I was a Star Trek fan from the original show's beginnings in 1966, and one of my favorite episodes of all time was The Devil in the Dark, from that show's very first season. The episode focuses on a distant planet that's home to a strange and frightening creature called the Horta. The creature is killing miners who are unearthing an ore called pergium and, in the process, destroying silicon nodules. The miners, naturally, want to kill the Horta. Enter Kirk and his team, who swoop onto the planet, ready to do battle with the creature, only to find that the situation is not what it appears to be. Everything they've thought about the Horta, not to mention those silicon nodules, turns out to be wrong.
Without giving anything away on this blog, it's fair to say that I kept thinking of that Star Trek episode when I went to see the movie How to Train Your Dragon yesterday afternoon. There, too, humans are attempting to fight creatures -- in this case, fire-breathing dragons -- without having any real knowledge of why those dragons are doing what they're doing. This failure of understanding threatens to have tragic consequences, until a hiccup (of sorts) intervenes.
We do it all the time: jump to conclusions without having any idea of what's really happening. But if a 43-year-old TV show and the latest animated kiddie movie can show us another way to look at potential confrontations, I'm all for it. Plus, the animation in said movie is very cool.