Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek: What it Taught me about Respect for all Life Forms
I’m not exactly a Trekkie, because I don’t go to conventions or argue over the nuances of Vulcan culture (lol) but I loved and was deeply influenced by this beloved show (I’m particularly talking about the original series and the movies with the original cast members, although Chris Pine as Captain Kirk is worth watching. Frequently.). 😀
It’s the 50th anniversary of the series that broke new ground and was far ahead of it’s time (no pun intended).
Star Trek crushed stereotypes, envisioning mankind as having evolved not just technologically, but emotionally, intellectually, and, perhaps most importantly, philosophically.
Despite the somewhat overblown acting of one of the cast members (I would use my 9-year-old -and may I add ridiculously high-pitched- voice at the time to do a Captain Kirk impression to crack my sister up constantly), the show was one of a kind and absolutely a place no television series had gone before (I’m sorry, I felt compelled to say that). 😛
The creator, Gene Roddenberry, was clearly a visionary and genius. He gave us hope that in the future mankind would finally become a being who respected others, regardless of color, gender, age, religion or even species.
And here lies the reason I’m blogging about Star Trek in an animal advocacy post: It’s not thought of as an animal rights show, but if you give it a little thought you’ll realize it actually was ahead of it’s time with regards to animals, as well as humans and human-like creatures.
There is the 1986 movie launched out of the original series that dealt with a problem encountered in a future earth due to the extinction of the humpback whale as a result of man’s cruelty and greed (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).
But I’m going to go to the original series itself for one of the most powerful animal advocacy themes of all: a plot that involved a bizarre underground creature who was destroying mining crew members.
“The Devil in the Dark” was an episode of the first season of Star Trek that aired back in March of 1967.
Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew visited a mining colony to help the miners deal with a mysterious creature responsible for the deaths of 50 people and the destruction of a great deal of valuable equipment.
Most of the folks in the colony – including Kirk after the death of one of his ill-fated red-shirted crew members – wanted the creature killed, but Spock wanted the seemingly one-of-a-kind critter spared.
When they discovered that the creature was a silicon-based sentient life form known as the Horta, they realize that they misunderstood an entity that was not a true enemy at all.
The Horta only wanted to protect its eggs.
It was Leonard Nimoy’s favorite episode:
“I thought was a wonderful episode about the fear of the unknown, how we fear and even hate something that we don’t know anything about. Learn who your enemy is and maybe that is no longer your enemy.”
My young mind not only absorbed the lesson about fear of the unknown in general (as in fear of people who are different from us), but the display of compassion for and drive to understand the creature that Spock’s character modeled resonated with my own spirit.
The Horta wasn’t a monster to be mercilessly killed, she was a mother protecting her young.
She was a being that deserved respect and mercy.
Spock was the Horta whisperer. 😀