Star Trek’s Vision of the Future

St. Louis, MO, has a wonderful museum called The St. Louis Science Center. If you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit. I’m lucky enough to live less than an hour’s drive away and visit once a month or so. My favourite event at the Science Center is called First Friday, an evening based on a different theme each month.

This month, the theme was Star Trek. Many people showed up in Star Trek costumes, several vendors were selling their Star Trek themed wares, two episodes of Deep Space Nine were featured, and the latest Star Trek movie was shown. In addition to these activities, there were also a couple of discussions about Star Trek philosophy. I attended one of the discussions, “Star Trek’s Vision of Humanity with James Croft.”

Mr. Croft explained that each series is set hundreds of years in the future, and many problems we see today, such as poverty and war on Earth, have been solved. People from Earthly origins get along great with each other, despite differences, and with most people from other worlds. The original series back in the 1960s shocked many when officers with varied Earthly backgrounds were seen in command on the Enterprise deck along with Mr. Spock, a Vulcan. Of course, the people of the Federation are not friends with everyone in the universe. They have a fragile relationship with the Klingons and have many dangerous enemies such as the Borg and the Dominion.

Even though the people of the future have managed to overcome so much, human nature often gets in the way of achieving the goals and philosophies of the Star Trek universe. Greed, jealously, lust, and ambition drive the plots of many the episodes. This is often surprising because everyone in Starfleet is considered trustworthy until proven otherwise. Even a greed-driven species such as the Ferengi are trusted a bit too much by most of the characters.

Other characters have imperfections that affect the storylines. One good example is the android, Data. He longs to be human, or to at least have human emotions, even though he is far superior. The blind from birth engineer, Geordi La Forge, can see only because of a special device called a VISOR. With the device, he can see outside the normal spectrum, but still would prefer to have typical human vision. The most conflicted character, in my opinion, is Worf, the Klingon. He was born on Kronos but raised on Earth by humans and finds that it’s difficult to be comfortable in either world.

Even though Star Trek attempts to create a perfect version of the future, it’s impossible to overcome human nature. Of course, conflict caused by human nature makes for the best stories. Over the decades, the special effects have improved, but Star Trek has stayed true to the vision of its creator, Gene Roddenberry. He dreamed of a world where humans are still human – but better.

Commentary Competition

Enjoyed the topic? Have a relevant anecdote? Disagree with the author? Leave your two cents on this post in the comments below, and our favourite response will win a $50 Amazon gift card. The competition closes two weeks from the date of publication, and the winner will be announced in the next Simple Talk newsletter.