osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Star Trek at 40

Oddly enough, my first thought is I'm sory we're not doing shabbos dinner with Estherchaya, Sethcohen, PSUJedi, and CarryAbend this week. Good night to be together with one's fellow geeks.

My second thought is the irony to me that I mark the 40th anniversary of a show that still inspires me that human beings are noble creatures capable of building a bright future together while also remembering the fifth anniversary of how cruel we can be to one another, and seeing unfold just how cynically some will exploit that cruely for their own greed or political ends.

I still love ST:TOS. I love the corny speeches, the optimism. Yes, I can reflect on how far we've come on a lot of things, and appreciate the flaws. I can read about folks like Gene Rodenberry behaving badly. It doesn't matter. Mature love appreciates the flaws and doesn't require the idealization that infatuation often produces.

Bluntly, I credit Star Trek, along with a handful of other sources, for making me who and what I am today. Some people may think that's dumb, or immature, or so geeky. Maybe. But in our smart, hip cynical world, where do we find the inspiration to take risks, search for knowledge, and believe that human beings, ultimately are good and worthwhile critters despite (or sometimes because) of their numerous flaws.

"They used to say that if man was supposed to fly, he'd have wings. But he learned to fly anyway. He found he had to....Risk, risk is our business. That's we they built this ship. That's why we're aboard her."

"How do you end a war that's been going on for 500 years?"

"It starts with a decision: 'I'm not going to kill today.'"

Not until Babylon 5 did another television science fiction show emerge that similarly inspired me and contained within it the same level of insight and storytelling depth. When B5 forst came out, there was a lot of hot debate about wither B5 was a "ripoff" of ST. Of course it wasn't. But the two shared something very similar at their core. A belief that humanity had good and worthwhile things to offer, and stretched ourselves to be greater than we are.

"Humans build communities. If some other race had built this place, the Minbari, or the Centauri or someone else, they would only have built it for themselves. Only humans would build a city in space and invite everyone to use it." (I probably mangled that one.)

Or, in the words of Tennyson:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

I append below my own "Star Trek" filk. Filk is the folk music of the sceince fiction community. And while my favorite serious Trek filks are Roberta Rogow's "Enterprise" and Matt Ledger's "Simple Country Doctor," I don't think this one is too bad.

Title: Hills of Iowa
Tune: Iowa by Dar Williams
Words copyright Harold Feld, licensed under the Creative Commons BY and NonCommercial licenses.

A man can't just reach out and touch the stars
But the nights of Iowa make me wish that I could
My family and friends I'd hate to leave you
But if the chance came by, I know, I would
Way back where I come from it seems no one else is bothered
By the need to know what lies beyond the nearest bend or turn
So they walk in their world of safe people
While at night I walk out on the hillside and burn


How I long to explore strange new worlds
To boldly go where no man has ever gone before
But I fear that the price I'll have to pay
Is to leave you all forever when I go out to explore
I asked my brother 'bout it, on a hot day,
The sun beat down on cornfields and the dust clouds filled the air.
Sam said: "Hearth and home are what you need Jim,
It's family that counts, not whatever lies out there.


Once I had everything, I gave it up
No beach to walk on and no world that I can ever call my own
I have fed all to me ever hungry heart
I have become a name that ever through the star lanes will roam
And I'd do it again

But sometimes in the quiet, of a late watch,
I think about my family and the friends I'll never see.
And I wish I was again the boy I was in Iowa
The hill sides, the night skies, and me

Oh Iowa ......

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