Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek the Next Generation’


It could be a rant, but truly at this point it is an earnest question. Born, raised and continue living in Alberta seen and read about many social conservatives (out of Christendom and other religions) politicians and governments within my province, and the base rock for Federal. Yet at this time of C-tine, the question is in my mind, how is it possible (even with some rust on the buckle), that Canada’s bible belt equivalent province struggles so much with love thy neigbour?

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Gospel of Matthew 22:34-40 (New King James Version)

To love our neighbour as we love ourselves and love God. I have written many times unpacking this passage in different ways, so I am not going to deep on that now. Yet, here we are as a province with pandering to anti-mask/anti-vax/anti-science bases, over-dramatized to downright untrue stories from our governance around issues, and basically a sentiment began from our Premier and shared by many that those who are dying (now 500+) are past their best before date or had co-morbidities so it is all good (those of low human capital, a favourite term of our current provincial government).

Which raises many questions on the humanity of the religious who claim freedoms in our province? For it was not the call to the individual, but to the communal freedom, love and belonging.

Let’s re-humanize our statistics, have the releases signed not to share age, region, gender and they had co-morbidities, but rather, age, region and name. I mean, how many even know what co-morbidity is? They believe it is a death sentence to begin with, no these are two or more occurring chronic (ongoing) conditions? Do you know someone with two conditions? Mental, physical or neurological health? High blood pressure? Depression? Anxiety? Cystic Fibrosis? MS (that we lead Canada in)? Cancer? How about those covid 20 that you can’t shake? Epilepsy? PTSD? OCD? Substance Abuse/use disorder? Carpal Tunnel? The list goes on an on…

The term coupled with age, is used to de-humanize the disease and reduce severity so the base is appeased. It is like the 1991 Star Trek The Next Generation episode, “Half-Life” (S.4,Ep.22) that created an ethical discussion at the time in my school, but also with parents. The crux is Timicin (played wonderfully by David Ogden Stiers), whose species at age 65 end their own lives as “their time is up” or “they are past their best before date”. In the episode this becomes a debate as he develops an intimate relationship with Betazed Ambassador, Lwaxana Troi (mother of Ship Counsellor Deanna Troi), and it ensues about quality of life, purpose and belonging. I encourage you to have a virtual watch party with friends outside your household, and watch within your household to discuss the key points of this with our current situation. As this can create a different lens to look at how we view life and death, and what matters. But this is not the only challenge facing us, in those hard conversations we need to have around the dinner (or communion) table.

The other, with current restrictions announced due to lack of concern for anyone outside your own skin (Alberta’s public health emergency restrictions can be found here) in an attempt to bend the curve back down, find out trackable data (as we have 85%+ cases on traceable) over the next three weeks. Has led to much llama dramas on line. Some throwing shade about religious organizations allowed to stay open at 1/3 capacity, and why on businesses, most being about big box vs small businesses closing open (conflating restrictions of other provinces with our own). Are these restrictions perfect? No, but even though I do not support that the UCP has the moral or ethical right to governance (ongoing criminal investigations), I will follow through for care for my family and neighbour.

What is saddening and maddening is the many religious sharing posts about Alberta being 70 years rat free so don’t become one on your neighbours now, or don’t snitch. Like the stereotypical “snitches get stitches” . Seriously, when did we as grown ass adults begin acting like pre-adolescents enamoured with faux hip hop culture?

Or as I shared on Facebook today:

“It’s not about not “snitching” on your neighbours at the holidays for the social gathering, that is being gaslit like in an abusive relationship. Seriously, it is about our neighbours having enough care and respect to follow the rules so we do not have to call 311 to have a healthy AHS that can respond to our current pandemic, epidemic, emerging epidemic, and outbreak. But hey, let’s continue giving those that can’t follow rules a pass.”

