It was not the first time that the 2.5 hours of daily required physical regimen had been debated at legislative session. The regimen’s merits had been criticized and discussed in nearly every cycle since the Glaive had left its last system nearly 400 years earlier.
“And why must we adhere to this rigorous regimen of physical tribulation any longer? Certainly there were merits to such activities when we were expected to see surface in our lifetimes, but none on this vessel will ever see surface.”
Some murmured ‘here, heres’ rumbled through the assembled body and watching crowd. Or perhaps they were ‘hear, hears’ and no one could remember any longer.
“The regimen is necessary for maintenance of physical prowess. Without the 2.5 hours required our bodies will lose the required bone density and subjected to many other adverse health effects——“
“We know why the regimen is required. There’s no reason to patronize every member of the assembled body by reciting facts, of which they are already acutely aware.”
An older gentleman took the floor, “I think we are, perhaps, overlooking a necessarily important function of this—” the word escaped him.
“Tradition?” someone suggested.
“It’s more than tradition,” a woman shouted.
“Well whatever it is,” the older gentleman continued, “I would suggest that it has more to do with identity than say, strictly speaking, physical capabilities.”
“Identity? How so?”
“I mean to say that we are more than what we have become. We were creatures once of great physical prowess stalking the plains of great continents. These exercises are a way of maintain a connection, however tenuous, with our heritage and past——”
“And if we were to stumble upon a rogue planet,” someone interrupted, “our sensors would only give us a few years warning. The bone loss would already be too great at that point to, if it was deemed necessary, go surface side.”
“The chances of finding a habitable planet, never mind those of finding a planet at all, are so astronomically small as to be entirely negligible.”
“We are going far askance of our topic at hand here.”
“Let us put it to a vote, then.”
“How can we put it to a vote when not everyone has been given the chance to speak on the issue,” someone volleyed from the back.
“We are overlooking the most damning detriment of foregoing this prudent practice,” a woman sitting near the front said.
“And what is that?”
“If we were to abandon the regimen of regular physical exertion, then we would probably suffer no ill consequences, or our children, or our children’s children for that matter; however, by subjecting future generations to the lack of such stresses, we would be depriving them of a veritable genetic trove of capabilities which they may very well need.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“She’s saying our genetic ancestors who would eventually, the cosmos willing, need to go surface side, would be unable to do so because they would lack the genetic traits that enabled our species to stand up against the pull of a planet in the first place.”
“Exactly, the gravity would be so great and so unprecedented that they would flounder about on the planet’s surface before either eventually squirming back to a launch pod, or succumbing to the inexorable pull of the planet.”
“That’s not true at all. How are we to even know that the gravity of the planet would be anything near Earth’s. None of us have seen earth. Why should we be subject to its arbitrary numeric gravitational pull when we have long outpaced its actual gravitational pull on us. Any planet we visit could be much smaller in size or nowhere near as dense.”
“Or it could be much greater in size and much denser.” Murmurs swept through the crowd again.
“In which case we are wasting our time anyways!”
“Calm everyone, we’re here for discussion and we have plenty of time to hear all options.”
“This discussion is null and void. We have no idea whether we—and by ‘we’ I mean those who survive us and continue on in our stead—will ever make it to a planet where going surface side is even an option. Habitable planets are incredibly rare.”
“It doesn’t have to be habitable just explorable.”
“All the same, how are we sure that we, or those who come after, will ever have the option? We may never make it to another system.”
“Well we are certain that we are moving toward another system so we will eventually arrive. As to whether or not it will have surfaces, we can only trust our most sophisticated scopes, which indicate that there are likely terrestrial, as well as jovian, planets in this system.”
“And what system is that?”
“It doesn’t matter. You’ll never see it.” Some chuckled.
“Do you realize how many things can go wrong between here and there, now and then? We’re talking centuries, and space travel is fraught with opportunities for disaster. The engineers are in a near constant state of panic of the sustainability of our current system.”
“But we do have a self-sustaining ecosystem. That’s what is important. Why must we go surface side at all? I like it here. I wouldn’t want to explore a planet that likely holds nothing we lack on our Glaive.”
“Well its hardly an ecosystem to tell the truth—”
“I’m tired of wasting a good portion of my waking hours on an unnecessary practice whose benefits may never come to fruition.”
“I say we make it optional. The exercise. Up to the individual, if you will.”
“Well then no one would do it anyway.”
“Those who did would be better off.”
“They’d be daft that’s for sure.”
“More importantly we would forget who we are,” the old man said again, “These practices are more than practical. They have become” his words left him again, but people waited this time, “a ritual of sorts.”
“And who are we then?” someone shouted.
“Well,” and old woman answered “all I can say is, we are not what we were.”