One of the best tools I have for making sure my telling of Molly’s story is both honest and compelling is, ironically, her Academy records. I have every paper Molly wrote, from Junior Academy book reports to a pre-action tactical assignment she wrote just prior to the Tchung Affair.
Here’s a sample from one of her essays (picking up on the second page). I think it’s a fair representation of her unique mixture of iconoclasm, creative thinking, and human decency.
It is clear, therefore, that Dr. Glav Jones has made a grave error in linking societal changes on Delphi IV with first Human contact. His anti-consumption bias, noted above, has him searching for causation where there is mere correlation. Did the arrival of Human envoys to Delphi IV spark a revolution? Undoubtedly. Did Delphi society swing to a consumerist base in ensuing years? Absolutely. Was this, as Dr. Jones suggests, a result of a Human conspiracy? I think the answer is clearly “No.” But without a grasp on the universal rules of Natural Selection, it is impossible for Dr. Jones to see why.
The Galactic Union has now cataloged over 400 planets that harbor life. More than 80 of these planets had some form of sentience. Almost twenty of those were at least in the industrial phase. In every case, the principles of evolutionary natural selection have been verified. The process is now understood to be chemical, as much as it is biological. We would be just as surprised to find a world which wasn’t based on RNA/DNA and the subsequent shortcuts that life stumbles upon, as physicists would be if they discovered a planet on which objects didn’t fall toward the center.
Despite this, xenoologists such as Dr. Jones continue to rely on soft psychological musings of cultural development rather than on the stricter theories which are founded on scientific principles and subjected to the rigors of peer-reviewed publication. The oversight would be tragic, were it not comical. The experts devoted to exploring the condition of all lifeforms do not study the very theories that govern life.
The case of Delphi IV highlights a pattern of sentient behavior seen, not just on other colony worlds, but in the ancient history of Earth. When organisms are given complete freedom, they tend to use that freedom to hoard resources. This is a fact of nature that can be seen in every engorged belly and every stockpile of gathered goods. Evolution rewards the greedy, especially if the organism can make large displays of philanthropy while it is quietly sneaking more away for itself.
Detractors of this theory often point to ecological niches that have attained a balance. This argument is flawed, as that balance has come after a long process of competing claims on resources. Give one of the competitors a bit more room, and see if they forgo the extra calories or territory because they prefer that on which they have already settled. The balance we see comes at the end of a process of each side taking as much as it can, resulting in fast prey and starving predators. If we found a symbiotic relationship wherein the horned grazers provided a steady supply of willing meals to the carnivores that promised to only eat their fill, I would be willing to entertain the argument.
What happened on Delphi IV was that the greedy imbalance between the slave-owners and the enslaved was disturbed. Guided by one of the great principles of the philosopher Madaline Meln, Humans intervened to secure the freedom of a sentient race in bondage. The subsequent flourishing of culture on Delphi IV led to increased societal freedoms and individual wealth. That the participants of this system used this combination to increase their own holdings, and improve the future for their offspring, is not to be condemned–it is to be expected.
There is much that Dr. Jones gets right in his analysis of Delphi IV, but not an ounce of it is based on a rational understanding of the forces at play. The good points he has, and I daresay the only reason the man is read and cited widely, is because his warnings of over-consumption resonate with Humans. Simply because the urge to hoard is rewarded in nature does not mean we ought to reward it in our civilized cultures.
The Delphians can learn from our mistakes, just as they have accepted the universal wrong of slavery. But we need to teach them that these urges they feel to possess as much as possible come from biological imperatives, not from a cultural invasion. Not only is the truth more helpful, it is more palatable. Current mistakes in ideology lead to xenophobia. We look at a universal trend, and tend to blame the first example of that trend as if it is the cause of the trend. This not only ensures that the pattern will continue, it perpetuates the hate that comes from ignorant tribalism.
For these reasons, and others that the space requirements of this assignment will not allow me to enumerate, I am unable to give a breakdown of Dr. Jones’s conclusions regarding the increased consumption of luxury goods on Delphi IV following first contact. His biased assumptions and lack of a chemical or biological education do not just lead to flawed statements on the societal development of Delphians, I believe they make him unqualified to write about any culture in the Milky Way. Period.
It is quite a read; and if you made it all the way through–kudos! Imagine sorting through thousands of documents like this on top of the millions of other bits of evidence I have. You’ll understand why my hygiene has suffered.
Just as fascinating as Molly’s ideas are those of her instructor, who gave her a D- for the paper. He corrected the obvious grammatical mistakes (reproduced faithfully, above) and cautioned her against run-on sentences and obtuse word-choices (typical of highschool essays, I’m afraid), but he really nailed her for not following the assignment.
From this last, we get an idea of what Molly went through at the Academy. Frankly, it just makes me love her even more.