captain picard, in the television show, star trek the next generation, noted the development of society on earth with the statement that “we’ve eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions — we’ve grown out of our infancy.” cite
was picard right?
this statement from the star trek series’ writers offers an insight of how they perceived the future. in contrast, the torah laid out a perspective of the world thousands of years ago. the torah’s perspective appears to remain accurate with respect to today’s society. we still have hunger, want, and the need for possessions. with those things in mind, the torah offers a moral approach to dealing with those in need.
the torah-based solution to the problems of the world requires a society that is bought into the moral obligation to take care of those in need. leviticus 19:9-10 provides that “when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not fully reap the corner of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. and you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you collect the [fallen] individual grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. i am the lord, your god.” thus, property owners bear a societal responsibility to take care of those without food.
the most revealing text which discusses the societal obligation to address those in need, is in the book of prophets and which is read on the holiest day of the jewish calendar, yom kippur. isaiah 58: 7-8, provides that “is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and moaning poor you shall bring home; when you see a naked one, you shall clothe him, and from your flesh you shall not hide. then your light shall break forth as the dawn, and your healing shall quickly sprout, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the lord shall gather you in.”
thus, humanity’s taking care of those in need also is intended to elevate humans to be better people.
is star trek’s philosophy really radical? actually not.
arguably, the source of the concept of a world of no hunger, want, and the need for possessions is in the torah. it is the story of the garden of eden. the garden of eden was the land of no hunger, no want and no need of possession.
despite that the ideal environment, human nature with its flaws, ambitions, and curiousity ruined that opportunity via disobedience. essentially, the star trek philosophy is arguably an attempt to return to the garden of eden. the garden of eden is one of a lack of consciousness of good and evil. a moral-less society.
further, in the star trek world, if people’s needs are all taken care of, why bother to care about other people and their needs? in such a society, you can ignore the reality of those in need by assuming that other forces will be addressing the concerns or needs.
our society likewise falls within this trap. many times people use the argument that since they pay taxes and that their tax monies should take care of the problems they are excused from taking acting to help others in need. thus, individuals are conflicted in modern society as to whether to act upon a situation when seeing someone in need. there is a supposed big brother who is supposed to take care of it.
in sum, a society in which all needs are met is arguably a flawed society because it does not place upon its individuals moral responsibility. instead, it may create a society in which there is no caring or concern for humankind. perhaps, a moral-less society.
to the contrary, a society that is morallybased upon the individuals taking care of the needs of those unfortunate is arguably more futuristic and progressive than the one envisioned by the star trek writers.
live long and prosper!
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