I stopped the other day to take a picture of some wild grasses. They extended over the iron rail of an old wooden footbridge. To frame the shot correctly, I broke some of the grasses off at their stems. The photo turned out to be a dud — too much glare from the sun. As I rode away though, I felt a sense of guilt for killing the some grasses in order to better frame the photo.
I began thinking of the Prime Directive. Although killing the grasses wasn’t an interruption in the development of an alien civilization, I did disturb what nature had put before me, and did so without any real need. I disrupted the evolution of a system I wasn’t a part of, and in some way changed its destiny.
I soon connected the Prime Directive to the Golden Rule. For the next 15-miles I compared the two and contemplated the fundamental differences between them — which has more value, and if I had to choose only one to live by, which would it be.
The Prime Directive, if you’re not familiar, prohibits Starfleet personnel and spacecraft from interfering in the normal development of any society, and mandates that any Starfleet vessel or crew member is expendable to prevent violation of this rule.
The Golden Rule, if you’re not familiar, suggests that we treat others as we wish to be treated. Its earliest iteration was practiced by Zoroastrians in the form of a negative — that we should not do to others what we would not want them to do to us.
I began to see the difference between the Prime Directive and the Golden Rule in the same way I view the differences between eastern and western philosophies.
The Prime Directive suggests that societies, alien or domestic, are more important than the individuals which comprise them. It’s very Confucian in nature inasmuch as our moral responsibilities should be directed to society first, and then to the individual.
The Golden Rule is about individuality. We correlate it with others, but only as a backdrop for what’s in it for the individual. We want to be treated well, so we treat others well. The Golden Rule is inherently selfish.
Of course there’s value in the Prime Directive and the Golden Rule. Rabbi Hillel argued thousands of years ago that the Golden Rule is the whole Torah and everything else is just commentary. Had Starfleet been around in his day, the rabbi would have felt the same about the Prime Directive, relative to other Starfleet doctrine.
I put societies ahead of individuals. Individual liberty means nothing within a society which is broken and corroded. What breaks and corrodes societies, far more than anything else, is the pursuit of liberty at the expense of the society. I believe this to my core.
It’s hard to look around these days, for me anyway, and not see all the damages imposed on our guiding structures — churches, schools, Government institutions, relationships, and even our hallowed corporate structures, which are the direct result of people putting their individual liberties before the needs of our society.
For societies to succeed, people must put societies first. For individuals to succeed, people must still put societies first. I just don’t see it happening as much as it should.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 15.0
Seat Time: 10 hours 57 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from REM . Enjoy…!