Gene Roddenberry, Where is My Star Trek Future?

I want to know what happened to my Star Trek future. Gene Roddenberry promised us so much. We got communicator/cell phone; We got our PADD/iPad/Kindle etc; and a lot of other technologies look more possible every day. The trappings are nice, but where is my Star Trek social future? Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, likes to tell a story about a surprise visit from a fan that highlighted how important a black woman in Star Fleet was to 20th century America:

After a year with”Star Trek” as communications officer Lieutenant Uhura, she turned in her resignation. But at an NAACP event that weekend, she ran into King.

“One of the promoters came up and said someone wanted to meet me. He said he’s my greatest fan,” says Nichols, 78. “I thought it was some Trekker, some kid. I turned in my seat and there was Dr. Martin Luther King with a big smile on his face. He said, ‘I am a Trekker, I am your biggest fan.'”

At that point, Nichols thought of herself as just a cast member on the show and hadn’t fully grasped the racial implications of her part. She’d dealt with race all her life, of course, even on the set at Paramount, where a security guard hurled insults at her, but she hadn’t grasped the importance of an African-American woman having a position of respect on TV.

Nichols thanked King and told him she was leaving the show.

“He was telling me why I could not [resign],” she recalls. “He said I had the first nonstereotypical role, I had a role with honor, dignity and intelligence. He said, ‘You simply cannot abdicate, this is an important role. This is why we are marching. We never thought we’d see this on TV.'”

Nichols was at a loss for words. It was the first time the importance of being an African-American woman on television had sank in. She returned to “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry the next Monday morning and rescinded her resignation.

“He sat there and looked at me and said, ‘God bless Dr. Martin Luther King. Somebody does understand me,'” Nichols says.

This was supposed to be a society as envisioned by Gene Roddenberry, where prejudice is a thing of the past. White and black men and women can kiss now like Kirk and Uhura, and even get married but racism is far from dead, as our first black president – and Trayvon Martin - have discovered. Star Trek was full of alien species but on our Earth even human aliens can’t get respect. And where is the rest of it: the lack of prejudice, the tolerance of differing cultures, values and beliefs? And by the way, where the hell is my fact-based, scientifically-provable world?

I want to know, because right now, I’m hopping mad. We have all these wealthy and powerful corporations who should theoretically be able to give us the rest of our technology (or improve what we have) – along with a sustainable world – but they seem more interested in screwing us over in various and inventive ways while enriching themselves, and social conservatives have made Star Trek’s social reality a complete and utter balls up. Instead of science and tolerance we have superstition and prejudice.  We went from enlightenment to dinosaurs and humans palling around and an angry god killing us with tornadoes and other natural disasters. In Star Trek, they had a freaking “weather control net” for crying out loud. Can’t do that here, even if we develop the tech. Why? God wouldn’t like it. Can’t piss off God. I mean if God controls the weather, how can we dare try to control it? See where this thinking gets us? Not a better future, I can tell you that much.

We’re being held back and it’s probably a good thing Roddenberry isn’t here to see it. We had such high hopes. Who’d have thunk a bunch of medieval-minded bigots would shoot our chance at Utopia in the ass? I mean, who seriously prefers superstition to science? Who? What kind of person prefers an angry God to a scientifically provable explanation and understanding of meteorological phenomenon? Let’s face it, praying isn’t going to turn away a tornado anymore than prayers turned away the Heathen Vikings, but money spent on scientifically proven technology can at least warn us one is on the way. They don’t even want to spend money on that. They’d rather give it to rich people to put in foreign bank accounts (un-taxable) while they ship our manufacturing jobs overseas, and build big fancy megachurches and fancy houses for themselves. Rather than Utopia we find ourselves in a dark dystopian 13th century redux. Reaching the stars? Be happy if you can reach the corner market or afford anything when you get there.

