How I learned a valuable life lesson from the crew of Red Dwarf

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If you were a sci-fi fan in the eighties and early nineties, you will no doubt remember the satirical British series Red Dwarf.

Not only was it a brilliant romp through time and space, but it also had some surprisingly wise things to say about life.

For those of you unfamiliar with this comedy gem, it concerns a cargo ship called Red Dwarf that suffers a disaster in which everyone on board dies. Everyone, that is, except for Lister, a man from Liverpool, Rimmer, an obnoxious hologram, and Cat — the ship’s cat who looks human but is actually an evolved feline. The service robot Kryten joins the crew in a later series.

In one especially memorable episode, the crew are chased by an insane android intent on killing Lister. Unbeknown to the android, however, the crew have lured it into a Justice Field, a technology from an abandoned prison planet.

In the Justice Field, the perpetrator of a crime becomes the victim instead. Therefore, whenever the android tries to hurt Lister, or vice versa, the perpetrator is the one affected.

Eventually, by trying to strangle Lister the android ends up killing itself.

I’m reminded of this episode whenever I see a post on Facebook from an old friend. We’ve known each other since school and have a long history together fraught with ups and downs.

She moved overseas years ago but old resentments resurfaced whenever her picture occasionally popped up in my Facebook feed.

I would dwell on all the slights and injustices I felt she’d inflicted and I would debate whether to unfriend her.

Yet, as the years have passed, I realised that by holding onto these thoughts it only made me feel worse.

All that negativity I felt towards her just bounced back like I was caught in a self-imposed Justice Field.

So I started to think differently about her. Instead of dwelling on her faults I focused instead on all the good times we had shared.

In the end my resentment thawed. I no longer want to unfriend her. Instead, I sometimes clicked the “like” button on her posts and found that she now does the same for me.

By releasing past hurts and refocusing my energy, I avoided the fate of the insane android. I can thank the crew of Red Dwarf for that.

Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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