You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Why We Need Star Trek

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 3/11/2015 Michael Stark

On Monday, it was announced that Star Trek would be returning to television for the first time since the cancellation of the lackluster Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005.
Despite some rejuvenated interested in the franchise thanks to the J.J. Abrams film series, there is much to be excited about with the news that Star Trek is coming back to television. Star Trek is home again. Star Trek belongs on television. It was born there and thrived there. While a few of the films have been tremendous, they lack the ability to achieve what Star Trek did on television: inspire and envision a better, united tomorrow. Right now, we need that now more than ever.
From my earliest memories I have watched Star Trek. I've seen every episode, every film. I grew up with reruns of Kirk & Spock at the same time Star Trek: The Next Generation was airing its first-run syndication. As both a child and adult, I marvel at the world of Star Trek. Star Trek's adventure was simultaneously beyond belief and entirely in reach. Now in 2015, we have actualized some of the technological ideas that the Star Trek of the 60s and 80s prophesied that we'd have at our disposal. It's been fun to see some Trek-tech come alive in our world.
Yet even with all of that, we need Star Trek again, perhaps now more than ever. We need to learn from it again. We need it because it helps us learn to work past our differences and aim at a peaceful and united society. The vision of Gene Roddenberry was a future grounded in peace among pluralism and diversity. Everyone was equal. The color of one's skin, religious beliefs, economic status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation does not interfere with fundamental human equality and unity. Star Trek has a vision of the future that peace is a likely possibility if we all can work through our struggles and difficulties together.
I've taken Trek with me from early childhood fantasy into profession. I've often used clips of various episodes in my college philosophy and ethics courses to have students evaluate the different ideas that Star Trek engaged. Trek deals with philosophical concepts that face society on an existential level. It engages conditions of just warfare and pacifism. It discusses the ideas of personal identity and what it means to be a thriving individual. While Trek had no openly gay character, there is a vivid episode of The Next Generation in the early 90s that looks at gender identity. Star Trek has always been willing to pose difficult questions and scenarios long before we knew how to frame the question itself.
All in all, the essence of Trek is peaceful living in a pluralistic society. Star Trek's "Prime Directive" specifically states that characters cannot interfere with the values or evolutionary process of those to whom they disagree. While at times that rule is bent or broken, its underlying message is that we can all disagree, yet live respectfully with others. In a time where an aspect of life as significant as politics is treated as vapid entertainment, perhaps we need a form of television that treats serious issues with the respect and tact those issues deserve.
This is why we need Star Trek again. We need Star Trek because we need to learn from it. I think there's a reason why a campy science fiction show has stuck with so many from childhood into adulthood: it constantly makes us think about how to live well, and how to work collaboratively with others who may live different values and worldviews.
I could not be more excited that Trek is coming back. The tagline has always been "To boldly go where no one has gone before." Yet right now, we need boldly go back to a television series that is nearly 50 years old in order to help us remember how to live more peacefully today and into the final frontier.

More from Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon