Edward Snowden: The Embodiment of Star Trek?
As much as Star Trek was about space and technology, it was really more about humanity’s struggle to make something better of itself. The ideal of a utopian future was most obviously sought after in The Next Generation, my favorite of the all the Star Trek spin-offs. While Captain Picard and his crew faced any number of technological challenges, it was the moral dilemmas and personal struggles to understand and to do what was right that took center stage in most episodes.
Last night I watched Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It isn’t one of the best of the franchise (though I think they are all good), but I hadn’t seen it in so long that the plot had become fuzzy in my mind. Watching it brought back that old Star Trek feeling. You know the one; it gives us hope that humanity might persevere and become something more than a bumbling lot of moderately evolved apes all killing each other over financial gain or unsubstantiated ideology.
What makes Star Trek so grand, in my opinion, is the commitment of the enterprise crew to the path of moral righteousness, no matter the personal cost. Time after time, we see the crew of that ship risk status, rank, limb, and life simply because it is the right thing to do. Kirk and Picard’s crews follow them not because they are ordered to, but because they respect who they are and what they stand for. I would argue that Edward Snowden, in his own way, would make a more apt captain of the Enterprise than any president ever to sit in the oval office and any congressman ever to walk the supposedly hallow halls of Congress.
Snowden had nothing to gain from what he did. in fact, he had everything to lose. He risked his citizenship, his relationships, and his life to do what he thought was right. He disobeyed the rules of those in charge to expose a corruption that was and is undermining human progress. Like Picard in Insurrection, Snowden took great personal risk to fight for those who didnt’ even know they were in the line of fire.
I won’t belabor the point, you can draw your own parallels and conclusions. What I will say, however, is that we need more people like Snowden. People who are willing to risk it all to ensure the our collective moral compass remains true. He is the type of hero we need, but not the type we deserve. (Now where does that paraphrase come from? Hint: Not Star Trek).