Why, almost 50 years after it first came on TV, does Star Trek refuse to be gone? I think that a huge part of the continuous appeal can be found in our many real and current problems, both monetary and environmental.
Star Trek, dissimilar to current science fiction, is grounded in a hopeful view of the future, one where the infinite possibilities of existence reside. A future in which science and reason will prevail over superstition. A future where technology could be built to address any challenge.
Many aspects of this vision were, and still are, extremely unrealistic. It was interesting that everyone on board the Starship was proficient to do complex quantum theory calculations when needed and engineers could resolve any technological problem in less than 60 minutes.
In the real world, former President Obama spoke out about the need to base decision-making on concrete science and acknowledge the real need to use scientific and engineering to address the serious environmental and energy challenges facing us.
For the first time in human history, we face Star Trek-like issues, like global warming to declining energy resources. Will we have the intelligence to move toward a Star Trek future, where we all join to accomplish a common goal while keeping respect for individual cultures? Will humans ultimately reject the religious myths that separate us and get in the way, truthfully addressing the world around us?
I don’t mean to imply that Star Trek shows a world free of conflict and emotions. After all, it is the conflict between Kirk and Spock over what is logical versus what is right that moves much of the action. But Star Trek eventually presents a world in which human emotions and reason can peacefully live together. We could learn a lot about how to function in this world together by watching how Capt. Kirk and his crew function in their make-believe “world.”