As some of you may know, one of my hobbies is model building: ships, airplanes, other stuff.  Right now I am building an aircraft carrier model with some help from Lucas.   Sitting on the shelf, awaiting some attention is a “ginormous” model of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701 (“no bloody a, b, or c”!).   I have ordered some specialty kits for lighting etc., and if I ever start, this will be a long project – and a labor of love.

As I looked at these various pale blue styrene injection-molded parts laid out before me, I began to wonder why on earth I would be relishing such a boyhood project with fifty looming much closer ahead than forty is behind.  Trying to explain the allure of this campy sixties show and its many spawned movies etc. is probably about as easy as explaining why I prefer one style of music over another – impossible; you kind of either “get it” or you don’t.  I can tell you this, I can remember countless evenings with homework etc. behind me and settling in for the late night Star Trek on WPIX 11 and feeling like a was spending a few minutes with friends before lights out.  To some of you this no doubt sounds incredibly lame, i.e., “get a life.”  I could cite statistics on how “Trek” fans tend to be intelligent, educated etc. and have gone on to become great scientists and engineers (witness Stephen Hawking, who has even appeared on TNG), but that would not prove much of anything. 

We Trek fans probably also watch NASA TV, and thrilled to the photos of the Mars rovers.   Most of us probably think that we must push into space despite all the problems on earth “because it’s there,” and because exploring is as natural a part of man’s nature as eating and drinking.   When we stop exploring, we stop living.  Others no doubt think this is nuts and that no foot should step into space while a single mouth on earth remains to be fed.  And you have a compelling argument as well.  However, perhaps more as a matter of faith or instinct, we must always explore for the sake of exploring just as “beauty is its own excuse for being.”

Perhaps the one thing about Trek though that goes beyond science, and exploration, and quirky/campy characters its message of hope and optimism.  Underlying everything Trek is the notion that we will still be around in three hundred years, and we will be a better, kinder, united, and open-minded form of human; that we will come in peace seeking life “in strange new worlds.”  Small-thinking territorial earthly disputes will be a thing of the past and a united earth will venture out compelled by the drive to explore and to learn. . . and to make friends.  Idealist and utopian?  Of course it is!  But why aspire for anything less? 

And of course we still get to kick some Romulan ass from time to time!

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