Of Toasters and Skin Jobs – Battlestar Galactica
“Now she’s reviewing series?” You ask. “No” I reply. Well, not really, but this one just got a first class nomination to the blog. I like Sci Fi’s. I can never get enough of them, especially if they are well written, well played out and I can squeeze some lessons from them. Battlestar Galactica qualified in all three categories.
Battlestar Galactica originally aired way back when. 1978 to be precise, with a sequel in 1980. A re-imagined series debuted in 2003, with around 73 episodes. Yes. Those are tons of episodes. Worth every minute of your time if you ask me. Why I’m I obsessing about this particular series? Other than captivating my otherwise fleeting brain, and getting me all high on imaginary worlds, it had some lessons that could not be ignored, even by me. And these are the lessons that I’m trying to capture here. O and did I mention the theme song is something of art and science combined?
The plot is set in some distant galaxy, where humans, as creative as we like to be, decide to create robotic helpers (Cylons) who then turn against their masters and a war breaks between the two ‘races’, up until Cylons find some other planet to colonize, only to come back with a surprise attack on humans, with the unwitting help of the character you will love to learn to hate, Dr. Gaius Baltar, decimating the human population, leaving the few left running and fighting for their lives, all the while, looking for a new planet to colonize. You’ll have to watch the series to get the whole story but now to lessons:
1. Never Second Guess Your Decisions – Admiral William Adama
He does not start as an Admiral in the beginning. This is a title he acquires after the demise of his immediate Admiral, Helena Cain. With the human race’s survival places squarely in his shoulders, he had the hardest choices to make. To attack or not to attack, to leave people to their death or not, to send pilots to their sure demise or not. Yet, he held on to those decisions. Sure enough, some were hopelessly wrong, but what made him win on most, is he never second guessed himself. Can we learn to do that? To make decisions, go with them, and not second guess ourselves, no matter what our peers seem to think? Learn to live with these choices? That’s what makes leaders.
2. We All Need Something To Believe In – Dr. Gaius Balter
Did I mention this is the guy you will love to learn to hate? A victim of fate, he unwittingly led humanity to their destruction (well, almost destruction). Twice! Yes I know! The nerve of the rat! But one thing that was most admirable about this guy is that he hang on to faith. The faith he had. Or the faith that was in his head. In the name of Caprica six. Got him through a lot. No, I am not turning into a street preacher. All I’m saying is, you need something to fall back to. Something that grounds you. Call it God, call it faith, call it your inner spirit, call it your guide. Some people even go for a friend, who you know deep down, is unchanging, and will understand and listen to you, and not judge you. Without that, you will tend to feel lost, groping about in the dark.
3. Know When To Follow Rules and When To Break Them – Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
I love this girl. Not because she is a kick-ass, I-don’t-give-a-frack (no really, they use the word frack so much, it grows on you) kind of girl, but mostly because she believes in herself. Not in a good way. In the I-can-do-anything kind of way. It definitely gets her in tons of trouble because half the time she will not follow rules. Rules are there to guide us. I therefore do not advocate for their breakage. They should however not bind or blind us in a way that we cannot move ahead or we forget who we are and drop our own belief system. As humans, we are brilliant. If we just learn to step back, weigh situations, and decide whether rules apply or not, then we would cease to have lame excuses why we did not execute decisions.
4. Believe You Have A Purpose – President Laura Roslin
A school teacher, turned minister of education and through some twist of fate turned president, Laura has the hardest job in the fleet. To prove to everyone that she is not just a school teacher. Remember, she is in the midst of the military, who obviously would have an attitude and a thing or two to say about being bossed around by a school teacher. She does not give up though. Even in the face of death, she believes she has a purpose. So strong is her belief that even the military begin to look up to her, for guidance. She believed that fate put her in that fleet to help humanity find a home and she never wavered in her faith. We need that. Surely, you did not plan to be born, neither did you plan to be where you are. Don’t tell me you chose which high school to go to or which career path to take. Those are minor decisions you have had to make, mostly mapped by your environment and where you are, in your long path to fulfilling your purpose. Surely, it must be a great purpose….
5. Stick To Your Love – Karl “Helo” Agathon
Pay attention boys and girls, because this is as close as I shall get to giving you relationship advice. Mostly because I shall not be quoted in future or have such information used against me. Helo is one guy who has odds stuck up sky high against him, yet he does not waver in the love he has for Sharon, who happens to be a Cylon (skin job for those of us in the know). See in his stupidity or whatever we call this thing, he went and fell in love with this girl. This stupidity is a good thing though. So good and so strong is his love for the girl that he endures tons of humiliation from his peers, gets conned by the girl, almost dies but he does not give up on the love he has for the girl. What would you call that then? Madness? Probably. I call it a lesson in believing in the one you love. With such strong belief in your love, things like petty jealousy, neediness or insane fights will be a thing of the past, or reduced, in any case. Love is never one way. It does not require grand gestures or constant reminder. It is the little things or the grand things that we do for each other that matter the most. Encouraging each other in our growth paths, picking each other up when we fall. See deep down, we know when we find the right love. We are however too absorbed in pettiness that we never take time to learn and understand what we have, and when it’s taken away from us, either by some hand of fate or a brilliant human being, then we fall back to the woulda, coulda, shoulda. Come on kids! Stop and look! Really look! The man or the woman of your dreams has been next to you all along, but you’ve been too busy looking elsewhere that you did not notice!
These are the characters that sang to me throughout the series. There were however many who, by random acts of stupidity, kindness or malice really taught me a lot. Suffice it to say, this is one series that I shall keep going back to, if nothing else, for a constant reminder of the power of humanity.