Friday, April 10, 2020

Legacy of the Twelve Colonies Volume IV: Battlestar Galactica... There's a Starbuck Waiting in the Sky

Forgiveness, like revenge, is a dish best served cold. At least, that's what mom always told me. Learning to move on from any kind of sustained animosity or after being wronged is no easy feat for either the forgiver or the forgivee (unless either one of those parties is a complete sociopath, which in that case, problem solved, I guess), and in my own experience, forgiveness is almost always driven by some utilitarian purpose. This isn't a knock against any variety of situational pragmatism: in fact quite the opposite. Most important decisions in life tend to be made only when our hand is forced. (Or maybe I'm just an indecisive bastard.) Real life has a way of throwing curve balls; it's these changes in our personal situations that tend to act as catalysts for our really big decisions. And rightfully so. In life, as in film, we're often far better served by what we need rather than by what we want. And the contingency that serves as an impetus for driving decisions should also necessarily bleed over into the content of those decisions:

Like trust, respect, love, and making on offer on a house, forgiveness should always be conditional.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but essentially what I'm arguing for is forgiveness in the sense of accountability rather than forgiveness in the mystic sense of the Christian (or Cylon) tradition, which is tainted by this concept of absolution. People absolutely should be given second chances, but it's important to make this distinction between accountability and absolution. Accountability is a process of accepting responsibility for one's actions, and involves an effort on the part of the individual who wronged someone to better themselves and atone for what they've done; it's also a process that involves that individual's society (either on a macro or micro level) to work with and support them, and reintegrate them back into the group. Absolution, on the other hand, is an abdication of all responsibility by all parties to have to change or strive to do better; it's a surrender, in the worst sense of the word, of any kind of moral obligation for everyone involved, sacrificing the need to process uncomfortable emotions like hate, anger, guilt, or resentment in favour of a self-indulgent and immediate gratification.

Like much of the series, Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica doesn't shy away from difficult ethical questions like this. Season 4 was, in many respects, centred around this core theme of the pragmatism of forgiveness, and that divide between accountability and absolution. Well, that, and, of course, hot robot sex.