I grew up on Star Trek. Originally, it was tiny me, watching ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ with my parents. A few yeas later, I stumbled upon reruns of the original series, and I finally understood why the one I watched with my parents was called “the next generation.” I was fascinated. These people paved the way for the Enterprise crew I knew and loved to explore the universe. I had to know about them. So I watched. And admittedly, I wasn’t terribly impressed.
At first, the original series seemed silly. The effects were nowhere near the quality I was used to, the sets always looked like sets, and the aliens didn’t look all that alien. But I have to admit, I was six years old and an idiot. The longer I was a student, however, the more I grew to appreciate the show. Here was this show about a group of exceptionally smart people who went off into space and had amazing adventures. They didn’t want to conquer. They wanted to see and do and try new things. They wanted to learn. And they were celebrated for that fact. It was amazing. It was joyous. I was in love.
As I got older, I learned the context in which these episodes were presented, and because of that, I started to really understand what the show was about. The series aired in the mid-60s, at the height of the Civil Rights movement. And here was this show about a group of people from all walks of life, coming together to explore and learn and grow. It was a story of people learning about others who were not like them, but seeing them as equal and deserving of their respect. The show wasn’t just “‘Wagon Train’ to the stars.” It was a beautiful message of peace and hope and love. These capable, intelligent people with eager minds and open hearts going off into the universe to see what it has to offer, and to accept it graciously.
The original series, to this day, remains myfavorite. It has helped shape how I view the world. It helped teach me to not be afraid of the unknown, but instead to be excited by it and the possibilities it holds. Spock showed me that knowledge and logic are the powerful weapons you can have in your arsenal. McCoy taught me to stick to my guns, no matter how much people argue with you. Uhura taught me to have grace under pressure, no matter how hectic things get around you. And Captain Kirk showed me that no matter how heroic you are considered to be, it’s still okay to ask for help.
Today is Gene Roddenberry’s birthday. He would have been 92. I want to thank him for creating something wonderful and comforting and inspiring. I have been, and always shall be, your fan.