Captain Jean-Luc Picard: And the unknown can be benign… or malevolent.
Commander William T. Riker: Captain, one of the things I’ve learned on these voyages, and on this ship and from you, is that most life forms act out of an instinct for survival, not out of malice.
Picard: It’s an important lesson. And I admire your lack of resentment, Number One.
Riker: If you drop a hammer on your foot, it’s hardly useful to get mad at the hammer.
In this episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Commander Riker has been infected with some unknown microbes. This is potentially a very scary situation and it is very easy to get angry at the supposed cause of this scary situation. But the perspective that Riker takes is one of calm and cool pragmatism. Why get mad at the hammer?
Many purists will tell you that the “Shades of Grey” episode (no specific indication as to whether there are 50 such shades) is one of the worst of the series. Even the trailer is pretty bad. That doesn’t mean it is without value, like the precious gem of an exchange quoted above. Star Trek isn’t just for geeks and nerds. It’s for everyone.
Truth be told, it’s not about you. It’s very rarely about you. Everyone else is just doing their own thing. The snake didn’t bite you because it hates you. It bit you because it feared for its own life. It’s a survival instinct, not one of inherent evil.
Also, while you may not be able to choose your circumstances, while many things are indeed outside of your control, you can always choose how you respond to a situation. You can get angry or upset… or you can choose to approach the unfortunate turn of events with a calm and cool head. It is what it is. Now, what are you going to do about it?
My great-grandfather once got bit by a rattlesnake. After three days of intense pain… the snake died.
Chuck Norris, eat your heart out.
Now boldly go on your voyage, dear commander. Explore strange new worlds and seek out new life. And should that new life prove hostile, find peace in knowing that it’s not about you.