Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Star Trek was one of my very favorite shows growing up. My brother and I religiously watched the adventures of Captain Kirk and his crew every weekday evening in the early ’70s. Without a doubt, the words of William Shatner at the beginning of each episode inspired me and settled into my subconscious as a prototype through which to approach life. My imagination was fueled by each episode as they explored bizarre worlds, met fascinating and sometimes scary, extraterrestrial life forms and dealt with cosmic phenomenon. I wanted nothing more than to join their crew and live that lifestyle. Anything terrestrial paled in comparison.
Fast forward almost fifty years and I am just as enthralled by the Star Trek series, and all its subsequent incarnations, as I was back then. The writers incorporated the wacky, wild, world of quantum mechanics into their storylines, which stretched the imagination beyond our Newtonian worldview. I remember desperately wishing for a transporter machine so I could travel anywhere anytime. The replicator, the tricorder, warp speed, quantum warp drive, quantum flux drive, quantum slipstream drive, quantum phase variance, borg temporal transmitters, and other such conventions of our possible future are just plain exciting. I appreciate how innovative and cutting edge that show was, and continues to be, on many different levels. Besides the content of the show, the cast was equally conspicuous.
It didn’t escape my young, impressionable mind that the multi-ethnicity of Star Trek’s crew was not reflected in my significantly more homogenous reality. The series was groundbreaking in this sense. Never before had television displayed so many ethnicities on one show. I noticed how the captain treated his crew with respect and dignity and how, in return, that was mirrored back to him with the crew’s loyalty. I was exposed to a possibility of peaceful coexistence with no emphasis on skin color or race at a time when I was very aware that there were two colors in this nation and, depending on which color you were, so went your opportunities.
And I particularly love the Voyager series. Star Trek Voyager stars a female captain, Captain Janeway, whose strong character and intelligence get her and her crew home safely after being lost in the Delta Quadrant for 172 episodes. (Yep they’re all on Netflix and yep I binge watched them sequentially over several months) When I think of a female leader for this country, it’s Janeway’s attributes I give her: compassion, determination, candor, honest communication, inspiration, and encouragement.
I still want to go to space; however, I’ve applied the manifesto to my life here on terra firma. I feel like the Star Trek series, in a weird way, gave me the permission and the courage to explore strange new countries, seek out new friends in new cultures, and to boldly go where I’ve never gone before. And for that, I am eternally grateful to the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry.
And thanks to all the fans who kept this show alive over the years!
Live long and prosper!