“The Leader of an alien culture takes a romantic interest in Lt. Yar and claims her for his own, to the dismay of his wife.”
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, Code of Honor, is the first epsidoe they confront another culture. This is probably one of my earliest instructions in how to deal with other cultures. However, I doubt I realized it at the time. I can easily see where my approach of “shrug, I’ll go with it” when dealing with other’s cultural norms comes from.
In the episode they do a good job demonstrating that they are more powerful, that they could take the vaccine at will but they don’t. In fact, while they demonstrate their power, they don’t seriously consider just taking the vaccine. Rather than forcing their own values on those who they need something from, who they could just take from, they chose to respect the other culture, to the point that people are suffering and dyeing, while they do so.
While I agree with Riley, some of their quips can put them in a negative light. However, given the media at the time of the episode and how taking wasn’t uncommon and the how the actions in the show respect the opposing culture, I think the message still holds up.
The Antithesis of Colonialism
This is also the first time they really explore the Prime Directive, which is a constant point of contention through out the series. As well as the episode I first came to the realization that the Star Fleet is the academic antithesis of the abstract concept of colonialism. There is even a point in the episode where it sounds like Picard is about to go into a rant about how how the Prime Directive came about through the realization that our own actions on Earth (for example colonialism) caused Star Fleet to take the stance about the Prime Directive.
I’ll probably do a blog post about the concept of Star Fleet being the Antithesis of Colonialism. If I do come back and leave a link. I think there is ample evidence for this stance throughout the series.