Posts Tagged ‘Ethics’


The United Federation of Planets was founded by Andorians, Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, and Rigellians. During the novel series Typhon Pact, Andor was hit by a plague that threatened the very survival of a species. Dr. Bashir (from those who liked Deep Space Nine) broke orders and found a cure (hence left in exile and lost in his own traumas on Cardassia now under the leadership of his friend, Garak).

Image result for star trek titan movieThat was the broad strokes. The cure though did not solve the problem of Andor moving forward from where they were. Or the fear that led them to create tenuous to no relationship with the Federation, or to answer what next?

A world and an institution trapped in a new existence and attempting to run their own strategies through what to do. The value: Life.

This is where Michael A. Martin’s Star Trek: Titan’s Fallen Gods. The USS Titan was the ship introduced in 2002’s movie, Star Trek Nemesis where Captain Picard officiated the wedding of his First Officer, William Riker, and ship’s Counsellor, Deanna Troi on Enterprise E. The Titan was the ship they were transferring to for Riker to become a captain.

It is the most diverse ship in the Federation, think Canada (or if you live in Canada, NE Calgary) in space. How does this tie into the meta story? Simple, within the crew is 7 Andorians. Andor’s government announces an edict that all citizens are to return home to ensure the survival of their species. See, it is not just simple math of male plus female can make a baby. For Andorians there are four genders involved in a bonding to produce a viable offspring. Hence, that they need to ensure all are back on deck for this.

The challenge is, what if you do not want to return home? What if you see yourself as a Federation citizen not a citizen of Andor?

This is the conundrum, as the Federation responds they would repatriate, in essence strip rights and citizenship and were sending a ship to take the 7 crew members. In the gap time, Andor sent a battle ship to remove by force if necessary.

Captain Riker, is left with his own core values, about free will, choice, and efficacy… and decides that it is up to each crew member to decide, not a forced choice putting him at odds.

First ethical conundrum comes up:

1) You are an Andorian crew member, what do you choose?

2) You are the captain of the Federation ship coming to rendezvous with Titan, what’s your decision?

3) Andorian commander, what do you do?

Finally, Riker, how strong is your resolve?

It is the same as having a personal or corporate mission or vision. Core values create it, and flow through to create the lens opportunities and decisions are placed through to come to decisions. It is a test to truly understand what core values are, for missions, plans and programs may change (same as careers) but core values usually hold good ground.

The second ethical conundrum. A simple request to meet each Crew member on the Andorian ship to interview. Attempts at kidnapping thwarted. But something is hinky with the Transporter. For Trekkies we all know Tom Riker came about due to a transporter accident that split Riker in two, creating two distinct people…guess what the Andorians had figured out to re-patriate those that did not want to come home?

Is it ethical?

What rights does the “new” transporter individual have?

Would you have fought?

Kidnapped?

Used the transporter to create new life?

The could/should question at the fore front of the Jurassic Park book and movies series, is good within the concept of Chaos Theory and whether or not things should happen just because we can. Have we extrapolated the full ethical impact before acting. What is driving decisions? Time? Fear? Power? Money?

In this quandary of a subplot, what would you do as any of the players? Where do your core values take you in life? How does it relate to how you are living now, and the decisions you make each day?

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Star Trek is always at its best when posing tough questions to answer. Star Trek Deep Space Nine was a series that tackled politics, religion, bio-ethics, and war quite in your face. It wrestled with grieving, PTSD, mental health, and shell shock. It showed the stark contrasts needed for Truth and Reconciliation for the Bajoran people and their planet when the Cardassian occupation ended, and the Federation led by then Commander Benjamin Sisko came to the formerly Cardassian space station Terok Nor (renamed Deep Space Nine) to aid the healing and rebuilding process.

Sisko who would become the Emissary in the Bajoran religion. The wormhole that opened between the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants that the Bajoran people saw as the Celestial Temple in their faith, and the shape shifting aliens existing within as their Prophets. But I digress from my theological geek ways, to focus on another tale that is tackled well within Deep Space Nine.

