Words of Wisdom from Star Trek

There is a speech given by Pickard in the movie ‘Star Trek Insurrection’ that has relevance to a lot of what is happening today. When told that only a small number of people would be harmed for this project, so it was ok”, Jean-Luc asks the question ‘How Many Have to Be Harmed before it becomes wrong?” In a sense we are living though that today.

Changes to the food supply for decades in the name of greater profit and ‘efficiency’ have created factories where the safety of the food supply gets lost in the huge volumes being produced. Chemical additives long regarded as safe, which are almost ubiquitous, have been shown to affect human physiology in various subtle but destructive ways. But we are continually being reminded that this is all safe… by the vendors and lobbyists who stand to profit from our believing such and who (unfortunately) influence legislation far more effectively that the voting public.

As as I have commented on elsewhere, the extensive push for wind energy in Ontario, facilitated by effectively suspending due process for rural communities, is another example.

Today there was an article about problems with water in Texas because so much has been pumped for fracking that it is starving communities and agriculture of their water supply. And no one really knows how it will affect other areas — but when the effects are obvious, like chemicals and food processing, it is sure to be extensive.

So we come back to this — how careful should we expect our leaders to be when being pressed by business and lobbyists to permit a certain highly profitable activity? Do we accept their assurances that it is safe? Or that wonderful benefits will accrue to others? Do we rely on those assurances to ignore or suppress evidence to the contrary? (One assumes that this behavior is actually rooted in the common executive belief that if something bad happens it won’t affect them.) And if the few must be sacrificed to the good of the many, how many can be harmed before it becomes wrong?

I think to some extent it is a statement about our culture and civilization (or lack thereof) as to where we draw the line (or broader shadow) on these issues. So far it don’t look promising.

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