Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Getting better

by Rob - September 9th, 2009.
Filed under: Wonder, WWW.

In the interview I did recently with the CBC’s Shelagh Rogers, Shelagh and I talked about the difference between Margaret Atwood’s SF and my own. I think we’re getting better over time, and Margaret thinks we’re getting worse. I elaborate on this a lot in Wonder, the third WWW book, which I’m working on right now. In fact, I was re-reading this bit from that book this evening, in which Caitlin’s mom, the game theorist Dr. Barbara Decter, compares the older founding documents of the United States with the newer ones of the UN:

“When the Founding Fathers said, `We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ they still hadn’t expanded that community of moral consideration to include blacks, for instance; Thomas Jefferson held slaves.

“But when the United Nations proclaimed its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first, they explicitly removed any ambiguity about who was a person, saying, `Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion,’ and so on. And they went on to forbid what the Founding Fathers had seen nothing wrong with: `No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.’

“That’s not mere economics, Caitlin; that’s moral progress, and, despite occasional backsliding, there’s no doubt that our morality hasn’t just changed over time, it’s measurably increased. We treat more people with dignity and as equals than ever before in human history; the progress has been measurable even on time scales as small as decades.”

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Leave a Reply