|Posted on April 4, 2012 at 7:10 AM|
Part 1 of 6 on the next generation of space travelers.
Today I start a series examining episodes of The Next Generation which feature the younger set of the Enterprise-D crew, including my blog chain entry next week. The first two involve Wesley Crusher, but the others will go different directions.
In “Assignment: Earth” when Gary Seven first meets the Enterprise crew, he says he’s been raised on a secret planet, cloaked from outside interference.
“It’s impossible to hide a whole planet,” says Mr. Scott.
Seven shoots back: “Impossible for you, not for them.” He also says, “Even in your time, it will remain unknown.”
Along comes The Next Generation and its first episode involving children: “When the Bough Breaks.” Here we have a suggestion how Seven’s world might have accomplished its secrecy. I tend to think it’s altogether different with a similar technology, for in no other way do it and Aldea resemble each other.
The Enterprise-D crew already knows about Aldea, albeit as a fairy tale, even as they follow its “bread crumbs” signal. Riker describes it as a “wondrous, mythical world like Atlantis of ancient Earth, or Neinman of Xerxes VII.” I’m glad he recognizes Atlantis as mythical, for real history never indicates it has existed; see November 11, 2009 for more detail.
In addition, it’s an “advanced culture, centuries old, self-contained, peaceful—incredible technical sophistication—providing the daily needs of all the citizens, so they can turn themselves over to art and culture.”
More significantly: “Somehow, as the legend goes, the Aldeans could cloak their planet in darkness and go unseen by marauders and other hostile passersby who might rob and plunder.”
Later, Data explains the theory to Wesley Crusher. “The shield bends light rays around the planet’s contour, similar to the Romulan cloaking device, but the implementation is quite difficult.”
A portion of space ahead shimmers, and the reddish image of Aldea fades in. One of the residents, Rashella, appears on the viewscreen and summons them to a celebration planetside. When she cuts transmission, however, Deanna Troi reports: “They want something from us, something we value greatly. So much that they’re afraid we won’t part with it.”
That something is their children. When Riker, Deanna, and Dr. Crusher learn this, they adamantly refuse to cooperate, so the Aldeans kidnap six kids to train in their arts, including Wesley—whether they want to stay or not.
The exchange between Wesley and First Appointee Radue, leaders of their respective groups, reveal some interesting side notes. The Aldeans can no longer have children of their own, due to what Radue calls a “genetic dysfunction” in their race. They are also supersensitive to light and fight recurring skin lesions with salve. In effect, they are dying out, but Radue believes the Enterprise kids would remedy the situation.
Meanwhile, the shield itself is deteriorating, and continued starship probes reveal a different answer. Through eons of operation, its radiation has slowly affected the Aldeans’ bodies and caused their infertility. This means the children they believe would be their salvation would be condemned to share their fate instead.
The Aldeans act surprised that their request for the Enterprise children, in exchange for technological data on their remarkable shield, is summarily rejected. Radue wonders why the parents are so protective—yet after Rashella and Alexandria, the youngest girl, connect and play together, Rashella becomes so protective she won’t let the girl go with another family unit. I wonder: If Radue had kids, wouldn’t he respond the same way? Why, then, should he be surprised?
It’s a bittersweet story all around, but the most compelling thing is how the children respond. Being very much the oldest, Wesley is appointed their leader, and Radue expects him to encourage the others to accept their lot. An older woman, Duana, introduces him to the Custodian, the computerized brain behind the planet’s operation, giving him Level 3 clearance to operate it.
Conversations among the kids reveal that, though they like it here, they miss their parents and want to go home. Harry, about 10, likes creating sculptures out of wood using a carving tool that emits a beam. A slightly older girl learns to play an instrument that looks like a glorified Simon Says toy. But Wesley encourages them to practice passive resistance to the Aldeans to let them know their true wishes. And he uses his clearance with the Custodian to effect their escape.
Several of our heroes express sympathy for the Aldeans’ plight, even as they deny the Aldeans’ proposal, which is good. No matter how noble the motive might seem, kidnapping is a crime. It interrupts other people’s lives for the thieves’ personal agenda. Despite this, in the end Captain Picard and the Enterprise-D makes an alternate arrangement to resolve their problem with the shield, which is quite good and biblical.
The gist of the whole episode is that children are a valuable commodity, not to be traded or sold. Ideally they should be trained by their parents, not others. “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). God also promises that the noble wife’s “children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28 ).
Picard goes so far as tell Radue, “I must warn you that human parents are willing to die for their children.” Again, this is an ideal, not always reflected in practice. How many times have we heard of fathers abandoning their families for months, years at a time? How many news reports tell us of mothers who drown or burn or otherwise murder their own kids?
How many unwed teen girls leave their newborn babies in a garbage can somewhere because they don’t want the responsibility? The prevalence of abortion—murder before the child’s birth—also mitigates against Picard’s statement. Who knows how many victims of infanticide could have been gifted contributors to society?
This does not, however, make Picard’s statement false. The Scriptures above illustrate how God regards children, as new souls to welcome into His glory, trained by their natural parents. Is it any wonder that in Mark 10, Jesus also welcomed children?
“13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ 16 And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.”
Perhaps the Sunday School song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” originated from this passage. The disciples’ attitude (verse 13) can still be seen today: adults who think something should be withheld from children when God wants to bless them. He wants them to grow into godly men and women, and become “the next generation” of ministers for Him.
Like the Aldeans, He is only interested in our development, except His motives are not selfish. He is under no threat of nonexistence, no delusions that kidnapping would ever be right. Instead, more often than not, He lets families stay together to grow in love and mutual respect.
“A Father to the fatherless, a Defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land” (Psalm 68:5-6).
Then too, sometimes a child will die to protect his or her family. The most famous of these instances, of course, is God sending His Son to die for us, so we may have a way out of our self-condemning sin and corruption. Praise God for His better way!
May the Lord’s best blessings be with you as you celebrate Easter Sunday.
MARCH THEME: “SAVOR”
APRIL THEME: “JOY”
April 4: Steve Olar at Snickerdoodles
April 5: Lynn Mosher at Heading Home
April 6: Bill Jones at I was Thinking the Other Day About …
April 7: Cindee Snider Re at Breathe Deeply
April 8: Terrie Thorpe at Light for the Journey
April 9: Adam Collings at The Collings Zone
April 10: Keith Wallis at Wordsculptures
April 11: MY TURN! right here at Lightwalker’s View