September 1st, 2006 05:30 EST
I Have Seen The Future
Part I of III
Since the first human looked up at the night sky and beheld-- in awe and wonder, those mysterious twinkling specks of light, Mankind has dreamed of trekking out among the stars. Our origin, our circumstances, our personality and our destiny have long been believed to be, whether astrologically or astronomically, in the stars.
In Star Trek, the motto of Starfleet Academy is Ex Astra, Scientia ".
Latin, the phrase translates in English as: From the stars, knowledge.
September 8, 2006 is officially the 40th Anniversary of the Star Trek Franchise.
Indeed, this is an impressive feat worth acknowledging and celebrating. That the fantastic universe Gene Roddenberry conceived is still boldly going on, and that so many people still appreciate it, is a testament to the value and valor of his vision of the future, for the future. Isaac Asimov was a fan of Trek, and a friend of Gene.
In accordance with Asimov`s estimation of what science fiction should be, Star Trek is an existential metaphor that explores the human condition.
The ideology and mythology of this intrepid science fiction epic has provided joy, inspiration and entertainment for several millions of individuals for forty years, now-- including me. Star Trek has made a major impression on me, positively influencing my philosophy and attitude. I am who I am today, in no small part, because of Star Trek.
Similarly, it has become inexorably ingrained in the public consciousness and lexicon as a substantial cultural icon.
And to think, not very long ago, just last year, it seemed as if this stalwart enterprise was on the verge of dissipating into stagnant irrelevancy. Certainly, that was the general impression and opinion circulating.
However, perhaps the air of its 40th anniversary has managed to help stir the embers of interest, somewhat, providing an opportunity to recall why it is loved, in the process revealing that it IS loved. And with Pocketbooks novels excellently continuing the adventures beyond and beside the various TV series and films, progress and success of the New Voyages fan film project, and the eleventh movie already in development-- which is anticipated to revolutionize and revitalize The Franchise through a shift in creative direction, we can see that not only is the dream still alive, but fan appreciation and affection do continue. Clearly, and gratefully, the story-- the trek among stars-- is not yet over. The general public still does love Star Trek " the idea and ideal of it, and the prestige of it, if not particular executions of it. Yet, besides the anniversary, this millennial era is also significant for Paramount`s esteemed-- and oft exploited-- cash cow because Trek`s current status is so precarious. Especially and doubly significant since that uncertainty coincides with the 40th anniversary, a landmark that denotes a kind of crossroads " where the present condition and reputation of Trek, and subsequently its future and further incarnations, are in question.
Star Trek is still meaningful to and beloved by a lot of people, even if only in respect for what it used to be, and potentially still could be. Like a parent who loves their child, for many of us our disappointment or boredom does not outweigh or cancel our love for Trek. And, quite appropriately, there is always hope.
Through four decades, this remarkable science fiction phenomenon has been an optimistic beacon of hope for the future. But while that serves a noble and important social function, and as I recently heard someone wisely say, hope is not a strategy.
Hope is a starting point, a motivator. It isn`t enough " it isn`t good enough, to merely hope for a positive future. And by positive ", I mean both in the sense of the future being certain and in being favorable. We must create that future we desire. Star Trek teaches and urges us that this is not only necessary and desirable, but that it is humanly possible. An ideal place to start is to envision it, as Star Trek does " but that is only the beginning, a foundation upon which to build. Many people speak and write about the future. We talk of wanting a better world. Relatively few people actually follow through and do anything about it, even in their own behavior. Making a habit of saying one thing and doing another is unacceptable, and inadequate to the task of making the world a better place. Words not supported by a conviction of consistent and committed action are nothing more than words, as meaningless and useless as empty promises. Feckless words, having no power, no relevance and no substance " laying and lying impotently on the page and on our tongue. Ideas mean nothing unless we believe them " believe IN them. And to sincerely believe them is to live them, with wholehearted and courageous fidelity. In the vernacular: we talk the talk, but rarely and inconsistently walk the walk. We don`t put our money where our mouth is. To live by the credo of do as I say and not as I do " and Let someone else deal with it " is not a sufficient approach; it is not helping, it is hurting.
Please, do not read these words glibly or (dis)regard me pretentious, overzealous and prone to exaggeration. Permit me the brief courtesy of your attention, and give these words their due contemplation. Understand that humanity is at stake. What I wish to say here is not a matter to be taken or dismissed too lightly, if I may be so bold as to assert.
Yes, this article is an idealistic proposition, I readily and shamelessly admit. But why think or speak of idealism as a bad, silly thing, irrelevant and impractical, with a condescending smirk or embarrassed grin? Idealism is often ridiculed and mocked " shunned as childish, foolish naivety. The moment we discard idealism as mere sentimental or nonsensical superstition, we trivialize it. But, make no mistake, it is definitely non-trivial.
The American Declaration of Independence is as much idealistic as it is practical.
"It (Star Trek) speaks to some basic human needs, that there is a tomorrow-- it`s not all going to be over in a big flash and a bomb, that the human race is improving, that we have things to be proud of as humans. "
"Almost all of this comes out of my feeling that the human future is bright. We`re just beginning. We have wonders ahead of us. "--- Gene Roddenberry