|Posted on April 18, 2012 at 7:10 AM|
Part 3 of 6 on the next generation of space travelers.
Some say it’s wrong for children to be in danger, whether it’s space travel, war, or similar events. But such idealistic thinking does not square with real life. True, we should never consciously place children in peril, but dangerous situations do happen. Assuming the child survives, he can come out the other end all the stronger, all the more mature. This fact is confirmed in how kids such as Anne Frank grew up during wartime. I know; I’ve read her diary.
The Next Generation’s “Disaster” is another good example. Through a series of threats to ship and crew alike, we see several members performing outside of their comfort zones. The disaster is caused when the Enterprise-D runs into a “quantum filament,” which Miles O’Brien describes as being “over a hundred meters long, but it has no mass, which makes it difficult to detect.” But if it has no mass, how could they crash into it?
Whatever the answer, the event is also described as “running into a live electrical wire,” so systems go down all over the starship. The bridge is cut off from the rest at first, the duty officer is dead, and three of the four who remain are at odds with each other. Troi becomes acting captain (being the highest ranking officer present) and Ro’s will clashes with her command decisions.
First Officer Riker and Lieutenant Commander Data are seen in the crawlway of the Jeffreys tube, attempting to fix the circuits affected by the impact. Riker was never Data’s mechanic, so when the android suggests he detach his head to link into starship systems, Riker recoils, and at first refuses.
Worf scarcely knows what to do with himself in Ten Forward when he must treat injuries, and especially play midwife to Keiko giving birth to Molly. The birthing scenes are hilarious, as Worf tries to do everything in an orderly fashion, despite that Keiko cries, “Sometimes it doesn’t go by the book, Worf!”
Beverly and Geordi start together as she auditions him for the Modern Major General of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. This in itself is an discomfort zone for Geordi, but in the cargo bay the roles reverse. To deal with a plasma fire that threatens barrels of radioactive material, Beverly is the fish out of water. They open the cargo hatch, briefly cancel the containment field, and endure seconds of exposure to space. Thus the barrels are sucked out and the fire is extinguished.
When I was in third or fourth grade, I recall hearing that exposure to outer space would make a person implode. Today I know this is the old school talking; actually, the primary danger is almost immediate suffocation, as Beverly Crusher describes.
Another old-school idea is that women should never lead men, even though the prophet Joel and Apostle Peter both said they are equal in the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18 ). The many ladies in charge throughout biblical history confirm it. Only women with an overlording attitude, emotional instability, or a promiscuous bent should be denied. For that matter, men with these qualities should not lead, either. However, I draw the line at calling a woman “sir,” as in this episode. Her gender should be respected, not fused with men.
But I really want to talk about the children, trapped in the turbolift with Captain Picard. The captain feels awkward when it comes to relating to kids, and the kids shed tears when the lift quakes and stalls. The youngest boy Patterson must be about five, Jay is a little older, and the girl Marissa is preteen. They had all won prizes in a recent science fair, and their reward had been a tour of the Enterprise-D. Nobody anticipated they’d also encounter an emergency like this.
After a few moments of discomfort, Picard encourages the children by making them “officers,” awarding them his own pins to make the appointments “official.” Since Marissa is the oldest, he assigns her the rank of first officer, Jay becomes science officer, and Patterson is put in charge of radishes—his hydroponic entry at the fair.
It’s very interesting how Marissa works into her role, though she remains frightened much of the time. The lift is damaged and could fall at any time, but Picard has injured his ankle and wants the children to go it alone. (He says it’s broken, which can’t be true; later he climbs the shaft ladder to a higher deck, without so much as a wince.)
“I wanna stay here with the captain,” Patterson cries, almost literally.
“If the captain doesn’t make it,” says Jay, “we’ll all die.”
Picard says, “I don’t have time to argue! You must go now.”
Bravely Marissa faces him. “The crew has decided to stick together. We all go, or we all stay.”
A little later as they’re climbing, the boys squabble with each other, but Marissa says, “Quiet, both of you. That’s an order!” You go, girl!
Twenty-one months ago when the blog chain started, we chose “The Discomfort Zone” as our very first topic. At the time, I had written about Reggie Barclay, showing how he matured through several episodes (July 14, 2010). Now we have a similar situation in “Disaster,” since we don’t usually see most of these pairings. But it demonstrates that disparate people can work together with the right attitude. Although humanistic strength is implied in their successes, there are a number of biblical parallels.
God brought Moses out of his comfort zone, after a comparatively cushy lifestyle working as a shepherd for his father-in-law—though it was a large step down from his life in the pharaoh’s palace. He led his people, the Israelites, through the often hostile desert and pointed them to the Promised Land.
Joshua found himself out of the zone when God asked him to take Moses’ place. Jephthah went from gang leader to army leader, self-conscious Gideon took charge of a 300-man battalion, and Ruth and Esther shone prominently in a foreign country. I could cite many more examples.
In the New Testament, Apostle Peter objected to God’s call to preach to the Gentiles. In the vision of unkosher animals being offered as food, the Lord told him, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common [or unclean]” (Acts 10:14). Paul went from vicious Christian-murderer to victorious Christian evangelist. Even Jesus Christ in Gethsemane was out of His comfort zone, begging His Father to take away the bitter cup of His impending death.
A common Christian proverb says, “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.” Nowhere is this truer than when we receive our missions. We may fear the unknown, the future, backlash from unbelievers, and therefore buck against the assignment like Jonah. But God calls us because He knows that deep inside, we can do what He asks. We can glorify Him.
At the close of “Disaster,” Picard addresses “Number One,” and both Marissa and Riker answer “yes, sir.” It’s a funny closer, and all the more because it illustrates another great truth. Once we establish this new comfort zone, it becomes part of us. It becomes an integral part of our personality.
At some point, all us Christian writers have doubted our ability. Many of us still do. But the more we rely on the Lord’s strength, not our own, we will find success in whatever we do (Joshua 1:8 ). Maybe I’ll never be a best-selling author, but I do have a message for the world, inspired by God. Ultimate victory belongs to us, His children.
We are the future in God’s family.
Categories: Original Star Trek