Thursday, November 17, 2016

Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds

If you have one millimeter of Star Trek fan in you, you need to see the Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds show at Seattle's EMP. Personally, and a little embarrassingly, I was moved by this display and not because of nostalgia. I have a few pictures to share, but first I have a confession, of sorts, to make.

OK... When I was seven years old, I was a bigger Lost in Space fan than a Star Trek fan. It wasn't until I was 8 0r 9 that I came to watch Star Trek as a prime time show. But, I fell in love with Star Trek probably the next year, when it went into syndication and I have remained faithful to the original series ever since.

To a young person, it would be hard to explain what television meant to me as a kid. I was kind of an oddball. I would like to say I was a nerd before there were nerds, but I wasn't that smart. I was kind of ridiculed in grade school. I found a lot of solace in watching heroic stories unfold on TV. I also read a lot of biographies and science fiction for the same reason.

TV gave me something to talk with with classmates. There were only four VHF channel and, maybe, three UHF channels. But everyone at school tried to watch the same show the night before. It gave me something to talk about and I discovered that I could make people laugh. Sometimes, satirizing Kung Fu, Land of the Giants or whatever else we all shared in common the night before. I became a pretty good impressionist after learning that was a thing from television.

Television provided a common truth. You could not change channels to get a different spin on the Vietnam War from the evening news. It was impossible to shop around for news that conformed with way you felt. Everyone was open to modifying their views on a subject when presented with information that conflicted with the way they felt. Was there bias in the news? I am sure of it. But, the news didn't have to make money and didn't have to kiss anyone's ass. Told you those were different times!

Television also provided me a glimpse into how normal people lived their lives. How other families might interact with each other, even if they were fictitious. I remember breaking out in a cold sweat watching a TV show where a child talked back to their father. My house could be a violent place and I really thought I was going to get physically punished for just witnessing this play-acting upstart. Same with watching race relations, and, again heroism.

I have dawdled on too long, but let me close by listing what Star Trek meant to me:

People can get along even if they are not remotely alike as long as they aren't complete assholes. And uniting people together on a heroic mission, could even win over the assholes and make them less so.

No matter how serious things became, you can always find humor in the situation. Others value the person who can instigate that action.

No Kill I.

A code of conduct, or a prime directive, might seem like a constraint. It isn't. It provides some sort of pry point to open up a story, a life. Without this, life would suck.

Have a mission. Make it five-years or not. This mission can change. I mean the Enterprise was on a mission of exploration, but sometimes it had to kick some ass. Know philosophy. Engage in self-examination of consciousness and conscience.

Surround yourself with not a lot of close friends. But the ones in your close circle, should contribute to the mission. Oh and you're going to fight. Why? Because you give a shit about each other and the mission - and you are different human beings. Well, some might not be human or maybe just half-human.

Know when you are being logical and when you are being emotional, or a combination there of. To do that you're going to have to learn how to think. Again, back to philosophy, logic and self examination. Math, science, woodshop, literature and art weren't just random classes we had in junior high. They, no-shit, built living thinking machines. Always keep the machine tuned.

Stay physically fit. Not just because you might have to fight a Gorn to the death, but, damn, you want to look good in your Star Fleet uniform, don't you?

Technology can be good or evil. Hey, Facebook! Technology can help make you more human or make you more of an automaton. It can send you on a mission of exploration and discovery or you can grow a goatee and enlist on a mission of plunder and destruction. It's the same Enterprise. Only one is evil and the other is good. One has agonizers and the other has Vulcan plomeek soup.

Take action, or contemplate your options. Get more information or press the button. You're the captain of your life. You own what you do. Cultivate self-reflection and practice decisiveness. If you keep making bad decisions, hopefully you can see that's what you are doing and, you might even stop doing it. Maybe. 2000. 2004. 2016.

Captain Kirk always seems to score, but women really go for Mr. Spock. Well, that's just my opinion, and I hope it's true.

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