David R. George III (2017) The Long Mirage brings forward an intriguing question. Especially with the rise of hate filled populism thinly veiled in religious language today in our world. The original DS( has been destroyed and replaced with a shiny new Federation station. A Bajoran Federation officer is now Captain, Ro Laren, and she is sweet on Quark (the Ferengi Ambassador, former barkeep on DS9 and hub of creative financial opportunities). They are searching for a missing patron of the station.  Kira Nerys, former first officer, is now on a spiritual quest that has taken her through time and space literally at the will of the Prophets. She has seen and learned things that may be a benefit to some factions in new Bajor.

What as a believer do you do with what you have learned? She is caught between the Federation rules of silence on time travel, her religions free will on disclosure, and those who want to use the faith of the people as a political tool.

Then Quark and Ro find Morn (the patron) and he is caught with illegal holograph technology…. Why?

Vic Fontaine.

Image result for vic fontaineTrapped in a program buffer since the original station was destroyed. The holodeck program has had some glitches, and Easter Eggs that have put Fontaine’s life at risk. So what you say, hit reset and carry on. Only Fontaine’s 1940’s era Vegas casino and act has been a place of community building, healing, and sanctuary for many on DS9. Quark’s nephew, Nog, when as a cadet lost a leg in the Dominion War lost himself in the world and Fontaine became his therapist to work through the PTSD and Shell Shock.

The core question raised throughout the caper narrative,

is one as old as time,

What makes a friend? A member of the family?

And the core question, is Fontaine a sentient being (person) or not?

Enjoy the read, and wrestling through the questions.


hiveSeems a rather stark choice in life. Braga and Matalas lay out this stark choice in their 2013 Star Trek the Next Generation mini-series collection The Hive lays this choice out.  For a former philosophy major (yes one of my 7 undergraduate majors before finally graduating, I will not disclose how many schools but 5-6 would not be a bad guess) I love these debates.

It was like my ethics final paper where an angel and demon play a poker game over Superman’s soul (shortly after his “death”), to illustrate positive and natural law. This is another dichotomy story line that involves Captain Picard’s old nemesis, the Borg Queen. Picking up the themes from the 2-parter, Best of Both Worlds and the second cinematic movie, First Contact. Set on Enterprise-E, after Voyager’s return. Picard is once more hearing the call of the Hive Mind. Now he is hatching a plan with Seven of Nine.

There is fun temporal acrobatics, a feisty lieutenant that believes once a Borg always a Borg. Wonder how she feels serving under Captain Picard, formerly Locutus?

Then it comes down from 500 years in a fully assimilated future. A Hail Mary from Data, a pathway to save the future…

and terminate the Borg threat permanently.

So here are questions to ponder.

  1. Is it truly a zero sum game?
  2. Do you commit one genocide of trillions to halt another genocide of multi-trillions?
  3. Do you try to save any of the Borg? or is the Lieutenant correct, once a Borg, always a Borg. Which leads into the final question to ponder:
  4. Can someone authentically change or heal from who they were? How do you know? How do they know?

hive 2


Why? Well why not (and last I checked it was my blog lol). Anyways it is also a way to explore some issues in lifespan development we may not want to touch upon. It relates to a three arc novel (unofficial trilogy) by Kirsten Beyer in the Star Trek: Voyage book series. That being Protectors (2014), Acts of Contrition (2014), and Atonement (2015). I will attempt my best to not reveal any spoilers in the action, as it is quite a fun read through all three books in the adventures of Starship Voyager with Captain Chakotay at the helm, and Vice Admiral Janeway (recently returned from the dead) in charge of the Full Circle Fleet back in the Delta Quadrant.

There are some ethical questions that arise within the series, it would not be Star Trek without it.

In no particular order we have to deal with Admiral Paris’ widow challenging Tom Paris (first officer of Voyager) and B’ellana Torres (Voyager Chief Engineer) for custody of their child, siting them as unfit to be parents. It is a balance of battle between family dynamics, hurt, fear of the unknown, grief reactions, and what family believes is best for a child.

