Reason, Emotion, and Watching Star Trek during the Pandemic

Reason, Emotion, and Watching Star Trek during the Pandemic

Sheltering in during the pandemic has left me with more downtime than I’m used to. And watching too much news tends to increase my anxiety level. So, along with writing books and blog articles, I have tried to focus my attention on prudent activities. This includes pursuing my spiritual devotions, spending time with my wife, and reading classic books. But I have also sought some escape time by rewatching some of my favorite movies and television programs.

Growing up, I was a big fan of the original Star Trek series. In high school, I would watch the series in reruns perpetually. I’ve seen the original series movies numerous times. Recently, I rewatched one of my favorite episodes entitled “The Galileo Seven” and it led me to think about human nature and leadership roles.

Reason and Compassion

In the original series, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) regularly receives advice primarily from two confidantes and subordinate officers: science officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and starship physician Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley). Spock and McCoy are clear counterpoints in personality and in what ultimately drives them in life. Mr. Spock is half human and half Vulcan with a stoic, pensive personality and a relentless devotion to logic. Dr. McCoy, on the other hand, is passionate, cantankerous, and emotional. Both are men of science but they often clash with one another. You might say that Kirk appeals to Spock’s razor sharp mind and to McCoy’s compassionate and developed conscience.

During “The Galileo Seven,” Mr. Spock is in command of a shuttlecraft that lands on a planet populated by hostile creatures. While he carefully and systematically follows the logical path in each decision he makes, he nevertheless encounters great trouble and failure. In the end, faced with what appears to be imminent death for him and his crew, he resorts to a rather desperate act that ultimately leads to their rescue.

In rewatching the episode recently I wondered whether Star Trek creator and screenwriter Gene Roddenberry wasn’t making a philosophical point about human nature and what is needed to be an effective leader. It seems what makes Captain Kirk a capable starship leader is his ability to combine logic and compassion. In effect, Kirk relies upon and balances both Spock’s reason and McCoy’s emotion.

Head and Heart

Good leaders possess strong intellectual qualities and virtues. They are critical thinkers who are learned and committed to the cogent ways of reason. They are also people of moral conscience evidenced by genuine compassion toward others. As a Christian, I desire to be a careful thinker as well as a compassionate feeler. I want to be a man of the head and of the heart. Like my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I want to be driven by both truth and love.

May our political and spiritual leaders—in the midst of the pandemic—be people of both extraordinary head and heart. Human beings who have been created in the image of God stand to benefit greatly from such character traits.

Sometimes entertainment is a way to escape from the stresses of life. But, ironically, I must say that I really enjoy movies and television programs that me think about the deep issues of life.

Reflections: Your Turn

What kinds of movies and television programs appeal to you? Are you driven more by head or by heart? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.