By Jonathan David Faulkner;
“You can’t judge a whole race of people…based on just one” – Miles O’Brian.
The Earth of the 24th century is a perfect Utopia, sort of like the one desired by the Democrats only this one actually works, there is no pain, no suffering, no poverty and no racism. Yes, in the twenty-fourth century Earth has eliminated race wars and riots, reconciling all people groups and now, species from other planets.
That is, of course, unless you live out on the Frontier where Star Trek’s 2nd spinoff Deep Space Nine takes place. Set right after the Border Wars of 2347-2363 (on the Star Trek Timeline), and the Cardassian pull out of the planet Bajor. Where they had enslaved an entire people group and stripped their planet of all its resources to support the war-effort. The first two seasons depict the struggle to rebuild the Bajoran society and the continued Cardassian attempts to send the Federation packing and reclaim Bajor and the Wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant that DS9 stands at the entrance of.
As you can imagine, the prolonged enslavement of the Bajorans by the Cardassians and the fact that they Cardassians left the Bajoran people in ruin to fend for themselves. There were no good feelings to be had between the Bajor and Cardassia. In fact, in an episode in season two called “Cardassians” we find that Bajorans have been raising Cardassian Orphans that were left behind to hate their own kind. Calling them “Butchers” and even assaulting them.
Of course, Bajoran’s are not the only ones who carry this hate, Chief Miles O’Brian, a foot soldier during the Border Wars, is openly hostile towards Cardassians. Calling them names and saying things like “Those Bloody Cardies” (O’Brian is a good Irishmen), and making other openly racist remarks. There is an open Hostility towards the Cardassians by most everyone who fought with them. They are not the nicest aliens in the Galaxy, their society is run by the Military and they are known for their narcissism and arrogance, they truly are unreasonable and nasty people. That’s how the writers of the show portray them, it’s fiction.
DS9 also deals with how Earth reached the point of Utopian Society, how they eliminated racism and created the perfect world. There is even an episode where Commander Sisko (Station commander) and the crew found themselves back in time and living in a ghetto designed to keep the poor (of all races) from the public eye. The actions of the character played by Sisko would lead to the reforms that would bring about that perfect world (after the Eugenics wars of course).
Star Trek is fiction, but the writers of DS9 remained true to the original intention of the show’s creator Gene Rodenberry almost 20 years before. To address social situations and make commentary on Society. The Original Series dealt with race in episodes like the “The Balance of Terror” (Season 1) and “Let that Be Your Last Battlefield” (Season 3). Neither series is far off in addressing racial tensions both in the 2960’s when Star Trek first aired or in the 90’s when Deep Space 9 was on the air. I wonder what the new Star Trek series, Discovery, will have to say about this issue.
The solutions offered for race and ending racism in Star Trek and interesting, and even worth considering, there is even a Next Generation episode where all the major races discover a common ancestry planted in the DNA codes of all the warring parties at the beginning of the time. Scientifically this is a form of Evolution, DNA dropped into the Primordial gene pools of various planets so that all sentient species (yes, including Klingons) could trace their genetic material all the way back to one race, a proto-humanoid race that had long ago died out.
Of course, we do not live in the Star Trek Universe, and we do not live in a Utopia and we still have conflict between human beings and between races. It is increasingly hard to turn on the news or see the faces of the hurting protestors and the families of those who were lost in shootings whether they be Police Officers or African American or whoever has been the victim of the latest series of violent acts committed by those who have little regard for life. You cannot ignore it, you should not turn it off, you should let yourself feel the pain and reach out to those who are hurting so that healing can begin.
Because there is a common thread that runs through all humanity, we all hold a common image. We al have a common origin, we all came from the same stuff. Dust of the Earth and Adams rib. We are all made in the image of God. As was the goal of the Aliens in The Next Generation, wanting each race to look at each other and see their commonality, God created us in His own image. In the words of Scripture: “So God make mankind in His own image, In the image of God He created them, Male and Female he created them” (Gen 1:27). This is our common heritage, created in the image of God. For the Christian, this is the starting point to define how we should treat one another, care for one another, mourn with one another and even live with one another.
The Imago Dei is an essential Doctrine within Reformed Theology, if we are created in the image of God then we are all united through the bond of the Spirit that is refining that image, reworking us into the image that has been distorted by sin. We all share in the bearing of the image of God, we are all sons and daughters of God, as I’ve said before, we as believers are being refined into this image, we are realizing, and one day will fully realize this reality. The Non-Believer, though he/she has not accepted the free gift of Salvation by faith through grace by the Work of God (Eph 2:8-9). They have not realized the work of the Holy Spirit that is refining them into the image of the living God, in contrast to the believer. Like a parent sees the reflection of themselves in the face of their child God sees His image in us and out of love for us He works to refine that image through the Holy Spirit.
But what does that mean in response to the recent violence and cries for reconciliation? In Star Trek the realization of common ancestry did nothing for the Cardassians, Romulans, Klingons and Humans. But what about reconciliation between White, Black, Middle Eastern, Asian and so on. What about reconciliation between man, at least among Christians:
This is where I believe the hard work of Reconciliation begins in the church, recognizing that element of our make-up that exists within every man. We all share in the blessings as sons and daughters of GOD. We all stand on the same common ground and hold the same identity in Christ. This is the truth, it was put within at the very dawn of creation. It is our common heritage, we are all descendants of Adam, we are all made in the image of GOD. To begin the process of healing it is essential to focus on what unites us. Meeting on common ground will make it easier to talk about that which divides us and to begin to start the healing process.
This will not be easy, as I have said before, reconciliation takes work, hard work. There is a lot of things that need to be let go of for reconciliation to take place. Letting go begins with accepting the commonality between us, when we accept what we have in common it makes it easier to talk about what divides us…and we need to actually talk about those things.
Yes, it takes work, no, it won’t be easy, yes, it can be done, no, it is not going to happen instantly. All we can do is pray that God will give us the grace and do the work within the individual that needs to. That we can be open to His guidance and transformation. Because ultimately, just as we are made in His image and He is doing the work to refine that image, It is He who does the work of reconciliation between man and between races.
And that’s something that the writers of Star Trek, could never really understand.
A Cardassian and a Bajoran walk into a bar and have a drink, they sit across the table from one another and talk about culture and architecture, religion and philosophy. The Bajoran cracks a joke as the Feregni waiter refills their glasses and the Cardassian laughs. It is 100 years after the Border Wars and Bajor and Cardassia have learned to live in mutual admiration and respect. They both remember a time when their species hated each other, but today, they are friends, and that is just how it should be.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry