I’m almost disappointed at the fact that I feel no doubt in my mind that the answer is spaceships. I have no time for the dinosaur argument whatsoever.
It’s always been spaceships.
There’s a lot of reasons for this.
And it’s worth noting, that as a curious child, I probably spent more time obsessed with dinosaurs than I did with spaceships.
But then, spaceships are more than spaceships. A lot of the biggest ones you don’t even notice. It’s possible to forget that Star Trek (I grew up with The Next Generation) is on a spaceship, because that isn’t what it’s about.
You can’t do that with dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs are at best, still just dinosaurs.
Spaceships are hope, are the future. Are a way of believing that the world can be better.
Dinosaurs are old crusty things that if they were alive today would just eat us.
I’ve seen Jurassic Park. I know.
Spaceships are something else though. Spaceships are a way of escaping the troubles of this planet, which may even give the opportunity to actually save it.
Spaceships are symbolic, to me, of a better future.
Not all future’s with spaceships are pleasant. And in fact, being a gamer, I’m aware that most of them involve photon torpedoes, lasers and explosions. War follows us into space.
But that’s just our fiction. I actually remain something of a tech-utopian. Or at least a technoptimist.
Spaceships represent solutions to our problems. Solar sails and energy collectors. Mined resources and orbital agriculture. Alternative solutions. In space.
It’s actually a little over the top, and what we need to do first is change our structures on earth. Find those smaller scale solutions that make the planet function better. Put aside the petty squabbling for resources and figure out how to do the best for everybody. Fractal politcs, where the smallest unit of people (me) is respected as much as every step upwards (my household, my street, my neighbourhood, my locality, my town, my city, my county, my region, my country, my continent, my planet). Where I have an influence over the decisions that affect me, along with everyone else. Where we can come up with local solutions to work on local problems, and global problems.
Once we’ve sorted that out, we’d deserve to start spreading our wings a little.
Once we’ve formed a co-operative unit with the whole planet here, Collectivisng the biosphere (in a good way), we should start spreading to the stars. Searching for other lifeforms to co-operate with.
To me, as to the hippies and futurists of the sixties (I’m looking at you Timothy Leary), this is what spaceships are. They are a passage to extend out into the universe, engaging with the larger everything.
And learning, living, exploring.
Spaceships are optimism. Dinosaurs are dead.
I know which I’d rather ride on.