The Vulcans: ‘A most honorable race’

“Ambassador Speaks” is the brainchild of Commander Evelyn Rieko. It is a series. Each presentation is made by a Representative of the many different species/races that are a part of the Federation as well as those we encounter as we travel through space. The presenters in the Ambassador Speaks Series are not usually accredited diplomats sent by a planet or country, although they can be, but most often a person acting as an informal representative of his race and planet, giving unofficial information to aid in the pursuit of a better understanding of each other and promoting diversity.

On stardate 200425, Lieutenant Salek ((chrisheath)) shared his knowledge of his Vulcan Culture:

Farmah heh na’shaya, pudor-tor be’hai’la. Welcome and Greetings, Honored Guests. I am here to speak of Vulcan. I will inform you of my planet’s history, culture, its awakening, and other topics. It would be logical to list all topics but emotional entities seem to have little patience for that.

Vulcans are a warp-capable humanoid species. We are widely known for our logical minds and stoic culture. In 2161, my homeworld became a founding member of the United Federation of Planets, along with Earth, Andoria, Tellar Prime, and The Alpha Centauri Concordium.

Let me begin by informing you about the physical aspects of my world. The planet Vulcan, in my native language, is called T’Khasi. It is located in the triple star system 40 Eridani, seventeen light-years from Earth, and is considered to be in Sector 001 of the Alpha Quadrant per the Federation. Vulcan is a class M planet and part of a triple star system composed of a giant and two dwarfs. The giant is known as 40 Eridiani-A by the Federation and Nevasa by Vulcan and is the only star known to support life in the system. The white and red dwarfs names are 40 Eridani-B and 40 Eridani-C. Vulcan has no moons.

Vulcan has a slight planetary tilt hence there are only slight seasonal changes. The planet stays very hot and dry all year round. Daytime temperatures routinely range from 43.3ºC (110ºF) to 51.6ºC (125ºF), and in the peak of summer can reach or exceed 65.5ºC (150ºF). Vulcan also has limited flowing water.

A Vulcan year is equal to 2.8 Earth years. The planet has a considerably higher gravity than Earth, at 1.251 standards; and a thinner atmosphere at 9.79 pounds per square inch (PSI), compared to Earth’s 14.7 PSI. The atmosphere consists of a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, and trace elements. That is the physical nature of my planet.

While many out-worlders would consider Vulcan to have a very harsh environment, we have learned to adapt and prosper. There are eight cities and regions, which include Gol, Kir, Raal, ShiKahr, ShiKahr District, S’Lara region, T’Paal, and Vulcana Regar. I am from Raal, a coastal province that is located on the Voroth Sea.

My people are known for our Logic. “Logic is the cement of our civilization, with which we ascend from chaos, using reason as our guide.” – T’Plana-Hath, Matron of Vulcan Philosophy

Beginning in the 4th century, Vulcan philosophy revolved around the concept of logic. The highest objective of a traditional Vulcan life was to either control or suppress all emotion, thus rendering a purely logical being. This difficult task is attained through meditation and discipline. Why did Vulcans turn to logic? We were once an extremely violent and emotional people, even by Earth standards, who waged almost constant warfare with one another. Paranoia and homicidal rage were common.

Vulcans believed in a variety of gods, such as war, peace and death. As their level of technology improved, the Vulcans eventually reached a point where their violent nature threatened species extinction.

Surak, considered the father of Vulcan logic, in an effort to avoid this fate, developed a new philosophy thereby igniting the “Time of Awakening.” Surak maintained that the root cause of all the problems on Vulcan lay in the uncontrolled outpouring of the people’s emotions. His followers swore to live their lives by an ethical system devised by Surak and based purely on logical principles. Emotions were to be controlled and repressed through discipline.

Although this new philosophy spread rapidly across Vulcan, a minority — many of whom were known as “those who march beneath the Raptor’s wings” — rejected Surak’s ideals. A destructive war began, including the use of atomic bombs. Surak himself later died of radiation sickness on Mount Seleya, which eventually became one of the most revered sites on Vulcan.

Surak’s philosophy quickly spread across Vulcan and as I mentioned not all Vulcans accepted it. Eventually, however, those who opposed logic left Vulcan and established colonies elsewhere, most notably on the planet Romulus, where they founded what eventually became the Romulan Star Empire.

