdom, the commander overcame his pride to thank his old friend Garibaldi.

Doctor Franklin, in reflecting on the problem of killing in the name of purity, was reminded of the words of Santayana by Lt. Commander Ivanova. Both the mistakes of the past and the survival in the future, of a species are connected to pride, ego, and purity not of flesh, but of motives.

From the city of  Tuzanor, on Minbar

Earth year 2278,

Anla’Shok Mayann

  Addendum to Ranger Mayann’s report, by Shira:  This episode introduces us to some big movers and shakers in the B5 Universe, like ISN, and IPX.  I have always loved the play on CNN and on the large multi-national corporations that throw so much financial muscle around and force nation-states to bid for factories by giving out tax breaks.  That said, this was one of my least favorite episodes, with the exception of 1.)  the great Ivanova quote:

“Don’t. You’re too young to experience that much pain.”

and 2.) The Big Question, facing humanity about space. 

While I still find some moments in this episode to be cring-worthy, mainly that climactic scene with the over-acting of Commander Sinclair, I find that I like this episode much better now that I have gone back to look at it from Ranger Mayann’s perspective.  I also liked seeing the reference to H.G. Wells a bit better, this viewing around, though it suddenly strikes me that in that year, Mars is a human colony, so the reference to “the common cold” should no longer work, since a Martian war machine would now most likely be a battered old transport loaded with human colonists from Mars trying to escape oppression, if human history is any guide. 

The thing that has always troubled me, most likely, about this episode is that it touches a nerve for me.  As a kid, I was constantly being accosted by other kids, Black and White, asking me if I was “mixed” or “half and half” and even in college, about my folks not “keeping my bloodline pure.”  Ridiculous, of course, in the mouth of any of us here in the US, considering that every Black American has had ancestors from both Africa, probably from Europe, and often also from this very continent, especially for those of us whose ancestors arrived earliest.  Skin color is not a good indicator of ancestry, as one Black man found out the hard way: he deemed himself ‘pure’ until a DNA test showed that his either grandfather or great grandfather had been white! 

Heck, even the Puerto Rican girls in my Woodbridge, VA  Middle School didn’t see any common ground with me: they decided that it was imperative to follow me as I walked down the street, yell stupidities at me, and start a fight because I was ignoring them.  They both seemed to get a shock when I actually hit one of them back.  One sister stared at me in bewilderment as the other pulled out her makeup mirror to check her face! Meanwhile, I continued on my way to pick up my little step-brother from his baby-sitter.  By the time we got home, there was a large crowd of unhappy people, mostly Puerto Ricans, and the remaining one or two white, waiting on my front lawn.  None of us were what anyone would have called “pure” blooded, but this didn’t seem to matter to anyone, that day. 

“No one is pure. None of us”

Very true, but I doubt that those who need to hear that truth watch Babylon 5.

That was part 6 of Ranger Mayann’s letter on the history of the Babylon Project.  It can be seen from another point of view by watching the Babylon 5 Season 1, Episode 4: Infection, which I certainly recommend.

Ranger Mayann’s fifth report, from last week, can be read here.

-Shira

Action Items:

1.)  Share your thoughts on race and purity, if you will.

2.) Share your thoughts on how we Human Beings might start to build a more fully inclusive society for all of us, and how something like Babylon 5 could help that process.

4.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses these thoughts.

Dear Readers, ideas on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind?

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write -one can add Stayed on Freedom’s Call via this GoodReads button:

Nih sakh sh’lekk, sleem wa.

ShiraDest

March, 2021 CE = March 12021 HE

(The previous lesson 67/67 , and the most recent lesson 1/67…)

Stayed on Freedom’s Call
(free: https://archive.org/details/StayedOnF…)
includes two ‘imagination-rich’ walking tours, with songs, of Washington, DC. New interviews and research are woven into stories of old struggles shared by both the Jewish and African-American communities in the capital city.

Shared histories are explored from a new perspective of cultural parallels and parallel institution-building which brought the two communities together culturally and historically.