I always thought the corporate future highlighted in the Alien movies was too dark and grim to ever become a reality. I was naïve, I suppose, but idealism isn’t a fault, whatever corporate sharks like Mitt Romney might think. Without idealism, we revert to Gilded Age gelding of our democratic process, of science, and individual human rights. Financial oligopoly and religious superstition are the enemy. Look what they’ve done in a few short years! That rot has already set in and we are now facing the consequences. We ain’t never going to get to the moon again at this rate, let alone to Mars or out of our solar system. Star Trek be damned at this point; I’d be happy to have a survivable planetary scenario and climate scientists are saying that is increasingly unlikely.

You’d at least think where religion is found some morality would be detectable but that is clearly not the case. NASA climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen correctly identifies global warming as a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery. Not that the Christ-driven GOP cares. Poor people can go to hell, as quickly as possible thank you very much, and their God will supposedly keep the planet from drowning us when we melt the polar ice caps. You don’t see them investing in Maldives real estate, however and scientists are now saying that some global warming effects are likely irreversible. According to a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, “it still would take 1,000 years or longer for the climate changes already triggered to be reversed.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait that long, and neither can my kids – or their kids. But you can trust a Bible written 2000 or more years ago – before anybody knew what science was – over modern climate scientists.

I’m just saying that on the FUBAR scale, 2012 America is busting through “10” to “11” and we are dragging others down with us. What happens when the world’s one remaining superpower throws off science for superstition and the rich make the Goth’s sack of Rome in 410 CE look like a Girl Scout field trip? Let’s face it; Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan weren’t as ruthlessly avaricious as our rich, and they rich are supposed to be on our side, not foreign invaders. The Black Death, were it to come back, might kill more of us than then the Republicans but even that’s not proven yet. If they win in 2012, all bets are off. If the effects of global warming don’t get us, lack of healthcare, lack of clean drinking water, lack of breathable air, lack of jobs and therefore of nutrition will – assuming the numerous wars they propose to wage don’t do the trick. History has never seen so many people hell-bent on self-destruction as these clowns.

Speaking of which, it’s amusing that they think Obama is raising the price of gasoline but declaring war on Iran won’t.

Hard to imagine Star Fleet being guilty of a miscalculation on that scale. But maybe that’s just because Gene Roddenberry was more intelligent – or ethical – than your average Republican.

And look, I know we’re not supposed to claim that their brains are different than ours or that they’re less intelligent and/or educated, but if it’s not stupidity, then it must be that they’re a bunch of rapaciously greedy bigots who hate humanity. Take your pick. I can’t think of a third option off the top of my head. Let me know if you do. I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if you can prove it to me – and an important proviso here: not through faith, but through fact. I’m not going to buy into your “pray away” schemes for all of our world’s ills. In 2000 years it hasn’t worked once; why would I believe it will now?

So look: I’m not an atheist. I likely believe in more gods than you do. I also have eyes and ears and a functioning brain and you won’t convince me a pile of wet steaming shit is anything I want trickled down on me, or that talking points are an adequate substitute for a valid argument, or wishful thinking superior to sober reflection of the facts on the ground. You may think I’m asking for too much but by my thinking I’m being magnanimous and far too forgiving. You’re f*cking up my world, my children’s world and their children’s’ world and this has got to stop. Even if the ends justified the means, as you seem to think, your ends suck as badly as your means.

So let’s have a test of faith: you pray, we’ll vote. Let’s give it a fair shot, okay? If you’re not willing to do that much then just admit that you really don’t have any faith yourself in our God or his alleged wishes and plans for America. We’ll meet again the day after Election Day. If you’re right and I’m wrong, I’ll become a freaking Christian and renounce my gods. But I’ve got a feeling I don’t have much to worry about on that score, because we all know how strong your faith is, don’t we? If you lose, then I get my Star Trek future, and you can just go straight to that hell you seem so determined to reach. Sound good?

