In the era of reconciliation what binds you?

Posted: June 27, 2018 by Ty in Spirituality
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Captain Sisko: You want to know… you *really* want to know what my problem is? I’ll tell you: Las Vegas 1962, that’s my problem. In 1962, black people weren’t very welcome there. Oh sure, they could be performers or janitors, but customers? Never.
Kasidy Yates: Maybe that’s the way it was in the real Vegas, but that is not the way it is at Vic’s. I have never felt uncomfortable there, and neither has Jake.
Captain Sisko: But don’t you see? That’s the lie. In 1962, the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. It wasn’t an easy time for our people, and I’m not going to pretend that it was.
Kasidy Yates: Baby – I know that Vic’s isn’t a totally accurate representation of the way things were, but… it isn’t meant to be. It shows us the way things could’ve been – the way they should’ve been.
Captain Sisko: We cannot ignore the truth about the past.
Kasidy Yates: Going to Vic’s isn’t going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations – except the ones we impose on ourselves.

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 “Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is another overlooked gem. It lasted seven seasons and tackled many relevant issues during the 1990’s. If you remember the 90’s there was the challenges of marriage equality (yes it began then); the repercussions of the end of the Cold War; Gulf War I, and the rise of the Serbian-Bosnian war that almost created a draft in Canada, and yes sadly, the Rwandan Genocide, to Albertans being confronted by our Eugenics history of forced sterilizations of persons with disabilities and mental illness, to name but a few historic events. It also began the repercussion of revelation of the church sexual abuse of children within Canada. There was hope, but also healing needed, and evil rooted out.
This is the world that Deep Space Nine premiered into. The first Star Trek not on a space ship exploring, but a Cardassian space station taken over by Bajor and the United Federation of Planets, by a wormhole to another quadrant. Bajor is a former planet that was occupied by the Cardassian, who finally surrendered. Sisko’s journey to lead is about losing his wife in a battle with the Borg. A Borg led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Locutus, ST:TNG Best of Both Worlds), whose ship brings him and his son to the station. A journey where he begins to wrestle with forgiveness and reconciliation with the man who under control of the Borg executed many of his friends, and his beloved.
The meta-narratives of the series looked at movement from resistance to governance; role of spirituality-religion in sustaining through occupation and healing/reconciling after. The Wormhole to the Federation, was the Celestial Temple to the Bajorans, one saw wormhole aliens, the other Prophets of their religion. It was a show that used time travel, and alternate reality shows to challenge perceptions. Commander (then Captain) Benjamin Sisko’s role as leader of the station, but also Emissary of the Celestial Temple (he also punched Q). It explored commerce and the black market, inter-species relationships; eugenics, horrific treatment of persons who are different (those that were augmented that could pass and function in society, and those that cannot). As the series continued, the Dominion War storytelling caused many Trekkies’ to balk because war as part of Star Trek. A bi-sexual Cardassian former assassin, Garak, and his hiding of open affections for Dr. Bashir, and a Ferengi engineer, Rom, that if you watch him, is neuro-a-typical and the life he lives while belonging (Best episode is in Season 7, take me out to the Holo-Suite!).
Yet the war story line allowed for other explorations. Exploitation of any belief system for violent gains. The world of PTSD, what young soldiers go through who go off to war to “prove themselves”, but do not live completely or die, but return injured and the healing process. It also showed what life meant. Through the character of Vic Fontaine, a holosuite program singer, from Las Vegas, Earth 1962. A program that became conscious. A program that helped Ensign Nog (first Ferengi in Starfleet) heal from his PTSD of losing his leg on the front lines.
This is the program Sisko and his new partner are discussing in the opening quote.

Nog: The news just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Captain Sisko: What news?
Colonel Kira: Oh… nothing, sir, we’re, uh, talking about a holosuite program.
Doctor Bashir: Vic Fontaine’s hotel’s just been bought by… gangsters.
Captain Sisko: I see. When do you plan on going back to work?

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 “Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

It is a take on an old Star Trek story, Piece of the Action (Original Series), but pays homage to the Rat Pack’s Ocean’s 11 (sorry Clooney Gang, nothing beats the original). As the leadership crew understands this constantly running lounge’s importance to the crew’s mental health, Sisko wrestles with what happens if we forget the past?

Chief O’Brien: Robbing casinos isn’t part of any Starfleet job description I’ve ever read.

-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7 episode 15 ”Badda-bing, Badda-bang” (1999)

A Jack In The Box program has allowed gangsters to take over, and change the program, the only way that technically can be found is to reboot. Reboot erases Vic back to factory settings. What makes a person? Is it flesh and blood? Or the sum of our experiences?
The other way? Beat the intruders.
They fail to beat the intruders, gangsters shoot Vic. He dies in the program, he vanishes completely.
What an option. Now the question asked is, is Vic a person? Does he deserve a chance to continue to live and thrive even if the outside world sees him as only a hologram?
Are we cursed to not be able to move from our past history?
Can we move beyond, reconcile, and if we do, and present it as anything less than it was, are we forgetting?
What about critical thought?
Same as the balance of spirituality-science throughout the series. The balance of subtlety of belonging for each of the characters and their stories. It is a series I encourage one to watch, and reflect on. It makes a great discussion night for different episodes over meals for all ages. I have used episodes with youth to tackle tough topics such as dying with dignity, belief systems, war, and belonging.
And ask yourself in your journey what this statement means:

“Going to Vic’s isn’t going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations – except the ones we impose on ourselves.”

-Kasidy Yates

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