I love Star Trek. I do. I am an unashamed Trekkie. I like Star Trek so much because it addresses so many moral and philosophical issues – in bite-sized chunks. And I often find myself pondering the issues raised for days and weeks afterward.
What follows are some of the things I think Star Trek can teach us about life. Some are serious, others a bit more tongue-in-cheek. And yes, many are contradictory – which is a lesson in itself…
60 Things Star Trek Teaches Us About Life
The Trek: People care about philosophical and ethical issues.
The Federation: Given time and patience, even our worst enemies can become our friends. Except for those who live by an inflexible code – like The Borg.
Resistance is Futile: Unconscious cruelty in the name of a collective can be the most frightening thing there is.
Data’s Dilemma: Being human means accepting all manner of nonsensical contradictions.
Ferengi Rules of Acquisition: Even if money means nothing, we will never eliminate greed and exploitation.
Replicator Recycling: In a closed system, today’s replicated coffee is also yesterday’s. (This is not a bad thing.)
Holodecks and Home: Given the ability to create an experience of any place in the galaxy, most people still prefer an experience of home.
Klingon Cuisine: If you’re motivated enough, you’ll eat the damned gagh.
Picard and Locutus: Technology will try to kill you as often as it’ll save your life. It all depends on how it’s used.
Universal Translation: The ability to speak to people in their own language is a prerequisite for exploration.
Transporter Conundrum: Identity and mind are not physical things. Even if you are broken down to atoms and then reassembled, you retain your thoughts, experiences, and sense of self.
Cosmic Complacency: Never rest on your laurels. Just when you think you’re safe… another quantum singularity.
Episodic Exits: Give difficult problems some time. You’ll always find the solution.
Holodecks and Wormholes: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of hacks and shortcuts.
Torpedoes Away: If conflict is inevitable, by default, target your enemy’s attack systems.
Sassy Seven: Don’t stop questioning and calling out hypocrisy – even if it means upsetting the higher-ups.
Be Barclay: Celebrate your quirks and limitations.
Seven’s Uniform: If you’re good-looking you don’t have to worry about dress codes.
The Many: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. (But only if the many are in a position of weakness.)
Touchscreens and Tricorders: If you have no idea what you’re doing, tap your screen a bit and then say “no effect”.
Captain’s Log: Write it down. Document it. You never know when you’ll need it.
Bridge Crew: It seems we will never escape hierarchical leadership structures.
Ships and Commanders: If people are grouped together in a vessel from which they cannot easily leave, quasi-military structures seem to be the way to go. This is true of boats, planes, starships, and schools.
Brutal Honesty: Speaking honestly and clearly matters. Like the Borg. You will comply. Resistance is futile. Your point is irrelevant.
Spock Says: Intuition matters. As illogical as it may be.
Shuttle Mayhem: Never take the shuttle when the transporter won’t work. That is: be careful about convenient solutions.
Admirals: Even if you’re stuck in the Delta Quadrant, there will always be a meddling admiral.
Better Safe: Go around the anomaly.
The Prime Directive: Don’t interfere with other people’s lives.
The Not-So-Prime Directive: We always color different races and cultures with our own. No matter how ‘tolerant’ we say we are.
Curiosity Pays: Never go directly to your destination if there is an interesting nebula just a parsec to starboard.
Crisis Management: Settle your nerves in your ready-room first.
Make it so.
Red Flags: Don’t wear a red shirt to a dangerous encounter.
Shore Leave: Never relax fully.
Kirk’s Law: The rules for alien engagement might be three centimeters thick and take a full semester at the academy, but it’s only for crew members, not captains.
Outside the box: There is always a solution.
Sisko’s Stand: Sooner or later you have to stand your ground.
Archer’s Assessment: Learn from your failures.
Boldly Go: Go boldly.
Plot Points: As inside, so outside. Our inner conditions so often find parallels in the outside world. And vice versa.
Number One’s Nearness: It’s never ok to loom too close to someone – no matter how well you know them.
Tuvok’s Left Jab: Never spar with a Vulcan.
Warf’s Way: Honor. Above all else.
Cannot do it Captain! Always add on a few hours or days to your estimate for getting something done. Invariably, someone will want it done sooner – in which case you’re golden.
Weird Wonders: It’s worth going out of your way to explore something wonderous.
Needing Neelix: If you want to be liked, make yourself useful and be nice.
Voyager: The journey is the fun. But coming home is good too.
Tribble Giggles: Sometimes it’s ok to laugh at the absurdity of a situation.
Wesley and Rubicun III: There is no such thing as an ideal society. Or, if there is, it comes at too great a price.
Chaotic Space: Some things are just to alien for us to understand.
Discovery’s Destiny: The future is not predetermined. You can change your fate.
Set Phasers to Stun: Violence is never really the answer – even when it is.
Keep Your Continuum: We find meaning in our limitations – and in each other.
Morality: Always hold on to your ethical code – even when it is dangerous to do so.
Fu-Q: Stand up to bullies.
The Think Tank: The best kinds of puzzles are tactical and strategic.
Besting the Best: If you can’t win fairly, cheat.
Mycelial networks: We are all connected.