After the announcement concerning George Takei receiving the 2011 LGBT Humanist Pride Award, the American Humanist Association (AHA) asked what our favourite Star Trek Episodes are.
As both a Star Trek fan, actually a Star Trek Geek, and a humanist, I found this all very interesting, which causes late night ramblings, as well as good dreams. Not to mention some of my own Star Trek fan fiction, artwork, and videos, as well as a lot of fun.
Their top suggestions from humanists who enjoy Star Trek were:
1. The Inner Light
2. The Trouble with Tribbles
3. The City on the Edge of Forever
4. Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
5. Naked Time
6. I, Mudd
7. Who Watches the Watchers
8. Errand of Mercy
9. The Visitor
10. Measure of a Man
Susan Sackett, who incidentally was co-writer of the TNG episode Ménage a Troi (trailer), also one of my faves, wrote, according to the AHA:
My favorite episode is "Who Watches the Watchers," from the Next Generation. I use it in my talks about "Humanism in Star Trek" because it comes closest to expressing humanistic philosophy.
Those are all good episodes, but personally, while I cannot say I ever seen a Star Trek episode I did not like or did not find some humanistic aspect to it, I would have chosen:
1. The Loss from Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) trailer
2. The Embassary (ST:TNG) trailer
3. Manhunt (ST:TNG)
4. Dark Page (ST:TNG) promo
5. Attached (ST:TNG) clip
6. The Forsaken from Deep Space Nine (DS9)
7. Who Mourns for Adonis from The Original Series (TOS) clip
8. Resolutions from Voyager clip
9. Trouble with Tribbles (TOS) clip
10. Trials and Tribble-lations (DS9) clip
I suppose one may ask why these? Well, they all show very human aspects of life, as well as the human condition, but not necessarily something that affects or relates to everyone in the same way. However, I cannot seem to talk about just a single episode of Star Trek. There are so many very human aspects of Trek, beside the ten and sometimes they relate to other episodes. I really like more than just one episode and I think a person can learn something about humanism from almost every episode.
However, “The Loss” is my favourite for so many reasons, none of them I can articulate very well, but something about it touches me deeply and personally on a very human level. Something traumatic happens and we just feel lost in the world, incapable of doing things we usually do, sometimes even lash out at someone close to us, without really meaning it.
Similarly, “Dark Page” also has that trauma aspect and while humans cannot bury some traumatic incidents, we sometimes wish we could. However, that does not happen and it seems to always come back to haunt us at the wrong moments, sometimes many times over and causing us physical ailments. Thus, despite some fictional aspects, some elements in the episode could relate to real life trauma to the mind, body, and emotions.
I enjoyed the K’Ehylar and Worf relationship in TNG’s “The Emissary”. The chemistry, in my opinion, between them was great and I wish the writers did not kill her in later in the series. The episode showed two different people of mixed ancestry, Deanna and K'Ehylar. One dealt with the prejudices and racism well, the other internalized much of the stereotypes of her Klingon heritage to the point she disliked that part of herself.
Having two sons, with mixed ancestry, I know well the discrimination, stereotyping, and bigotry, but regardless I managed to teach my sons not to hate either side of their ancestry, despite the history. I taught them, to hate something about either side was to hate a part of themselves and to hate part of oneself can cause emotional problems, including anger issues, like K’Ehylar displayed and then she hated herself for it.
In “The Forsaken”, Lwaxana showed a very human side of herself, as well as told Odo he was OK and gave him emotional support. She did not judge him for being different or unusual. Rather, she assisted him through a situation, that at any other time, he would have accommodations for his needs, both emotional and physical. Lwaxana accepted him for he was, flaws and all, and Odo accepted her for who she was, flaws and all.
One could learn a lot from Lwaxana Troi, including children. In fact, she taught Alexander a lot in Cost of Living (trailer) and he taught her some things also.
“Manhunt” showed some humorous role reversals. Instead of a man chasing a woman, the woman chased him or in this case, Lwaxana chased more than one man. It would also make menopause more interesting and fun if a woman could get away with chasing men like that. In all honesty, I only like this one for its ironic humour.
“Attached” and “Resolutions” had that romantic aspect, of which I am a sucker for, yet at the same time, the couples helped each other survive and get through a difficult time together. It was not every person for themselves and both couples cared about each other on some level. They got through the struggle together and made it back to safety. They were in it together, much like we all are in this world.
The Tribbles episodes I like because I love animals and the tribbles were animals. However, Klingons hate tribbles, while they love targs, which is like a kitty cat, according to Worf and Tasha Yar. Personally, I thought the targ resembled a boar and its behaviour potentially worse than Spot’s. Regardless, the characters loved their pets, no matter what form they took, just as we do in real life.
Of course, Voyage Home deals with the environment and the extinction of a beautiful creature (clip), which is something we struggle to prevent currently.
As for “Who Mourns For Adonis”, I enjoyed the mythical aspect that fits many religions, as well as our humanity. Another similar to that in TNG, was “Justice” (trailer), where people thought the object in the sky was a god, but in reality, it was not. At the same time, the people had some primitive ideas, just as the Greek god in “Who Mourns For Adonis” did.
Of course, the Borg (clip) are much like the Evangelical Fundamentalists, in that they assimilate everyone and they all think the same way. None of the Borg think for themselves, but rather they think as a hive or a collective, as well as rob people of individuality and culture. The Borg ideology is very much like religious ideological extremism.
Which brings us to the choice the AHA made, “Who Watches the Watchers”, which talked about religious superstition in more detail. I must admit, the AHA picked a great video clip of “Who Watches the Watchers”, because of its many humanistic aspects, which Star Trek is great of incorporating in many episodes.
Most of all, Star Trek is famous for summing up humanism with its various mantras, such as “We strive to better ourselves and humanity”, and the use of science, as well as logic, to solve life’s problems. The various episodes attempt to tackle many of life’s events and issues, including death (clip), racism, search for our humanity, meaning of life (clip), the human potential (clip), and, with Picard’s famous speech in the episode “Drumhead”, freedoms/rights.
There is a whole lot more I could cover, but Star Trek is all about being human and one could learn a lot from the show. It is humanism, in my opinion, and it carries the messages Gene Roddenberry wanted to share with the use of media, but the most interesting thing of all, is that it appeals to many people for a variety of reasons.
Thus, if anyone has one or more favourite episodes, please feel free to share your favourites and why or if you have more than one that you like, you can share as many as you like, as well as the reasons you like them.