States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.
The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization.
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.
For the second year in a row, the finals of Amarillo's debate tourney pits two long-time augment bubble colleagues against each other. The arbiter AI measures their experience and track record and then announces the proposition.
"Today's debate between Wei Le Sanchez and Timithia Wong asserts that ancestor worship is not an effective life philosophy."
Nearly ten thousand virtual onlookers across Amerasia stream the feed, most from the Texas Ed Collective as assigned by their augment bubble committees. Wei Le opens her argument in favor of the proposition.
"Thank you, arbiter. I'll concede from the start that human evolution research indicates familial and tribal instincts are part of our programming makeup. In addition, what we learn from our parents and elders establishes our life mindset to a great degree. Still the vast majority of knowledge and wisdom has been generated, refined and upkept by those of our species distantly related to us. Indeed, the current generation of humanity, being the stewards of our communities and planet, must continually adjust and validate those lessons learned independently of their origin. In the past, worldwide cultures too often have put faith in ancestor conclusions and priorities that came before them, resulting in bad outcomes. I admit some respect ought to be allotted to our ancestors, to acknowledge their efforts and the role genetic inheritance plays in our lives. Nevertheless those gifts are mostly serendipitous, and we should not be afraid to reject completely ideas that were accepted by our parents from their parents. Whether it be conquest, racism, capitalism, or god worship, it is our duty to strike down injustice and bad data so that civilization can progress. Conversely, ancestor worship represents the epitome of moving backwards. Sure, let's respect our parents, not by blind admiration, but by taking the baton from them and forging a future better than they permitted themselves to imagine."
Across Texas, the debate has been trending in real-time, in part due to a handful of influencers that have taken next-gen advocacy to heart. Acknowledging this, Timithia consults the mixed response infographics on her VisAR and counters the opening argument with a solid retort.
"On the face of it, the phrase 'ancestor worship' has a harsh tone to it. However, the respect of our elders is the true baton that needs to be passed on for our society to remain effective and strong. The great State of Texas demonstrates how for decades now the cultural celebration of Eastern culture instilled by our elders has been beyond successful to numerous standards . Were our grandparents not to have organized the Zhuānzhù to bring Americans of Asian heritage to our State, the fall of Oosa would have likely suppressed the accumulated knowledge our ancestors, throwing Texan society into a cultural plague. Without our ancestor's effort the Second Enlightenment that thrives strong here would never have occured. And so, though I agree the future of our State and its impact across the planet are the current generation's responsibility, we must keep the sacred nature of our ancestry strong so as to ensure their legacy carries forward in the minds of our children and grandchildren."
Online, the debate's popularity has achieved historic popularity. Queued views have almost ensured it will reach viral status. Wei Le concedes internally that this proposition won't be resolved today, still the importance of the topic inspires her to take a different tact.
"Your points have some merit, and I agree we should respect our elders, but more importantly we should reject their less desirable notions. This is the antithesis of worship. Worship, by its very nature, surrenders critical thinking and progressive ethical considerations to the wayside just as the guru religions have. Do we want to end up in the mindless throes of a near-theocratic state like Oosa or the African Order? Furthermore, Oosa is the ancestral nation-state of the Texan Commonwealth. Does it deserve respect and admiration? To be sure, I don't deny the notion that a historical paradigm forgotten is one damned to recur. So, by all means like Newton, we can stand on the shoulders of giants before us, but rather than celebrate the turtles that recede below, let us unfurl our wings and soar much higher."
Timithia consults the dynamic net-critique projections. Virtual onlooker statistics swirl in turmoil, indicating high uncertainty in demographic subgroup alignment with the proposition. Even though polarization across Amerasian districts have only shifted modestly away from societal norms, she shifts her response technique to circle up the outliers.
"Seriously? The idea that Oosa was our ancestor is an utterly false analogy. If anything, the vitriolic atmosphere of that country disregarded its enlightenment ancestry outright. And the fact it did so to turn a profit for its elite for generations, that is what encouraged our elders, elders of every station I might add, to look to Eastern culture and its deep respect for their ancestors to bring stability to our society. Only by drawing upon the teachings of Lao Tzu, Siddartha and Confucius were they able to solidify the governing communities of Texas into a peaceable whole. In as much as their teachings aren't infallible, they embody deeply good teachings that deserve to be passed down like blood bringing oxygen to the the flesh of our future. Remember, great ideas are but abstractions destined to wither alone. They will only thrive if they are conveyed down the generations in the sinews and synapses of humankind. So perhaps we need to redefine worship as a sacred deference to what we find important as a society. Surely our ancestors sacrificed their lives enough to deserve that much, so that we might honor them, following the essence of their desires with integrity."
The arbiter's mellifluous voice interjects. "Wonderful thoughts both, delightfully capturing the core of Amerasian principles especially in regards to respectful, heartfelt parley. You now each have thirty seconds to conclude."
Wei Le inhales, waving away the statistical sidebar on her VisAR.
"It should be clear. The worship of ancestors is a completely outdated paradigm. Further, worship is a term that ought to be retired to the fiction shelves just like god, magic and supply-side economics. If you believe that ethical ideas are as immutable as quarks, then we are as lost as the Judeo-christian culture was lost to their perceived moral righteousness. If you believe that the future of Texas and of the planet depend on the best human reason and compassion have to offer, then I kindly ask you to support the proposition that ancestor worship is not an effective world view."
Timithia smiles inwardly, if only for being able to put the last word in.
"My colleague would have you believe the current generation can stand strong without the accumulated wisdom that our ancestors refined over millennia. Of course, thinking reasonably and compassionately for yourself is beneficial, but without drawing upon the experience and connection to our elders, our society will indeed be destined down the path that Oosa wandered, down a path to fracture, malevolence and self-destruction. In the end, the proposition that our ancestors deserve respect at the level of worship has deeply good and meaningful roots. We simply should never forget where we came from if we want to walk forward with confidence."
The online commentary, and arbiter scoring proceeds with typical fanfare. After the arbiter announces the winner, it closes the stream leaving the channel open for the debaters per long tradition. Wei Le and Timithia face each other virtual eye to eye.
"A bit of grandstanding I must say, but a solid debate! So, hey, are we still on for some tennis tomorrow?"
"It'll be a hot one, but no rain means we got game! I'll bring the balls, if you bring some of your family's famous dragon punch. That and we both agree to leave our arguments in the locker room."
They both laugh.