Episode 62: Star Trek’s Humanism (and Lack Thereof), Part 2
In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Greg Christensen, Richelle McCullough, Robert Shindler, and Gem Newman continue their discussion of Star Trek’s long history of humanism, and some of the places the franchise has stumbled along the way.
Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.
Episodes Discussed: The Next Generation (The Measure of a Man, Who Watches the Watchers) | Deep Space Nine (Family Business, In the Pale Moonlight) | Voyager (Author, Author) | Enterprise (Dear Doctor)
Other Links: Riker Sits Down | Gem’s Rant on the Subject of “Dear Doctor” | Mansplainer #3: I’m Sick of Television (and Real Life) | That Mitchell and Webb Look: English Civil War
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One thought on “Episode 62: Star Trek’s Humanism (and Lack Thereof), Part 2”
I can’t believe I’m posting about Star Trek…
But after two shows that talk about the Prime Directive, I realize that I’ve never heard, from any Star Trek fan, the most important thing about the Prime Directive.
The Prime Directive exists in Star Trek as the only explanation for why we haven’t seen aliens, and for why aliens don’t save us from natural disasters or from evil dictators and terrorists and disease and hunger. The Prime Directive is “Star Trek works in mysterious ways.” It is the only way we can look at the world around us, and still believe that we could possibly live in a world where Star Trek might be real.
That’s what made The Enterprise episode with Doctor Phlox’s genocide horrifying. Until then, the origins of the P.D. could be imagined to have some “mysterious ways” that would be worth something. But instead, Dr. Phlox just feels strongly about it. It’s like realizing that the biblical god’s mysterious reason for killing Job’s children is that god has a gambling problem.
Also, someone said some variation of “when an advanced culture interferes with a less developed culture the result is devastating.” Well, I was a young-earth creationist. Then I met the internet. While that meeting was devastating for my false beliefs, it was good for me.
My grandmother rode a travois to the shores of Lake Winnipeg and homesteaded with a Metis fur trader, my grandfather. My family has seen discrimination for not being white, but we have seen the world change massively. And I am convinced that we can learn from mistakes (and deliberate harms done).
In Bolivia there is an Old Colony Mennonite community named Manitoba Colony.
There are some horrific things going on there, and they continue to happen because the culture of the colony is isolated by tradition and language. The only people that the colony’s women can talk to are the other people in the colony. There are plenty of people in the world who speak low German, many of them here in Manitoba, but the men of the colony will not allow communication with the outside world, including talking with trauma counselors.
Some have found the courage to leave. They are held back by our willingness to accept the harm being done in “primitive cultures”. Their ancestors may have chosen the isolated lifestyle, but being born and raised in deliberate ignorance keeps them from having any real choice. The parts of their culture that would be devastated by outside contact are the parts that are causing harm.
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