And as one friend pointed out, how easily we compartmentalize and pick and choose what we will call in our neighbour on. Noise complaints? Speeding? Parking? Loud or at large animals? Not shovelling snow? Think about what happens to our society, if we do not hold one another accountable?

This doesn’t even go deep into the neighbourhood watch to prevent crime, which if my neighbours do not have discernment and care with these how can I trust them if my car is being stolen or house being prowled? Starting to see how the “not my problem” begins to flow?

This is not even with jumping on the not mandatory vaccine discussion the Premier opened up to pander to his slipping away base. Which, I am sure my stance on that will lose even more “Facebook friends” but for those able to take the vaccine (any vaccine) it is a care of neighbour, why my kids both got the HPV one.

As I sit, having wrestled with the new restrictions, and lowering our house into more of a shut down (my one kids cohort with her best friend has come to an end, I miss their giggles and joy and it has only been one day), we are here because of a provincial quorums of adults that refused to adult. As I watch the video feed of the 200 person “freedom march” -anti-mask rally in Calgary this morning, I do hope that they are all levied the $1000 fines to send a strong message. Reading in the paper that due to lack of corporate care at CF Chinook yesterday in limiting to 25% capacity city police had to be used to evacuate people and I know these restrictions are supposed to be re-looked at on Dec. 15.

Where I am at now?

Christmas is different this year. Looking like my household, as we find new joys, way to share love, and know we are doing this, because many may not see us as “believers” or “Christian enough”, but I can honestly tell you it is about following through on love of neighbour.

The question for our “Bible Belt” is do you get it?

Because I am tired of your Pharisee ways.


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


Related imageFor many the title may sound quite oxymoronic. Star Trek & Spirituality? Star Trek & religion? Is it not the great humanist journey? Yes and no. It is about a wonderful mosaic, learning to co-exist together (yes there’s still dark times and conflict). It is also about exploration, and chasing the soul centered vocational passion you have as you do not have to worry about life giving necessities. It literally shows how a multi-cultural mosaic honours everyone’s beliefs and heritage, but also how beliefs and customs change through sharing space. Creating courageous and safe space to explore.

It has also been on of those shows for me at each different point of my own spiritual questing if you will. During my PTSD-PNES recovery (still ongoing) it was a Star Trek Deep Space Nine novel I picked up in shaky hands to retrain my brain on reading.

The original Star Trek I fell in love with on CBC watching re-runs, I was allowed after all to be up 1 hour past bed time on the nights it was on so it became must see t.v. I wanted to be a space cowboy ala Kirk in my early elementary school years. I was gobsmacked in Wrath of Khan when Spock gave his life (yes I loved Spock as a character)…my wife says in my middle-age years I can come across more as a Dr. McCoy however lol…it showed you can have fun adventuring, and that there is truly a no-win situation. Though for some in my work a day life, it was more Mr. Scott, the Miracle Worker I have become known as.

The Next Generation took a bit to get in too, but it was a group of folks I clicked with in Junior High School. Data, Geordi and Worf were my favs, what can I say, the philosophical questions raised by Data, Worf seeking ways to connect with his religion with his new enlightenment from being raised in the Federation I felt echoed in my own search for Jesus and God. Geordi, well I loved how his mind worked. No, I have never asked anyone who they would see me as in characters, though my daughter has said Picard because we are both bald and drink tea.

Deep Space Nine was the spiritual quest through the Catechism. It was exploring a society rebuilding, religion and spirituality, literally an outsider (Sisko) merging his own beliefs into Bajoran religion. There was sexual identity diversity (Garak); Odo and Quark with their cops/robbers routine, neuro-diversity shown with Rom, PTSD and mental health was tackled, Worf was back. Sisko punched Q (and yes the online quizzes put me as a Sisko in which Star Trek Captain are you). Ethical questions around medically assisted death, capacity and is spiritual wisdom true knowledge. Also dragged you into discussions around torture, occupation, just war theory, what does it mean to fall away or re-enter your faith in a new way. Eugenics. Addictions. Racism was squarely hit. Truth and Reconciliation. These were all but some of the story lines explored over their seven seasons.

