Doc Brown was a pretty smart guy. He invented a time machine. He figured out how to get Marty back to the future. He found out how to get things back the way they were supposed to be.
But there is something Doc just couldn’t figure out. Something only a high schooler could teach him.
Throughout the first Back to the Future, Doc is constantly screaming at Marty that they can’t do anything to change the past. Or the future. That any action, any deviation that means challenging what is, would rip the whole universe apart.
There’s only one problem. Doc dies in the future. And Marty just can’t accept it. He will do anything to save his friend. Even destroy the space-time continuum.
There are lots of Docs in the world. People that think the world is set in stone, that it just goes in circles, cycles, and never changes. That any attempt we make to change the world, or ourselves is misguided tomfoolery. Even worse, that it could damage the world.
Like Doc, these people will have no problem admitting that the world is messed up. In fact, that is just about all they do. Like Doc, they run around waving their arms and screaming (or commenting angrily on blogs, websites and news sites), without accomplishing much.
It takes a Marty to help change the way we look at things. It takes a Marty (or the Marty within our souls) to realize that the space-time continuum was created for change. It was created to be messed with. It was created so that we could fix it.
True, it is possible to mess things up. Look what Marty did to his present after he messed up in the future. And this is often the argument the ones against change will make. What the voice in our lives that is telling us to stop, to plug up our faucet, is telling us.
“Don’t take risks! Don’t follow your dreams, don’t fix the world, don’t take action!” they scream at the top of their lungs, from within or from without.
But what that voice is really saying what Doc ends up screaming at the end of the movie: “I refuse to accept the responsibility!” Changing the world means accepting a yoke. A yoke of responsibility, where what we do has an effect, maybe good, maybe bad. But until we accept that yoke, the world will continue to be just… meh.
Marty refused to listen to the voice of Doc, as much as he loved him. Because to Marty, the most important thing was creating a world that was meant to exist. A world where his parents were happily married instead of drunks. Where his best friend didn’t die an early death. Where he had a sweet ride.
The world, the space-time continuum, is tissue paper ready to be torn and retaped, just like Doc Brown’s letter. With each tear, with each piece of tape put back on, the world is one step closer to perfection. Further from the world of Doc, of sitting and observing, and closer to the world of Marty, of action, life and vibrancy.