What does Race Relations & Bullying Have to do with the Star Trek Legacy?
Spock and Star Trek...this is an amazing legacy for us to ponder. Although I was not a Trekki, not only did I not go to conventions, I didn't even know about them for that matter. I just loved the series and premise. Like many others, I was hooked from the first episode of Star Trek.
First of its kind, the Star Trek series ended on the heels of mans first trip to the moon, adding fuel to our longing to stretch our imaginations. These imaginative journeys into space gave everyone the opportunity to witness what it might be like to visit other worlds. When friends would ask me to go somewhere I would say, "are you crazy? Star Trek is on tonight!" There were no DVR's in those days. I was fascinated, one of Spocks favorite words, but it fits.
Why was it of interest to a young girl barely out of school? Actually, I never stopped going to school, but I digress here. I believe it is because the futuristic show spoke to everything I was confused about in our culture. The futuristic cover of the show allowed us ask questions that we could not ask out loud and meander inside our own imagination; it also held so much promise, although I must say, the show asked as many questions as it answered.
On campus, everyone spoke to the show, long after the show ended. I was amazed, as I'd turn the corner of the halls to hear other young people talking about the series, using the show as reference to some current event. The iconic nature of the show and cast was cemented by the illusiveness of a program that was cancelled too early in its inception, like a love affair that was snuffed out before its time.
Nevertheless, to understand the fascination of the show, you really must take a look at what was happening during that time period. Star Trek’s first episode was towards the end of 1966, lasting 3 seasons, through 1969. During the span of those two years, the Viet Nam War was raging, and no one was thanking service men for their service either, anything but….
Many parallels occurred, like an international treaty binding those committed to the space race to use outer space only for peaceful purposes, and then by 1968 the Lunar Apollo Project along with the space race was in full swing. Rockets took to the skies to orbit the earth, and some space vehicle ended in catastrophes that kept those of us interested in space at the edge of their seats.
Throughout that era, race riots raged, the lunar mission is designated Apollo 1, and the Lunar Orbiter 3 is launched by NASA. NASA also launches the Mariner 5 probe towards Venus, sweeping its space nets outward like ripples out int he universe. Then the big news, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, lands on the moon, “taking one giant leap for mankind.” While turmoil ensues as Martin Luther King, Jr. denounces the Vietnam War. Obviously, this was a tumultuous part of our history. Current events of the era featured space, war, and race relations as main themes. Star Trek spawned many of NASA’s scientist, space travelers, and numerous scientific and medical inventions. (The Science of Star Trek-NASA)
Star Trek was the perfect foil for our culture and a beacon of light and hope for all.
Each of the cast members made an impact and contribution to our society in their own right, but one that was most unique and
captivating was Leonard Nimoy, the man behind Mr. Spock, Science Officer aboard the USS Enterprise. Nimoy was socially conscious, compassionate and an extraordinary human being. I leave you with one story and I just love this story, it emphasizes the man's insight, a man who was to become an icon that will endure for years to come. This intuitive and intriguing article written by Nimoy in 1968 is his response to a letter sent to Fav Magazine, by a young girl who was bullied because of her "mixed race." Being of mixed race too, part Vulcan and part human, what would Spock advise her to do?
Interestingly, his solid advice is still valid after all these years, although the issues are more complex and overlap many other issues, and races for that matter; perhaps they did then too. Because we never fully dealt with our race relations, the issues have only gone underground, until lately, where they are again, up front and personal, rightly exposed during more race riots. I have to say that the one thing Spock left out is probably the solution to the whole dilemma, the girl’s feelings. That said, of course this was something Spock was still working on, but what does one do to creatively work with feelings on either side of the race issue? There are no quick answers, but no worries dear Spock, I have your back here!
The earth has lost a fine human being in Nimoy, even though he has passed, his memories and legacy will continue LLA to Prosper! How SPOCK would handle the situation is so like him. It is still great advice today, at least partially, on one of the three pronged approach to any feeling issues: thought, behavior, and action. Ultimately, it does make one wonder how the situation turned out with the young girl, but knowing the resilience of the human spirit, I have decided to believe it turned out well.
RIP Leonard Nimoy...dear soul ... LLAP Shirley