Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor only appeared for one season, and while some of the special effects and story lines during his tenure were not the best, (though every season has it’s hits and misses) the 9th Doctor was a fascinating character and I believe a the ninth doctor was the perfect way to introduce the show to a new generation. So in honor of his era, here are my top favorite quotes from the first season of NUWho.
Episode: World War Three
We live in an increasingly diverse and complicated world, whose problems are massive and often global in scope. Technology and societal norms appear to be changing at a rapid rate. For instance, while growing up the flip phone and then the blackberry were the hottest cellphone devices. The blackberry meant that we could check our emails even when not in front of a computer! Now, smart phones have so many different functions that I sometimes forget it’s original purpose is to take and place calls! And of course, those slightly older than me remember the giant cell phones from the 90s. And that is one relatively small example of a much larger technological stage of advancement. Technology isn’t the only sphere constantly changing but social attitudes continue to evolve. Just a few years ago legalizing same sex Marriage looked like a utopian fantasy, but now numerous states have recognized the validity of same sex marriages and it seems as if it is only a matter of time before the rest of the United States follows suit.
However, what happens during times of rapid change? People retreat. They tend to not only cherish the familiar but insist on it. As a result new social progress is often loudly decried and fervently fought against. Millions of dollars are being wasted by companies, individuals, and political organizations to demonize the “other”-whether that be the LGBTQ, immigrants, Muslims, etc The problem with such an attitude is that it often fosters a “LALALA, I can’t hear/see anything” mentality. People become so entrenched in their beliefs that when evidence of change is staring them in the face they either vehemently try to turn back the hands of time, or they pretend that such evidence does not exist. The 9th Doctor had no qualms about calling humanity out on its collective stupidity. And in this case is has some funny but harsh words to say go those who see evidence of a changing world and choose to ignore it.
As a seminary student-I can see how this attitude is negatively impacting the Christian denominations regardless of their theological slant. While I am not advocating for a complete dismissal of tradition, Christians of various stripes are struggling with examining which traditions, rituals, and even theological beliefs are relevant in a rapidly changing world. Some have chosen to simply take a defensive posture-any new information or idea is automatically rejected. Any evidence, including scientific evidence is discarded if it is incompatible to a certain theological world-view. As a result Christianity is becoming a caricature of itself. In order for humanity to grow-individually and socially, we need to be willing to acknowledge what is staring us in the face even if it goes against deeply cherished traditions and beliefs and even if it means embracing a new worldview.
The Doctor justifiably feels rage and disgust at the site of this single Dalek. This Dalek represents the war that wiped out his people and that wreaked havoc on the universe. And yet here was this thing-alive while so many others are dead. The Doctor had to destroy his own people to end this massive war yet a Dalek survive. Was the Doctor’s action and the deaths of his people all in vein? The Doctor’s anger at the Dalek also serves as an outward manifestation of the hatred he feels towards himself. He wants to annihilate the Dalek, an attitude that makes sense and is understandable. But the problem with violence and revenge is that it transforms those seeking it, into the very thing that they despise. We see this happen on a large global scale in various conflicts. The various sides engage in retaliation and seek revenge and instead of ending the cycle of violence it only exacerbates it and causes more death and destruction.
Episode: The End of the World
The news about how humanity is essentially destroying our planet is sobering. Our consumerist attitude towards natural resources is causing untold harm to our environment and we are beginning to see the effects as numerous species have gone or face extension, as weather patterns rapidly change, and as we struggle to understand the implications of living in a planet of 7 billion people. (Interestingly enough, however, many so called first world countries struggle with population growth-as their population is aging). Such concerns, obviously should be frankly discussed. However, it seems as if the media and general public is addicted to hearing about our impending doom. Every day there seems to be a new product/disease/looming environmental disaster that will bring about our destruction. And while information and knowledge and yes a bit of fear is good-fear can also become paralyzing and fatalistic. Some people are beginning to have a “who cares” attitude toward the environment and the numerous challenges we face, since they assert that it will all eventually be destroyed anyway. Such an attitude serves to only impede progress. I think if we can imagine that we will survive whatever challenges come our way, then humanity has a chance of envisioning the type of world that we hope will survive and work towards that vision.
Episode: Boom Town
Exploitation and power often serve as society’s structural foundation. What does it say about a company that pays domestic workers minimum wage and pays pennies to those who serve in foreign countries building the products that we all use (including me)? What does it say about companies whose workers are essentially treated as cattle, forced to work for hours with very little breaks, and who are worked until they are injured and then denied care? And all this is done in the name of profit and providing cheap products to the consumer. But yet, these very companies then pride themselves on providing a few students or a few neighborhoods with money. What about our nation’s foreign policy? Which has been used to bring an end to genocidal practices, but in other cases seems to provide the very technology that contributes to the death of thousands/millions of people? I think the Doctor’s quote is challenge for us-to embrace responsibility for the actions we take individually and collectively. It is not enough to pat ourselves on the back for doing good work, but we need to call ourselves and our nation to practices that are consistent with the values we supposedly endorse.
Episode: The Parting of The Ways
I love buying things-if I have the money. I especially have an addiction to buying Doctor who merchandise and theology books. Is this necessarily bad? Only if it comes at the expense of my financial security or if it involves exploitation. But we live in a society where consumerism is an obsession, even during this economic downturn. Looking the best, having the latest gadget has become a national obsession and while having new things and having the latest technology is great, only if we can separate our identity, sense of self-worth and values from the objects we possess. Materialism and the craving to acquire new stuff is not necessarily wrong, but it can be when it is used to promote the status quo by causing us to become distracted from what matters. It becomes problematic when we would rather bury ourselves 24/7 in the latest gadget or website then pay attention to what is going on around us in our families, neighborhood, and world. Heck, I am ashamed to even begin to detail how much time I spend on facebook and the more time I spend on my personal page-the more depressed and empty I feel. As humans we aren’t meant to live as socially isolated individuals whose main concern is material wealth. (Though if you are struggling to pay for food, rent, and your bills, then of course getting the basic necessities for you and your family is to be your main concern). I believe that as humans we are supposed to care for one another-not just for our close friends and families but for our neighbors both locally and globally.
A me, me me, mentality is not inherently bad. We need to take care of ourselves, of our families, of our state, our nation etc but we also need to step beyond our own concerns. We need to be able to live a life that stands up to the status quo when it is harmful. For me that is a life that is worth living. Don’t get me wrong, I love my lap, my books, and my stuff. But they don’t define who I am, at least I hope not. I want to be the type of person that Rose describes. And I think, that deep down most people have that same desire: to live a courageous and meaningful life.