I was watching the TV yesterday, it being what I often do in the early evening (and later evening, for that matter), and I came across an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I like Star Trek:TNG (as we like to refer to it), it was a much better version than the original in so many ways. The special effects were better, of course. The acting was superior. The sets were less cheesy. All in all, it was a better show. Proven by the fact that it lasted almost twice as long as the original series.
It took me a season or two to get to like it. The first season seemed to be mostly a flashier version of the original, just updated FX; same old stories and themes, stilted acting, and shallow characters. But it changed and grew and greatly improved.
Anyway, the episode I watched was called "The Masterpiece Society" (Fifth season, 13th episode) and it naturally got me to thinking.
The episode involved a possible destruction of previously unknown colony on a planet thought to be uninhabited. The colony was originally set up to be someone's idea of a perfect ordered society. The people were all genetically designed to fit within the society. Not by gene manipulation but by selective breeding, it is hinted. The exact method, or methods, are not explained because they aren't essential to the story. What is essential is the concept of a perfectly ordered society where everyone is perfectly suited to the position they were intended to have in the society.
Now, I saw no janitors, plumbers, mechanics, maids, cooks, or any of the rest of the people who fill those absolutely necessary but mostly ignored jobs which every society has and needs in order to function. These stories always wrap around the elite, the leaders, of a society and never mention the farmers who provide all the food which overflows the tables in the palaces, do they?
Come to think of it, we rarely see those people in any story about the greatness of any civilization.
That's ok, it's the vision of harmony and paradise that we are supposed to be seeing and which will be threatened. And it was. Threatened, that is. First by a catastrophic event which would damage their biosphere beyond repair and kill them all and then by the tainting of the society by the freedom of will embodied by the crew of the Enterprise. In the end, some leave the "perfect society."
Seems that paradise is only paradise if you don't know you could have choices. And that maybe human beings were never meant to live in paradise. That paradise is just an illusion, something to strive for. Something we really wouldn't want if we actually attained it.
But there was a hidden story, a lesson, underneath the obvious one. That people would think they were happy and fulfilled as long as no one showed them another way.
And wasn't that the real meaning of the Biblical story of Eden?
A Night Unremembered
2 years ago