22 Replies to “Gene Roddenberry, Where is My Star Trek Future?”

  1. I admit, as people who came of age in the early to mid-Sixties, my sister and I and our contemporaries find ourselves asking, “Where’s *our* Twenty-First Century? You know, the one with the pastel, airy buildings, the moving ways to travel on, the firefly lamps that turn on when you pet them from their own electrostatic charge, the hydroponic city farms feeding the world population nutritiously and tastily, the wise, witty, kindly, enlightened, free and equal people?” No, we didn’t bargain for this. They’re not even taking us back to the Nineteenth Century, when there was still unspoiled nature, herds of bison and flocks of passenger pigeons and a frontier where you could live unobserved, if you were willing to rough it. Fourteenth Century Europe, with its feudalism and overcrowding and superstition and Inquisition, but exacerbated by unlimited powers of surveillance and control- *that’s* more like what we’re facing now. And if we can’t turn it round, pity those generations to come, who won’t even know there’s a great future behind them.

  2. I think on it in a different light.

    It was less than 150 years ago that slavery of Africans was defeated, along with the states that wanted said slavery.

    It was less than a hundred years ago when the last slaves were sold in America (Native Americans in California).

    The racists in America retaliated – and brought back near slavery through Jim Crow and the Klan and persecuted my people near to death (we didn’t have the right to just EXIST until 1980).

    Then we had the Civil Rights era (undoing Jim Crow and pushing back the Klan)… 50 years ago and less. Women’s liberation. Sectarian prayers and forcing one religion in the schools were finally outlawed. Science took off and we started learning far more about humans (and evolution and …) than ever before. War became a distasteful moral and ethical problem for a lot more people than in the past.

    They’re pushing back again.

    There is evidence that the people we have problems with existed since cultures started showing evidence of stratification – millenia ago. They want everything for themselves and everyone else to be their slaves and servants (in other words, greedy and selfish). We humans have been fighting this battle for thousands of years. You read the prophets and teachers of many religions and you will find a common theme… that those types… the “Good Christians” as I call them, are the problem and their treatment of others is wrong (not only sin as understood in Christianity and Judaism, but outright moral evil).

    I admit I don’t know that much about the teachings of your faith, Hraf, but I suspect that it’s the same there as well… that the teachings against the despotism we see exists there just as it does in the teachings of Jesus and the Prophets (and in many other religions).

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is known in every religion and nearly every culture… as an indicator of the pinnacle of moral rightness. (The only cultures I know of -in Africa- where this isn’t the case have been so badly stressed and damaged by Eurocentric exploitation that they almost do not function.)

    I guess what I’m saying is that I DO see the progress, as well as the attempts to roll it back. As you know, I’m as pissed off at the evil people as anyone here… and fear a return of some form of Jim Crow (but for anyone not 1%). But I also see the progress… and it’s not a steady thing.

  3. …”I know we’re not supposed to claim that their brains are different than ours or that they’re less intelligent and/or educated…. Take your pick. I can’t think of a third option off the top of my head. Let me know if you do…”

    I’ve sent you a link of “evidence” of the 3rd option as to where the “brain trust” is taking us, the “youth”…go in to the 2 min mark.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MM12_UmUxw

  4. Having waded through Thinking: Fast and Slow; The Conservative Mind; and, just yesterday, The Republican Brain…

    I have the uneasy feeling that until older white males (and their female remoras) in the Republican Party have died or become outnumbered, we’re becalmed in the Horse Latitudes.

    What exactly do reasonable, peaceful people do with intransigent boobs who are wrecking everything, who have brains like rubber tires, repelling facts and ideas like so many BB pellets?

    Mere voting doesn’t seem to be getting the job done; the damage cracks from the 2010 election are spreading, and we’re going down unless we do something more effective. Condorcet lost. The Jacobins won. There’s a lesson in there somewhere…

  5. Ha! Well said. What’s so interesting is that even though we lament the abuses of Euro white-anglo saxon civilization in the last few centuries, white folks were the ones that were living in a tribal existence in the British Isles, France, ( or Gaul ), and Germany throughout most of civilizations history. They were so-called “barbarians”. The first great civilizations and empires were started by dark skinned people in Egypt and Mesopotamia; as well as writing, engineering, mathematics, and literature.

