[Nerd Alert! This post contains references to Sci-Fi books and television programs]
Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise warned against those who would “spread fear in the name of righteousness” in the episode “The Drumhead”.
When asked to demonstrate Earth’s dominant religion in “The Parliament of Dreams”, Commander Sinclair of Babylon 5 lines up as many representatives of different beliefs as he can find and introduces them one by one (beginning with an atheist).
Commander Riker tackles gender politics in “The Outcast” when he falls in love with an androgyne who felt like a woman. She was forced to reform so that she could fit into the accepted genderless identity of her culture.
Even if you’re not a huge nerd, you’ve probably been exposed to *some* aspects of Science Fiction. Some of the most influential writers of the genre are household names— Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, J. Michael Straczynski, and Gene Roddenberry, to name a few. Nearly every Science Fiction show and book deals with issues of death, freedom, race relations, and, most importantly, the definition of sentience. My favorite interpretation of the latter is the Minbari “Principles of Sentient Life”, the third of which is “the capacity for self-sacrifice: the conscious ability to override evolution and self-preservation for a cause, a friend, or a loved one.”
Some of humanity’s greatest minds have chosen to provide insight and hope for a better future through their writing. Much like Shakespeare did in his day, these Sci-Fi writers are embedding insights into human nature in stories that are crafted to not only entertain, but to awaken a higher wisdom in us— the viewers and readers. I urge you to seek out the lessons of the future past. Look for clues laid down by generations of brilliant writers, and build a future that is worthy of them, and of you.
I leave you with a quote (one which I apply to television as well as books):
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?… But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” – Franz Kafka
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