Follow that with the parallel that there is a plague attacking Federation worlds, and a mysterious wing of Starfleet Medical has “recruited” or “captured” the non-Borg ala Axum and Seven of Nine to mine them for a cure. Raising the question of medical ethics, and what price is life to be saved? How much of one’s own humanity– ethics– morals can one let slip away to achieve a goal, and what exactly is the goal of the medical facility? Is it to treat a plague or create a weapon?

The challenge of going from crisis to crisis.

What is love? As Chakotay and Janeway continue growing their relationship.

What is the definition of family? What does it mean to support family? How far would you go to save a family member?

In the midst of all that, Mrs. Janeway (Katherine’s mother) makes a comment that I believe is very astute for us in this day and age, as we journey through Lent to reflect upon. She points out that Janeway was educated not in the streamed schools for Starfleet academy, even though her parents knew that was her destiny. Their goal was to give her as broad an education as possible through the public system so that she could be exposed to many interests, activities and knowledge.

Stop and reflect on that. As our public education system continues to move to more specialized schools. As parents have over programmed children that during the Polar Vortex in Calgary recently parents were freakin’ out on Facebook because they had already done all these activities with their kids and had no idea what to do next. Before a child leaves elementary school we want them to know their future.

Then we sit and wonder why the rise in anxiety and mental health issues within children. We have to read experts saying to allow kids to be bored. The rise of social media and the ability for anyone to publish an opinion that others will quote as fact. Algorithms that eventually keep you in an echo chamber online. We have a history and knowledge of humanity at our finger tips, but are unable to process because learning is no longer an endeavour to simply learn, and critically think.

What if we paused and realized there is time for specialization of expertise later in life. That as one ages and grows a passion for learning and hobbies needs to be nurtured and developed. How to fill boredness with creativity and interests is not done through scheduling and programming, it is done through being present in life and connecting with a child, with another human being.

As the mentors of the present generation, we need to allow growth and understanding, exploration and learning. It is about discovery. It is about passion. It is about knowing who your child is, but being a rounded person able to human, means not just streamlining to specific interests for “job prospects” but to become a fully enriched human being with a passion for life long learning.

What else happens when you have that innate curiousity cultivated?

You are able to think outside yourself, your own self-interest and selfishness. As such you are able to have empathy, compassion and love for others. The question then is changed from, how does this effect you…to a better one as to how this creates a loving community (world ) of belonging for all?

A courageous safe space.

 

 


If you are involved in the medical or scientific world there is always a question that must resonate with your work. How much of our knowledge has come from unethical practices? Human experimentation with thinks like Milgram’s prison experiment, or Nazi experiments on those the Third Reich viewed as deficient- persons with disabilities, LGBTTQ2+, mentally ill, multiple births (twins, triplets, etc, as it gave the experimenter a control subject).

This is the ethical dillema Star Trek: Voyager explored in their Season 5 episode, “Nothing Human“. A hazardous first contact as an errand of mercy creates a unique and dual life threatening situation. Rescuing a species they cannot understand the language of, that is injured, flies its vessels through secretions. The cytoplasmic life form in a panic to save its life in sick bay it attaches itself to Lt. B’Elanna Torres, integrating itself into her system. The Doctor is stumped on how to separate them. Working with Ensign Kim, he creates another emergency holograph medical officer, this one an expert in exo-biology, a Dr. Crell Moset. A Cardassian. Torres refuses treatment by this hologram as he is Cardassian, Ensign Tobin, a Bajoran when he realizes who it is points out that this man was not a hero saving lives during the occupation as Cardassia had celebrated the doctor. Rather, he performed torturous experiments on those he saw as deficient to save those he saw as worthy within the occupied.

The Doctor as chief medical office is left to decide to move forward with the live saving surgery for both B’Elanna and the new alien, or to follow through on B’Elanna’s wished and both will die?

What do you do with the information? The source is unethical, but it is needed in the now? Do you delete it and try to figure it out from scratch? Or do you build on what came through horrendous events so the deaths were not in vain?