I had a passing dalliance during this time with Enterprise and Voyager. Fast forward though to my healing over the past year.

What was Enterprise? It was the first warp 5 ship leaving our solar system to go out and explore. First steps into a new reality. Not understanding what laid ahead, apprehensive, but willing to take a leap of faith. Captain Archer and his crew became the galaxy’s conscience. Working through xenophobias and paranoia’s between Vulcans and Andorians, discovering what it means to fall victim to pirates. T’Pal and Trip’s love. Dr. Phlox showing that in plurality there is different ways to be family. Each character had their own challenges, fears and goals to move through. Sato being the one developing the universal translator as a linguist, Merryweather having been raised on supply ships breaking with his family tradition to join Starfleet. Reed learning what it means to be with family, as he broke his family’s tradition of Naval service. Captain Archer, with his trusted beagle, Porthos, figuring it out as they go day by day.

A book series and t.v. series that helped me wrestle in my core about what it means to start fresh. Whole new life laid out before with new challenges to overcome.

Also the time I revisited Voyager. Two separate factions pulled 75 years away from our quadrant by the Caretaker. The Maquis (freedom fighters or terrorists depending on your point of view) and Starfleet, now on one ship, one crew, Voyager. What does it mean to be lost with no chance of getting back to familiar?

Just let that question rest. One is going into the unfamiliar, knowing home is close, in Enterprise. Voyager is being lost, heading back, but not knowing if you ever will make it. The journey in the Delta Quadrant of Janeway, Chakotay, Torres, Paris, Kim, Seven, Neelix, Doctor and Tuvok to grieve, to release the old, and journey into the new reality before them.

It is a winding life path.

Each series, and individual show, breaks down a fun adventure, but also some deeper questions if you so wish. In my ministry life I have used the shows and movies multiple times to get groups of all ages to think differently about issues before us.

In my healing journey, the story therapy to has touched upon thinking differently about the journey before me. One day at a time. The good grieving to a new reality.

Want to read more of the Spirituality of Star Trek?

Check out my new book, Soul Ripples, Coming 2019.


A random collection of thoughts that don’t really fit anywhere else. What one would term a true free fall if you will. Letting the thoughts tumble out of your head.

The joy of Boxing Week movie bins brings you John Wick 2. A sequel due to well John Wick doing so well. It is much of the same on this assassin’s journey to escape his past life that just won’t let go. Where Wick 1 would be a 4/5; I’d say 2 is about 3.5/5. Fun, but the originality has worn off. The ending is pure production company where it could end there, or leave the door slightly ajar for a 3 depending on box office.

From Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3 gem’s (thanks Netflix). “Deja Q” that brings up the ultimate philosophical question what makes one human? This is not done through the usual foil of Data, but rather the Q-tinum has grown tired of Q’s chaos across the universe and punted him, his last thought was to be human. He is now on the Enterprise, and trying to discover among many things the joy of 10 chocolate sundaes, what it means to be human? (oh and feeling pain, and fear of death).

“Yesterday’s Enterprise” is a time travel episode, where a past Enterprise-C is thrown forward, and due to not completing its rescue mission the new reality is a timeline at war with the Romulans. It is the episode that brings Tasha Yar back to life, and the deeper question about life…what happens if a death doesn’t mean anything? How does one ensure their entire life from cradle to grave has meaning?

I do know it was an empty death, a death without purpose.

