Our Future GoalBy Tamara Thomas
Posted at July 21, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT
I was watching Voyager the other day and I found myself wishing that I was part of their journey. Imagine the exciting things that would happen all the time! Contact with aliens, observing the universe up close, never knowing what happens next. I even focused on the less esoteric parts of life on the Federation Starship Voyager. Ability seen as the determining factor for a position rather than age, sex, family connections or race. I noted the respect for other cultures and the effort put into preserving their distinctiveness and the reluctance to initiate violence.
The more I thought about it, my wish wasn't simply,`Gee I wish I had a life just like they have on TV'. It was, `I wish my world and society was driven by the ideals and goals that govern the world of Star Trek.'
In First Contact, Zefram Cochrane is told what his first warp journey means to Earth. Cochrane is informed that after years of war and destruction, our world and its people were given new purpose to work together in pursuance of the goal of space exploration.
`The world is too much with us, that's why we need to get away from it'
It seems that our world today is all about the little details. Going to work, taking the kids to school, buying the groceries. Our lives have shrunk to our immediate concerns, earning money, spending money. National governments are only concerned the political hot potato of the day. Internationally, countries squabble over trade right and territories. The Star Trek itself seems to be centred upon the gaining the consumer dollar rather than the bigger issues.
For all our supposed achievements, our world is self centred, soulless and totally lacking direction. I guess that is why I want to live in 24th century Star Trek.
In that world, people's lives are governed by a higher purpose. It is something that everyone benefits from and is involved with. Twenty fourth century humans judge others on ability, enjoy and respect cultural distinctiveness, believe in non-violent solutions and most importantly, work together to achieve a worthy goal, the expansion of knowledge and the exploration of the universe.
I believe that humans can achieve the life depicted in Star Trek.
It is time to take space exploration seriously. What is technically impossible today may be made possible with the talents and drive of everyone working together. During World War Two people and nations worked together in the pursuit of one goal. More scientific advances were made during that short amount of time than in the preceding one hundred years.
Traditionally we have been fascinated by exploration. Explorers feature in many cultures on Earth. We recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first exploration of the moon. The phenomenal interest in Star Trek itself demonstrates the widespread appeal of space exploration and human advancement.
If individuals and nations reactivated that sort of co-operation and fascination and directed their efforts to the goal of achieving the ability to explore space our world would change dramatically.
Instead of relegating space exploration and human societal advancement to fiction, these concepts could become reality.
An overarching goal has always been an inspiration for change in society. The goal of democracy has caused the world to convulse several times over. I believe the goal of space exploration would prompt a similar change in our society. Space exploration would require us to focus upon technological advancement rather than consumerism. Our mindset would be upon ability and respect for others as opposed to our current attitudes. Science and celebration of our culture would fill magazines rather than whose wearing what and how to lose weight in five days.
I hear people saying, `How will this help starving children in Africa, or the unemployment problem. Space exploration won't provide me with health care!' or `You sound like a communist, that is so passe.'
I would reply: the goal of space exploration coupled with the promulgation of respect for others and other tenets espoused by Star Trek create an atmosphere in which problems are solved by team work. Everyone working toward the goal of space exploration means everyone helping everyone else. Instead of being concerned about how you will obtain health care, everyone is concerned about how health care is provided for all so that the overall goal may be achieved. Instead of individuals energies being dispersed in the frenetic attempt to satisfy themselves, energy is directed to ensuring that the goal of space exploration is real for everyone.
As to being a communist, I assure you all that I maintain a healthy belief in the power of competition. In fact, I believe that competition is a way to kickstart the process of achieving the goals of space exploration and a the concurrent social revolution.
It won't happen over night, but it will happen
While this revolution sounds too good to be true, it is possible. In fact the beginnings of course already exist in the real world. The depiction of space exploration on Star Trek and the massive following of this world represent the core of a movement. Missions to Mars and other space programs provide a starting point. Most importantly, the current disillusionment with the world and its petty concerns provide a fertile place to plant a new idea. The world is waiting for a goal and Star Trek and space exploration can provide it.
Okay, so how can we as individuals help to initiate these goals? I think start up can be achieved by a two pronged process:
1. The promotion of the Prime Directive and the tenets of the Star Trek belief system. Identify what you think is really good about the beliefs of Star Trek and tell some one about it. Compare it to the guidance and rights that we currently have. Suggest improvements. Think about the big picture rather than you daily routine. Write a Prime Directive of your own. Think about what you would do in a first contact situation. Start viewing encounters you have with new people as encounters with aliens. Respect their culture and ideals, be sensitive to their rights and judge them on ability rather than their appearance.
2. Move the scientific world's emphasis back to achieving space exploration. Like the Planetary Society, hold design competitions. Ask people to think up news ways of propulsion. Even if you don't have a scientific background, your idea could prompt some one else to make it really work. Think about achieving the goal of space exploration during the day when you have nothing to do. Go to an observatory and imagine exploring the stars.
I urge people to fulfil the old adage `to boldly go where no man (person) has gone before.' I like to think of this place as a future where humans are known as great space explorers who are guided by worthy beliefs. Where I have a place on a Starship and consequently lead an amazing life.
Tamara Thomas is a new contributor to the Trek Nation.