September 8, 1966 Star Trek Premiered.

This was 4 years before I took my first breath. Four Years. My earliest childhood television memories were of watching reruns of Star Trek (The Original Series). My CB handle (yes, before cell phones I had a CB in my car) was Trekkie. Star Trek was a more real world to me than anything I was experiencing in real life. The idea of flying across the galaxy, of meeting so many different new life, to see a diverse crew get along, to have a woman on the bridge (It would take until January of 1995 before we had a show of a female Starfleet Captain). By the time Star Wars came out in 1977 (Which I first saw sitting on top a car roof at the drive-in theater) and the premier of Star Trek: The motion Picture in 1979 I had the episode names and the dialog memorized from the Original Series. In 1982 when Spock died I was devastated for about a day until I realized his pod had soft landed on a planet that ‘brings life from lifelessness’. It turns out I figured it out before the writers who at that time had no plans to write another Star Trek film.

Gene Roddenberry saw a world, a universe, in which it was possible to get past differences and into a place of cooperation. He saw humanitarianism, and the bringing out of each person’s unique talents to enhance the whole as the ultimate goal. He created a platform for social commentary wrapped up in a science fiction hopeful outlook for the future. It is so much easier to place a multi racial crew, have stories about oppressions and freedom, the positives and the negatives of technology, speak to the principles of “we the people” and the equality of women in an atmosphere that is ‘fiction’.

When I was 18 I went to a small convention (before the days of the huge conventions we have today). For my ticket price I got to listen to James Doohan speak about his passion for acting, for the stars, and for compassion. He sat at a table as attendees lined up with their wares (I had a copy of Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise in my hands) and he would place his signature. When it was my turn at the table, he took my hand, kissed it and thanked me for being there. I am still giddy about the encounter 30 plus years later. I would go to (I still do) opening night of the movies and meet fellow Trekkies dressed up, offering smiles and having a GREAT time in the theater. There was (and still is) a feeling that we are all pulling for the same thing … the connection, the compassion, the curiosity and the wonder; taking “special delight in the ideas and differences in lifeforms.”

I was fortunate enough to take my children to meet Wil Wheaton last month. I again had a book with me: “Still Just a Geek”. He talks about doing the hard work for healing and how not everyone is cut out for that type of journey. He also talks about how his Star Trek cast became his family, that he felt safe with them and still has a close relationship with them today. It seems that actors understand what it means to be part of Star Trek. How much it not only means to people but also to the vision of it’s creator: Gene Roddenberry.

I was told over and over growing up and into adult hood that I was not realistic. I was told that humanity just isn’t that way, that cooperation and even the stars were not possible. I was made fun of for being devastated when the Challenger Shuttle exploded. I was told that had nothing to do with me, so it was silly to be upset. The mission embodied everything I ever wanted, to teach and to go to the stars. It had one the most diverse crews to date. There was an aerospace engineer Air Force Pilot (Francis R. (Dick) Scobee), A US Navy Commander with an M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering (Michael J. Smith), a Jewish lady with a PhD in electrical engineering (Sarah Resnik), the second black astronaut who was a specialist in laser technology and quantum electronics holding a PhD with a black belt in karate (Ronald E. McNair), a native Hawaiian Japanese-American with engineering degrees and a flight test training engineer (Ellison S. Onizuka), a civilian working for Hughes with electrical engineering degrees studying liquid -fueled rockets (Gregory B. Jarvis) and teacher Sharon Christa McAuliffe selected from 11,000 applicants. This mission felt like we were actually living the Star Trek Dream. It felt like anything was possible. If a teacher could get onto the shuttle, then I could do the same.

That mission ended 73 seconds after lift off, in tragedy. That was 36 years ago. Today on Star Trek day, I remember that mission and its diverse, real life crew. I remember the hopes and the dreams and the expectations of success. I remember that there is a space station with an international crew that works well together, despite what governments are doing. I remember that it is in following the dreams, that new worlds, new possibilities, new hopes and the ability of human kind to flourish in cooperation are all possible.

I no longer buy into the narrative that I am not realistic, or that I do not see the whole picture. It is the narrow view that does not see cooperation. It is the narrow view that does not understand that the stars are possible. It is the narrow view that does not understand that we are the stars here on this planet, filled with the same substance and the same light. “Humanity will reach its maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate but take special delight in differences in ideas and differences in lifeforms.” – Gene Roddenberry

Live Long and Prosper.

Star Trek Day