By CHRISTIAN MORRISON
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
These lines, read by a disembodied William Shatner voice, form the opening monologue of a science fiction show that has achieved legendary status: Star Trek. This show has acquired its notoriety due to not only the show’s premise on space exploration but also its vision of the future of the human race – one that is markedly utopian in nature.
In this future, mankind has overcome, with the help of a third world war, almost all of the problems that plagued its past; the Earth of this future has no wars, famine or poverty. Everyone lives happily and in harmony with those around them. The Garden of Eden has been rediscovered.
In such a state of bliss and with such technology at their disposal, people are free to explore their own humanity, to explore what principles and values form the ideal person. This sense of exploration – in the human sense – was an integral part of every episode; the different worlds and crises that appear are merely entertaining catalysts designed to push the characters to discover things beyond the physical realm, sometimes beyond the realm of anything conceivable to humankind.
This is what has ensured Star Trek’s place as a staple of science fiction: its ability to push the boundaries of what is thought acceptable and simultaneously advocate for change without explicitly doing so. Here was a show that, despite the societal norms of the time, decided to give a lead role to Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as Lieutenant Uhura. On top of this, the first interracial kiss to ever take place on a televised show was between Lieutenant Uhura and Captain James T. Kirk.
These elements that appeared on the show forced audiences to explore their own humanity. By directly confronting the audience with such moral dilemmas, it puts the audience in a position to really ponder those societal norms: ponder whether or not they should be maintained or thrown out. Star Trek allows viewers to see what could be in the future, which serves to draw attention to our modern situation.
While pushing societal boundaries, it is also necessary, therefore, to explore what the ideal human looks like: cue Mr. Spock. Spock, who is half-human and half-Vulcan, is a character bound by a strict adherence to logic, yet he sometimes allows his emotions – arising from his disliked human aspect – to dictate his course of action. Although perceivably superior physically and mentally, Spock does not abuse his inherent traits; he is a benevolent friend to mankind, aiding humanity when it runs into problems it cannot overcome due to its limitations.
Spock, due to his very nature, is an exploration into the human character itself. He represents the inner-turmoil that we, as humans, face as our emotional, impulsive nature fights with our higher reasoning: the logical side of the human spirit. In Spock, it is seen that those two sides of our humanity have found peace with one another. Logic and emotion have found balance.
This is what the ideal human being looks like in the future according to Star Trek. Humanity will learn how to view things pragmatically, yet they will allow emotions to dictate the course of their actions and thoughts when logic cannot provide a morally acceptable course of action. In essence, the future of mankind looks a lot like Spock – someone who is an alien to those aboard the U.S.S Enterprise. However, as Captain Kirk said while giving Spock’s eulogy in “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan,” “Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human.”
Pushing boundaries and embracing change is what has propelled Star Trek to its current status. While giving an optimistic glimpse of the future, Star Trek also challenges its fans to really analyze contemporary society and determine if what they see around them conflicts with their morality. Although Trekkies realize that they shall not, much to their disappointment, wake up in the world of tomorrow, they are pushed to become better humans so that dreams may be translated into reality. This is truly what Star Trek is about.
Over my last four years of high school, I have been a regular viewer of Star Trek. Regular exposure to it has left me with many irreversible side effects: most noticeably, I have become a Trekkie. Every night, after homework, school events and other activities, I looked forward to the latest installment to whatever Star Trek series I happened to be watching at the time.
As I watched these episodes, I increasingly yearned to explore my own human nature and realize my full potential. The only way to do this, I knew, was to experience the multiple facets of life through studies and life experiences. However, on my journey of self-discovery, there has been one experience that has helped me explore myself better than anything else: Ethic News.
When I first joined Ethic News in my junior year of high school, I immediately noticed something unique about the organization; they encouraged students to embrace their interests – whatever those interests may be – by providing a platform through which students could explore and share their interests. I, like all normal journalists, decided that my first article for Ethic News should be on something new, something relevant, like Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” The fact that Ethic News allowed me to publish such a piece spoke volumes to me.
In Ethic News, I found the creative outlet from which I could launch my exploration of my humanity through embracing my interests. The people I met at Ethic also pushed me greatly to explore things outside the realm of my normal interests as well. Every moment I spent writing for Ethic felt like it was worthwhile.
When I was offered the Copy Editor and Editor-in-Chief positions at the end of my junior year, I was elated. I made one of the easiest – as well as probably the best – decisions of my life. However, I did not fully know what great experiences I would have by getting more deeply involved in the organization.
Throughout the year, as Copy Editor, I corrected tons of articles. I encountered many different writing styles and viewpoints, and I learned to appreciate them all for the unique articles they created. Through these articles, I got to know the writers of Ethic News better; I saw their interests and their passion for them. I got to see, through their writing, how they changed as the year progressed. It was truly an enlightening experience that allowed me to come into contact with the humanity of others in a completely unique way.
Not only did I discover more about myself through the continued pursuance of my own interests this year in Ethic News, but I also learned firsthand the uniqueness that every individual possesses. Ethic News allowed me to step back and appreciate the scope of human individuality. Thus, Ethic News managed to turn my quest for self-discovery into a quest to discover the greatness of the human race through the individuality that everyone possesses.
For this, I am eternally grateful to Ethic News. I could not have asked for a better experience. For both my years at Redlands East Valley High School, Ethic News gave me a sense of belonging in the school community; it gave me a place to surround myself with individuals who shared my passion for discovery. It truly was one of the best experiences of my life, and I shall truly miss it as it is irreplaceable. Thank you Ethic News for allowing me to get to know myself better; to become a better leader; and to discover the amazing spark that every individual possesses. And thank you Mrs. Aranda for being an amazing mentor these two years; I could not have asked for a better role model who exhibited the best qualities a person can strive to possess.
Goodbye Ethic News. I will forever miss you. As Spock would say, “Live long and prosper.”