Posted on December 3, 2010


“Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved over 800 lives, including yours. I challenge you to do better.” – Pike

The other day I watched the 2009 Star Trek movie again. I was moved in the same spots that I was when I saw it in the theater (George Kirk’s sacrifice, Pike’s challenge to Jim Kirk, Spock Prime talking about how important his friendship with Kirk was). Afterward, I got to thinking about why we bother. I mean, why are there still Trekkies? Why do we still talk about a show that originally aired over forty years ago? 1966 brought us Batman, Dark Shadows, The Time Tunnel, The Monkees, Mission: Impossible, and Rocket Robin Hood. Actually, that’s pretty impressive. Three of those series have had movies recently, and Dark Shadows rumors float around all the time (and it was revived, briefly, in 1991). Still, if I talk about Mission: Impossible fans, you don’t get the mental picture that you do when I talk about Trekkies.

One of the reasons that I thought about it so much is because I’m starting to enjoy Star Trek: The Next Generation. I won’t say how old I was when TNG started, or when it ended. I remember being excited about being present for the start of the next chapter in Star Trek TV history (I never saw the original series in prime time, only in syndication). I also remember being disappointed. Many of my friends who were Trekkies swore to me that the show improved in later seasons. I certainly enjoyed the Next Gen movies. However, recently, BBC America started showing TNG after BBC World News America, which I watch, and I just left the TV on.

After some thought, I came to a conclusion that will surprise no fans of the franchise, but might enlighten people who were never into the show or the movies. Gene Roddenberry created a world of optimism, equality, freedom, and rationality. He populated it with people who exemplified courage, loyalty, and friendship. Even if we have never lived in such a world or experienced such people, those values resonate with us. Intentionally or not, Gene Roddenberry created a world and characters that can inspire us. When TNG is at its best, it demonstrates the same qualities as the original series – camaraderie, friendship, curiosity, loyalty, courage, optimism, and faith that technology, rationality, and communication can resolve any issue.

So today I’ll leave you with a question: Where do you find inspiration?