Sharing Rational Values through Great TV 

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Art & Culture

Watching your favorite TV show with your significant other (or a close friend) can be hugely fulfilling—if he or she gets what you love about it. And, if you admire the show because it embodies principles you hold dear, sharing it with your other half can also be a great way to remind yourselves of the values and ideas that may have brought you together. 

Such is the case with my wife and I, who have just started the ninth season of my all-time favorite TV show, Stargate SG-1. It embodies many of the values that we admire in each other and seek to express in our choices, including rationality, curiosity, loyalty, and integrity. 

The latest episode we watched, “Origin,” contained an excellent example of these values. It featured Daniel Jackson, a character deeply committed to science, rationality, and freedom for all, coming face to face with the leader of a tyrannical religious movement. The priest shows Daniel the power of his “gods”—who are really a race of fire-like aliens capable of taking possession of human beings and giving them superhuman powers—and demands that Daniel accept their “path to enlightenment.” He then announces his intention to launch a crusade to convert the entire galaxy to his religion by force. Daniel, standing in the middle of their sacred city with nowhere to run, knowing that sticking to his principles could easily get him killed, nonetheless tells the dogmatic leader straight to his face:

I don’t believe that any individual or society can achieve enlightenment through fear-mongering and force and servitude, no matter what power is presented as evidence. . . . Don’t get me wrong, we should all be trying to better ourselves, and if [enlightenment] is the ultimate end we’re all trying to achieve then so be it, but we should all be allowed to get there or not of our own free will. Kill me for saying that, but that is what I believe. Nothing you say or do will ever change my mind.

In this scene, Daniel upholds several rational ideas. He conveys that no one can force others to be better, that a person is responsible for his own choices, and that every individual should be free to choose his own path in life. Additionally, Daniel’s refusal to back down exemplifies the virtue of integrity. He passionately believes in reason and freedom and refuses to abandon those values or sanction their violation by staying silent. 

Watching this scene with my wife gave us a concrete example of what integrity in the face of pressure to compromise looks like in two ways. One is the obvious example of Daniel courageously standing up for his values. The other is the example of Stargate SG-1 creator Brad Wright and his team standing up for those same principles by creating a show that embodies these values throughout. Wright took the concept of the 1994 Stargate movie, an action thriller about defeating a powerful alien posing as an Egyptian god, and turned it into a philosophic science-fiction series about undermining tyranny by encouraging rational thinking and belief in freedom.
SG-1 has given us proof that, even in our often-irrational society, there are still people out there who will make (and watch) ten seasons of a show about science and reason. What TV show would you like to watch with your significant other? What life-serving values does it convey? If you know of a show, movie, novel, or game that embodies good values, why not write about it for us?

On Solid Ground is a community blog where we publish articles by guest contributors as well as by the staff and officers of OSI. The ideas offered by guest contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the ideas of the staff or officers of OSI. Likewise, the ideas offered by people employed by OSI are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of others in the organization.

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