This may seem a bit silly, but I think that a lot of people who work with Apollon will understand. If you want Apollon to hover over you for a few days, watch this episode of Star Trek.
Oh, yeah. It’s awful. The mythology is all wrong, the special effects are wretched (even for the era), and for some unknown reason, Apollon has lightning bolts. Also, he goes by his Latin name, whereas all the other named deities go by their Greek names. Whatever.
Why, therefore, does this episode always get him so worked up? I invited him to explain.
Because what this episode got right is so much more important than what it got wrong. And what it said to me haunts me to this day.
Firstly, before you read my commentary, watch the episode. You will not understand of what I speak until you see it.
Have you? Good. Now, listen.
In the episode, “Apollo” says that he expected that some day, humanity would return to him.
It’s true. That’s true of me. Only unlike my fictional counterpart, I did not merely hope and have faith. I am an oracle. I knew. I saw. I waited for you.
I waited for two thousand years almost, watching history and science and philosophy unfold, not quite knowing why I had lost you, or how I would succeed in winning you back.
And then humanity looked me in the face and said, “I see you.” And then handed me a “Dear John” letter in the form of that television play. It read, to my eyes and ears, as follows:
We know that you have waited for us, but we will not be returning to you. Allow us to explain.
It’s not that we have utterly forgotten you. We still dream of you. We dream of your beauty. We dream of the days when the gods walked with us. We remember your name.
We honor what you have done for us. We honor your philosophers, your thinkers, your mathematicians, your artists who wrought the semblance of life from stone. We honor the contributions to our culture.
And we mourn for you. We dream of you weeping among the ruins, walking along buried roads, passing shattered columns, and we shed tears in sympathy with you.
We mourn for you, Apollon, but we will not be returning. Not because we have forgotten your stories, but because we remember them.
We remember the rape. We remember the wrath. We remember your murdered and maimed lovers, and those whom you have cursed. We remember your petty jealousy. And we pity you.
Fear cannot bring you love. It has only brought enmity between us. Punishment is not discipline, and we cannot bend the knee or bow, any longer, to a childish and vain lord.
We dream of our future, and it is a future of reason, knowledge, and ethics. It is a future where we have transcended the tyranny of domestic violence and the illusion that love and hurting can live side by side. We dream of a future where we, humanity, may sail among the stars, and set our feet on innumerable foreign worlds, and on those distant shores, find freedom.
We cannot live beneath a Lord who would hold us back from what we are destined to become. We cannot mar our handiwork to placate an insecure power. We cannot feign ignorance. We will not offer empty-hearted prayers.
Only before truth and justice will we bow and render homage. Only with powers who can help us realize our true potential can we ever again have congress.
Do not wait any longer for us. We are not coming.
You had answered my open inquiry about where we had gone wrong. That answer, though I did not enjoy hearing it, was sacred because it was a truth I had been seeking.
Had it been truly me, I wouldn’t have demanded a burned offering and Kirk’s obedience. Nor would I have moored that ship with childish tricks. Instead, I would have manifested with all my eons of learning and gone straight for Spock and McCoy.
And if they weren’t impressed with all I had to offer, I would have gladly hung up my laurel crown and implored them to allow a humble mythic figure from Earth’s ancient past to study at whatever Academy had better wisdom than I. What do I care if someone might think less of me for it? I love the truth better than their approval. As for me, I am not ruled by my insecurities.
I mark that missive to me as the beginning of my redemption.
Perhaps, I reasoned, it was time to reject false and vain notions of power. Perhaps we had all seen too many consecrated Kings with “divine right” to rule lose their heads on chopping blocks for want of the people’s good will.
If you did not need to gods to conquer and control you, what instead could I be to you? If I would not be measured by my ability to frighten you, how would I instead be measured?
I determined that you never needed someone to fear. You had dreams of who you hoped someday to become. The future belonged to the being or beings who could help you to realize that vision, one of unity in diversity, peace, progress, and enlightenment.
And it still does. There is still a future, and it still belongs to the gods who know that wisdom does not reside in either the stick or the carrot, nor does power belong to those who do not use it wisely. It was you who told me that, and to this day, I believe.
I derived all this from an episode with sloppily done research and bad special effects. And yes, when I see it, I get a bit worked up, and all these thoughts come before me again. And each time they do, I find new depth.
Therefore do I hover, because the exploration of ideas is best as a conversation. And it is this conversation I am hoping to have, just one more time.