-Guinan, “Yesterday’s Enterprise”

The newest Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich finally made the pick up shelf at my library. I discovered Evanovich during my time working at Smithbooks, and then Coles, at Sunridge Mall way back when. She has a quirky-dry sense of humour for her Trenton, NJ lingerie salesgirl turned bounty hunter with the former working girl sidekick Lula. Look Alive Twenty-Five brings the between the numbers mystery magicus, Wulf, to the numbered books as he involves himself in a weird mystery. Plum & Lula are now managing a deli, where managers have a tendency to vanish by the dumpster leaving behind only 1 shoe? And what does a grunge-rock band, a pickled senior wanting her cat back, and a chicken breeder that runs a breakfast burrito truck have to do with the mystery? Oh and as always there is Ranger and Morelli, attempting to keep Plum safe from Plum luck.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Paramount’s Star Trek movies reboot. To hear though that the fourth may be scuttled because of Pine and Hemsworth not signing on, I think is a loss on what could be a new direction. Off-camera promote Kirk off the Enterprise. Make Sulu the captain, you can do either a Harry Mudd as antagonist movie, or a Guardian on Edge of Forever movie. I did not find Pine embodied Kirk, as well as the other cast had taken to their roles, and seeing Sulu as captain would allow for new helms and navigator, with where CGI is at would be great to see Arex come to life on the big screen.

Ontario Federal riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes by-election was no surprise with the Conservatives holding this extremely safe party turf. What was a shock was the 24 votes seperating the deadlock for 3rd place of the NDP and Green Party. It could be a sign that the supporters of the Greens (really a Red Tory-Blue Grit party to use old vernacular) may not abandon their party at the polls. The Greens have always polled decently between votes, but on vote day have a knack to collapse. Here’s hoping 2019’s federal election can see them scoop votes from both the old 2 mainliners and present well, the diverse voice is needed in the House of Commons.

Finally, it was worth the wait. The Equalizer 2, Robert John McCall is back after Denzel Washington’s first tour in the film reboot of the old television series. This time the fun has a bit of international flare for the man who sends the most convoluted mixed messages when attempting to help. It was worth the wait, and is definitely a good movie that holds ones attention. From the subplots of the help he spreads throughout the main plot of the movie as someone strikes close to home for him. A bit more of his mysterious past is revealed (and yes I am trying not to give away spoilers). Though flour ignites beautifully.

May your 2019 be better than your 2018.


It was a statement by Jack Knight, Starman (written by James Robinson) in the 90’s that maturity was about beginning to enjoy the Groucho harp solo’s in a Marx Brothers starmanmovie. Perhaps there is something to that. For maturity is about beginning to appreciate the other, the different, or looking into something from a different point of view and growing from it.

Spiritual maturity is something found in the teachings of Brother Jesus (and let’s face it every spiritual teacher/writer in perpetuity). It is about moving from the comfortable and rote, that is from rules based, to intuition based living in the Holy Mystery. That is right.

Jesus taught in parables because of the layers of meanings that could be drawn out of it. Mystic Brother Francis of Assisi taught in wisdom to have internalized a teaching so it was like breathing before moving on. It sounds weird I know, but really it was not about amassing knowledge that mattered, it was about living within Holy Wisdom.

 

Great double talk you say. Okay, so let’s take it to a Trekkie geek level. Think of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a set of parables (not much of a stretch). Then, like most believers we have our favourite parables. Just like in Star Trek. I like the concept of these three, which do you prefer:

  1. Data and Geordi as Sherlock Holmes and Watson battling a Moriarty designed to best Data.
  2. Jean Luc-Picard’s escapades as Dixon Hill, Private Eye.
  3. Worf as Will Scarlett proudly stating “I am not a Merry Man.”

Images, thoughts and lessons can be drawn from each. These jump to your mind whether it is about team work, problem solving, love, family, etc.

Much like the parables challenge us to continue to go deeper. Yet, it is also a challenge for much like the idea of the harp solo as we grow in our understanding of spiritual life lived out a new appreciation and understanding grows. Or as some spiritual writers would state, moving from pablum to meat in the spiritual diet (or for our vegetarian/vegan readers- solid foods).

