For over four decades I have been a rabid Star Trek fan. Some fans of my ilk are referred to as “Trekkies”. Others prefer the moniker “Trekkers”. I like to think of myself as a “Trekologist”; a person who has devoted considerable energy to the study of all things Trek.
When I have asked myself the question, “What is it about Star Trek that appeals to me so much?” I have come up with numerous answers. Moreover, the answers change from time to time, depending upon my state of mind, which Trek incarnation I happen to be watching, and any number of other factors. There is, however, one reason for my unbridled affection for Star Trek which never changes. I am continually impressed by the positive outlook for humankind’s future which is depicted in all the Star Trek television shows and movies.
Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, was convinced that we have the potential to overcome our petty differences and, one day, become united in a way never before witnessed on Earth. He believed, as do I, that we are capable of sufficient intelligence, kindness, understanding, patience, and tolerance to survive our relative infancy as a race, to figure out how not to destroy ourselves, and to learn to live in harmony with each other and with our planet. It stands to reason that, when that happens, atrocities like poverty, disease, war, hatred, and prejudice will become things of the past. The day that comes to pass is a day I look forward to with great anticipation.
In order to reach such a lofty goal, however, we will each be required to make a contribution. To that end, I have often tried to determine how best to do my part. There is no single correct answer. The one that carries the most weight with me though is this:
Do unto others as you’d have done to you.
The Golden Rule. That little tidbit of wisdom that we all have heard since childhood and, yet, often forget to enact. The implementation of this simple tenet is really rather easy most of time if one makes a conscious effort. That is not to say it’s always easy, or even possible. We are human and we have so many negative aspects to our nature that it is sometimes difficult to master and put into practice such a basic philosophy. But we must try. Always. Sometimes, the biggest benefit is in the attempt rather than in the result. The more attempts we make, the more likely we are to eventually get it right.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I only know how I feel when someone else is quick to judge, quick to criticize, or quick to deride me. I try to remember that feeling whenever I’m presented with the opportunity to interact with another person. Doing so helps me in so many ways. It helps me to be polite. It helps me to be considerate. It helps to me to praise, to admire, to assist, and commit random acts of kindness. So what does all of this have to do with Star Trek?
One way in which I stay immersed in my Star Trek fandom is by participating in an online bulletin board devoted to Trek. It doesn’t matter which one – what matters is that it’s the virtual version of social interaction with like-minded folks. Yet, my mind is constantly boggled by the intolerance and derision heaped upon others by folks on this BBS; folks who supposedly consider themselves fans of Roddenberry’s universe. Just today, I found myself posting an explanation of why I was willing to help a newcomer who was apparently there only to glean information about selling a collectible. Several other users got on this newcomer’s case and then decided to ridicule me for my willingness to assist him. It was at that point I felt the need to write today’s blog entry.
It has taken me many years to figure this out but I am proud to be the person who offers assistance with no thought of reward. I like the fact that I can trust one person regardless of negative experiences I may have had with another. If someone has given me no reason to distrust him, I won’t do so unless or until I am given reason. Furthermore, I’ll go out of my way to be kind, generous, and helpful rather than standoffish, difficult, and selfish.
If everyone could take it upon himself to approach others with this same attitude, the world would not only be a better place but the dream that it might evolve into the one Gene Roddenberry envisioned would be realized within our lifetime.