Who’s In Control?

Helping People by Abraham Lincoln

One of my favorite television shows of all time is Star Trek. Now, I’m not talking about Star Trek: The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine or Voyager. I’m certainly not talking about the reboot of the franchise and those awful movies set in an alternate timeline. No, I’m talking about the real thing – the original Star Trek, the old school Star Trek, the real Star Trek. You see, any connoisseur of the fine things in life prefers things closest to the sources, the things with soul. Real scotch drinkers prefer single malts. Real whisky drinkers prefer bourbon. Real Star Trek fans prefer the original series. It’s that simple.

So what does the original Star Trek have to do with self-reliance? Why, it has everything to do with self-reliance. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, even if you actively loath the show (and if you do, I feel sorry for you) you know who James T. Kirk is. You have to know about Kirk, because the character has become a part of Western cultural consciousness. Even if you only know Kirk through parody, you still know of Kirk. For the uninitiated though, I’ll take a moment to explain.

Start Trek was based on the premise that the Earth (or more specifically, the United Federation of Planets, of which Earth was a part) has sent out the starship Enterprise on a five year mission to explore strange, new worlds, seek out new life and new civilization and boldly go where no man has gone before! (Sorry.) James Kirk is the captain of the Enterprise. As such, he has a duty to carry out his mission and to keep his crew safe. He is responsible. He makes tough decisions. He is largely independent because of the vast distances that separate him from his command. He is, in a word, self-reliant.

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You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.
– Abraham Lincoln


Ideally, we could all learn something from Kirk. Our modern lives tend to be dependent affairs. Some of us have largely lost the ability to take command of our lives and destinies. We have traded our independence for material comforts and possessions. This trade off means that someone else makes our decisions for us. It might be the bank that holds the mortgage to our house, or the finance company that holds title to our vehicles. They pull our strings and force us into behaviors that we otherwise wouldn’t voluntarily undertake. We are no longer in control. Our lives are not a voyage of discovery, they are forced voyages of dependence and conformity. So, the next time you look in the mirror, ask yourself “What Would Kirk do?”

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