Star Trek : Dagger of the Mind

What is it like to be known?

All pretenses shattered. All private desires revealed. All weaknesses, fears, and hurts exposed. To be known fully is to have all barriers removed, whether they’re barriers we build for ourselves or barriers that others build for us or those mysterious barriers that we seem to just be born with.

To be known, these barriers must be passed through (or demolished). Most of us allow a few through the barriers that we build for ourselves. When we marry, or have close friends or family, we relax and reveal what’s beneath. Some of us are even able to see what barriers have been placed on us. Experiences like abuse or other traumatic events can place emotional barriers on us, without our consent. They exist whether we want or acknowledge them. Sometimes people can discover just what these are in their own lives and can then dismantle them.

There is a third type of barrier we have in our lives. These are not built by us or by circumstances in our lives. These appear to be God-given. What are some people born with that impedes their ability to communicate with other people? All types of handicaps fall into this third category. Whether physical, psychological, or developmental, they are all hurdles that that person (and those around them) must overcome to achieve communication.

You know what it takes to dismantle these barriers. Years of closeness to another person. Hours of frustration trying to overcome deeply rooted behavioral patterns. Resources expended to get hold of the appropriate technology to make communication possible.

Keep that all in your mind while we turn briefly to Star Trek.

While dropping off supplies for a penal colony, the Enterprise gains a stowaway. The crazed escapee is not a prisoner at all, but is the newly appointed Dr Simon van Gelder. Claiming to have suffered at the hands of the inhumane experiments of his colleague, van Gelder seeks justice and refuge. He barely makes sense. All he can muster is a frantic fit of screamed sentence fragments.

But the heroes of the Enterprise heard him. They didn’t know for sure what was going on, but they saw enough to know that something had gone terribly wrong and here was a man in need.

While investigating on the planet, Kirk left Spock in charge on the ship. Seeking to truly communicate with this man, to know his problems, to know the thoughts he wasn’t capable of transmitting through words, Spock decides to go deep. This is the first on-screen use of the mind-meld, revealed to be an ancient Vulcan method of connecting minds. Spock touches this man and knows him. He knows everything about him, even the things van Gelder couldn’t express. Spock makes direct contact with the crazy man. Whatever obstacles to knowing him that van Gelder put up himself, whatever barriers were put upon by others, and even the barriers that were forced on him by his psychological health were all destroyed.

Spock knew him.

It would be pretty handy to have the ability to do mind-melds in the real world. It would be especially helpful for people trapped by in-born communication barriers, like autism or some intellectual disability.

Of course we don’t have that so we have to settle for talking things out, writing to each other, and other less trustworthy forms of communication.

But God…oh, but God. He can read us. He knows details about us that we don’t even know. He knows us deeply. And if you think He couldn’t know what it’s like to be us, since He’s so high and above, just remember that He walked as one of us, enduring the full onslaught of daily temptation.

God doesn’t need some magical mind-meld to know us. The Sword of the Spirit is even sharper than any dagger of the mind.


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