We lied to ourselves. A well-meaning, optimistic lie but a lie all the same. We repeated this lie so often throughout the three hundred years from the twentieth century to the twenty-second that we began to believe it completely, incorporating it into our racial self-image.
We told the lie in our popular culture to begin with. In our books, our films, our television shows and our comic books. We repeated it so often that even our intellecual elite began to repeat it, spread it as though it was an observable, empirical truth.
We told ourselves that we were a “young race”, full of as-yet-unrealised potential.
Our popular culture was saturated with the idea. Whenever television-humanity ventured into space and encountered aliens who had been travelling among the stars for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, it would be repeated. We would suffer setbacks, conflicts, trials and tribulations but we would invariably overcome them. We would credit our successes to a unique “human spirit”, an indomitable will that, apparently, other races just did not have. The aliens, whether they were the source of the conflict, allies against them or simply observers of our fate, would announce to us that, to paraphrase (although I’m almost certain this will prove to be a verbatim quote from somewhere), “You are yet but a young race,” and, “We see much potential in you and look forward to the day you come of age and we may traverse the galaxy together.”
When we eventually managed to reach beyond our own solar system, this myth was shattered spectacularly. We have, in fact, discovered that humanity is less of a promising, adolescent species and more of a middle-aged adult with violent tendencies and profound learning difficulties.
There are those of us who accept this assessment and seek to learn from the other races. There are those who reject it and have sought to prove the others wrong through great feats of exploration or trade.
Most, though, have chosen to reject not just the other races’ opinion of us but also the races, themselves.
As a Colonial Garda, it is my job to make sure that Humanity continues to grow and thrive among the stars. It is my job to arrest and punish those who seek to corrupt themselves, their religion and Human culture with alien thinking and heathen gods.
And for the sake of all that I love most dear, I must ignore the fact that we’ve got it so wrong.