Sunday, December 30, 2018

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 26 (Errand of Mercy)

There’s a bit of a conundrum is offering help to other cultures.  If they really need it, why wouldn’t you offer help that you’re capable of providing?  It would be morally reprehensible to let people suffer if you can ease or eliminate that suffering.  On the other hand, that aid may not always be welcome.  In fact, helping a society could be detrimental to them.  This is why the Prime Directive exists in the Star Trek universe.

When The Enterprise is sent to Organia, Kirk offers protection against the Klingon Empire.  However, the local population is adamant in refusing it.  Ayelborne is the closest thing they have to a leader; he assures Kirk and Spock that the Organians have nothing to worry about.  Kirk tells Ayelborne that the Klingons are ruthless.  They’re a dictatorship.  Ayelborne acknowledges that and tries to send Kirk and Spock on their way.

Unfortunately, the Klingons do arrive.  Kor marches in and proclaims himself the new military governor of the planet.  The Organians are able to pass Kirk off as a local and Spock as a trader.  Their identities are revealed to Kor after Kirk and Spock make several aggressive moves against Kor.

It turns out that the Organians really don’t need any help.  In fact, they put an end to the fighting between the Federation and the Klingon empire.  It would limit what each party could do in the future, but it did the trick.  In fact, Ayelborne points out that both governments will one day be friends.  Kor can protest it all he wants, but it will come to pass.  In fact, Kirk and Spock will have a part in it.

I’ve often read about missionaries going to developing countries or to Native Americans and converting them to Christianity.  What makes a missionary think that their way of life is any better?  Spock doesn’t detect any advancement as far back as his tricorder will read. 

The fact that the Organians refuse help should be telling.  Kirk never stops to ask why they would refuse.  He simply sees a primitive culture and instantly knows what they need.  If the Organians are living peacefully, who is Kirk to impose his values on them?  Kor’s method may end their way of life quickly, but is it any better to do it over time?  The result is the same.

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