In my last Wisdom of Science Fiction post, I wrote about what it feels like to look up at the stars. It is, for me at least, a humbling experience, a reminder of how small and insignificant I am in this big, wide universe. I really liked how that post turned out, but I also felt like that post had missed something. It felt incomplete.
So today I’d like to share a quote from one of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek, an episode called “Balance of Terror.” The crew of the Enterprise find themselves in a long, drawn-out conflict with a Romulan bird of prey. While waiting for the Romulans to make their next move, Captain Kirk briefly returns to his quarters and ends up dwelling a little too long on his own fears, self doubts, and insecurities.
Dr. McCoy comes to visit, and he has this to say to the apprehensive captain:
In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us. Don’t destroy the one named Kirk.
This little speech may have been addressed to Captain Kirk, but please go ahead and replace your name for his.
I started writing this post before the traumatic events of a few weeks ago, events that left me dwelling a little too long on my own fears, doubts, and insecurities. I saw one life lost, and another person will likely spend the rest of his life in prison as a result, all because of a stupid and petty disagreement, as I’ve come to understand it—a lot of posturing and imagined self-importance, to borrow some words from Carl Sagan.
So it seems fitting to me to return to regular blogging by finishing this post. Looking up at the stars can be a humbling experience, but at the same time, paradoxically, it serves as a reminder of how special we all are. In all the universe, there’s only one of you, only one of me… only one of each of us. We are unique in the truest sense of that word. Value your life. Value the lives of others. Don’t let such a unique gift as human life go to waste.