Another group that rejected Surak’s philosophy was known as the “V’tosh ka’tur” or “Vulcans without logic”. The V’tosh ka’tur believed in controlling emotions by allowing themselves to actively experience them rather than suppressing them. Many of these also left Vulcan and took up a nomadic existence.

Today, Vulcans refuse to credit anyone or any higher power as the cause of our change from violence to logic, although we do refer to Surak, and hold tightly to the facts pertaining to the events of his life, his teachings, and the time in which he lived. As a species, we do not consider Surak to be a god or in any way worship him.

For a people who seemed doomed to self-extinction, the Vulcans had, in three generations, set forth on the road to peace. We have gratitude for Surek having shown us the way to live peacefully and to control ourselves. Never again, we vowed, would Vulcan be wracked with provincial wars.

One final note on Surak. His original, unadulterated words, were preserved in an artifact known as the Kir’Shara. The Kir’shara was hidden inside the desert stronghold known as the T’Karath Sanctuary. Surak also left something else behind in an ancient artifact. As I mentioned Surak’s body died on Mount Seleya, but his katra, the essence of his consciousness, was spirited away before “the last battle against those who marched beneath the Raptor’s Wings” and was transferred into a crystalline urn which remained entombed and undisturbed until its rediscovery after two millennia by a Vulcan named Syrran.

In 2154, history records the Vulcan High Counsel turning away from Surak’s teachings. The Syrrannites, claiming to follow the true teachings of Surak, came to be a significant force on Vulcan. When Syrran, their founder, was about to meet an untimely death, he quickly passed the discovered katra of Surak to a human: Captain Jonathan Archer of the Starship Enterprise, who then had visions of Surak instructing him to find the Kir’Shara and lead the Vulcan people back to their true path.

The Kir’Shara was retrieved and the High Counsel was confronted with Surak’s teachings. They dissolved and were replaced. Vulcan went back to Surak’s teachings. Surak’s katra was transferred from Captain Archer to a Vulcan Priest. By the way, history indicates that humans find holding a Vulcan Katra in their minds to be distasteful — Dr. Leonard McCoy would testify to that a century later.

I have spoken of the Vulcan transformation to logic. Let me speak of Vulcan emotional control. Humans often argue about the Vulcan ability of emotional control or simply misunderstand the status of their emotions. Do Vulcans have emotions?

It is quite simple. Vulcan bodies can produce emotions as most humanoids do, but they have learned a technique of neuro-synaptic control they practice in meditation from childhood on. This inhibits the emotional impulses that are transported to the brain. Hence many Vulcans rarely experience emotions once they reach the Venlinahr level. This level of emotional control is practiced by 90% of Vulcans.

Another level of emotional control is called the Kolinahr. The Kolinahr is a Vulcan ritual by which all remaining vestigial emotions are demonstrated as purged. Vulcans acquire the mental discipline whereby this state is subsequently maintained. Roughly ten percent of Vulcans endeavor in pursuing this rigorous process. If achieved, there is a complete cleansing of all emotions, and the embracement of total logic. This can be a long learning process of two to six years. In my case it took over six years. As a child I had difficulty mastering Venlinahr. Once mastered, I decided I needed to go on to Kolinahr, taking 6.38 years to achieve it.
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There is no emotion such as human shame for not achieving Kolinahr. Notable Vulcans in history including T’Pau, Ambassador Sarek, Ambassador Spock, Sub Commander T’Pol, Commander Tuvok, Lt Saavik and Ensign Valeris did not achieve Kolinahr.

This neuro synaptic control also assists Vulcans when it comes to dealing with pain. Vulcans will remind doctors that we are stronger, heal quicker, seldom become ill or injured and that pain is a product of the mind and the mind can be controlled. I found that these facts did not persuade Dr. Nelson of the USS Archer, on which I served. Informing her my health was not an issue she would simply but forcefully say “Get on the cot!!!” and examine me despite my protestations. She was a most emotional human.

It is noted that logic is only the beginning of wisdom. For an intensely logical race, the Vulcans do have a very firm spiritual belief. Though we do not have a unifying religion, we believe in the katra as the soul and consciousness of a person, which can be transferred prior to death. Also though committed to the concept of total logic, Vulcan philosophy after the Time of Awakening did not totally abandon its past. Vulcans continue to maintain ceremonies dedicated to ancient religious beliefs and physical training.

Vulcans reasoned that complete dedication to logic could allow for weakness and frailty to arise and endanger them, thus ancient practices such as the kahs-wan, the coming of age, are preserved. Many Vulcans also continue some form of dedication to their ancient gods, including ritual pilgrimages.

