Radical Responses (S01:E16)

I’m examining the impact Star Trek: The Next Generation had on my formation. The introduction to this series can be seen here.

When the Bough Breaks

The Enterprise discovers Aldea – an advanced, idyllic world thought to be only myth. But when the Aldeans abduct children from the ship, Picard and Dr. Crusher must puzzle out some of the world’s gravest problems.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether to write about this episode. I don’t remember it having much immediate impact on me as a kid, outside being a suspenseful plot about kids in danger. I know there’s several elements that appeal to me as an adult. I don’t think all of them apply to my purposes here (my response now doesn’t necessarily reflect the story’s impact then; it’s hard to tease all that out). But I do want to talk about a couple of elements that I hope and believe planted some seeds in me.

Wesley is the only teenager abducted, along with six other younger children. Once down on the planet, he consistently, clearly and firmly objects to their abduction. He begins to train the other children in passive resistance (and calls it such, my first exposure to any nonviolent tool for change). He eventually organizes a hunger strike amongst the children. I was amazed and awed by his tactics as a kid.

Coupled with this was a portrayal of the abductors as very kind and ostensibly loving in much of their behavior, even nurturing the children in various arts they loved. But we never forget the chilling truth that the children have been taken forcibly from their families. It was a complex characterization of coercion and consent issues in relationship that I suspect left an impression on me.

It would be several years before my impulses toward nonviolence came to fruition, and more years still until I start exploring coercion and consent deeply. I have a feeling, though, that I can thank moments like this for aiming me in that direction.


1. From http://www.emagill.com/trek/tng1-17.html

Published in: on June 7, 2012 at 5:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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