Friday, November 20, 2015

Resistance is NOT futile!

        Fans of the Star Trek franchise know the line "Resistance is futile" as representing the "Borg", an alien race (ranked by TV Guide in 2013 as the 4th nastiest villain of all time).  According to the Wikipedia entry on the Borg"[They] are a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones in a hive mind called the Collective, or the hive. The Borg use a process called assimilation to force other species into the Collective by violent injection of microscopic machines called nanoprobes. The Borg's ultimate goal is 'achieving perfection'.  Part of the ongoing thematic presence of the Borg is related to their inability to "assimilate" a captain of the starship Enterprise:  Jean Luc Picard.  Despite their claim that "resistance is futile", Captain Picard was ultimately able to resist  While he was not left "undamaged", his time associated with the collective provided him knowledge on how to battle the collective.
        The episodes featuring the Borg came to mind this morning as I was reading the book of First Maccabees.  This book, found in the Greek Septuagint (translated from a Hebrew original written in the 2nd century BCE) is considered as sacred scripture in some Christian denominations, but not all.  It tells the story of a revolt in Judea by a group known as the Maccabees against their Greek rulers (175-134 BCE).  The first few chapters relate how these Greek overlords had sought to stamp out everything, everywhere, of the local culture and religion.  In Judea, they desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and forbad the practice of Judaism (including circumcision, or even possessing Jewish scriptures).  Many of the inhabitants chose to assimilate rather than face the the consequences, i.e., death.  They believed that resistance was futile.

        The family of Mattathias -- especially his sons Judas Maccabeus, Jonathan Apphus and Simon Thassi -- did NOT believe resistance was futile.  Their energy, their faith, was such that many from Judea rallied to them.  Despite overwhelming odds, they were able to defeat the Greeks.  They cleaned up the Temple, got rid of the desecrated altar, and dedicated the Temple with an eight-day feast.  Jews today will commemorate that astonishing, miraculous, event in a few weeks as they observe Hanukkah, the Feast of the Dedication.
         Given the events of the last few weeks/months, from the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis to the terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris and Mali to the immigration debate to the incredibly hateful language coming out of the mouths of presidential candidates and governors of states, it would almost seem that the Borg, or Antiochus Epiphanes, has arrived in America.  Resistance to their rhetoric seems to be futile as politician after politician seem to fall over themselves to be more extreme, gaining an ever-growing popular following.
           Yet we have also seen instances where resistance has toppled "empires" -- most notably at the University of Missouri. We have seen resistance rock the foundations at other institutions, such as Yale.  We know from history that, over and over, resistance moves us forward, perhaps not without cost -- Capt. Picard remained throughout his career a "walking wounded" voyager and there were casualties among the Maccabean revolutionaries.           Our many faith traditions encourage us to resist the status quo, to resist the imposition of unjust laws, and in some respects to resist our own self-interests on behalf of the marginalized, the dispossessed, "orphans and widows", and the stranger.  We must band in common cause against "the Borg" that is threatening to overtake our national soul, perhaps our individual souls.  We are bigger than that; I believe it.
           The photo above is of juvenile Borg. We who are part of the academic enterprise must give our all to prevent that "fiction" from becoming a reality. We must, in the language of 1 Maccabees 
(1:54 & 4:43), topple the "abomination of desolation" that so many in power are attempting to maintain.  It is our sacred duty to prove that "resistance is NOT futile" but is absolutely necessary.  



1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully rousing and a needed reminder. Thank ;you.