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,
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.
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.
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Read, Write -one can add Stayed on Freedom’s Call via this GoodReads button:
Nih sakh sh’lekk, sleem wa.
March, 2021 CE = March 12021 HE
Stayed on Freedom’s Call
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…
Shira Destinie Jones by ShiraDest is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.