Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the Cyclical Nature of History

The moral case for learning the mistakes of history and trying to overcome it.

History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

This quote has often stuck with me in regards to how history plays out. Things don't always stay the same. When faced with a similar scenario, different people in different circumstances will react differently. There's no real way to predict how it will all turn out. It could turn out the same, better, or worse. You just have to do what you think is right in the moment and hope that the decisions lead to a better outcome. And be happy with the results.

One of the most interesting aspects of Star Trek's best series, Deep Space Nine, is how this is shown on screen in many different subtle ways. This is what makes it so brilliant, the underlying lessons about history that you can see if you're really looking but can still learn even if you don't see it. Perhaps where this is most evident is in the two-part episodes story of Past Tense. The writer recently mentioned that he wrote the story by looking out the window and seeing Los Angeles in the 1990s. What resulted is a story set in 2024 where society has all but collapsed and the struggle to get people to acknowledge the problems they aren't dealing with when it comes to things like poverty and mental health.

Sadly, it appears like we might end up living in that reality by that year in reality.

However, there isn't just a real world aspect to this. Within the show itself, its own fictional history repeats itself. The Bajoran and Cardassian conflict is one of the most interesting aspects of this. Deep Space Nine begins with the Bajorans having recently ousted the oppressive Cardassian government that has occupied Bajor and its people for the past 50 years, and the obvious trauma that has inflicted on the Bajoran people. By the end of the show, it's the Cardassian people who have fallen victim to the same tragic outcomes they inflicted on Bajorans, although under different circumstances.

It even requires the help of a Bajoran for Cardassia to ultimately manage their ultimate liberation, along with The Federation who helped Bajor find its own way back to freedom. A tragic irony in this turn of events is fascinating to examine. Yet this is not the only instance where history rhymes. Bajor goes through a few different civil wars of sorts, and then the Federation goes through one itself with The Maquis and the episodes Homefront/Paradise Lost.

Enemies go from friends to enemies and back to friends. It all depends on the circumstances and what the ultimate goal is. The Klingons in particular are a great example of this. They begin the series as allies to the Federation, due to their conflict with the Cardassians and the Federation's unwilligness to support them, they become enemies, then with the rise of a greater enemy in the Dominion, a new alliance is forged.

It's a fascinating thing to watch and one of the many reasons you should check the series out.

Do yourself a favour and check it out on Netflix and other platforms where available. It’s currently available on Netflix, as well as Amazon and finally Hulu.

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