    This shows a couple of things: First, racists claims that civilization, with all it’s marvels and advancements is a primarily white Christian thing, is complete and utter B.S. Secondly, “those types” as you say have been a mind set throughout history regardless of culture and ethnicity.

    This mind set is something that can be changed. But there has to be an almost Star Trek like universal decision from humanityto pursue enlightened rationality.

  6. …”What exactly do reasonable, peaceful people do with intransigent boobs who are wrecking everything, who have brains like rubber tires, repelling facts and ideas like so many BB pellets?..

    What a great line and great question? The answer is I don’t know. My reason and logic says we are polar opposites on the species chain; but which of us is the mutant gene pool? I say “them”.

    I have been studying sociopaths as of late and have come to the conclusion that we as a society are not looking at this as a mental illness, as a disease, a mutant gene that creates “bad behavior”.

    Sociopaths make up about 5% of our population (considerable minority wouldn’t you say?). They’re MO is that they lack a “consciousness”; you can’t call them out as they “repel the facts like rubber BB’s”. In general terms, there are many different levels of sociopath ranging from the “charming” manipulative relative who lives off everyone endlessly by never taking on any adult responsibilities, to the violent-type, anti-socials like “shoot’m in the face” Dick Cheney…it never occurs to them that they may have done something that hurts others; they never feel your pain due to their lack of consciousness.

    There is no known cure for these “mutants”; they only thing that seems to work in this time/space continuum is to lock them up and keep them out of circulation. And that’s hard to do as they are masters of manipulation and escape artist; they are not “stupid”; everything they do is justifiable…

    Ask yourself; what if you could go around for one day and do what ever you wanted/felt like doing to others with no consciousness bothering you; would you shoot the neighbor’s barking dog or ram your car into something because it’s in your way? Would you lie after you stole something? In general terms, it’s all in a day’s work for a sociopath…they are literally getting away with murder.

  7. I suppose if I could be a sociopath for a day, I’d go around murdering sociopaths.

    They *are* different. Yet I do not know of a one whose childhood was not grossly abnormal and threatening, even filled with abuse and betrayal; frequently, some type of brain trauma, such as head injury, poisoning, or encephalitis was involved as well. Similarly, a sociopathic society can induce such behavior in adults who were previously normal. There may be a hereditary element, but even so, I believe it requires such triggering events to manifest.

    It does, nontheless, seem that these have been conflicting strains in human development as far back as we can trace, and perhaps further. Although I take a deal of Edgar Cayce with a good-sized grain of salt, he spoke of it, too.

  8. Don’t forget ours!

    We had the largest cities in the world at one time, and impressive earthworks when the first pyramids were being built (example – Poverty Point, Louisiana).

    We also had the longest trade networks in existence. Some of the earliest domesticated plants. Codified systems of laws (pre-Columbian and according to elders quite old). Some of the earliest examples of loom-woven cloth were found here (between 9,000 and 11,000 years old) – using a technique considered sophisticated and advanced by modern methods, a triploid weave. (Found at the Windover site in eastern Florida.) Many if not most foods eaten today are Native American in origin and were developed by my ancestors.

    (All done by tribal people, I might add. Being tribal is a good and positive thing – it means family and kinship connections are important.)

  9. Exactly!

    Those “things” were kids being lead by a
    “X-ian Pied Piper” who rids them of Satan via some “medium” (the girl with no face, just hair) who grunts, moans, shakes as she yells “syllables” to raise the “Kundalini” while the other kids pound on the drums to a frenzy…the “evidence” of the future lies in the hands of kids who want to play “Lord of the Flies” to rid themselves of “evil spirits”. Some day, these kids are gonna vote, drive cars and make more babies! Kiss humanity good bye-bye if this is “futuristic”.