For those who read my thoughts An Epistle of Straw? this is what I see within understanding the family dynamics of leadership James, son of Mary, brother to Jesus of Nazareth brings out in his words. Striking to the heart of the parables and delivering the hard lessons that some were not willing to move into. Even though the risk could be huge as he was seeking depth of character and caring community, not breadth in numbers. Y’know like some labourer from Galilee had before him.

The question for you in your daily practice, and for me, is are we willing to see the otherside?

Are we willing to be with the harp solo?

Be with Holmes & Watson, Dixon Hill and Worf as he discovers to be a Merry Man?

Will we journey to the heart of the Sacred,

And be better for it?


Consider that in the history of many worlds, there have always been disposable creatures. They do the dirty work. They do the work that no one else wants to do because it’s too difficult or too hazardous. And an army of Datas, all disposable… You don’t have to think about their welfare, you don’t think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people.

-Guinan (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2, Ep. 9 “Measure of a Man“).

1989 Star Trek once again explored a topic as old as time itself, and as recent as ones own Twitter feed today. What makes a person? That is how does one know they are equal with others whom they exist with. Now one will say the Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictates we are all equal. Yet is that the praxis within Canada?

Just as in this episode where an overzealous researcher tries to claim Lt. Commander Data as nothing more than property that can be experimented on. It leads to a trial that pits Picard and Riker against one another in the debate of whether or not Data is sentient.

Now one will argue, we already know all humans are sentient. That may be a fact, but is it a practice?

I look to Toronto, Ontario’s St. Michael’s College sexual assault this past week. Parents responses to the media were not gratitude in discovering a barbaric and horrific practice (sodomizing a student with a broom handle that went viral on social media); but attacked the media for besmirching their student and school’s reputation by breaking a story the school itself had not reported to police. Let that sink in, a child raped, and a school covers up. Parental response is not anger at the institution, but at the media who advocated for the victim.

Is the victim sentient? Seen as having the same rights as the alleged rapists? What does parental and school response tell us?

Same as official opposition leader in Alberta, Jason Kenney (leader of the United Conservative Party) stating he would “keep an open mind” in regards to a ban on conversion therapy if it is brought forward in the sitting of the Alberta Legislature.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)What is conversion therapy? A process to remove same-sex attraction by any means. In essence it is convincing the individual to deny who they are. And yes it is barbaric.

But one party won’t stand with equality, and sentience of all. Rather they are willing to “keep an open mind”. That in itself speaks volumes.

We pretend we are enlightened. We pretend we are better than others by throwing labels around.

But as a society have we moved much beyond the overzealous researched who sees Data as less than, and as such not as equal as others?

Does the quote of Guinan when applied to our world make sense to you?

We still have a false hierarchy of disposability. May not be along the lines of slavery as overtly presented by Guinan, but it still is there.

It is not about challenging another’s beliefs. It is about moving into the understanding of shared equality, and that no one is less than or disposable. No one is property as the episode put it.

As one contemplates stories they hear in the media, and are ready to respond in haste or anger or defense…just once…take time and consider the humanity involved.


Some Sundays even when one is healthy they cannot pull it together to get to church with the family. It can even be harder after a night of neuro-events, that left your own son checking on you to make sure “Daddy was still alive”. This was the night that I had come through, and was not well rested when I awoke. But needed to fill up the spirit over my cheerios and cuppa, which led me to accept a challenge from a friend. Re-look at JJ Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot.

See, the challenge is, I am not a huge fan of Star Trek XI-XIII. I understand a series rebooting, new generation, new ideas. Yet I was one of the Trekkies’ pulling for a Worf led Enterprise movie; or a Riker/Troi USS Titan or a DS9 or Voyager…or even and Enterprise series movie…if there was to be something new what about looking at Enterprise C or B? Or another ship completely in the Star Trek Universe. Why re-cast iconic characters (and yes I realize this happens with James Bond, Conan, Batman, The Doctor, etc.). But this was the original cast being, well, re-cast. It is also a bit of Trekkie cognitive dissonance because I may not be completely infatuated with the new movies Boldly Going, but have enjoyed the re-cast in the IDW comic series. Soooo….

