The alluring and devious Borg Queen looked at the pitiful, ragtag crew of earthling space explorers and asked her followers: “Are you kidding? Why would we want to assimilate that obsolete 2000 technology, those uncivilized, selfish creatures, or those polarized, religious minds? They haven’t ever unified themselves. Assimilation would be impossible, and most likely very detrimental to the Collective!” (My words, not hers. Humor intended, of course!)
The most challenging opposition the captains of the Enterprise and Voyager spaceships found as they traveled throughout various galaxies in the last two Star Trek TV series were the fearsome Borg. These extremely organized, resolute, collectively controlled, and almost indestructible machine-implanted humanoids were equipped with assimilated superior technology. They became the greatest menace to the survival of our bold and adventurous human explorers of outer space.
The brilliant authors of this science fiction “reality” play wove into the story line all the latent threats that Americans fear from an encounter with superior aliens. The Borg were a powerful race that benefitted from a common strength derived from unity and unquestioning obedience; the technological advantage of instantaneous communication among the individuals; a singular, shared strategy; and a rapid adaptability of each drone to implement a resourceful response to an enemy attack. Each and every member of the Collective was integrated with the “collective mind.” The Borg’s success was second to none.
Their mission: Assimilate the latest and greatest advances of the various civilizations they chose to conquer. Their warning: “Resistance is futile!” Their purported failing: The lack of ingenuity and creativity of a free thinking civilization that is intent on the discovery of new cultures, but not on dominating them. Terrifying as the Borg danger initially appeared to the explorers, the intrepid crew always set about to resist being assimilated, futile as it seemed. The irony was that the crew of each Earth sponsored spacial exploration vehicle had been integrated with several highly intelligent and technologically superior members from diverse alien cultures. But no effort was made to assimilate them into a common personality as the Borg intended to do.
The subtle question seemed to be: Who would win a war between the “integrated” Borg versus the “targets of assimilation?” A contest to the death was anticipated involving human space explorers defending their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms with those fearless Borg warriors controlled by an aggressive, centrally manipulated intelligence. Let those with the most freedom prevail! Freedom must triumph!
Only this apparent “freedom” among the humans was slightly altered when necessary by the intervention of the non-democratic rulers of the two space ships launched from San Francisco. The autocratic decisions of the ship’s captain were guided by the Federation of Planets’ Prime Directive and numerous Starfleet protocols. The two obedient Federation captains conveniently found an innovative and a winning strategy against the Borg Collective every time. By the end of each series, however, you almost found yourself cheering for the resourceful Borg Queen.
The message for “real life” I took away from that dramatic indoctrination was that we humans must resist assimilation of our “soul and body” into any autocratically manipulated collection of sophisticated serfs. On the other hand, we must accept the moral leadership offered us and try to understand the benefits of social, intellectual, and racial integration.
This philosophy seemed to the modern, democratic mind of the writers a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, it asked us to ignore the hidden assumption that our responsible space representatives would always have the “right” moral orientation. The chosen leaders of the Federation knew best. Let every alien everywhere enjoy the level of freedom that his/her own civilization was authorized on the visited planet, but always try to mix in more tolerance and caring without obvious, active, and violent interference. Noble idea, I guess, but not exactly the practice here on Earth!
Assimilation and integration both are far from being recognized by our Earth-bound leaders, despite all the rhetoric they spew forth to the masses. Each one wants to be the wise ship captain enjoying the special rights bestowed on naval captains at sea: absolute power over the crew. This need for “law and order” at sea is understandable since there are so many antagonistic differences in people that seem to be irreconcilable. The most prominent differences we are familiar with are geographical, generational, cultural, religious, sexual, and racial.
The many recent examples of global terrorism bring into sharper focus our problem with the superficial and legally artificial integration we supposedly worship in the U.S. Although we seriously preach “democracy” and “equality” to the world, our country is not a very good example of either. As an incompletely homogenized group of citizens, we are not truly integrated, and the imported cultures of the inhabitants are not totally assimilated. Our government’s policies toward other countries do not reflect an acceptance of an equal relationship with those neighbors considered politically inferior and economically weaker.
On Earth we humans are organized as nations with supposedly identifiable, unique interests. Those national “interests” are to protect our boundaries, our people, our culture, our religion, our wealth, and our average standard of living from any attempts to undermine the status quo. We are not very interested in the goals and aims of other nations, their problems and challenges, unless there is some remote consequence perceived by our leaders that could impact on our sovereignty and on our nation’s welfare.
Our vaguely defined “common interests” are deemed primary to all citizens, as are the interests of foreign governments primary to their citizens. Herein lies the problem of integration. In our world today we have no shared international interests that all nations hold as “dear” as their own national interests. So, how would it be possible to integrate all peoples who inhabit the globe into one “family of nations” without embracing and pursuing unity as an objective? No way!
Certainly not with a written constitution adopted by a group of United Nations which aren’t exactly united. The crux of the problem resides in the illusion that the concept of “freedom” allows under certain circumstances an individual and a country to ignore the rights of others in order to enjoy their personal freedom. Absolute freedom to do anything cannot be tolerated, authorized, suggested, nor deemed rational. Freedom requires government restraint, and that is not what is preached by those who suggest that freedom be extended to every inhabitant of this planet.
To be continued…