Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”
Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.
Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or a life worth living. I knew it in the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?
The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like a rock. Unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone can find out about our misdeeds, even those from Kindergarten. Kind of like Wikileaks for every living human being. What an appalling thought!
All anyone anywhere needs to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! Every evil we have done through our life will be revealed.
So, here’s the deal.
Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s hundreds of million of records to keep on file for eternity. Maybe trillions, zillions or gazillions.
I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and an immortal gatekeeper who decides if we may or may not enter, he or she will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand.
That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut biology class in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.
Sorry pal. Your permanent record finally caught up with you.