News and Tribune

June 13, 2013

MAY: ‘Star Trek’

By TOM MAY
Local columnist

Its five-year mission was to boldly go where no man had gone before. And boldly go it did. The original television series created by Gene Roddenberry has had an incredible impact upon culture. It was the first series to feature a multicultural and multiracial cast, and was among the first to present an interracial kiss between its characters.

Although the original series only lasted three years (1966-1969), the “Star Trek” media franchise is a multibillion dollar industry currently owned by CBS. It has spawned an animated series, four new television adventures, feature films, comic books and video games. In addition, the “Star Trek” logo has been placed upon just about everything that can be marketed and sold.

The franchise has inspired current technologies, including the Palm PDA and the handheld mobile phone. Michael Jones, chief technologist for Google Earth, has indicated that the tricorder’s mapping capability was the driving force behind the development of today’s mapping software. NASA named its prototype space shuttle after the Enterprise.

We are in the midst of looking at some of our heroes — especially the ones that are being featured in this summer’s blockbuster movie offerings. Are there lessons we can learn from the crew of the Enterprise? What characteristics of Kirk, Spock and McCoy are worth imitating in our own lives?

The two most recent movies, “Star Trek,” released in 2009, and “Star Trek Into Darkness” which opened just weeks ago, were directed by J. J. Abrams. Abrams confessed before the first movie that he really had never been a “Trekkie.” But his approach to the story and the characters made you believe that they were his age-old friends. From lines and circumstances gingerly lifted from old scripts to a Tribble sitting on a desk, Abrams showed a loyalty and respect that even the most die-hard Trek fan had to appreciate.

The theme of loyal friendship has long been a thread woven into the “Star Trek” tapestry. There may be no more moving tribute to the importance of loyalty than found in the scene portraying the death of Mr. Spock from the movie “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.” 

In order to save the entire crew of the Enterprise, Spock goes into a highly charged radiation chamber to fix malfunctioning equipment. As Spock lies on the floor of the chamber, Kirk comes to the glass wall and speaks to his dying friend. Spock assures Kirk that his death should not be one that causes grief, because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. Spock then looks up to Kirk’s eyes and whispers, “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”

Loyalty catches our attention because it is so rare today. Companies are not loyal to employees; employees leave a company in a heartbeat to pursue better opportunities. Entire communities are angered when athletes sign with another team. Zig Ziglar once said that “the foundation stones for balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.”

Loyalty is defined as being faithful or devoted to a person, group or cause. Loyalties may differ in strength or in duration. Real life tells us that some loyalties may be legitimate, while others may not. Do we have a loyalty that trumps all others? 

Rich Mullins, in his contemporary Christian song, “If I Stand,” penned the lyrics, “There’s a loyalty that’s deeper than mere sentiment; And a music higher than the songs that I can sing; Stuff of earth competes for the allegiance; I owe only to the Giver of all good things.” Today’s hero understands that when we are ultimately loyal to the Creator, the relationships with others and the priorities of this life will obediently fall into place.

Live long and prosper.