That is the quandary the Doctor and Captain Janeway were left to move forward.

How would you decide? and why?


Christopher L. Bennett’s Star Trek Enterprise Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code (Pocket Books, 2016) raises the ethical dilemma in a pre-Prime Directive Star Trek Universe. For the non-initiated (or those who live without fun), the Prime Directive is the oft-shrugged away rule of non-interference that the United Federation of Planets abides by in pre-first contact interactions.

As this series has come together, it challenges the early Federation (Earth-Vulcans-Tellarites-Andorians) working together on how to bring their different methods, values and ethics together as they continue to explore the Universe and face challenges. Among them a capitalist AI run amok- The Ware Corporation.

We all try to live according to our principles, but we cannot control whether history will remember us as heroes or villains. Sometimes, those of us who take the boldest actions in support of our beliefs are destined to be remembered as both.

-Samuel A. Kirk, The Forgotten Enterprise (2190)

It is a technology that replaced all sentient species on its home world from the work-exploration forces, and now out in the galaxy to continue its growth requires sentient brains to survive and grow. Hence the dilemma, some stations are quite aggressive in seeking new “fuel” sources. While others are in a forced symbiosis with the Partnership. A collection of pre-warp cultures/worlds that have found a way to not be used up (die) as fuel for the Ware, but find a way to switch volunteers in and out of the system. Thus having their societies benefit from actual technology though living in constant fear of what had come before. It is on the Federation’s Radar with Captains T’Pol and Reed, due to the aggressive nature of the technology and trying to end its spread.

An ethical dilemma for the species in the Partnership would not be where they are technologically without the Ware, yet the Ware had decimated much around them, and as a result of the Partnership, had brought war from neighbouring planets. Ends and Means. Is it worth the price? What if the Federation does not stop its spread?

While the cube squeezes tightly as the Klingon Empire on the brink of civil war due to an augment disease that had created humanesque Klingons (think those from the original t.v. show) who function as privateers of the space-ways but now see their way with the Ware to conquest of their home world.

While the Matriarchal Orion Syndicate squeezes the ethical standard of the Federation more by forcing a possible hand where they must decide in propping up dictators for needed supplies or not.

There are no ideal solution.s here, Jonathan. You should’ve learned that by now. When the galaxy is falling down around you, you have to prioritize whom to save.

-Shran (p.233)

And yes, Shran and Archer’s ethical conversations continue as to what direction needs to be taken as the galaxy is on the precipice of chaos fueled by hate over hope once more. The galaxy’s struggle brought down to a family microcosm on Denobula, as Dr. Phlox’s daughter is to be wed to her second husband (of three, Denobulans are Polyamorous, in which each wife has 3 husbands, and each husband 3 wives). This daughter has stepped out of the protectionist practices of Denobula and has married a human, and now an Antarran (for the second think of a British Protestant marrying an Irish Catholic in Northern Ireland in the mid-20th century). As hate attempts to disrupt wedding with a less enlightened sibling who murders her soon to be father-in-law.

The question left hanging is what is forgiveness, reconciliation and family? Do actions define an individual?

And when the roles become reversed, can mercy be found?

Yes, a few more spoilers than I like in a reflection, but it is to show what diving in to a story can raise question wise. Many outcomes are reached by surrendering what we hold to be true. And the flip is that many outcomes can be lost due to holding what we hold to be true.

For the reader, the ethical dilemma may be a trite soundbite in this day and age, but the adage is more of a reflection for each of us:

Do the ends justify the means?

Or, will the means leave lasting harmful repercussions that even if the result is good, was it worth it?


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is one of those shows. Moving aside from what you believe about the controversy around it appearing as Babylon 5 (uber-geeks like me get it) or the Avery Brooks could not have a shaved head for a few seasons out of fear fans would see him only as Hawk (Spenser for Hire). It is a show that should be contemplated during Holy Week (and Lent) or really can be used to create a youth group exploration of faith/religion/spirituality/ethics across labels.

