Jumping off Cliffs….

Let me get a bit personal. I don’t do it for your sympathy or compassion. Just something that I’ve thought a lot about the last few years — maybe a decade.

There was an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that always perplexed me. The episode I’m referring to is: Homeward. It’s a season seven episode where Worf and his adopted brother lead a band of people from a primitive civilization on a simulated journey in the holodeck so they can transplant them on a new planet without them knowing. Yeah, has violation of the Prime Directive all over it. Yet, it’s a very interesting episode for several reasons.

One, it intrigues me how a story universe can introduce a brother to a character after nearly 7 years. And it techncially doesn’t hurt the cannon simple because the excuse could be, “well, no one ever asked if I had a brother.” Or something like that. Yet, in this situation we accept it. And on top of it, Worf and his brother, Nikolai, did not have a good relationship. Possibly why Worf never mentioned him before (except for one line of dialog in season one to another Klingon). The crew of the Enterprise seemed to be surprised by the revolution of Worf’s step-brother. But I digress.

Second, the story proposes a theme of societal change. The culture that Worf and his brother are trying to save have had a very ritual way of life for many many generations. Now they must learn to adapt and go to a new place, find new food, find new shelter and adapt as a civilization. We experience this yet in micro-changes. This alien race is facing it as a macro-change. This is even more evident when one of the members of the primiatve culture sees and discovers the world around him isn’t what he thought it was. He accidentally escapes the Holodeck to discover he’s actually flying in a starship through the vast galaxy. He doesn’t understand how its possible. Is the crew of the Enterprise gods? Or something else? Picard and the crew explain that they just have more advanced science and technology and they are no different than him.

And lastly, because it tackles the question of how does one accept the life altering information. How do you continue living when you know something that is so different than what you were accustomed to? Can you live with that information? Or do you not do so? [spoilers] Because in the episode the character decides to commit suicide than continue living with the experience. He was the tribe’s historian, scribe and teacher. He was proud of thier laws, their morals, their culture, their way of life. Now, someone has told him there’s so much more! And perhaps what he cherished is too different than what it seems everyone now accepts or wants.

See, when I was a kid/teen watching that episode, I was like that was a stupid decision. Why would you kill yourself? Why not just adapt? Embrace the optimistic idea that in the future your culture will possibly develop starships too and fly around the galaxy. Nothing is stopping you for living and going about your life. But that’s not how he saw it. I’ve always said that dying isn’t a solution to change. No matter what, one can work through it — and adapt. Nothing could be so bad, to find yourself saying you had no way out. (Did Jack say that in Titanic?). Until, recently.

Perhaps growing older has made me cynical, sarcastic and a bore. I’ve had the realization that I now understand my parents and grandparents before me. When I was growing up, they were grouchy all the time. They disliked technology. They hated prices going up. They disliked change. And they seemed annoyed at the younger generation. As that younger generation, I criticized them for being closed minded. Moving forward was a good thing. Not a bad one. Yet, now I feel I’m the closed minded one. All the things my parents taught me — to make me a good person — seem irrelevant. Say no to drugs! (Well, society says “these” are okay now), Don’t be promiscuous! It leads to disease and misfortune. (Well, society says no go for it! use this stimulant to go longer and just use condoms) Majority rules. (Well, society says not really. We need to insure the minority is the favored one, all others can suck it!) Remember your parents saying, “if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you do it too?! I think you see where I’m going.

So I feel out of place sometimes. A lot sometimes. I’ve become the one to fear change. I think about the past all the time. Those were better times. Yet, I do like my iPhone. I think I discovered anxiety. But I have a loving family, great friends and I can always value who I am. Society doesn’t rule me (I can resist the peer pressure!) The one thing I truly thank my parents for: teaching me tolerance….

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