Smiles. Applause. Respectful, arched eyebrows from the Vulcan delegation. Captain Archer's speech was well-received, as ambassadorial speechmaking goes, but the response was far from adequate. History bent around the moment. A million billion trillion lives were remade in its footprint. Whole empires were shattered, unmade before their foundings; and the Planet Earth smoothly leapt from its address in the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm to the center of galactic events for the next millennium at least.
Perhaps the greatest tribute Archer's brief speech received was also totally unnoticed by anyone present. Two UESPA security officers, a junior lieutenant and a lieutenant commander standing guard by the door, came to stiff attention. This was not out of respect.
J"You felt it, too," said the lieutenant, looking up at the taller man next to him.
"Of course. I came as soon as I could."
J"Monitoring the humans is no longer your responsibility."
"They..." The lieutenant commander's jaw tightened for an instant. "You, and they, are the reason I've been able to attain my current assignment."
JThe shorter man regarded him cooly. "There is no debt."
"I remain interested; that is all. That man, the human leader--"
J"He speaks well."
"Perhaps. However, I believe you would be well-advised to alter your preparations for first contact."
JThe lines on the lieutenant's face deepened. "I will accelerate it, if you consider it advisable."
"Accelerate it? You misunderstand me. Deliberately? You must realize that your captain has just set human policy that will dominate their culture for at minimum eight-point-eight centuries."
"Then you are developing a perverse sense of corporeal humor. You will also realize that this policy must prove destructive."
J"Mankind has determined to embrace diversity of race and culture, seeking a common policy of peace, just as we have. This is a sign of evolved intelligence."
"But too fast! We did not attempt the integration of ideology until our race was nearly finished shedding corporeal form. Observe the consequences for another local race that undertook the project far too early: the Vulcans of the Eridani cluster, with their principle of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations."
J"The Vulcans are considered one of the pre-eminent races in this galactic zone -- and not only by these primitives. Their IDIC has led individual members of the species to heights of contemplation, peace, and philosophy unmatched by any between Qo'nos and Kelva."
"And the species? To stagnation, indolence, arrogance, and war. When the IDIC is not wielded as an ideological bludgeon to assert Vulcan superiority in military and non-military conflicts, it is merely a vast hypocrisy. To the humans, as with the Vulcans, 'diversity' means nothing more than people with colored skin and a taste for exotic foods who otherwise belong to precisely the same tradition of ideological secular progressive pluralism."
The junior officer ignored the Jibe and continued.smoothly, "That is because it has never.been fully realised as a tool of diplomacy. The.Vulcan genotype merely uses IDIC as.a.tool to stave.off mutual mass destruction.
Look at.the.other side.of their ethnic consciousness - The Romulans. They are xenophobic to the extreme and yet have a perverse desire to rule over others. IDIC is not a philosophical choice for the.Vulcans, it is cultural self-defence.
The supervisor looked.surprised at this. "If this so then..."
"The humans have taken the principle from the.Vulcans and adapted it.to. a new purpose - they Excel at that!"
The junior officer ignored the Jibe and continued.smoothly, "That is because it has never.been fully realised as a tool of diplomacy. Vulcans merely use IDIC as a tool to insulate themselves from the emotions and desires that make others strive to excel. Look at the dark side of their genotype - The Romulans. They are xenophobic to the extreme and yet have a perverse desire to rule over others. No, to the Vulcans, IDIC is not a philosophical choice, it is cultural self-defence against mutual mass destruction.
The supervisor looked.surprised at this. "If this so then the humans...?"
"...have taken the principle from the Vulcans and adapted it to suit a new purpose - they Excel at that!"
"Of what interest is this to Organia? Our culture has remained hidden from the rest of the universe for countless millenea. Our only purpose here is to search for cultures that might one day be worthy of contact. Didn't we investigate one of their ships only recently? The one they were all talking about tonight, the Enterprise? Didn't you estimate that our official first contact with them should be in another five thousand years?"
This made the junior of the two Organians pause for the most miniscule part of a second for this might seem as a failure on his part. The thought was discarded almost as soon as it was created though for concepts of success and failure, fault and blame had been expunged from the Organian psyche aeons ago, it was only the slight taint of the human mind that he was possessing that made his even consider them for that single nanosecond.
"Correct, we tested them with the silicone virus and they reacted in a most unique way when two of their kind were infected." He paused as if to let his companion interject but when that didn't happen, he went on.
