Sometime back in the 1990s, I remember reading — OK, skimming — a book titled “All I Really Need To Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek.”
I’m pretty sure one of my kids gave it to me since they all grew up knowing I’d watch just about any version of the show.
(They also knew their mom had — and still has — zero use for the show. The easiest way for me to suddenly be by myself in front of the TV is to flip to any version of the show.)
The title of the book was a takeoff of an earlier work titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
I never read the original book, and I can’t say I read more than half of the Trek version. But I still think the Star Trek book, written by an advertising guy named David Marinaccio, had it right — at least with his title.
From The Original Series to all the versions that have followed, the franchise has portrayed diverse people working together as a team, confronting obstacles, working for the greater good and playing by the rules — except when they knew they needed to break them, which was pretty often.
Fans of the show will no doubt remember the so-called “Prime Directive,” under which no member of the Federation was supposed to interfere in any way with the development of another culture. Star Trek captains across all iterations tended to treat that rule like most of us treat the highway speed limit.
Much as is true with our own government, the big shots of the Federation seldom seemed to be on the right track. Was there ever an admiral (outside of the unwisely promoted and eventually demoted James T. Kirk) who ever seemed to know what he or she was doing?
The show always came down to the real people — in this case, the various crews of the starship Enterprise — figuring out how to make things work. (Unless, of course, they happened to be wearing a red shirt and weren’t a named character.)
I’m not really sure why this book made it to my thoughts this week. My mind works in mysterious — OK weird — ways at times.
I know I grew up with the show and its hopeful vision of the future, and I think we could also use a little dose of hope these days.
As an excerpt from the website Trekmovie.com reports, the show “was born in the era of the civil rights movement and while it was a controversial topic in the 1960s, creator Gene Roddenberry and his team embraced Martin Luther King’s dream of a future when people (and aliens) were judged by the content of their character.”
All of the Star Trek series and movie writers have embraced that vision, including the most recent, Star Trek Discovery, the existence of which enticed me to pay about $60 for a year’s subscription to CBS All Access. I consider it money well spent, plus, it’s cheaper than Netflix.
Speaking of that hopeful vision, I had the opportunity last week to briefly speak at a gathering to recognize the many volunteers at RiverWoods in Lewisburg, many of whom make a robust Meals on Wheels program possible.
It was inspiring to see so many people — some of whom I suspect grew up watching and embracing the same hopeful vision — who make helping others a daily part of their lives.
You might say they make it their Prime Directive.
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