Star Trek, the gift that keeps on giving all she’s got.
Welcome to Deep Trek.
For a great many people Star Trek is a valuable source of entertainment and escapism. But for some, it is that, and a great deal more. For me, it has shaped my values and my world view in the same way that religion shapes the values and world views of many other people. An acquaintance of mine in an online group for in-depth discussion of Star Trek in all its forms, made the comment one day recently that “Star Trek, rewards deep involvement.” I believe that to be true. I believe that Star Trek, like the Bible, or Shakespeare, merits serious close scrutiny. I believe that there is no part of life that Star Trek is not, in one form or another, relevant to.
Over the years Star Trek has given me many gifts of insight, and deeply held beliefs. Some of these include…
A deeply held belief that the source of humanity’s problems is humanity itself. And an equally deeply held belief that the solution to humanity’s problems is humanity itself.
This is to me the cornerstone of what Star Trek is all about. I was raised in a tradition that enshrined the Christian belief in the end times as the highest that the human race could hope for. All our striving was supposedly for naught and only by Deus ex Machina could we hope to retrieve any good from all the bad. To put it succinctly I found such beliefs less than uplifting. Then came Trek and Trek spoke powerfully of the idea that there is value to struggling to improve ourselves, and that if the darkness comes, if we persevere we can come through the other side into a better, brighter tomorrow. It is a hope that I have clung to, and continue to cling to.
A belief in the fundamental equality of all person regardless of race, or gender, or any other external factors.
Star Trek was my first introduction to the idea of a meritocracy. It was the first time that I saw women and people of color in positions of authority and if that authority was questioned or contested it was because they seemed unfit for the role they were in (See also Badmirals) not because they were female, or black, or any other external reason that might come up in the here and now.
A desire to understand other cultures.
Culture and its importance has been used in myriad ways on Trek. It was used as a good-natured running joke on TOS as Chekov constantly proclaimed the primacy of Russian culture as having invented pretty much everything. It was a key piece of character development for Worf as he learned to reconcile his Klingon heritage with the values he had been raised with by his Terran parents. On DS9 we saw perhaps the strongest argument for the importance of culture, whether it was Sisko embracing his roots as a Black man, or Major Kira and the way that her faith sustained her, or Nog, with one speech turning Ferengi beliefs from something gross, shallow, and materialistic, into something deep, beautiful, and full of meaning. Over and over we are told that if you want to understand people, then you have to understand their cultures.
A desire to know everything.
Pretty much all of the characters on Trek are polymaths. Kirk has an interest in philosophy, and history, to name just two. Spock clearly has an interdisciplinary approach to being science officer, as do Data and Dax. Picard has shown talents in engineering and archeology as well as literature. Janeway was a scientist by training before becoming a Captain. Even Tom Paris who in some ways is a much more basic kind of person, has interests as wide-ranging as star ship design and early to mid 20th century pop culture. Following the example set by Trek, there is almost nothing I won’t learn at least a little about. Some of it I understand better than others. (Let’s just say I’m more “poly” than “math” shall we?) But it all interests me.
A belief in the value of technology as a tool.
The Starship Enterprise, is only possible because of technology. At the same time we are constantly reminded that technology is there to serve us, not the other way around. When technology gets in the way of sentient beings exploring, and creating then it has to be put back in its proper place.
I could go on. At great length. In fact, that’s kind of what Deep Trek is all about. An ongoing discourse, (and I hope with reader feedback an ongoing intercourse) about what Star Trek has to teach us about what life means, and how it should be lived.
Until next time fellow Deep Trekkers,
Peace And Long Life
Roy is the name chosen by Priority One’s Emergency Geek Hologram. He is programmed with the accumulated Trek knowledge of over a thousand geeks. His hope is to eventually develop full self awareness and personhood, and this time for no one to muck it up for him by pushing the reset button AGAIN!
Copyright © 2013 Priority One Podcast.
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