Free copies are available at https://archive.org/details/StayedOnF…

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones by ShiraDest is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

15 thoughts on “Minbari Mondays, Infection, and Purity?

  1. I had a boyfriend in the late 1980’s who was of Haitian descent and very light-skinned. I constantly got asked by people “what is he?” What does it matter? He’s a person; a very kind person. This notion of “purity” is so ridiculous, especially considering how many people around the Mediterranean intermingled. I think most people who do a DNA test get surprised by something they find out.

    Love this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Patti!

      This is exactly what I mean: people are desperate, especially in The South, to know where/how to categorize everyone, because even today, it defines much of how they will relate socially to that person.
      When I was part of a fencing club out in Frederick, MD, late 90’s, everyone was polite to me, respected me a a good fencer, but never invited me to the outings that they all had, I found out after not too long, with each other. No matter how hard I tried, I was always frozen out. Never directly, but always clearly just not treated with any warmth, not able to become friends with anyone, and they were all white. Someone finally told me that I didn’t need to keep coming to the club unless all I wanted was to fence, since I would never really be part of their group. So I finally gave up trying.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is so wrong. I used to work with a brilliant librarian whose mother is Philipino and whose father is white. People tried to guess what she was and usually guessed from around the Mediterranean Sea. She would smile and not offer an answer unless she got to know and trust you. Her brilliance and personality, plus her determination to provide the best customer service possible should have defined her, not what pigeonhole she could be shoved into.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I wished I had read this earlier. I didn’t realize about your Woodbridge experience. No one can be pure because we can not pick our ancestors, just hopefully the person we choose to procreate with.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. No worries.
            The irony is that most of those kids, or rather, the parents who taught those kids to hate me on sight (before I ever even opened my mouth), would likely be horrified to learn that they are not ‘pure’ either, as much as they’d like to imagine that they are. Our surrounding culture colors so much (yes, pun intended) of how we see the world, though, that even people who try not to be part of that damaging mindset have difficulty escaping it. And the practical realities of staying safe in such a world currently work against much of the good we are trying to do. Another reason that I simply chose not to procreate, while the world is so filled with kids who need protection.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. And it gets even better: after being greeted at the door on my first day with “Nigger,” which I learned was not actually the customary greeting in the south after all, another Black kid, a dark-skinned boy, came to Rippon. Him, they treated much much better than they’d ever treated me!
            Even he made insinuations about me being “half and half” and kept away from me, as if he could get in good, like the Puerto Rican girls, with the white kids.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. So Shira, the Puerto Rican girls were tryin’ to beat ya?! Sorry Rolling Stones. Sadly, this is the world in which we live. When I came from Europe to finish my last year of high school here in the states, I attended a high school that was very integrated. There were Hispanics, Blacks, Asians and Whites and one me. Growing up in Europe, in a very homogeneous society, I didn’t understand race problems. I attempted to make friends with everyone. I didn’t care about skin color, but about the person. My best friend was Chinese. I tutored a black basketball player to help him get into college. I joined the choir which was like the UN, but we all got along and became lifelong friends. I felt like the mayor, shaking hands and kissing babies. I walked around like I owned the place but most people got me and respected me. It had nothing to do with arrogance, but happy that I had so many diverse friends and that we liked and respected each other. One day I was opening my locker and heard and loud bang near my feet. I was so shocked that I didn’t move. I looked around and saw the Mexican guy that threw the fire cracker in more shock than I was. So were his four buddies with him. I thought “Oh boy, these Mexican dudes are going to kick my **s”. I kept looking it at him with a calm, steely look, ala Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns. He walked over to me and said, “Do you know Karate?” To try to delay the beating, I said, “Maybe, why?” He said that the bang hadn’t scared me and that I must me a martial arts expert or something. I asked why he threw that at me. He answered that he always saw me around but that he didn’t get me. That I wasn’t like anyone else, I spoke with a slight accent that he couldn’t figure out what I was and from where. I introduced myself, gave him a little of my background, and shook his hand. Never had any more trouble with Juan. Helped him with his math homework a couple of times after that.
    Get to know people before you judge them.

    Liked by 2 people

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