"I was fascinated by the way that the Denobulan and Vulcan interacted with the human crew. They were neither servile nor in charge. they were treated as any other part of crew, even though they brought with them their culture's major characteristics - the Vulcan objectivity and the Denobulan compassion."
They had reached the end of the corridor to find themselves in a large lounge, now empty, whose opposite wall was a single panoramic window overlooking San Francisco harbour.
"It got me thinking how seldom we had seen that kind of acceptance amongst groups of different cultures. Klingons only allowed other races to serve them as virtual slaves, whilst the Romulans set puppet leader's up to give the member nations of their empire the illusion of freedom and the Cardassians have a complex military oligarchy."
The elder of the two Organians, the supervisor of the tem, turned to face his junior face on.
"I have done some preliminary research and the human government seems to be a protege of the Vulcan's. In less than a century, they have gone from virtual savagery to a civilisation that is becoming increasingly respected amongst their neighbours. Although they make a great show of their impatiende to get out into the galaxy o explore, they have taken the time to absorb some of the lessons from their Vulcan mentors, the chief amongst which is IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations."
His superior was not impressed. "I know what it means. The Vulcans are one the most promising civilisations we have yet met and this particular ideal of tolerance is especially interesting."
"Indeed. What makes it most impressive though is the way that the humans seemed have applied the philosophy as a practical means of diplomacy and government."
"Surely the Vulcans have utilised it in a similar fashion"
The junior's voice took on an almost enthusiastic tone, "No! Although they personally espouse tolerence, as a culture they are ruled by a conservative drive to maintain the status quo and a distrust of change. It would appear that their lack of passion also means a lack of compassion and - as can be seen by their relationship with their Andorian neighbours - a lack of trust."
Just look at the worlds that make up this present Coalition of Planets. They don't just have different cultural, religious or political differences - they are quite literally alien to each other! If they can hold true to this ideal of apreciating the infinite diversity of the different civilisations that people the universe, there is no reason why it could not encompass all of them."
There was no hiding the excitement in the younger Organian's voice now.
"Think about it! Just as the different members of this current conference speak different languages, future entrants might breathe a different air, their physiology might be based on a different element (silicon-based for example), they might even have different methods of reproducing... in fact they might have an entirely different concept of reality from humanity's! They are talking about creating a federal body for the coalition. If they can create a baseline for relating to each other within the coalition, it can also be the basis for their relationship with sentients outside the Federation, such as the Klingons and Romulans?
He paused for effect, to give his tirade a chance to sink in to his fellow Organian before continuing. "My belief is that the principle of IDIC is the *only* way that such a body could hold itself together for any length of time."
For the first time, his superior nodded. "I believe you might be correct, however means that there is even more reason to hurry.. We will need to orchestrate a First Contact much earlier, perhaps as
IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations! It relates to Real Life much more closely than you might think. It is not just a matter of personal choice. It applies to what could be the only philosophy that can guarentee the succesful survival of federalism in government and culture.
In Australia as in America we have three levels of government: Local, State and Federal, in a larger international arena we are a member of the United Nations so, all told we probably have four levels altogether. Each level affects our lives in different ways: our sanitation and library services by local, our health and road services by State, our criminal and property laws are (to a large extent) governed by Federal government and the basic tenets of human rights are (supposedly) enshrined in the charters of the UN
What keeps all these cogs and gears of goverment from clashing? On a cultural level what makes it so that all the ethnic and religious factions that make up our population can live with each other? Conversely what is the root cause of most of the breakdowns in relationships between peoples and communities?
On the one hand understanding and acceptance and on the other hand ignorance and a desire to enforce our own ideas on others.
But there are cons - where should tolerance end? Should we tolerate slavery and female discrimination? Ritual sacrifice and canibalism? Zombies and vampires? The challenge in modern society is to define the line beyond which we cannot tolerate the behavior of others and brand it as illegal, immoral or unethical?
I have faith in the ultimate survival of the human race because I believe that if we can learn to respect the ideas and ideals of others, to walk a mile in their shoes or to see the world through their eyes then to attack others would be to attack ourselves!
Many years ago I corresponded with someone from Northern Ireland, who I knew to be Protestant because we were discussing common genealogy. He sent me a beautiful illustration from The Book of Kells and I mentioned that it was heartening to see a Northern Irishman who appreciated Catholic Celtic culture. His answer to me was, "We have more in common than we have things that keep us apart."