“Bonk Bonk! On the head! Bonk! Bonk!”
Kirk and Co. discover a world very much like earth, but missing one key feature: adults. The planet is devoid of adults. World of the Flies. There are plenty of old people though. They just all look like kids. Some kind of arrested development has stunted their physical, emotional, and mental growth. Though over a hundred years old, these people are really children, inside and out.
Being children, the Onlies don’t believe Kirk is there to help. A real child might believe an adult. But imagine the kind of minds the Onlies have. They’re not simply children. They are hundreds of years old. But they are trapped in their child-like bodies…It’s a strange premise. The tension between being young and old is one that grips every one of us. We tend to long for aspects of youth like being adventurous and energetic. But most of us value certain aspects of adulthood, considering the trade off to be fair. (And impossible to reverse, even if we don’t think it’s fair.) But the poor old Onlies do not retain their youthful vigor for adventure, while maturing intellectually. The Onlies are like kids in the worst ways: helpless, bigoted, and dangerous if given power. And they’re like adults in the worst ways: smart enough to bring their half-formed philosophies to fruition.
The bizarre, but likely, culture of the Onlies leads them to greet Kirk with suspicion. The potential cure from McCoy does not inspire them either. The Onlies are like those half-formed adults of the real world who have mental or intellectual problems, or haven’t been raised quite right, but aren’t needy enough to qualify for some governmental or charitable assistance. These people have the legal rights, given their age, and the financial, physical, and intellectual capabilities of living a life. Many times though, these people don’t have any kind of philosophical foundation for what kind of life they want to, or should, lead. All the power, none of the direction.
The Onlies, and their real-world counterparts, will dash furiously toward nothing in particular. Content (maybe) to live pleasure-to-pleasure, constantly threatening to sue anyone who has slightly offended them, or using violent talk (bonk! bonk!) to raise the stakes of any given argument because it will distract from actually reaching a conclusion.
Sometimes I’m a real-world Only.
But I thank God that I have His leadership and Word to guide me in the right direction. Thanks to God for the pastors, mentors, and friends He’s put in my way whenever I resort to the animalistic grunting of the Onlies.
That’s the point of being a Christian, I think. Being shown that you’re an Only, being given a new life, and then diving back into the pit of Onlies, trying to show others that there is a cure.
Of course, it’s not usually that easy.
Have you ever tried to help someone who didn’t want to be helped? Or who was just content to live with their horrible, yet fixable problem? Jahn was leading his people to their doom, for the sake of power and jealousy. But Kirk…oh man, Kirk is such a Jesus figure in this story! Captain Kirk goes in among them. He becomes infected with their disease. And he endures the mocking, backstabbing, and finally the beating at the hands of the Onlies. The very people he beamed down to save reject him, fear him, and try to kill him.
Kirk is not only a picture of Jesus and His mission. The captain also serves as an example for us! Getting involved with the real-world Onlies is a messy business. They can be annoying, dirty, dangerous, ungrateful, and are often a combination of all four. But by living among them, inviting them into our lives, we can love them. And loving unlovable people is a command from Christ.
Father Damien, the missionary to the lepers of Hawaii who eventually died from contact with them, wrote to his brother:
“I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.”
Captain Kirk truly made himself an Only to gain life for them. What a picture! Imagine Christ with those ugly purple sores all over, getting punched and kicked by over-old children. Christ didn’t come to cure our physical illnesses and jet off to His next adventure though. Christ came to cure our spiritual death first. And He did it to live with us forever. He doesn’t say, “Enjoy your health. You can live over there now.” Paul says, “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)