With logic, learning and experimentation, it was later learned that Vulcans were one of the first species to develop warp drive among Federation worlds. While it took a year for us to go from warp one to warp two, once at warp two and beyond we then began survey missions.

When Vulcans first went into deep space, they did not have to face as many encounters with hostile aliens as Humans did centuries later because there were fewer warp-capable species at that time. Early Vulcan space exploration included several expeditions famous enough to be taught at schools on Earth in the 22nd century. We watched the Sol system in those early expeditions, especially the planet called Earth. History has recorded that first contact between Vulcans and humans came in 2063 after Vulcans on a survey mission observed a human ship breaking the Warp barrier. Human/Vulcan contact was established in Bozeman, Montana.

After meeting humans we felt the need to guide them into the galaxy. The Vulcan High Command considered Humans volatile and similar to Vulcans before the Time of Awakening, and so attempted to slow down Humanity’s move into the galaxy until we decided the time was right. This infuriated some humans, particularly one Jonathan Archer.

Captain Archer on a singular mission, took the Enterprise NX-01 out into interstellar space against the wishes of the Vulcan Ambassador. The Ambassador insisted a Vulcan be part of that crew for guidance of the humans. So Captain Archer took one Vulcan aboard. Sub Commander T’Pol — my grandmother.

Since the creation of the Federation Vulcans have served aboard Federation ships and have commanded several. The most notable Vulcan to have served the Federation would be Ambassador Spock who served aboard the USS Enterprise with Captains Pike and Kirk before becoming an Ambassador.

If you have interest in other cultures I urge you to visit Vulcan. There are also several points of interest on Vulcan. The Shirkar Academy, T’Karath Sanctuary, Temple of Amonak, Temple of T’Panit, Vulcan High Command, Vulcan Institute for Defensive Arts and Vulcan Science Academy.

If you visit Vulcan there is a reason visitors later say, “hot as Vulcan”. The planet’s arid, desert climate means plenty of hot days and slightly cooler nights, so dress in one or two layers of light clothing made from natural fibers or synthetic substitutes that allow ventilation. Major cities such as Shi’Kahr and Vulcana Regar offer accommodation for numerous species from throughout the Federation, but don’t expect such variety in smaller towns or outlying areas. Being adaptable should be in your thoughts in these outlying areas.

Vulcans are a private, seemingly aloof people. Though we generally welcome out-worlders, visitors should be mindful that they may encounter occasional reticence toward strangers, particularly from older members of our population and in those areas that are less traveled. Most Vulcans will acknowledge straightforward salutations such as “Greetings” or “Good day”, along with more casual forms of address like “Hello”. However, we tend toward formality and tradition when greeting or bidding farewell to one another.

Unlike other species we do not shake hands or otherwise touch each other when offering salutation. Physical contact between Vulcans is a very private, even intimate, act, and it is rare to see such displays in public. What you will see is the customary hand gesture, with the greeter offering the salutation “Dif-tor heh smusma” or “live long and prosper”, the party receiving the greeting returns the hand gesture and replies “sochya eh dif” or “peace and long life.”

Finally I will reveal some history. According to the accepted history the first contact between Vulcans and humans came in Bozeman Montana in 2063. What many people don’t know is that Vulcans had already visited Earth more than a century prior to this historic first meeting.

A small scout craft crashed in a remote area of North America in the mid-twentieth century, the three surviving crew members spent months living among humans and waiting for rescue. This crew had received an unprecedented opportunity to observe humanity at a time prior to many of the great social and technological achievements that would come to define it. One crewman decided to stay on Earth against the advice of his crew mates. A recovery ship eventually arrived on Earth to take the two survivors home, being told the third crew member died. The third crewman’s fate is unknown. Being in Intelligence I am not at liberty to speak at how I have this information.

Finally, history records this conversation. A natural feeling I believe among emotional races…

Lt. Commander Data: ‘I thought it was generally accepted, sir, that Vulcans are an advanced and most honorable race.’

Admiral Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy: ‘They are, they are. And damn annoying at times.’

=^=

“Ambassador Speaks” will be held again this Saturday, June 20th, at 5pm (1700) slt. This month UF Starfleet member Lieutenant Talena Constantine will give a talk on ‘The Orions’ in the Academy Lecture Hall at Pinastri headquarters. Please contact Commander Evelyn Rieko for more information, or to request transport.