"A Night of a Thousand Dances"
Good evening, listeners, and thank you for tuning in to the latest edition of "The Sounds of War." For those of you new to this broadcast, or perhaps even new to the world, let me introduce myself. My name is Grand Slam. I am, as many of you out there are, an Autobot warrior first and foremost. In fact, it is my duties as a soldier that will keep this particular installment unfortunately brief. And for any Decepticons that may be listening to this, I must point out, as always, no military information will be relayed in this broadcast.
When I have time, I also produce this show. I do this so that our Autobot warriors never forget what we are fighting for, never forget that we are not immortal gods, and never forget all the lives that are touched by our never-ending war. Sometimes I fear that we have become so callous to all of the death and destruction around us that we do forget these things. We forget, with our technical wizardry, that we can die any day in any battle and that our friends may as well. We forget that there are not just Autobots and Decepticons in the universe. We sometimes find ourselves so wrapped up in our little lives that we neglect to notice the lives and societies and cultures that pass by us, even on our own planet, even among our own friends. I have seen soldiers, so focused on success in battle and so weary from it, pass by the vacant eyes of deceased soldiers or the fuel littering the battlefield and fail to feel the stab into their souls as they once did. I know this has happened, just as all of you do. I too have found myself passing a shattered body of friend or enemy with hardly a second look. It is how we survive fighting all these millions of years.
Survival is the key word. Many of us find that we must distance ourselves if we are going to make it to the next day without slipping into madness. Imagine if we let the death of every friend or enemy impact us like the very first did. None of us would truly be alive anymore. We would be little more than zombies going through the motions, fighting because that is all we know to do.
What is at the heart of survival? It is not simply to win the fight and destroy our enemies without prejudice. It is to propagate a way of life that we hold dear. Autobots and Decepticons alike are trying to do this, in fact. Both sides hope to have their culture will survive to pass on to their ancestors. This culture is what we strive to keep safe and what helps us survive.
Several years ago, I was blessed to discover a poem. For those of you too young to remember, Cybertron was not always a land of war. There was peace, times that we called the Golden Age. During these Golden Ages, Autobot culture thrived. There were still soldiers and peacekeepers, but there were also merchants and artists and other such varied occupations. In the eyes of the Autobots, it was a time of beauty.
That is why the Autobots with which I shared this poem were so interested in it. They saw this as a glimpse of the past and of the very thing that they were fighting for. Let me hare with you the poem and then explain why it is not what those Autobots thought it was. It is called "A Night of a Thousand Dances."
I stare off to the east
The sun about to rise again
And though I should rejoice
I find my soul in tatters.
With the sunrise comes an end,
An end to the dances.
To see those dances
Partners spinning from horizon
To horizon, never wanting to let go
Trying to savor one more dance
Before day breaks and the sun
Bids farewell to another glorious night.
I look around, my eyes begging,
Longing for one more dance.
But it is not meant to be.
I do not fret for I know
The sun never lasts forever
And night will fall again.
The sun will set again
And the dancing begin anew
Until that day I will enjoy the light
Bask in its ever-short glow
And dream of that night.
A night of a thousand dances.
Some may call it coarse and perhaps it is. Others have said that it is amateurish and it may be. I am no art critic; I simply know what I like. But even those who have pointed out its flaws have embraced this poem. "You see," they would tell me, "this is what Cybertron was once like. We were carefree. That is what this poem represents." I agreed with them, stating that it may very well be an allusion to what it was like living in the Golden Age, if an Autobot had written the poem.
But a Decepticon wrote it.
The dance the author is referring to is battle, the thousand dances to the many battles between truces. The night represents a time of war and the dawn the coming of peace. It speaks to the depth the Decepticon culture, though we may find it wrong or counterproductive. The author, a soldier, is longing for peace yet a part of him wishes he could have just one more battle, one more dance. This soldier needs both peace and war, truce and battle. That is part of the Decepticon culture.
Lest I sound like I am about to defect to the other side, I find that the Decepticon cause is wrong with every inch of my being. I feel that the freedom of Autobots and others in our vast universe is important enough to fight for. The Decepticon culture would only allow solace to those who are Decepticons and crush those that are not. I find this repugnant. Yet it is still their culture and we are fighting to quash that, as the Decepticons are trying to quash ours. At the end of this war, when all is finally said and done, it will end with one less culture in the universe. That is the price of war. Someone always loses.
What we have been fighting is a clash of ideals. What the Autobots and Decepticons believe are so incompatible we have been warring for longer than most of us have been alive. All we know is war. And yet we have our culture, learning about it from scribes or stories. It is a culture that finds freedom and responsibility to be the highest virtues. The reason the Autobots fight is to allow freedom to thrive and to promote the idea that respecting the freedom of others is not a bad thing. Yet we have a conundrum of sorts. In winning this war, as I believe we will, we will thwart the freedom of the Decepticons, so that the freedom of others in the universe will remain intact. Despite the fact that the Decepticons are not respectful of the rights of others to make their own choices, it does not change the fact that they will not be free. That is why I believe we must tread lightly with how we see ourselves in battle.
What I most fear though is that the Autobots, in the end, will lose either way. By focusing on hate and anger to win battle, we forget the culture and ideals that we are built on. Warriors are becoming more violent and less merciful. Autobots, this is not who we are. Despite the fighting, despite the war we believe we must fight, we must always remember what we stand for. Think about that when you are on the battlefield with a gun to a downed enemy fighter and must make a choice of either taking him prisoner or killing him.
I firmly believe, in my soul, that in fighting this war we are doing the right thing and I believe that we will win. We simply must not let primal instincts overtake us in battle. We cannot let hate rule us, but the culture and society we have built over all these eons lead our souls in that hell. From the highest commander to lowest infantry, we must always lead by example, always exhibiting our beliefs rather than our rage in battle and show to everyone that this why we fight. If we can't do this, we will be doing more to destroy our society than the Decepticons.
Thank you all for listening. Good night.