The story of the tv show Babylon 5 really begins when Mr. Morden starts asking the question, “What do you want?” In a station populated with ambassadors for various alien races, he asks every ambassador this question, until Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic finally satisfies him…
“I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again and command the stars. I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power. I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to look back or to look forward. I want us to be what we used to be. I want it all back the way that it was.”
Despite all the negative connotations of this scene in the bigger picture of Babylon 5 (interstellar war, genocide, etc), Mr. Morden’s question is one of my favorite ideas, and I ask it of people all the time. Really, most people don’t have the guts to give an honest answer. They shoo it away, like all the other ambassadors did before Londo. They make excuses, or pleasantries. They don’t say what they really want. They don’t KNOW what they really want.
If you want to accomplish anything that really matters to you, first you need to know what matters. You need to look closely at what’s important. Everyone should answer this question. Few really do.
Of course, answering the question doesn’t necessarily mean putting your fate in the hands of those who will use you for their own ends. Londo’s assistant, Vir, had a very different answer for Mr. Morden…
And sometimes, when you want something enough, you get rewarded.
What do you want?