If a 1968 episode of Star Trek contains a lesson for today’s USA, is that lesson from the future, or from the past? I’ll summarize; you can decide!
In the episode “Day of the Dove,” Klingons capture Captain Kirk and his landing party. Irate, the Klingon captain, Kang, accuses Kirk of firing at his ship—which Kirk never did. Now Kang wants Kirk’s ship. Unexpectedly, Ensign Chekhov shouts at the Klingons, accusing them of murdering his brother. The Klingons place an “agonizer” device on Chekhov’s face. To stop the torture, Kirk agrees to surrender and to beam the Klingons up with the humans. However, when he calls the ship to transport up both groups, he includes a secret signal. First Officer Spock understands: he beams up the humans, followed by the Klingons. Security captures the Klingons. Meanwhile, a glowing creature from the planet enters the U.S.S Enterprise undetected.
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The plot thickens…
Aboard ship but invisible, the mystery creature seals most of the Enterprise crew below decks. It also locks the ship’s engine into full speed toward the edge of the galaxy. Then, when the entity changes all modern weapons into antique swords, both humans and Klingons seize the blades. Panicked and furious, humans and Klingons begin battling each other.
Luckily, good ol’ Mr. Spock is immune to the hatred raging through the two crews. He detects the presence of the alien and realizes it has artificially created the whole battle. The unseen enemy somehow feeds off the rage of both races. When Lt. Sulu informs Kirk that Chekhov never even had a brother, Kirk realizes the creature can even plant false memories in their brains to provoke more intense violence. The mysterious entity has turned them all into its pawns.
Unable to get his crewmen to stop fighting as long as the Klingons press the attack, Kirk tries to convince Kang of their true predicament. But Kang doesn’t believe it. Instead, he attacks. Eventually, though, with the now-glowing entity hovering above the two captains and feeding off their violence, Kirk convinces Kang that their real threat isn’t each other—it’s the alien who’s manipulating their minds to combat.
When each side stops fighting and joins in laughing at the creature, the entity finally exits the ship.
Pulling back the curtain
In recent months, tempers in the U.S. have been riding high. Covid-19 had already created nationwide frustration due home quarantine, job losses, business failures, mandatory masks, widespread confusion, fears, and a list of infringements. The powder keg was already set to explode when a police officer’s unwarranted actions resulted in an unnecessary death. Boom.
Suddenly, a nation that had been in peace erupted. Some people (not all) reacted violently. The delighted media began feeding us a constant stream of insults, accusations, vandalism, looting, assaults, robbery, arson, destruction of property… The stories act like gasoline being poured on the flames of indignation. Before long, even mild-mannered citizens felt like hurting somebody.
Meanwhile, like on Star Trek, the real enemy has been invisibly hovering among us, feeding off this explosion of human violence and probably laughing his head off. In the Gospel of John (chapter 8, verse 44), Jesus called Satan a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies. Is it any wonder that Satan, our invisible foe, manipulates people and situations to spread resentment, false information, division, lawlessness, and anarchy? No doubt, the Devil would love to see Americans at each other’s throats. It’s the old military strategy, “Divide and conquer.”
What? Isn’t Satan a myth? Not at all. The same Bible that teaches us God exists teaches Satan exists, too. But he’s clever. He stays out of sight and encourages us to believe he’s not real. You can’t fight an enemy you don’t think exists. But God’s Word emphasizes he’s dangerous: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When you ignore him, he wins.
The first step to stopping the tide of violence is to realize (as Kirk did) that our neighbors are not our true enemy. When one person—or even hundreds of people—of a particular skin color, or with a particular job, or from a particular nationality, commits a lawless act, that doesn’t mean every person of that color, job, or nationality is evil. The moment you single out any group of citizens and say, “All _______ are bad,” you’re wrong. That kind of thinking is polluted, devilish.
Friend, there are definitely people who commit outrageous actions. (Some people make inflammatory comments or commit violence specifically to spark violent reactions. For them, it’s like a sport.) However, if our society is going to make progress, we mustn’t fall into the trap of hating whole segments of it based on the actions of a misguided few. We can borrow a page from Mr. Spock’s playbook: We can observe. We can realize we’re being played. And we can reject the temptation to hate our neighbors.
Does that mean we condone criminal behavior? No. We can’t, because “every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (–Jesus, Matthew 12:25). But neither should we let ourselves be suckered into race-baiting or engineered animosity. The transgressions of the few can be lawfully addressed without us hating everybody who looks like them or talks like them. (Yes, I realize I’m omitting all kinds of politics. That’s intentional.)
None of us can force others how to think or behave. But if you’re a fan of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a harmonious society, I invite you to make a personal decision: refuse to hate. Don’t let yourself be provoked by those trying to stir up your hatred. True, we need to defend ourselves from violence and outlaws. But even then, we need not hate a whole people group based on the rhetoric or criminal behavior of individuals.
If everyone lived that way, maybe America really could live long and prosper.