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THE PRIME DIRECTIVE


Dreamed 1994/3/9 by Chris Wayan


I'm on Star Trek. We find a new world with intelligent life. Their culture's still in the barbarian stage, no more advanced than, say, Earth around 2000, yet they instantly see the advantages of joining a Federation of more advanced peoples.

But the Prime Directive, our basic law of exploration, is not to interfere with cultures less technologically advanced than our own. And they are one, clearly.

But unlike most primitives, they instantly realize our magic may be learnable, and even deduce the Prime Directive from our cautious behavior. So they manage, through outrageous bluffs, to present themselves as far more advanced than they are. Use actors and stage-magic to convince us they have crude matter transmission etc.

They win tentative membership. By faking it. While they scramble at home to restructure, anticipating the social shockwave when our real high-tech floods their economy...

Frauds! Yet... don't they deserve it? They're actively and constructively shaping their society--not letting it be shaped by others more "advanced". In fact they outsmarted us!

No need to worry about the Prime Directive with people like this. Social technology is as real and useful as physical tools. They not only can hold their own--they have a lot to teach us.

NOTES IN THE MORNING

My prime directive is "never change people" as if they're primitive societies I have to leave alone. I learned it in school, where I was a child prodigy. They didn't want me answering every question. They taught me to shut up, wait, put off MY learning, while the other kids floundered along.

That left a scar I didn't see: even today, out of school, I hide what I really think, don't contribute much in groups, because I don't want to influence them too much, give them a free ride. Even with friends, I hold back from the most uncomfortable truths sometimes: I'm not allowed to interfere with lesser life-forms.

Trying to humble me, my teachers made me smug. And I never knew.

OOPS! LATER THAT DAY

My friend Roxana, an aspiring dancer and writer, calls for the first time in weeks.

Her first words are "I have a new Prime Directive! Every day, I have to write one page of good prose, and then do ballet barre."

My new Prime Directive is to burst out laughing. I don't know if practical jokes are a sign of social skill, but my dreams, low-tech or not, were ahead of me again.



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