Monday, April 21, 2008

Far Out

I am a Trekkie. I seldom tire of watching re-runs of Star Trek. I enjoyed Captain Kirk, Captain Jean Luc Piccard and The Next Generation, and still enjoy Star Trek Voyager, with Captain Katherine Janeway and her crew. Why am I writing about this on a blog usually focused on politics, religion and science? It's because at the core of my interest in these areas of life, is my fascination with the behaviors of all species, especically the one to which scientists tell me I am assigned, homo sapien, sapien.

And it's because the spirit of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, lives on in the lives of his disciples. Those who followed him continue to use their imagination in Space, the Final Frontier. Star Trek space is the setting for stories which appear to be merely science fiction dramas and thrillers, but which are actually important and edifying morality plays.

Star Trek space is, like our planet Earth, inhabited by all kinds of species, which upon inspection from some close encounters, exhibit all the appearances and behaviors of the vast variety of species on Earth, and not just those of the different human races. You have to experience it, check it out, to grasp, if not understand, what I'm saying.

For example, in the series Star Trek Voyager, we encounter the Borg. It is a species whose continued existence requires assimilation of all other species. Borg space ships are called hives, complete with a queen and drones. Assimilated species are turned into drones in the service of the queen.

Individual identities of assimilated species are replaced by a Borg designation consisting of a number within a collective, such as seven of nine, and can only act with the consensus of all other drones, of which they are constantly aware by virtue of a ceaseless stream of consciousness from all other drones.

This Borg theme is just one of many which, if we're looking for drama and science fiction excitement, is likely to capture our imagination. I've enjoyed that drama, and also have come to understand that they are stories with a message, a moral.

Star Trek Voyager stories take place in the 24th Century, when the people of Earth and other nearby Class M(read humanoid life support) planets formed The United Federation of Planets(read United States of America), for the purpose of exploring other worlds, meaning other species. Like the USA, the UFOP, has a self view that it's motives are good and benign, and are simply for exploration. It has a Prime Directive which states that those of its explorers must not interfere with the lives and workings of other species encountered.

Each and all of the so -far three Star Trek Space Ships has, as vessels, Captain, First Officer and Crew in the model of the US Navy. The morality plays are not just about how the ship's complement engage in encounters with new species, but how they engage within themselves in their voyages. One can wonder how that might have played out on Captain Columbus's ship in 1492.

The stories, though they take place in Outer Space, are actually morality plays. These are explorers as were the explorers of Earth. They encounter new planets(read lands) and the creature who populate them(read foreigners). The stories are about the first encounters.

I find it interesting and disturbing that in our own time, the 21st Century, the word alien is used as a label with a distinctly pejorative connotation for both creatures from Outer Space and human beings from other lands. In both cases the tacit understanding of the term is Invader.

Should you be sufficiently curious to check out Star Trek Voyager, you will find it on the Spike channel. In my area, Cape Cod, it is on at 4:00PM weekdays. It's in a repeat phase now.

My all time favorite episode is called, "One Small Step". It's much larger than you might think.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

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