“Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.”
Vulcan theme in Star Trek
I’m a fan of Star Trek(*). The humanism and optimism in “The Next Generation” (TNG) series, somewhat more realistic and “gritty” in “Deep Space Nine” (DS9) … this striving to become better — it’s very inspiring. And the world (again, of TNG and DS9) … yeah, it is something to aspire to. Something to live for.
Recently I stumbled upon an essay by Majel Barrett Roddenberry (wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) about the Legacy of Star Trek. She describes the deep humanism inherent in Star Trek and it’s a very good read (and thankfully, it’s available at “The Free Library“):
The message is, of course, that we are all alien in one way or another. And those seemingly overwhelming problems are simply conditions which exist in order to draw us together. And draw together we must, for that is the only way to the future.
Majel Barrett Roddenberry
“Star Trek,” […] embraces peace and love and unity, and it says that civilization will reach maturity on the day it learns to value diversity in life and ideas. As Gene once put it:
To be different is not necessarily to be ugly; to have a different idea is not necessarily to be wrong. The worst thing that could happen is for everyone to look and think and act alike. For if we cannot learn to appreciate the small variations between our own kind here on earth, then God help us when we get out into space and meet the variations that are almost certainly out there.
Majel Barrett Roddenberry
It also describes some of the technological visions of Star Trek and how they were achieved (or are in the works). But while the realized technological visions in the essay are impressive, I think the social ones are more inspiring — and not as easy to reach as the technological ones.
Then again, perhaps there is a similar model to social “innovations” as the “Technology Adoption Lifecycle“. New social ideas (e.g., accepting of different views — actually accepting, not the social justice version) are first lived by innovators, then early adopters, then an early and late majority, and finally (if ever) by the laggards (e.g., bigots).
In this sense, perhaps there is hope for a good future for us all, no matter how slow the progress is.
In any case, Majel’s essay is really interesting and worth a read.
(*) Well, I’m a fan of TNG and DS9. The Original Series (TOS) was okay and I probably have to watch it again, Voyager was bad, and Enterprise was a huge, huge waste of potential. The movies were a mixed bag (“The Wrath of Khan”, “The Undiscovered Country” and “First Contact” were very good, the rest rather unremarkable or bad. And don’t get me started on the reboot — nice special effects, but it was not Star Trek anymore. It’s just soulless entertainment that could not have worked without having the legacy of Star Trek available to exploit.
Source: Barret-Roddenberry, M. (1995). The Legacy of Star Trek. The Humanist, 55(4), 9-11.