Learning About Ourselves ….. Through An Android?

It is well understood that we as individuals learn the most about ourselves through intercourses with other individuals and groups. But how many of us truly take the time to find out what other humans are like? One of the beauties of Star Trek: The Next Generation is that it gives us the character of Data, an android created by humans, though in many respects superior to his Creator, to examine the curiosities of human behavior.

Though he far surpasses any individual person in terms of strength and intellect, Data is most well-known for his fascination with the “human equation” and all the peculiarities associated therewith. He is always after the “why” of our behavior; what is the purpose of our actions. To a mind of mechanical efficiency, the vast majority of what we do must seem utterly irrational; yet, throughout the show, Data’s questioning of these incongruities makes us reflect more thoughtfully on our own condition, and we learn that carbonic existence is not readily explained through raw facts and figures.Take the clip above: loss is something we all experience at some point in our lives, physical as well as emotional. But when we strip away the particulars we find something transcendental – it hurts to lose someone, but for all of us it is inevitable; by recognizing what we hold in common, we open the doors to cooperation rather than competition.

‘But should not the feelings run just as deep, regardless of who has died?’

‘Maybe they should. Maybe if we felt any loss as keenly as we felt the death of one close to us, human history would be a lot less bloody.’

As Data grows to understand humanity more deeply, so do we. His wonderment becomes our wonderment. We learn to appreciate the things that make us human and discover today ways that we can make for a brighter tomorrow.

As far as individuals go, Data represents a nearly-inexhaustible means of self-reflection, and for that Star Trek: TNG will always hold a special place in my heart. Faith like a child, or android.

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