‘The Kobayashi Maru is fiction, but it teaches us an important lesson: In a construct that is inherently ‘no-win’ by design, the only way to overcome that construct is to break the construct.’
I WOULD like to talk about the riots in the United States and the recent Malacanang push to fast-track the Anti-Terror Bill. And to do this, I’d like to talk about the Kobayashi Maru.
The Kobayashi Maru is a fictional simulation exercise in Star Trek lore, and the scenario goes like this: A cadet assumes the role of Starfleet captain, and responds to a distress call from the ship named Kobayashi Maru. It is disabled and losing critical systems and life support, but is also along the Klingon border. This means that if the cadet chooses to mount a rescue, Klingon ships will arrive, see a Federation ship, and attack it. There is no negotiation, no suing for peace, no diplomacy. And no matter the skill of the cadet, a three-on-one starship battle is always a losing proposition.
The cadet can also choose not to come to the aid of the Kobayashi Maru, and the simulation ends with the crew of the Kobayashi Maru dying. Not the most palatable of options.
As simulations go, the Kobayashi Maru is designed so that there is no scenario where the cadet “wins.” It is described and characterized as a “test of character.” So how did Star Trek’s most famous captain, James T. Kirk, handle the Kobayashi Maru?
The Kobayashi Maru is fiction, but it teaches us an important lesson: In a construct that is inherently “no-win” by design, the only way to overcome that construct is to break the construct.
So let’s talk now about the riots in the United States, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Yes, the riots may be violent. Yes, looting and property destruction have taken place. Yes, these are wrong. But the fundamental problem here, and the reason why people are outraged and protesting in the middle of a pandemic, is that black people have been and continue to be systematically victimized by a construct that allows racism to permeate law enforcement and the justice system, nearly three decades removed from Rodney King.
Blacks can’t protest peacefully. Colin Kaepernick is living proof of it. So what can they do, other than protest and riot? When a black life is snuffed out like it was just another day at the office, how can the destruction and looting of property be considered a more important issue?
Over here, President Duterte has certified the amendments to the Anti-Terror Bill as “urgent,” as if somehow going after government critics and dissenters is more important than handling pandemic responses and economic recovery post-COVID-19. They want unelected officials to have the power to brand a person a “terrorist” and to have the same person arrested without warrant and detained for nearly a month even without formal charges. Essentially a virtual bill of attainder proscribed by the Constitution, not to mention a serious lack of due process.
These are the kinds of legal constructs I wouldn’t trust a good administration with, let alone an absolutely incompetent and disgustingly anti-Filipino/pro-China one.
Soon, we will no longer be able to dissent and criticize our own government, peacefully or otherwise. So, what can we do, other than protest? When our democratic way of life is snuffed out like it was just another day at the office, how can “but the terrorists” be considered a more important issue?
When the construct is inherently “no win,” then we have no choice.
We have to break the construct.