So addled brained, lethargic and somewhat hypothermic I settled in to be filled.

I am part of an endangered species.

-Spock (2009)

The death of Romulus leading a time travel narrative, a nod to Remus’ demise in Star Trek: Nemesis. Nero seeking vengeance for loss of his family, and destroying Vulcan. The act of travelling back creating an alternate reality where not everything is the same (and Vulcan is destroyed by an act of Zealot-Terrorism). New imaginings of each character.

Yet core precepts remain the same.

You are now, and will always be my friend… I am emotionally compromised, I lost my people, you need to get others to see.

-Spock (TOS in 2009).

Scotty talking about beaming Admiral Archers dog into somewhere when trying transwarp teleporting. Elder (Other-reality) Spock doing a tongue-in-cheek nod to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, by giving Scotty a formula he would invent to move along a problem-solving plot point.

Kirk’s beating of the Kobayashi Maru (the no-win situation) a test designed by this reality’s Spock who chose Starfleet realizing he would never fit within Vulcan world fully. Playing out a more human side to the child of both world’s that followed Spock throughout the original.

Bones sharing his venture outwards to space, due to a loss of his family.

The ultimate no-win scenario to beat the drive of vengeance as Vulcan is in ruins, only 10,000 survivors and Nero has set his sights of Earth. The travel back in time to destroy the Federation (A Star Trek: First Contact nod), and red matter if it was the 1980’s you could hear the word “Genesis” ringing…life from lifelessness, lifelessness from life.

But it raises an allegorical point. Vulcan was the epicentre of where the Federation was birthed. A zealot not tied to any group officially lost something and took revenge by blowing up Vulcan (are you seeing terrorist parallels in our world?)…and how easy it would be to move to escalation instead of focusing on the need for a measured response while continuing to build relations. Even by bringing out a darker tone, as the story is being birthed in the world of uncertainty (more precarious than I would say the Cold War world, and post-Cold War world that birthed the original shows and spin-offs)…but still trying to bring hope to the front.

How is hope brought forward?

Through guidance of the elders to the core values of each character. That even if it appears everything may be different, choices can still be made to create a community of belonging.

The question the movie raises is whether Kirk and company this time will let the inclusion principles of the Federation win out, or succumb to the darkness being spread by Nero?

Are you Spock or Nero? Or Spock? Each decision creates a point in time of change.

What is your choice?

 


The first cliff hanger of the Summer of 1990 (end of Season 3, beginning of Season 4), Best of Both Worlds, on par when Dallas did who shot JR… When Riker ordered “Fire” on the Borg ship with the newly assimilated Locutus (Jean-Luc Picard) on the view screen…cut to black. From June to September it was a long wait and with the introduction of Commander Shelby grade 7 me had to ponder was this the way to make Riker the captain?

BOBW_Blu-ray_cover.jpg

                As cliff hangers go, it was well written. Yet these two parts, recently re-released on blu-ray as a feature length, set the stage to question. The Borg are Star Trek’s version of Cybermen-Daleks mixed together. Where Cybermen state upgrade, and Daleks state exterminate, the Borg inform species and individuals “you will be assimilated resistance is futile.”   They are a species that have created huge storylines (think I,Borg, where Hugh was discussed as having conscience or to be used as a bio-weapon to wipe them out. Or for Voyager fans, 7 of 9’s pursuit of her humanity once more).

Like good sci-fi though, it is more than just an invasion story with the Borg en-route to sector 001 (earth). It is the story of belonging, and what brings us to belong. It is the story of stripping away all the masks we need to function in our different roles of life, to be what we are truly meant to be. Nothing more relevant than the battle within Picard to return from being part of the Borg collective (assert his identity). The Borg are an allegory for cults or fanatical-extremist groups that remove one’s identity and ability to think outside of group think completely. Picard was assimilated- yet the Borg erred, much like the Cult leader who believes to groom a successor, the Queen desired a King and let some identity remain to bring an enemy low. Identity and name, not number were used.

