Thoughts on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a Commentary on Present Day Issues

I’m just over 80 episodes into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and there’s a couple of episodes that I think people should watch because they offer a really great commentary on what I see in America today.

To me:

  • Duet is about a persons right to have a fair trial, no matter where they came from or what they did. It echoes some of my feelings about Guantanamo Bay detention camp. I also recommend listening to NPR’s This American Life: Habeas Schmabeas 2007.
  • In the Hands of the Prophets is about Christians demanding that religion be taught in schools and/or decrying the teaching of evolution.
  • Homefront and Paradise Lost are about power, fear, and control. They are about what happens when something you love so much (freedom and America) are taken away from you because a few people threaten you. It’s not a perfect analogy, yet there are definitely a lot of parallels to what has happened over the last six and half years. I think the best quote comes at the end: “If the Changelings want to destroy what we’ve built here, they’re going to have to do it themselves. We will not do it for them.” – Benjamin Sisko. Now, replace Changelings with terrorists.

What I think is interesting is that these episodes are about 12 years old. I don’t think the writers intended this as a commentary on the current events of the time. Yet, somehow, twelve years after their air dates, these shows provide such a great reflection of the current times!

Other thoughts I’m going to throw in:

  • There are a surprisingly large number of sci-fi TV shows with episodes named “Paradise Lost”.
  • I am now 51.59% the way through all the Star Trek episodes/movies made.
  • I have seen 372 episodes/movies with 364 (actually, 365 if you count the upcoming Star Trek movie) left.
  • I have watched about 286 hours of Star Trek thus far in this project.

Discernment

I had a post a couple weeks ago regarding callings…the holy kind. I think Jeff Staples’ comment was the most helpful:

One of my favorite professors here says that discernment is about the intersection of three things. Discover what brings you joy. Discover what you’re good at. Discover what the world needs. The intersection of those three things at any given moment is your calling. If (as I think you might be) you’re choosing between two good options, listen to where your desires are strongest and deepest. I think God wants us to be most fully ourselves, so I think that for some people emotion may play a significant role in the decision-making process, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

At the end of the day, knowing what you’re called to do means knowing who you are. It’s not a one-time deal, based on an isolated decision that impacts the rest of your life. It’s about living in a way that is in touch with your real identity, and the more you understand about that the more all of your actions and decisions are just an extension of yourself.

Kind of a ramble, let me know what you think or if it was helpful (or not).

The paraphrase originated from Father Michael Himes, a professor of theology at Boston College (where Jeff goes to school if you didn’t make that connection). Jeff was able to give me some more information about Father Himes thoughts: Three Keys to Intersection and a book Doing the Truth in Love: Conversations About God, Relationships, and Service.

I read the web page and I requested the book be sent over from Regis (they were the only library which had the book which makes it rather fitting I think).

I really like the concept of Three Keys to Intersection. I’ve know what I wanted to do for a long time now. It what brings me joy, which Himes differentiates from happiness because “[joy]comes from within and has to do with a deep and abiding sense of the rightness, the goodness, the fruitfulness of what you do with your life” whereas happiness “often depends on external things, your physical well being, the weather, whether you had a good night’s sleep or a good meal.” I think the joy/happiness differentiation also helps explain my love/hate paradox of Mines. In any event, the current thing that brings me joy is working on space exploration and that’s what I am doing and that’s what I’m going to continue to do for now.

I suppose it helps that I’m good at what I do, at least in theory. Himes also notes that knowing what I’m good at may not be a cut-and-dried answer and that there are people in my life who might be able to use to act as a mirror.

The final key to the puzzle is need. Not what I need, but what others need. To me, this seems like a “no duh” point, but I see people making this same mistake all the time and I pretty sure I’m not immune to it either. You could probably fill entire encyclopedias with stories of young and hot programmers who couldn’t just wait to code something, only to find out that it was something that nobody wanted.

That brings me to the Venn diagram I made up and included above. It has all three aspects: Joy, Ability, and Need. The intersection of those three circles is my target — my calling.

There’s a fourth point worth noting as well. What brings me joy, the abilities I have, and what the world need are all constantly changing. “We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day.” 1

There’s a reflection part of the Three Keys to Intersection. One of the questions asks:

Perhaps you now find yourself entertaining several life choices. That would not be surprising at all. Vocational discernment is an evolving process, a journey. Your goals may change several times as you try out some choices and learn more about the match between your passions and the world’s needs. But do you feel that you are growing in possession of the kind of knowledge that will enable you eventually to narrow down these choices in the future or to figure out how to combine them?

1 See https://andrewferguson.net/2008/01/22/constantly-searching/