Living on in Future Minds: “The Inner Light”

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Yesterday’s post discussed the extent to which we can live on in the future. It reminded me of a previous post and a video clip I shared at the time. The video is of the last few minutes of “The Inner Light,” a Star Trek The Next Generation episode which explored the idea of living on in future minds. It is so profound and moving that I wanted to share it again. Here is a brief recap of the episode.

A probe scans the ship and an energy beam renders Captain Picard unconscious. He wakes to find himself living on the planet Kataan with a loving family and friends who tell him he is Kamin, an iron weaver recovering from a feverish sickness. Picard talks of his memories on the Enterprise, but his wife Eline and their close friend Batai try to convince Picard that his memories were only dreams. Slowly he acclimates to their society, begins living out his life as Kamin in the village of Ressik, starts a family with Eline, and learns to play his beloved flute (The flute was later auctioned at Christie’s in 2006 for $48,000)

As the years pass he begins to notice that the planet is suffering a worldwide drought owing to increased radiation from the planet’s sun. He sends reports to the planet’s leaders who ignore his concerns. Ultimately Kamin confronts a government official who admits that the government already knows this but wish to keep it a secret to avoid panic. The official reminds Kamin that they do not possess the technology to evacuate even a small colony’s worth of people before their planet is rendered uninhabitable.

Years pass and Kamin grows old, outliving his wife. Kamin and his daughter Meribor continue their study of the drought, finding that it is not temporary; extinction of all life on the planet is inevitable. One day, while playing with his grandson, Kamin is summoned by his adult children to watch the launch of a rocket. Here are the final moments of the episode:

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