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Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Star Trek: The Next Generation

February 23, 2019

 

A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Liaisons.” Picard was trapped on a planet, alone, and held against his will. During the climactic ending he discovered his ship was intentionally crashed, he was lied to and held captive so some being could learn more about the human emotion love—the hard and seemingly ineffective way.

 

Or was it? Was Picard angry? No. Vengeful? No. He is, get this, understanding, even remarking to others about the value of the experiment.

 

Held in captivity against his will as a human guinea pig and Picard’s good with it?

Yes—once he understood the other being’s point of view. Once they talked, or rather, he listened, compassion, understanding and, I’d dare to say, a small dose of love were the fruits.

 

But, surely this insanity of niceness can’t last. How in the world will the future human species survive if we allow such mistakes to go unpunished?

 

So, I watched another Star Trek: TNG episode, “Interface.” Bam! Again. This time, Jordy finds an entity trapped on a stranded ship, and learns that this is the same entity killed his mother. Killed his mother. Naturally, he does what any other red-blooded human would do, he helps the entity return safely to it’s home.

 

What is with this compassion contagion?

 

It’s a level of understanding and forgiveness that’s very hard to imagine in today’s times. Of course, the Star Trek culture, specifically the Starfleet value system, is a fictional ideal, a nearly utopian society. But, I think the series’ soaring popularity is because it’s an ideal we deeply wish humanity could achieve. Imagine, people functioning with purposeful lives, not for money, but because it’s the right thing to do, to be productive, to help one another, to contribute to society.

 

More so, it’s taking a step back, as I imagine Picard and Jordy might have done, to think through what good will actions based in vengeance and hate generate. Despite the aliens’ major affronts, something positive could not come from the emission negative energy out of Picard or Jordy’s spirit. To spread goodwill, you must emit goodwill.

 

We can imagine such a cohesive, fruitful society, but how can we ever get there? Can a population that automatically reacts with vengeful, violent and selfish tones ever approach an ideal society that values equality and cooperation?

 

Perhaps it’s through Sinai Unhinged, or the offspring of the Sinai series, that a path is forged, illuminating that we can get there from here. Or perhaps other works of fiction will come along to light the way. In an ideal Star Trek-like society, it might not matter who got credit, only that it happened. Sinai Unhinged might prove to be a tad dark for some but you’ve got to start somewhere if you aim to turn darkness into light.

 

Joanna Evans 

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