Prime Directive serves a purpose in Star Trek and it’s time to respect that

(Left to right) Zachary Quinto is Spock and Chris Pine is Kirk in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.
(Left to right) Zachary Quinto is Spock and Chris Pine is Kirk in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. /

Why do so many people have an issue with the Prime Directive?

The Prime Directive is among the most notable things in Star Trek. It serves as the baseline for most of the actions and interactions that Starfleet and its subsequent captains abide by. It is an important rule that often gets ignored or broken outright, making it almost pointless to keep using it as a plot point.

For those who don’t know what the Prime Directive actually says, it’s a rule that restricts contact with alien races who haven’t developed space travel, specifically warp travel. It’s supposed to allow for the natural development of alien races without any unwanted interference from Starfleet and therefore contamination of its culture.

As a rule of literature, I get why people get breaking it when they write scripts. It’s one of those rules that makes for compelling storytelling to break. Yet, it exists for a purpose. It’s supposed to be a rule that is held in high regard, yet not only do writers constantly challenge it but there are fans who think it’s inherently dumb, without realizing why it exists.

The Prime Direction is supposed to keep the Federation from making past mistakes

The Federation, for those who haven’t grasped it, was always meant as a stand-in for the United States of America. A global power with the ability to interfere in any global conflict they need to in order to keep the peace. It doesn’t always go that way, however. Sometimes, conflicts must be resolved between the two local players at hand.

We’ve seen from history that when mega powers interfere, they simply make things worse. The Prime Directive is supposed to limit, if not completely stop these events from transpiring.

Because of that, there are two minds regarding the Prime Directive. On one side, breaking the Prime Directive may save lives. That’s very true. On the other side, the Federation may destroy an entire culture inadvertently.

So do you save a society and thereby kill its values and beliefs when they learn everything they thought they knew was a lie? Or do you let the natural events play out and hope they survive; culture intact?

A lot of people firmly believe that their culture is the most important thing about them. Potentially destroying it may be, at least to some, no different than actually dying. It’s a compelling ordeal to try and handle. It could break your mind. Especially when you stop to realize that some people would in fact rather die than change their lives so drastically. You can’t save everyone and the Prime Directive acknowledges that fact.

That’s it exists.

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