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From Lafayette to Leonard: Heroes of Two Worlds

George Reporting

sunny 49 °F
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Let's start with a Spock logic test.
Spock is held prisoner on a hostile alien planet. The alien leader approaches him and says, "Spock, I know you are
Vulcan so I give you this choice. You must make 1 statement. If it is true, then you will be stoned to death, if
false, than you will be burned to death. What is your statement?"

Can you guess what he says dear reader? His answer is at the end of this post.

We were driving from Baton Rouge towards New Orleans on a bright, clear crisp day when we heard on the radio the
passing of the great talent Leonard Nimoy, better known as "Spock". Only a short while before that announcement,
we were standing in front of a home where one of the heroes of the American Revolution stayed.
Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette, or better know as Lafayette,
was a Frenchman (and friend of George Washington) who believed in the noble cause of the American Revolution
and was crucial in helping the new country defeat the British. I always admired Lafayette after first reading
about him in a history book at school and was gleeful when we came across this signage while in Baton
Rouge Louisiana. I was telling Andrea that sometimes I would remind people (on some social media site) that the U.S.
democratic country might not have existed without the aid of the French.

Back in the car, hearing about the passing of Leonard Nimoy made me think long and hard why I appreciated the
character of Spock he portrayed on the beloved Star Trek series and movies. Before long, I began to see
deep comparisons and contrasts between Lafayette and Spock.

One was a real person with a military pedigree and a deep appreciation for the American ideals
of democracy as well as loyal friend to General George Washington. The other is a fictitious character
with a science/military pedigree who always looked for a peaceful resolution to a conflict as well
as loyal friend to Captain James T. Kirk.

Being French, Lafayette fighting along with the Americans against the British might not seem too different
than the Vulcan Spock fighting for the Federation against the Klingons. No doubt Lafayette had feelings and thoughts
of being "different" from the others much like Spock did on the Enterprise.

Reading the Wikipedia about Lafayette, you can see parallels between his real life upbringing
and that of the fictional young Spock following in the traditions of his family. Both also faced familial recriminations
for trying to take more idealistic paths in life.

Lafayette left his homeland and became immediate friends with George Washington and fought for America. Spock left
his home-world and became friends with James Kirk and fought for the Federation. Spock was highly decorated
and later became an ambassador and was given the honor of "Hero of The Galaxy".
According to Wikipedia,
"Lafayette died on 20 May 1834, and is buried in Picpus Cemetery in Paris, under soil from Bunker Hill.
For his accomplishments in the service of both France and the United States,
he is sometimes known as "The Hero of the Two Worlds".
As mentioned earlier, it is quite possible that America might never have become free and democratic if not for the efforts
of Lafayette. And if America had not become free, than Leonard Nimoy's poor immigrant family might not have come to the
U.S. from the Ukraine. Therefore there would not have been the Spock character we know and love today. I think there
is a pretty good time travel story in there somewhere. What if?...

More on Spock:
There are a few other things about the Spock character I appreciated. First, I appreciate the fact that he brought the
words "logic" and "logical" to almost everyone on the planet. If not for Spock, I have no doubt that this method
of "corrective reasoning" would have just remained a largely unknown ancient Greek term regulated to dusty
books of philosophy. I still remember as a young boy playing Star Trek logic test games inside comic books, although,
I wonder how many relationship arguments would never have started if I never uttered the sentence, "That is just
not logical." lol

The other thing I appreciated about the Spock character was that he usually offered wise alternatives to using
powerful technologies in harmful ways. Star Trek was just as much about the sci-fi technology and weaponry
as it was about how to use them responsibly in any given situation. Spock embodied the idea (at least for me)
that wise, peaceful alternatives needed to be thought out before action was taken. His deliberate, calculating
mind regularly saved Kirk and the ship from certain doom while preserving the integrity of a new life form or
newly discovered planet. I think the success of our current travel approach is in many ways due to a 'Spock-ish way of

Spock Logic Test Answer
Spock thinks for a moment and makes the statement, "I shall be burned to death." The alien leader realizes that he
has no choice but to let Spock go.

May you, Leonard Nimoy, shake hands with Lafayette in the great hall of heroes in the sky!

Posted by woa 07:06 Archived in USA

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