The Enterprise and a Ferengi ship orbit a planet, in a tense stalemate. An ancient alien force on the planet below is holding them in a kind of tractor beam. Ignorant of this for most of the episode, the first contact between the Federation and the Ferengi was off to bad start, because each thought the other was being aggressive.
Resolving to free themselves, away teams from both ships beamed down to the planet. They find someone calling himself Portal 63. He’s the guardian of the long dead Tkon Empire. The Ferengi throw Riker and Co. under the bus, shouting that they’re barbaric and hostile. Portal 63 prepares to attack Riker, he doesn’t defend himself. He simply quotes Sun Tzu saying, “Fear is the true enemy. The only enemy.”
Q gets the blame for destroying the Tkon Empire in this book
Portal 63 backs off, accepting this as proof of the Federation’s civility. It generously offers to destroy the deceptive Ferengi. Riker declines, claiming that the Ferengi have much to learn and shouldn’t be denied that only because of their current crudeness.
Portal 63 asked, “What if they never learn, Riker?”
Riker answers that the Ferengi might never learn to be peaceful. In fact, they may develop a way to destroy them. But the values of the Federation demand that the Ferengi be given a chance to grow, and not face abortion at the hands of the more fully-developed Federation.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to shoehorn a discussion of abortion into this one. Not totally anyway.
Riker’s rejection of the Portal’s offer to destroy the annoying and dangerous Ferengi is an illustration of the Federation’s highest, most mature values. Instead of destroying the Ferengi, which would be convenient, they will tolerate them, and eventually form the beginnings of a peaceful relationship with them (as Nog joins Starfleet Academy in Deep Space Nine).
An easy solution – annihilation – is presented. And Riker refuses, fully admitting the possible difficulties and dangers the Ferengi may pose. Because it’s right, the Federation chooses longsuffering.
Longsuffering, by the way, is the attribute of God that most impresses and confounds me. If God had not decided to withhold punishment, the world and our race would have been cleared from existence the moment after the first sin. Justice would have been served. Peace would have been restored. And God would continue on, being perfect and holy and full of love.
But He relented. He withheld punishment. And He watched as His creation continued to rebel against Him. Instead of punishing, He let us go on with our lives. His longsuffering kept Adam alive long enough to (presumably) teach Seth about the terrible gulf between humans and their Creator. Noah was given a safe place to build his Ark, despite the depravity surrounding him. Abraham made some strange and bad choices, but God’s longsuffering gave Abraham the time to see God’s goodness and His plan for him.
The Federation’s patience with other species, despite their aggression, is similar to God’s patience. But different.
The Federation is patient with the Ferengi because they may grow out of their crappy traits. God is patient with sinners because He decided to fix our crappy traits Himself.
But, the Federation is doing the right thing. Christians should act the way they act! Here’s why: We are not God.
We are supposed to tell people about God. We are supposed to act like God in some ways. But we are not actually God and fixing people is reserved for Him. Praying for restoration, healing, peace, justice, etc is acceptable. But we are never big enough that we can bring any of those about on our own power. We should be like Riker and let people continue to exist because we just don’t know what God might want to do with them.
That means we should be protectors of life. If somebody wants to off themselves, intervening would be good. If there’s a war, it’s probably wise to be working for peace. And yes, if someone is moving towards having an abortion, letting that little person live would be a very nice thing to do. And just like Riker, we should admit that things could get ugly. It’s easier to to just butt out and let people war or kill themselves. It’s less complicated to destroy the baby before it starts changing our lives or costing us money. But ya gotta let the Ferengi live or their wasted potential is on your hands.