What I Learned From Star Trek

Today celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek's first appearance on US television.  It's a big deal if you're in the nerd and/or geek community.

The influence and endurance of Star Trek is nothing short of amazing. Yes, I judge people who blithely, or sometimes proudly, say "I've never watched it". For reals, you don't know what you're missing.

I grew up watching The Original Series in reruns. Yep, I'm too young to remember them when they aired. Yay for me being too young for something. BTW, that's TOS to us in the know.

It wasn't a perfect show. There was a lot of overacting, cheesy sets and sexist costumes. The plot points were sometimes predictable, you really didn't want to be on the security away team - that was a dead giveaway. (See what I did there?)

How many hours did you spend with the crew?

They weren't perfect characters, either. I mean, anyone who slept with Kirk died and if that's not a major defect I don't know what is. They were, however, a great team.

And, what a grand mission they were on! Traveling through space, meeting new races, working alongside other races. It was the coolest. It was inspiring and hopeful because it made me think "We can get there some day!" I can't tell you how many times I imagined I was in that world. I really wanted to go to Star Fleet Academy.

I still really want to go to Star Fleet Academy.

I've always been in the nerd group and really found my people once I started working in at a bookstore then in IT. For several years at my current job, we had a standard interview question. "What's your favorite Star Trek series?" The correct answer was "TNG" with "The Next Generation" almost as good. (Maybe that's just my bias.)

We did have one person reply "Bablyon Five." Respect.

The one episode of all the series that has stuck with me was from TOS and it had Frank Gorshin as a guest star. (Mad props to anyone under 40 who knows who Frank Gorshin was.) It was Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. The basic of the story is that two aliens end up on the Enterprise who've been engaged in a long battle of one trying to bring the other to justice because he's an alleged criminal.

Mortal enemies but why?
The twist was that their home planet had been wiped out because of its ongoing race war and they continued their own conflict despite that evidence that it didn't end well. Oh, and how were they different? Well, that was another twist. One dude was white on his right side and black on his left and the other one was the opposite. To the crew of the Enterprise, it was no big deal. But, it was a BFD to the aliens.

The Wikipedia article I linked said the episode was described as "heavy handed". Maybe so because it's influenced my life view. I think of it nearly every time when I hear or see something about racial, tribal, cultural, religious or idealogical conflict. The lesson seems clear to me - it will not end well for anyone. And, I'm also left asking, "Why can't we all just get along?"

For the record, my favorite Star Trek characters are Picard (oh, I'll make it so, Captain, if you know what I mean), Scottie and O'Brien. Apparently, I have a thing for accents.

Happy 50th Star Trek - thanks for the memories and the life lesson!


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