Well that put an interesting spin on the Prime Directive. I’m gonna have to sit with that for while. But this “dying with honor” thing is worth diving into.
With Klingons the saying is “Death before dishonor.” Vulcans say “The needs of the many are greater than the needs of the few,” or “We are here to serve” which is an elegant if sometimes misleading way of affirming the negating statement of “We are not self-serving.” The Girl Scouts say “On my honor, I will try: to serve God and my country; to help people at all times; and, to live by the Girl Scout Law.” (Am I the only person who thinks they couldn’t think of a third solid thing to say and so just turned their pledge into self-perpetuating loop?)
Human beings are pretty preoccupied with death and dying well and what exactly that should entail. There are studies breaking down the top five regrets of folks on their deathbeds, all of which have to do with family and friends and doing right by their fellow man and not so much with making money or owning a house on every continent because why not.
Most of these “first contact” / Prime Directive episodes are solid reminders of how easy it is within one’s own cultural sphere to think the best thing for everyone you will ever meet is to in some way adopt your own viewpoint.
You’d fight with your siblings less if they just agreed with you. You’d be wildly successful in business if everyone bought from you whatever you were selling. There’d be no more wars or suffering if everyone could just fall in line with whatever you decided was best for everyone.
Yet just as business monopolies are harmful, so, too, are cultural monopolies. We even have a word for it: totalitarianism, or fascism (if it’s all centered around one self-serving individual). Something human beings have a tendency to rebel against both in their daily living and artistic rendering.
In life we are always pushing our own centrist agenda, whether it’s centered on our individual selves or our local communities or the local culture to which we ascribe. Acknowledging that we’re doing it is the first step in looking compassionately upon those surrounding us doing the same thing. Acknowledging is the first step toward answering:
How else can we do this? How else can we live and die with honor? How can we all get exactly what we need?