Archive for the ‘The Next Generation’ Category

Thinking about the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive is the guiding force on Star Trek, it provides the moral compass from which all decisions are made.  As a supreme law it seems to work well.  Seeing as there is not actual legal code for the Star Trek-verse, here is the language of the Prime Directive according to Wikipedia.

The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal affairs of other civilizations, consistent with the real world concept of Westphalian sovereignty. …No primitive culture can be given or exposed to any information regarding advanced technology or the existence of extraplanetary civilizations, lest this exposure alter the natural development of the civilization. In addition to exposure, purposeful efforts to improve or change in any way the natural course of such a society, even if that change is well-intentioned and kept completely secret, are prohibited.

The Prime Directive seems so enlightened.  A civilization, or United Federation of Planets, that realizes the importance of the struggle for a societies advancement (in this case technological advancement).  Interference in that process is so egregious that it violates the most important law of the society.  The realization that you could help a society, but that you ought not to is profound.

As I do with most of the notions I stumble across in Star Trek, or sci-fi in general, I try and think of the message in terms of how we live our lives, as Earthlings, today.  What if the United States employed the Prime Directive?  What if every society on Earth applied the Prime Directive throughout history?  Historically its fun to imagine, but I think it’s most interesting to apply it to the current world environment.

Many of the worlds nations would not possess weapons, or at least weapons of mass destruction (as they have been coined).  In order to possess the technology there would have to be an effort on behalf of the countries citizens to seek, know, and understand.  This struggle would eventually become the great equalizer of all nations.  Everyone had to get to the end point on their own steam, and the end point is, by default peaceful in many ways.

This presumption that ultimately technological advancement leads to pacifism is fascinating.  Stargate SG-1 explored this theme a great deal.  In fact, aside from the Goa’ould and Ori, SG-1 encountered very few advanced societies that were not pacifist.  Some of them so pacified and adherent to their Prime Directives that they would not communicate with SG-1 (like the Nox).  I was always impressed at the notions this idea conjured.  A deeper understanding that all of the fighting of today will lead to a peaceful tomorrow.

While researching this topic I found a great clip from The Next Generation of all the senior staff discussing the Prime Directive.

“What we do today could profoundly effect the future.”

Perhaps we should make more of our decisions today with that simple truth in the back of our minds.

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The Ultimate Question: Where to begin?

An avid fan of science fiction from the moment I saw Agent Mulder’s “The Truth is Out There” poster in high school, it was really only a matter of time before I started watching Star Trek.  Couple this inevitable occurrence with the easily available DVD TV series and I ran out of excuses.  Star Trek is a huge empire though.  Where in this galaxy was I supposed to begin?

Some folks urged me to start at the beginning.  That sounded reasonable to me.  Captain Kirk.  Mr. Spok.  Scottie.  I mean these are all of the Star Trek characters of legend.  I wasn’t feeling it though.  I find older shows a bit difficult to watch sometimes if I am not really interested in the story line.  So, the original series was out for my beginning point.

In my youth I had watched a few episodes of The Next Generation and enjoyed it very much.  In fact, I’ve seen all of the TNG feature films.  Still wasn’t there for me though…

Enterprise…  Eh, I really didn’t want to start with Scott Bakula.  I think that would have ruined it for me.   Star Trek fan sites also seemed to rank it at the bottom so I felt confident in checking that one off the list fairly quickly.  I think I’ll probably watch it last.

My best friend from law school last year is a big Deep Space Nine fan.  Usually agreeing with her in taste, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it.  Sadly, the opportunity to watch a DS9 episode never happened upon me.  In effect, it’s going to have to settle for 2nd place in my series viewing.

That leaves only one, Star Trek Voyager.  I LOVE IT!  Last week I was flipping through the channels in my afternoon break before class and I caught the beginning of Voyager.  It was great.  I DVR’d that episode (“The 37’s,” episode 1 of season 2) and I haven’t missed an episode yet.  I plan on Netflix(ing) the first season in the near future so I am all caught up.

Why Voyager?  The answer is simple, Janeway.

janeway

I have an absolute weakness for powerful female leads on television.  Xena.  Scully.  Buffy.  Colonel Carter.  I think they are all wonderful, and Janeway is an excellent addition to the list.  Perhaps I like them because I, as a woman, aspire to have similar strength, courage, and wisdom.  Or, perhaps (and probably more correctly) I like those qualities in all people.  I just think it’s cool when the women kick butt!

Anyway, I am beginning my Star Trek endeavor stranded in the Delta Quadrant with the crew of the Starship Voyager somewhere in the middle of their second year.