Star Trek’s 50-Year Mission: To Shine a Light on the Best of Humankind

Dave Schilling writes for The Guardian:

There is no grand political statement in the first episode of Star Trek, 50 years ago. The Man Trap is a languid little thriller about a monster that eats salt and has a curious habit of shape-shifting into the image of your ex-girlfriend.

If you happened to tune in on 8 September 1966, you would have had no concept of the utopian idealism favoured by Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, no inkling of the socialist concepts of the sharing of resources that would pop up in later incarnations of the franchise. It was high adventure set in space, nothing more.

But there’s no question that what defines Star Trek today is an egalitarian, pluralistic, moral future society that has rejected greed and hate for the far more noble purpose of learning all that is learnable and spreading freedom throughout the galaxy.

That doesn’t exactly chime with the world we live in: one that is increasingly polarised, violent, and arguably teeming with existential despair. Star Trek was born out of the era of John F Kennedy, the space race, a well-educated middle class and a sense in America that anything was possible.


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