There’s been a lot of contentious words scattered about what the REAL Meaning of Star Trek is, with one side admiring the technical achievements the series has spawned in society (cell phones? super computers?) and another side decrying the mechanistic thinking which misses the real, SOCIAL value of the series.
Utter dreck. Star Trek, all series, was about one thing only — HOPE.
When the series first aired, this nation was mired in a nasty brush fire of a war that was dividing our nation. The world was a mess, and it appeared to be getting messy-er. School children were being instructed in how to kiss their butts goodbye in case of a nuclear attack – considered eminent throughout the decade.
And there were two things that gave hope to people. One was the initial space program that kept peoples eyes glued to black and white televisions as they watched every struggling step toward space. And the space program achieved laudable goals before getting bogged down in the political infighting.
The other was Star Trek.
Star Trek was viewed as the Wagon Train to the Stars. It sounded a faint but pure melody, enticing viewers to look beyond their daily struggles. It announced proudly that, Yes, Mankind has problems: but we can overcome them. We can achieve the stars themselves. And people have responded over a couple of generations to that plaintive call.
Did it have Utopian ideals? Yes. It was designed to do so, We always strive for utopia, even when we know it is unachievable. But there is value in the attempt, whether or not we win perfection.
Did it show intriguing technology? Of course! It portrayed the future. Look at the changes in technology in just the last twenty years, not to say the fifty since the series first aired. We use, today, many items that were unimagined in the 1960’s. In the next one hundred years what else may change, with innovations now barely a glimmer of a dream in the minds of engineers and inventors? Already we have devices that bear striking resemblances to medical tricorders; the Starship Enterprise Project has initial plans for an impulse drive as well as artificial gravity; and even NASA has shown interest in the projections of Miguel Alcubierre for an FTL drive. Think these items will need a century to germinate? I don’t.
The theme to the series Enterprise used a song that many fans disliked, because it seemed maudlin and was a vocal. But let’s remember the intent of that song.
“It’s been a long road, gettin’ from there to here;
It’s been a long time, but my time is finally here.”
It’s a song of hope; it’s a song of promise.
It’s a song that says, there’s been bumps along the way, but it hasn’t stopped us. We won’t be stopped. We will win.
I don’t know if humanity will ever achieve the stars. I hope so. I’d like to think that some descendant of mine will live under a different sun than I do. And with the drive that men and women have to succeed, I think there’s a fair chance to get there.
Because life has proved on earth to be both explosive and prevailing. It is our legacy from our birth; it should be our destiny to our end. If history teaches us anything, it’s that quitters always lose and disappear, but winners never stop. We’ll always pick ourselves up after a disaster; strivers always win in the end.
And in the words of Star Trek itself, we will Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before.