How did this happen? trials-and-tribble-ations-07

It is set on a space station that was once used as a key of an occupying species (Cardassians) over an entire planet and species (Bajoran). When the occupation ends, the Federation comes in to aid the Bajorans in rebuilding, claiming the symbol of occupation and re-igniting it as one of hope. There is an intricate religious system on Bajor that sustained the resistance, it is based around the Roman Catholic catechism is you watch closely, but is quite universal. A wormhole opens to a new quadrant, it is seen by believers as a Celestial Temple, with the “wormhole aliens/shape shifters” that exist within seen as Prophets. The Bajoran religion grew out of pantheistic roots to the belief in the tangible Prophets and Pa Wraith demons that were active before the occupation, and are active again. ds93

Commander Benjamin Sisko’s first contact with the Prophets brings him to the intersection of Star Fleet Prime Directive and those he is aiding’s religious beliefs as Sisko becomes The Emissary.

That is enough of an ethical discourse. Throughout though the show looks at race relations; in one episode of time travel it looks at the battle for equality within 20th century America. There is another when as Emissary, Sisko is left on the cusp of death, and his son, Jake, must wrestle through the ethical challenges of medically assisted death outside and inclusive of the ethical foundations he knows as a Federation citizen and the role/beliefs his father had been developing around his life as Emissary.

What is using God’s name in vein? For too long we have said its using God’s name as a swear, this is pure bullocks… it is using God’s name to justify your actions that are wrong (contrary to Love) or it is using God’s name/blessings in your life for your own personal gain instead of just being in awe of the love that has come.
This confirmation lesson was brought to you by the letter L for Love like Jesus, and the number 19 (cause 12 close men, and 7 close women=19, Jesus original inner circle).

-Facebook thought circa 2010

 

There is also the touch on genetic (eugenic) engineering, with Dr. Bashir and the illegal enhancements his parents put him through. But also the quandary that because he could “pass” he was allowed a life. While those that could not were institutionalized. A great allegory to the debate/historic throwback/current existence of persons with disabilities.

The underlying story of transformation of the Ferengi Family and Rules of Acquisition in Quark, Rom and Nog as they become more involved with the Federation. The guard of the “other” being let down. But the tiny ripple effect as the curve ball of the misogynistic capitalist species becomes shook to its core when their Mother decides she should wear clothes, and… make her own money.ds9

Worf coming to grips with being a father, and that his son, needs to be affirmed for who he is, not chase who his father thinks he should be to save his life during the Dominion War.

Love—in all its forms. From Garrick’s (Cardassian tailor/Obsidian order trained killer) fawning love of afar from Bashir. To Worf and Dax (a Trill, with many lifetimes lived), to Kira (a Bajoran survivor) and her love for Odo (a shapeshifter alien) and his love for her. To the argument of what is life, with Vic the hologram becoming sentient. To Sisko working through the grief of losing his wife at Wolf 359 (when Picard was a Borg), and finding love a new. To the unlikely friendship of Nog and Jake that shows being best friends can transcend any barriers. To the Orb journey and did Kira’s mother love Gul Dukat (the lead Cardassian of the occupation?)

The Dominion War story arc that creates the ethical debate of war, invasion, how far will you go, what are ethics in war, blindly following an ideology, why the young are first drafted, fear, death, loss, grief, how allies are chosen…but also the role religion and belief play in the outplay…also in the increasing rise of the story line through their final season to the conclusion that was the ultimate story of redemption, where the answer of the whole occupation of, where were the Prophets? Is finally answered.

If you have seen the series, you may seen the bread crumbs I have laid out. If you have not, I do not want to provide spoilers, but it is well worth exploring. At the least for great writing, characters and science fiction. At most, it is a useful tool for discourse, exploration and growth.

For the show truly challenges the answer to the question:

Who is My neighbour?

Is truly universal…

(Star Trek Deep Space Nine, available for purchase on DVD, Blu-Ray, borrow from a public library, or stream on Netflix)