Message to a friend

Posted: May 6, 2010 in Personal Growth

You know the saying, "don’t get me started". Well, I did start the subject. But, expect to get multiple references to movies, songs, and other works of literature. I have to tell you that I have been a big fan of Star Trek and all of the series that followed the original. Now, don’t get me wrong: I do not believe in aliens; although my beliefs are challenged by news of an asteroid being discovered recently that has evidence of water and carbon: the basic building blocks of life. I just have a gut feeling (and it has nothing to do with religion) that we are the only sentient beings in the universe.


But, I use episodes from science fiction movies and TV series to illustrate various points.


One of my absolute favorite episodes of Star Trek, The Next Generation is entitled "Darmok". Darmok was the subject of a phrase the  captain of an alien vessel kept repeating. He and captain Jean Luc Picard (the captain of the Enterprise) were transported down to a planet and the crew of the Enterprise was unable to get Jean Luc back by transporting him.


Everybody was beside themselves because they didn’t know what was going to happen to the captain. And they set about trying to find a way to transport him back.


On the planet Jean Luc was engaged by the other captain in a dialog of sorts. Now, if you aren’t familiar with the series a "universal translator" was invented that enabled humans to understand other culture’s languages. Even though Jean Luc could understand the words the other captain  was saying they didn’t make any sense. I don’t remember the key phrase the other captain kept saying but it included the character "Darmok" and it didn’t make any sense to Jean Luc.


At one point the other captain extended his had with a knife in it. Jean Luc mistook his intentions and thought he wanted to fight with him. At the same time a monster materialized from the hills. Jean Luc told him "no, I won’t fight you".


Just as Jean Luc realized the meaning of the phrases the other captain was uttering — that they were metaphors based on myths and stories from the aliens’ culture and the other captain was trying to enlist Jean Luc in a battle against the monster, the crew of the Enterprise found a way to transport Jean Luc back to the Enterprise and out of harms way. As they started the transport sequence Jean Luc realized the other captain was doomed to failure without his help and yelled "no, send me back" which they did. 


But it was too late the monster dealt a lethal blow to the other captain and he lay dying in Jean Luc’s arms. It was then that Jean Luc let the other captain know he understood the phrase the other captain kept repeating. It was a story from his culture about Darmok a hero who enlisted others to help him fight demons.


Back on the Enterprise they enabled communications with the new captain of the alien vessel. Jan Luc and the other new captain exchanged metaphors and they separated in peace. The whole gambit was an effort by the aliens to engage humans in an initial contact that would lead to a peaceful relationship.


I don’t know if you understand how profound that story is. It is at the core of my beliefs concerning international geopolitics. Only when we overcome the human tendency to declare war for whatever petty misunderstandings, will we have "peace in our time".


So, I’ve committed the sin of revealing my political orientation probably way too soon in our "getting to know you" process. I only hope your understanding can enable us to still be friends if you don’t share my beliefs. I am a firm believer of the saying: "If you only speak with those you agree with, you are consoled. If you speak with those who have a different perspective, you grow."


All too often people are put off by discussions of religion and politics; but I believe it is essential to getting to a peaceful global society that we continuously engage in dialog rather than war. If that makes me, what is derisively called, a "peacenik" then so be it. As I said, I hope you are understanding and we can still be friends if you have different opinions. I have told you at the outset that I want your candor; and I promise I won’t be put off by any idea you might come up with. Just expect me to respond; because I have a real strong propensity to answer opinions whether I agree with them or not.


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