There’s an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, in the 7th season, where the Enterprise finds Worf’s human step-brother living among a primitive race – a primitive race that is facing the death and destruction of their planet. In a violation of the Prime Directive, Worf’s brother Nikolai, beams the people of Boraal II, to the holodeck. Captain Picard and crew quickly discover the plot as the simulation causes massive drain on the ship’s power. Worf is sent in to assist in a plan of deceiving the people on a great journey (they will do inside the holodeck) to a new home (ala planet) where they can live out the rest of their lives.
The debate of the Prime Directive and the actions of the characters can drive a million debates. Yet, I will focus on a smaller (and a much more personal) circumstance of the actions of Nikolai. During the long journey the people of Boraal II take, winding and climbing through tunnels and simulated terrain, the village chronicler Vorin, accidentally finds himself outside the holodeck. He is shocked to see the world of a the Enterprise’s hallways and crew. Doctor Crusher and Counselor Troi try to help him through his frightful discovery. Starships, planets, aliens and magical technology are not looked upon as optimistic ideologies of the future for him. He struggles with the anxiety of a changing world; his whole purpose was to record the history of his village. Vorin can’t accept the knowledge he has been granted. He feels trapped. Coming face-to-face with gods, and the destiny that all civilizations evolve will influence his appreciation of the old ways, the ways of his people. He can’t bare the weight of it all. Vorin commits suicide.
When I was younger, I dreamed of discovering new technology of a futuristic race. I wanted to be The Last Starfighter. I wanted to be drawn up into the struggle of Battlestar Galactica. I wanted to have a super car like K.I.T.T. Star Trek brought optimism to my life. Everytime a new thing was invented: VCRs, Apple II computers, Space Shuttles, I couldn’t wait for the next better thing. Heck, I marveled at my first iPod and iPhone as a young adult. Now, I feel like we’re moving too fast. I’m not so excited for the future anymore. I feel like I haven’t had time to enjoy the things of today. Because tomorrow will mean I have to upgrade or be left behind.
I once scorned Vorin for how he dealt with the knowledge he was gifted. I was optimistic that the future would solve problems. The future would be a better place. This man rather die than return home to an uncertain future, a frightening awareness beyond his comprehension.
Today, I find sympathy with Vorin. I understand his plight. There are days I struggle with my own awareness of an uncertain future. Sometimes I don’t want to move forward. I spend my days wanting to move backwards – sentimentally looking back on my childhood, early adulthood. A desire to find security and peace. What is wrong with me? Why has my attitude changed in the latter half of my life? Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I alone? The thing that scares me the most is that Vorin’s solution isn’t so ridiculous anymore….
I guess all things change….whether I want (or like) it or not.