This struggle was seen from the other side of the spectrum of extremes. Where Starfleet struggled with the idea of First Officer that refused to advance. Even in a world where money had been done away within the Federation planets, it seemed to stump people why Riker would keep turning down ships of his own to remain on the Enterprise. Not just a ship, but a community, a family, where he belonged, shared common stories and experiences. Others saw him as standing still while others shot past, yet here he was living the adventure of a lifetime.

Where the Borg had Locutus to challenge the extremist of collectivism, Riker was challenging the Federation’s extreme of individualism within the militarized wing of the Federation.

A duality presented to understand that in the middle outside of the bounds of extremes. A place where the Federation was a shining light, where peace existed, where one was truly free to pursue passions over survival. This is the ethos that drove Star Trek in the hearts of many others…a utopian future where there is still struggle, but where one could be who they are and the collective good was looked out for.

In case one forgets the dangers of extremism, there is stories like this that show all pieces of the political spectrum even in Utopia could create extremism. Today we must remember in the traditional political-religious spectrums there is extremism that has nothing to do with the core of the movements:

There are those in our world who watched Star Trek Deep Space Nine and believed the Cardassians to be the heroes of the Bajoran occupation, and Ferengi to be the moral compass of the universe.

Conservatives to facists to Neo-Nazis. Liberals to Communists to Stalinists (note how Stalinists and Neo-Nazis connect on the same hatred points—extremism creates weird bedfellows). Religiously seen in Islam to Al-Qaeda to ISIS, Christianity to IRA/Religious Right/PRO-LIFE Terror groups to the KKK.

But what is missed, is the joining floor, like the United Federation of Planets (our struggling version, the United Nations—religiously the Parliament of World Religions, World Council of Churches) where core values come through, common ground is found. Where individuals do not have to become assimilation spouting/doing automatons or climbing Jacob’s ladder to higher points of self-grandeur, whether warranted, but may not be what resonates for true vocation or readiness.

It is the moment Mary of Nazareth attempted to show us at the Wedding at Cana where she broke societal norms for hospitality, shattered patriarchy, and pushed her Son to be part of miracle to show the world…that things come in many different forms.

It is the challenge that history tells us moving into the before season of Easter Lent that builds to Palm Sunday, Jesus entry into Jerusalem. A day where Caesar would flex his might against the extremists of the Empire and force assimilation by having legions march in Jerusalem. It was also a time when the drive to climb the ladder kept families in power on their toes to constantly stay alive. Where the drive for power had one put aside family, friendship, belonging, and anything else that may be claimed to value to ensure the climbing up of the ladder. How the Herod family played all sides, how the religious authorities sold out their own belief systems to maintain power.

All this… and then you have the Riker/Locutus moment. Jesus, the peasant carpenter (labourer), born a bastard, raised in a small town where everyone knew Joseph wasn’t his Daddy (imagine the bullying) …rumours of the madness of Mary claiming God’s son, yet the whispers of gossip mill about the passing through Roman soldiers that had used her, and why Joseph was able to secure her. Shock that he stayed and had not turned her out quietly or stoned her.

Yet here he was, coming into the city at high holy time. A rabble of followers from the lower classes, those in the halls of power that may be curious only visiting by night to literally save their own necks.

While stallions and weapons were on the other side of town, flexing military might, entering along an entrance lined with crucified “terrorists”, “zealots” and “messiahs” with the power bases cheering.

Here was Brother Jesus, holding to his core beliefs of belonging, family, community, inclusion, hope, joy, faith, peace and L-O-V-E. Simply entering in such a fashion to shake the foundations and begin the ripple of what it meant to be neighbour. No more show, no more cognitive dissonance. Simply be. Simply do.