  10. FYI…

    “One twin study suggests that psychopathy has a strong genetic component. The study demonstrates that children with anti-social behavior can be classified into two groups: those who were also callous acquired their behavior by genetic influences, and those who were not callous acquired it from their environment “The amygdala is crucial for stimulus-reinforcement learning and responding to emotional expressions, particularly fearful expressions that, as reinforcers, are important initiators of stimulus-reinforcement learning. Moreover, the amygdala is involved in the formation of both stimulus-punishment and stimulus-reward associations. Individuals with psychopathy show impairment in stimulus-reinforcement learning (whether punishment or reward based)and responding to fearful and sad expressions. It is argued that this impairment drives much of the syndrome of psychopathy.
    There is a strong genetic link and much evidence to support the idea that psychopathy is passed down and is biological.

    1. Psychopaths don’t have the same physiological responses to fear that constrain the behavior of normal people, such as rapid heartbeat,sweating, dry mouth, trembling and muscle tension.
    2. Psychopaths don’t have physiological responses to emotionally charged words such as “love” and “death” the way regular people do, suggesting that they process emotional stimuli differently.
    3. Adoption studies indicate that children can inherit psychopathic traits from a psychopathic parent even when they are raised by different parents.
    4. When compared to non-psychopaths, differences have been found in a number of brain chemicals among psychopaths.”

  11. A large number of Psychologists and Psychiatrists are of the opinion that sociopaths cannot be cured. If a sociopaths problem is a complete lack of empathy or feelings for others, what the hell are you supposed to do with that? How do you grow a conscience?

  12. I always say “where is my Jetson’s future”? The anti science right wingers are destroying our future so that the rich can get their tax cuts. They are destroying our educational system so they can dumb us down to control us with crumbs. They are destroying our college and Universities to make it that only rich people can get ahead with a higher degree. When are we going to fight back and say I want my Jetson or Star Trek future, because it looks like the Chinese and Indians will have it and we’ll become the third world neo debt slave nation.

  13. The so-called good Christians who pray on Sundays and prey on us the rest of the week. Heretics if what they are called.

  14. Unfortunately Roddenberry’s vision of the future didn’t take into account the fact that humans are woefully and willingly ignorant. James Cameron was more accurate in his vision of humanity, as stated by the T101 in “T2 Judgement Day”; “It is in your nature to destroy yourselves”.

  15. Johnee said…”A large number of Psychologists and Psychiatrists are of the opinion that sociopaths cannot be cured. If a sociopaths problem is a complete lack of empathy or feelings for others, what the hell are you supposed to do with that? How do you grow a conscience?…”

    There is no cure; no one seems to be looking for a way to correct whatever it is that needs correcting on a biological level. You cannot grow a ‘gene’ to implant in a sociopath so they can start to feel empathy or even nurture their off-spring (which would save future gens). The point I was messing around to get to was, Hraf is right–where is our future going when we have small minority of people who think life is “Shoots and Ladders”, consistently manipulate themselves to top positions (be it economical, spiritual or political)and reek havoc on the majority because they cannot connect with humans?

  16. Now don’t forget the universe that brought us Star Trek also envisioned the Eugenics Wars of the 1990’s that never happened (or at least were horribly over exaggerated by future historians) and World War Three should be coming along in about a decade and last for quite some time, ending in all but complete nuclear annihilation. Yes, my friends, that was also part of the Star Trek future vision. The unity of mankind came AFTER great cost.

    Actually, come to think of it, in the mythos of the Star Trek universe, mankind never really unifies until after first contact with Aliens is made. That should be in about 50 years.

    So the upside is the Eugenics Wars were really exaggerated by future historians and they weren’t so bad, WWIII will be along in about 10 years and will almost wipe us out. That will last for oh 25+ years. Then another 10 years til first contact and things will really begin to turn around!

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