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There is nothing left to see.

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In Serenity, the Operative is an otherwise nameless government agent set on stopping the rather protagonists. The relative merits of the systems - the Alliance's bureaucratic control vs. the Browncoat's libertarian bent - isn't the point here, it's the Operative himself. He is not part of the government, he is not part of the world he is helping to create and protect. He is a true believer in that better world - but is fully recognizant of his role as a monster in its defense. The Operative is - at least in his own perception - the immune system of that better world. He is not part of it, but is intrinsic to its survival.

It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin...I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

I was certain this was - while a bit of smart writing on the part of Mr. Whedon et al - not the given that it is taken to be. That social change does not inherently *require* those completely separate from it. That a better world can come about without the Operative - or his equivalents - to ensure that the old order does not wreck it.

And then I learn of the Deacons for Defense, who performed a similarly protective (though not prone to the Operative's excesses) role for the largely non-violent USAian civil rights movement. Their role has been played down - even outright ignored - by popular culture.

It appears that our popular culture has submerged the history of valiant, brave people to praise the mythology of non-violence. It appears that we have lauded passive struggle while ignoring those who made the passive struggle sustainable. When else, I wonder, has this happened? Gandhi? What about the Nazarenes and other militant Jewish groups of the time of Yeshua?

When do our heroes and protectors - our societal immune system - become monsters? What is the distinction between inflammation and autoimmune disorders, between sustaining peace and becoming a police state?

When is the world better *enough*?

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