Are you ready for your Locutus/Riker moment?

Your donkey ride?

Are you ready to find your core?

 


When you teach your child to undervalue some people, they soon will be able to undervalue all including their parents.”

-Jean-Luc Picard (ST:TNG Chain of Command Pt.2)

December 1992, I was in Grade 9, and already a student of politics, social justice, mysteries and science fiction. A writer. It was also when Star Trek: The Next Generation aired the two part Chain of Command that covered a story of current political climate and historical, and one that still has its place today in discourse. Working with Amnesty International it was the exploration of torture.

                Think of this? What is the purpose of torture? Or as the P.C. neo-right call “enhanced interrogation techniques”? Some say it gets to information, everything points to the patent false hood of this for under duress the human psyche will do whatever is necessary for survival which means information captured in this process on the off chance may be accurate, but truly when one looks at archived information especially out of the Stalinist gulag it is about control. Breaking down the other.

This is where the quote that opened comes from. The scene is the Gul torturing Jean-Luc’s daughter is there in the room. Jean-Luc questions him about why, and he points out the need for them to see the value that their species has over others. To which Jean-Luc begins a counter with the undervaluing of all, the ability to be able to see anyone as the other. No actual communal ties. Pointing what the military-efficiency domination of Cardassians had taken them from a spiritual-scientific culture to this brutality.

Think of it, the breakdown of someone to be nothing more than the other. So stripped of agency that one could rationalization brutalization for they were not your equal so it was okay. History is filled with these atrocities. In fact, the beginning of the torture of Picard begins with the Gul pointing out he will have no name anymore, simply be the human. And yes, the torture involved lies “we killed the Klingon” or “your ship is in flames”. But the forcing of control to see how one had been broken to another’s will through answering how many lights Picard could see? There was 4, the torturer demanded he see 5, it was a finger control trick from the Gulag histories to see if the person had been broken.

Think deeper though, yes this is a bigger issue we can still see today. But look at what is at the core? The ability to dehumanize someone from their intrinsic value of a person. Boil it down so they are less than simply because of X, Y, or Z. It is the essence where bullying, assault, and abuse begin. The needs of me, outweighs the needs of others.

As we enter a time of quasi-enlightenment and seeing the damage removing intrinsic worth, and undervaluing the other has caused perhaps it is time to revisit communal rights and responsibly, along with the accountability.  For even during the pain, if the person does not break there is hope for healing, once broken there is the possibility of rebuilding.  What a better world though would exist if one did not have to endure the attempt to break or the breaking to begin with?

As I have written before sci-fi when done well can create conversations communities may not have the capacity to engage with civilly towards change. As I watched the blu-ray special edition, and remembered I saw part two on Christmas Day as a 14 year old I remembered a story trying to shed light on workplace abuse.

Years ago I remember ministers in Ontario looking at joining Union due to the abuse that had been heaped upon them by congregants. This group within the United Church of Canada got derision from the broader Christianities, yet what was missed was they were the whistle blowers on the unhealthy work and community created for them. It was and is a reality I have experienced and can speak to with my time in ministry and believe if this option had been on the table in some postings for myself I would have sought the support of a bargaining body. Too much was covered up with the “let’s pray about it” to the “it is God’s will” to the “we employ you.” Yet not willing to see harm done, and patterns created to perpetuate harm. If these congregations had been a person doing this to another at the very least they would have been a bully, at most possibly a harasser or assailant.

Yet accountability was lacked, because it was easier to stand with the voice devaluing…to be with the Guls (Cardassians Military) and not those that saw a different path, for those voices were pushed out or silenced. Other means that torture where used, but the valuing system of commodifying the person so that their value could be undercut still existed.

So do we crumble to the torturer, or after one exchange, stand as a Picard, with this closing quote:

Hey I got you to call me Picard.”

-Jean-Luc Picard (ST: TNG Chain of Command pt. 2)