Live Long and Prosper
As an avid follower of Star Trek since the 1960s, I went to see Star Trek Beyond, the latest movie installment in the inspiring saga. It never gets old to see these bold and courageous characters explore space as “the final frontier,” or try to imitate Spock’s Vulcan hand salute with the hopeful words, “Live long and prosper.”
I must say, however, with apologies to trekkies who may see a more mature spirituality in these words, I don’t see anything new in the desire to live long and prosper. Confronted with the unsettling inevitability of death, it has been humanity’s desire since humanity began. It’s not really space but death that remains the final frontier. Whatever evolution and progress we see in the life and times of the human species in Stardate 2263, they are still trying to push back death and “live long and prosper.”
What Is Our Destiny?
For every generation, how we live, what we do with our time, how we care for our bodies in sickness and in health, and what goals we pursue and how we pursue them depend a great deal on why we think we are here and where we think we are going. Canadian philosopher George Grant, in Technology and Justice, summarizes the modern view that “what we are is best expressed as ‘beings toward death.’” As long as we see that as our destiny, then whether now or in future stardates, to live long and prosper will be our highest hope and desire.
But there is an alternative view, most clearly expressed in biblical faith, that while death is inevitable, we are not “beings toward death” but “beings toward good.” As Grant explains, that is what we are fitted for, and to the extent that we arrive at this conclusion and align our lives toward this end, we are fulfilling the purposes for which we were made.
Before any and all efforts to pursue health or design health care, we must decide if we are beings toward death or beings toward good. If beings toward death, we will expend every effort and every resource to avoid this finality. Any technique of health care that might help us we will readily accept, regardless of how small the possibility, and with little time to concern ourselves with whether the same benefits will be available to others.
But if we are beings toward good, then each one nurtures their health as a means to an end, making the health we have one of our highest goods because of how it can enable us to fulfill our destiny to do good for others. We will care about the quality of health care we receive but also about the quality of health care for those who have greater needs. And when death comes, though still sad, it will not be feared as the final end.
So what motto will you live by, to “live long and prosper” or to “be holy and do good”? “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Which destiny will you choose?