Enterprise Episode Contains Crucial Lesson for Coronavirus Crisis
ear Doctor has Eerie Parallel to Today’s Pandemic
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I’m currently giving Enterprise another go. I believe my take is similar to my original viewing. I like the crew, and there is an appealing adventure aspect to the drama. But nothing that really blows me away. I had reserved such accolades to an episode called Judgment, where we got a front row seat to the fall and rise of the Klingon Empire. Unfortunately, I felt the whole thing went off the rails with the long Xindi story arc. That said, I just released a huge, satisyfying exhale after seeing Dear Doctor, and serendipitously, the episode dovetails with our coronavirus tragedy.
Going boldly, the Enterprise makes contact with a pre-warp culture that is suffering from a plague. Twelve million Valakians have died in the past year, and a cure eludes the beleaguered species.
Mercy minded to help, the ensuing discussion serves as a precursor to a prime directive that does not yet exist. “They did come looking for us, and considering they've already met two other warp-capable species the risk of contamination seems acceptable,” T’Pol essentially gives Archer the green light.
Foretelling if not foreboding, the details hit very close to home. The respiratory system is compromised, and pulmonary failure results in death.
Worse yet, without an Rx, the inhabitants face extinction within a few centuries, according to Dr. Phlox’s research. But suddenly there's a sidebar, and the revelation of another humanoid race on the planet below.
A step behind on the evolutionary scale, the Menk are unaffected, while their immunity holds no clues for a cure. So they seem to add only a quaint nicety, and are endearing enough, that the Valakians have taken up caretaking duties for generations.
Paternalistic for sure, but Phlox notes that Menk don't appear to have a problem with the planet’s set up. All good, the IQ count turns out to be wrong, though.
Phlox realizes the subspecies is more evolved, and that their development is on the upswing. So when he comes up with a cure for the dominate species, the doctor reveals an evolutionary conundrum that must be laid out for his human counterparts. “What if an alien race had interfered and given the Neanderthals an evolutionary advantage? Fortunately for you, they didn’t.”
Wow...Now, that’s what I’m taking about Great Bird in the Sky.
Archer’s initial reaction is to dismiss Phlox’s long view and ready the Enterprise to serve up the elixir. A night’s sleep forces Archer to step back however.
As a result, the captain pines for some uniformed directive to deal with alien contact and realizes he’s in no position to play God. So he withholds the cure.
And there’s my tie in. I certainly don’t foresee an alien intervention any time soon. But we are pretty good overlords in our right, and what if we could suddenly produce a cure.
Since not dying is my primary motivation, I would be completely on board, and by the way, I’ve already picked my horse. An Israeli based company called Pluristem Therapeutics’ has successfully utilized a human placenta cell-therapy on six critically ill coronavirus cases, and the FDA has approved testing in the US.
My fingers are obviously crossed. Even so, an abrupt solution has me doing my own philosophical gymnastics. I’m afraid our ingenuity would allow us to pat ourselves on the back too easily and return to what really wasn’t normal.
Thus, we’d gloss over all the problematic human behavior that this virus has shown to be unsustainable. So whether it’s the sudden awareness of nature’s preeminence, societal disparities now laid out in terms of live and death or coming to terms with fragility of our economic system, taking away the right lessons is paramount
It then follows that the preferred expediency might produce future calamities of their own. So let’s hope humanity has the best of both worlds contained within. A speedy scientific resolution, and the patient humility to move forward by rectifying the mistakes that got us here.
And we shouldn’t need to play God or Captain Archer to do it.
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