In a beloved episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a cyberneticist arrives on the starship Enterprise with the intention of dismantling Data, the android, for scientific discovery and for the goal of creating more androids like him. Data would not survive this, and when he tries to give up his commission as an officer so they cannot order him to submit, Data is told he is not human and cannot make that decision for himself. He is a machine. A thing. A unit to be poked and prodded on command. There is no value to his life, according to the cyberneticist. As a result, a hearing is held, testimony given, and one of the iconic Captain Jean Luc Picard summations gives us food for thought:
“Your honor, the courtroom is a crucible; in it, we burn away irrelevancies until we are left with a purer product: the truth, for all time. Now sooner or later, this man – or others like him – will succeed in replicating Commander Data. The decision you reach here today will determine how we will regard this creation of our genius. It will reveal the kind of people we are; what he is destined to be. It will reach far beyond this courtroom and this one android. It could significantly redefine the boundaries of personal liberty and freedom: expanding them for some, savagely curtailing them for others. Are you prepared to condemn him [Commander Data] – and all who will come after him – to servitude and slavery? Your honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life: well, there it sits! Waiting.“
I am waiting too, tired of inhumane behavior and the way that politics, religion and human beings feel free to sanction prejudice, racism, division, and ostracism with verbal hate and rules that prevent some people from living a happy life and laws that defy democracy. This Star Trek episode resonates greatly today, reflective of how mankind has treated one another, sometimes as if people are not human or worthy of living a normal life.
That type of behavior and resulting actions do not make any country great. It creates a community that is divided and weak. Love, kindness, diversity and acceptance are signs of strength, signs of a state or country that is not just fixated on selfish personal rights, but on the rights of all citizens, no matter who they are or their personal lifestyles.
My Christianity teaches me to love others without exception, but that seems to have been tossed aside or held for ransom by those who believe it’s okay to be judge, jury and persecutor. They use and abuse their religion to justify bad behavior. Christians that either verbally or through social media spread hateful ideology about persons of color, differing religious or sexual orientation, opposing political beliefs, or any other reason…well, they are hiding behind a blackened cross and self-righteous beliefs.
On that note, the United States has allowed a foul-minded Christianity to invade politics and that has become dangerous for so many people. Laws that don’t allow the teaching of actual African-American history or prohibits same-sex marriage and rights, do not really reflect the teachings of Jesus. He taught his followers to treat one another with kindness and respect, rather than to look at people as inhumane. One thing that makes me crazy is when people of faith point fingers and call others “sinners.” Ummm…excuse me, but we are all sinners. As a people, humans know how to lie, cheat on taxes and spouses, swear a blue streak, call people names, physically and emotionally abuse others, commit crimes, etc. We are a messy bunch. But through this, we have to learn to put judgment aside and help each other, uplift each other, be kind and accepting of each other.
I try to stay positive when I publish a post, but at times, writing about these feelings help me process the current climate in the U.S. and world. Otherwise, I would continually stay angry and disappointed at those that want to dismantle human beings to the point of servitude, suffering and death.
Some would call me a liberal snowflake and perhaps I am; however, I prefer to consider myself a person of kindness, acceptance, and one who tries to love the rest of the human race. That last part is hard at times, but I keep my self-imposed promise to never hate anyone. I’m supposed to pray for our leaders and those in prominent positions, which I do on occasion, but I’d rather pray for the least of us, those that need our hearts and our help, not our judgment. Let it be known that I’m not perfect (a long way from it), but I suppose that’s a journey for all of us – to keep trying to be better humans.
I know that the world will never be perfect. We continue to fight among ourselves, start wars, and exhibit bad behavior. It’s been part of our history for thousands of years. But one day, I hope the majority of humans embrace the positive aspects of peace, love and understanding, and how that can make life joyful, less stressful and unified.
My summation: Let us not be a cyberneticist who devalues the android (or human). Let us be a Picard and fight for the happiness, liberty and freedom of life.
31 responses to The Measure of Humanity
That is one of my favorite episodes, Mary. I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait until the 24th century to discover these truths. The people who scare me most are the ones that say that “God created everyone and everything…” but then somehow define themselves and whatever small (by world standards) as the only ones who will be saved. I want to ask them if they’ve ever read the Bible they’re carrying. I grew up learning about Jesus, and the world I was taught about, the world we should strive to establish on earth, was more like Picard’s world than the one we have at the moment. Thank you for being bold enough to go here in you blog post. I hope you have a wonderful week.
Dan, you commented so beautifully. I agree that the Jesus we learned about as children and young adults is not the same Jesus that some make him out to be. I think he must be disappointed in how some use and abuse the Bible and Christianity and cause other to fall away from faith because of how they are treated. I only hope we get through the next decade with a decline in the hate and meanness that seems more and more prevalent.
