I didn’t watch the original run of Star Trek with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and crew, as I was just a bit too young. But in those days there were plenty of reruns and I watched each and every episode. Like so many people, it was clear that while the show was a bit campy, silly, and preachy, creator Gene Roddenberry was presenting his preferred vision of the future. While the characters were multi-racial and multi-ethnic (not to mention what Earthlings would call aliens in the crew), there was a decidedly American viewpoint to the entire series. See above for campy, silly and preachy.
The world of Star Trek was set in the year 2364 “and beyond”. The series depictions included a universe that was both at times beautiful and terrible. One of the things that always struck me as interesting was the choice that Captain Kirk made frequently to have his crew “Set Phasers to Stun” as opposed to kill. The characters had the choice to disobey but as far as I recall that NEVER happened. Talk about restraint!
What I also found interesting was that humans that were ‘stunned’ by Star Trek Phasers (yes I always wanted one of my own), never came back for vengeance against he (or she) who ‘stunned’ them. Clearly Mr. Roddenberry had a thing for creative license. And a more genteel future than what was going on in 1966 when the series was made. There was a whole lot of moralizing going on in Star Trek. And I loved it.
The year 2364 is 347 years from now. Putting on the rose-colored glasses for a moment, wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where people could defend themselves and immobilize personal threats, without ending someone else’s life? Unrealistic you say? Vengeance is a very strong emotion and restraint (in general) is something we human beings struggle with every day.
It disturbs me to think that somehow 347 years from now people will have available to them more powerful and capable weapons to carry around under the auspice of protecting themselves. Vaporizers are so clean and efficient. Aim, fire and poof – the threat is removed. No mess, no fuss. Impossible?
Could that really be our future?