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Rite of Passage: ‘Reverse the polarity’

There are a lot of things in life that I just . . . tolerate. For instance, when I was growing up, I tolerated watching the TV show Star Trek. I like it, but I am not a Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination. You will never find me at a Star Trek Convention dressed up as my favorite alien, and you won’t catch me even thinking about buying the first-season series on DVD.

For one thing, almost every episode of Star Trek had the same plot. The only thing that changed from week to week was which brand of aliens was threatning to attack and which doomed cast member had to be rescued.

Back then, times were simpler. The producers based the entire show on three words: “Reverse the polarity.” If they had taken out those three words, the series would have ended immediately. Every episode had a scene in which aliens—always dressed in what looked like cheap, leftover Halloween costumes—attacked the Enterprise. And every time that happened, Scotty yelled to Captain Kirk, “Cap’n, there’s no hope! The defense shield is down. We can’t stop their proton lasers. What shall I do?”

As Captain Kirk wrinkled his forehead to consider all the possibilities, he shouted back to Scotty, “Reverse the polarity and see if she’ll reboot.”

“But Cap’n, that’s dangerous—we could all be destroyed!”

“Reverse the polarity! Now!”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

Naturally, all the folks in TV-land were sitting on the edges of their seats. They understood the immediate dangers of reversing the polarity. Of course, this one action always fixed the shield and saved the day so the series could continue.

Someday, I won’t be surprised to discover an episode in which Scotty says, “Cap’n, we got a problem down on Toledo Deck. The toilet won’t flush, and we’ve tried everything we know to get it working. What shall we do?”

“Reverse the polarity! Now!”

And of course, reversing the polarity will instantly solve the problem, because reversing the polarity fixes everything! Reversing the polarity always works, always saves the day and is always the last thing the crew tried before impending doom.

During the years when I watched Star Trek regularly, about five minutes into every show I would start to yell at the television, “Reverse the polarity, reverse the polarity!” And somehow, they always heard me . . . right before it was too late.

There was something else I found interesting about Star Trek. When they beamed groups down to a mystery planet, you could tell right away who wasn’t coming back. In these situations, Spock always said something like, “Captain Kirk, would you like to beam down to investigate the aliens?”

“Yes,” Kirk would respond.

To which Spock would say, “I’ll go, and take Bones, Scotty, and Ensign Smith along.”

In a heartbeat, I could tell you who was going to be vaporized: the red-shirted Ensign, the one we’d never heard of before.

Although I tolerated Star Trek, there was one thing I would not tolerate in our home as my sons were growing up: disrespect for their mother. I might tolerate a few bathroom antics or some loud roughhousing in the den. I might tolerate grades that weren’t necessarily up to our boys’ high potential. But one thing my sons knew about their dad was that I absolutely, in no circumstance, tolerated any form of disrespect for their mother.

You see, the charge to “honor your mother” comes from the Ten Commandments. Judging from the way many of our kids act, it seems to me that long ago, we stopped teaching them any part of these commandments.

Few adults and fewer children can recite all 10 of the commandments. I find that sad, because God’s Top Ten happen to be the greatest guidelines for raising capable, respectful, confident children. In fact, if the only Bible teachings your children know are John 3:16 and the Ten Commandments, they will live lives of honor.

As parents, not only should you refuse to tolerate the breaking of the fifth commandment—“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12)—you shouldn’t tolerate the abuse of the other nine, either. As I tell the students I work with, “You can’t break the Ten Commandments. Violating them breaks . . . you.”

Take away the Ten Commandments and you will have a broken generation. That’s an impending doom more serious than any Star Trek plot.

Can you hear Scotty yelling (think “heavy Scottish accent”)?

“But Cap’n Moore, our families are in trouble. What’ll we do?”

“Reverse the polarity! Now!”

Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail walker@awestar.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.

Author: Sara Graybill

View more articles by Sara Graybill.

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