Bravo Mary. Well said
Thank you, Sadje.
excellent post, Mary and I so agree with you
Thanks Beth, I only hope that peaceful and loving humans far outweigh the noisy din of those who act otherwise.
Great post and wonderful episode. I don’t believe that Christianity wishes us to be so all-inclusive that we refuse to recognize “evil spirited” destructive propaganda or destructive ‘ideas’ in the process. The ‘accept all things’ mantra IMO is, at the least, lazy and, at the most, a perfect venue for Satan to have his way. We absolutely must treat all persons as having value but human ideas, ‘movements’, and propaganda, must be scrutinized constantly. Your mention of “actual African-American history” made me wonder if you have access to a divine avenue that knows that truth or have been give some otherworldly guidance on the matter. 😉
Ha, Susan! I think historical books, documentaries, etc. that tell it like it was is my divine avenue to actual truth. The library or internet can provide that guidance to anyone who desires to be informed. 😉
Jesus treated everyone with love and kindness and accepted all. Did he throw rocks at or call the woman at the well wicked names? No. He loved her gently and that is all we need to do with our fellow human beings. End of story.
I guess your trust of internet informational wisdom, “experts”, and personal accounts, is greater than mine. Good for you! Thanks!
By internet, I meant finding YouTube videos about redlining and directing myself to trusted websites and news sources. I guess the validity could come into question, but I feel I know the truth in my heart when I read it (and fact check).
We can quibble about sources and facts all day. The underlying point is human beings offer much information. It’s not all false nor is it all reliable. Some try to intentionally ‘misinform’ too. Oh, and the sin of omission happens a lot! You know. The ‘this is truthful but I’m leaving out other contributing factors’ report.
Given those facts, to scrutinize (or fact check as you say) is important. One of the methods is to analyze (process and compare information) and question all information utilizing our brains (not our hearts).
I admire your adherence to ‘trusted websites’ and ‘trusted searches’ for “facts”. I’ve yet to find any that have an ultimate factual authority. Again, good for you!
All people deserve love and kindness and acceptance ALWAYS… their ideas, information, and actions, do not. To suggest they do, is ludicrous.
It is only when our first question is “what is in life for them ?” instead of what is in life for me that we will finally understand the teachings to value and raise up all life.
And that is the issue there, John. Too many people only worry about themselves, their rights and desires. If I could submit one suggestion to parents is to teach your children to help others from an early age – helping an elderly neighbor, volunteering, etc. Teach them acceptance and tat the world doesn’t revolve solely around themselves because our hope is in future generations and the people now who can change the hateful mindset.
Bravo, Mary. These are the things that plague my soul. Hypocrisy, derision and destruction committed in the name of a god who I was taught loves every one of its creations equally. They use Christ’s words when they want compassion and forgiveness for themselves while quoting from the Old Testament when they want to wage war on whatever is perceived as threatening. If that makes any one of us ‘snowflakes’ then I say, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” 🤗❤️
I truly despise what some have done to the Christian faith…the faith that tells us to be humble, be kind, serve and love others. I believe it’s up to us, as individuals, to spread that kind of positivity no matter our religion, non-religion or spirituality. They say love makes the world go around, Cheryl, and that is what’s going to save us all in the end.
The only thing that can. ❤️
Amen, Sister !
I love this post. That is one of my favourite episodes. One thing people tend to forget about snowflakes is that when they band together they can close cities. There is great power in togetherness. I am an unrepentant optimist I am convinced that we will survive the horror that is encasing our world right now.
I like what you said about snowflakes and being optimistic, Pam. I hope we have a blizzard one day that will leave a blanket of unity and peace.
so much wisdom in some of those star trek episodes. The messages are still clear, humble, and important years later. May there be more Picard’s and Data’s in the world.
The Star Trek world wasn’t perfect…they still had conflict. But there was (and still is) always the message of diversity, acceptance and hope for a better future. We need to embrace the hope!
Wow, this is a perspective I’ve never thought of! Great post 🙂
Thanks Damyanti! ❤
Hear, hear. Late to the comments but I like what you have to say. Would that more followed your lead.
Thanks for the comment, Ally. Yeah, the good people who haven’t lost their minds need to speak up…loudly.
When I watch this Star Trek episode, I still feel scared for Data, even knowing how it turns out. Maybe that’s because the lack of empathy in the cyberneticist reminds me of the lack of empathy and compassion in some people in authority and some who call themselves “Christians.” It makes me cringe and want to call myself an imperfect follower of Jesus instead of Christian. Thank you for this post and for the reminder to pray for those in power to grow in compassion. For all life. I love knowing there are still Christians who value Jesus’ teachings of kindness and who are also Star Trek fans. 🙂
Thanks for your support, JoAnna. Empathy and compassion for others is lacking in too many of our citizens. We can only change that by being good examples with our own behavior and how we represent Jesus.