Maybe it’s time to ‘reverse the polarity’

There has been a recent resurgence of interest in superheroes as well as sci-fi themed movies and television shows. Stories I grew up reading in comic books are now popular, big-budget movies. I wish I had kept my old issues of Spiderman; I could have retired years ago.

My introduction to the sci-fi genre came when the TV show Star Trek made its debut in 1966. I enjoyed the show, but I would not consider myself a “Trekkie.” You’ll never find me at a comic convention dressed as my favorite alien or walking around as an extra from Season 4.

For one thing, almost every episode of Star Trek had the same plot. The only thing that changed from week to week was which brand of aliens was threatening to attack and which doomed cast member had to be rescued.

The producers based the entire show on three words: “Reverse the polarity.” If they had taken out those three words, the series would have ended immediately. Every episode had a scene in which aliens—always dressed in what looked like cheap, leftover Halloween costumes – attacked the Enterprise. And every time that happened, Scotty yelled to Captain Kirk, “Cap’n, there’s no hope! The defense shield is down. We can’t stop their proton lasers. What shall I do?”

As Captain Kirk wrinkled his forehead to consider all the possibilities, he shouted back to Scotty, “Reverse the polarity and see if she’ll reboot.”

“But Cap’n, that’s dangerous – we could all be destroyed!”

“Reverse the polarity! Now!”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

Naturally, all the folks in TV-land were sitting on the edges of their seats. They understood the immediate dangers of reversing the polarity. Of course, this one action always fixed the shield so the series could continue.

Someday, I won’t be surprised to discover an episode in which Scotty says, “Cap’n, we got a problem down on Toledo Deck. The toilet won’t flush, and we’ve tried everything we know to get it working. What shall we do?”

“Reverse the polarity! Now!”

And of course, reversing the polarity will instantly solve the problem, because reversing the polarity fixes everything. Reversing the polarity always works, always saves the day and is always the last thing the crew tries before impending doom.

During the years when I watched Star Trek regularly, about five minutes into every show, I would start to yell at the television, “Reverse the polarity, reverse the polarity!” And somehow, they always heard me—right before it was too late.

There was something else I found interesting about Star Trek. When they beamed groups down to a mystery planet, you could tell right away who wasn’t coming back. In these situations, Spock always said something like, “Captain Kirk, would you like to beam down to investigate the aliens?”

“Yes,” Kirk would respond.

To which Spock would say, “I’ll take Bones, Scotty and Ensign Smith along.”

In a heartbeat, I could tell you who would end up vaporized: the red-shirted ensign, the one we’d never heard of before.

Although I tolerated Star Trek, there was one thing I would not tolerate in our home as my sons were growing up: disrespect for their mother. I might tolerate a few bathroom antics or some loud roughhousing in the den. I might tolerate grades that weren’t up to our boys’ high potential. But one thing my sons knew about their dad was that I absolutely, in no circumstance, tolerated any form of disrespect for their mother.

You see, the charge to “Honor your mother” comes from the Ten Commandments. Judging from the way many of our kids act, it seems to me that long ago, we stopped teaching them any part of these commandments.

Few adults and fewer children can recite all ten of the commandments. I find that sad, because God’s Top Ten happen to be the greatest guidelines for raising capable, respectful, confident children. In fact, if the only Bible teachings your children know are John 3:16 and the Ten Commandments, they will live lives of honor.

As parents, not only should you refuse to tolerate the breaking of the fifth commandment – “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12) – but you shouldn’t tolerate the abuse of the other nine, either. As I tell the students I work with, “You can’t break the Ten Commandments. Violating them breaks … you.”

Take away the Ten Commandments, and you will have a broken generation. That’s an impending doom more serious than any Star Trek plot.

Can you hear Scotty yelling? (Think: heavy Scottish accent.)

“Cap’n Moore, our families are in trouble. What’ll we do?”

“Reverse the polarity! Now!”