Revelations On What Being Judgmental Really Means
In “The Masterpiece Society” (1991, Season 5), Geordi LaForge is confronted with eugenics–the discrimination of genes to pick out what seems perfect. The Masterpiece Society is a community that lives an enclosed biosphere, a bubble. They believe in genetic screening and discrimination, so they throw out any embryo that does not live up to their standards of perfection. But with an astronomical threat coming their way, they need to “shore up” their enclosure so that their biosphere won’t crack. They must seek help from other engineers–they enlist the help of the crew from the Enterprise NCC 1701-D.
Geordi, the chief engineer on the Enterprise, goes inside the biosphere. He wears a visor–his eyes–because he was born blind. Without question or hesitation, he goes onto the planet to help this masterpiece society fix their biosphere so that they do not perish. In the course of his helping their chief engineer, he has a discussion about their methods of selecting the “perfect” people.
He says that he would have been “terminated as a fertilized cell” because his genetic composition has a blindness gene. The chief engineer, a woman, responds that they don’t want anyone to “suffer with disabilities.” So he responds, “who gave them the right to decide whether or not I should be here, whether or not I have something to contribute?” She has no answer.
As the story progresses, Geordi figures out how to “shore up” the walls of their biosphere. The answer is in his visor. He says to the masterpiece engineer, “If the answer to all of this is in a visor created for a blind man who would have never existed in your society…no offense intended.” Human ingenuity won the day. A human’s ability to be creative, embracing the challenge of disability as an opportunity to grow, saves the “perfect” society. Weakness overcomes the strong.
This episode not only speaks against the idea that we would be better off choosing certain embryos for their genes, but it also speaks against the other extreme–survival of the fittest–since Geordi has a weakened nature, but he has learned how to prevail against his own weakness. Genetic engineering, an extreme, is unnatural selection. In this society, it has turned an extreme idea into a dogma, a dogma that only perfect genes make perfect people. What they have failed to realize in embracing this false dogma of perfection is that genes are accessories and true masterpieces generally come from those who are most weak.
Turning the idea of perfection on its head, Geordi is perfect in his response to aid those who need help; he is perfect in his ability to use his disability as one of his greatest strengths–he is perfect in his generosity and courage. His parents had the perfect response in embracing the fruit of their conjugal act, unafraid of the unknown possibilities. The imperfect, however, respond with judging others as undesireable, not equal in dignity because of genetic flaws. Their judgmentalism, their discrimination based on genetic codes, makes them cowardly and blind to the creative possibilities that are inherent to each human.
For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in this one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. –Galatians 5:13-15
Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. –1 Corinthians 1:26-29
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.–2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity” which are unique and unrepeatable (2275).
Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.” “Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union…Only respect for the link between the meaning of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person.” (2377)
The Star Trek mythology has discovered the error in thinking that genetic engineering and discrimination is a good move for science because going in that direction is based on a false and superficial concept of human perfection. It puts humanity into a bubble that will eventually pop since it is both blind to true perfection and cowardly in facing the unknown.
“The Masterpiece Society” develops a theme that is revisited several times in The Next Generation series–if and whether technology should be used for or against the dignity of the person. Judgmental people would say, “yes, let technology take us over because we suck.” A person who is not judgmental would say, “Let us be the master of technology by making choices that uphold the inherent human dignity of each and every person.” It is time to revisit what authentic progress means.
Why Mythology Is Good…
Humans love stories. We listen to stories, read stories, watch stories. Many of us would like to have our own story. Mythology is a type of story. It is a wonderful way to explore ideas, explore the consequences of certain ideas, reveal human nature, and maybe even get people to think in a new direction. With mythology, writers can creatively grasp certain universal truths that are otherwise hidden. In short, the myth tends to know what is unknowable. How does mythology do this?
In the words of Chaucer, the best story is that of “best sentence and moost solas.” It is not only woven together well, but it also has more to offer. Sir Philip Sidney suggests that “Poesy [story, literature] therefore is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth it in the word mimesis—that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth—to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture—with this end, to teach and delight.” Good stories not only entertain, but they also teach something. Mythology has a profound way of doing this. This series is devoted to delving into the mythology created by movie and other visual media makers.
Christological will be a frequently referenced concept.
The education of conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart (1784).
 Jeff Cavins’ The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation
 Theology of the Body reference notes, p. 91
 from the “General Prologue” in Canterbury Tales
 from “The Defense of Poesy”
For further reading, here is another post called “Is Perfection the Ridiculous Expectation of the Insane?“