In Star Trek S4E12 (“The Wounded”), the Enterprise crew are forced to cooperate with Cardassian leadership to stop a rogue Federation captain from destroying their fragile peace. The Cardassians’ presence aboard the ship is barely tolerable, but after dialogue with his wife, Chief O’Brian is later able to articulate an especially perspicacious explanation for his animosity.
“The only people left alive were in an outlying district of the settlement. I was sent there with a squad to reinforce them. Cardassians were advancing on us, moving through the streets, destroying, killing. I was with a group of women and children when two Cardassian soldiers burst in. I stunned one of them. The other jumped me. We struggled. One of the women threw me a phaser, and I fired. The phaser was set at maximum. The man just incinerated, there before my eyes. I’d never killed anything before. When I was a kid, I’d worry about swatting a mosquito. It’s not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you.“
So I wonder, how many of us become bitterly angry at a spouse or a parent or a corporation when the interaction fundamentally changes an idealism that shapes out identity? Do we really hate or are we morning the loss of our innocence?