(I didn't think about how my new short, haircut looks like Mr. Spock's until the Spock doll where I'm housesitting suggested I brush my bangs forward... If I'd dye it shoe-polish black, even more.)
This morning, I sent off this message my Russian Trek friend had asked me to write to go along with my video. This is my third attempt to write something that doesn't sound like a pompous pronouncement from the United Nations. I think it still sounds a bit strangled, but it's sincere, anyway...
Dear Star Trek Family, Russian Branch:
A couple months ago, I got a message on youTube from Capt. J. L. Paparazzzzi asking if she could translate my autobiographical Star Trek video into Russian. She wanted to show it at this year's Russian Star Trek convention, and she asked me to write a few words to you all.
I live in the United States, and I was thrilled by what she wrote about my video: "It's wonderful that people on the other side of the planet feel the same way."
That's a message right out of Star Trek itself. We human inhabitants of Planet Earth do feel the same way, basically, despite our infinite diversity.
If you looked at us from outer space at this time in our history, you might not know this. But you'd know it if you looked at a convention of Star Trek fans, even though some of us would be painted blue and wearing antennae on our heads.
Speaking of antennae, the Star Trek "family" reminds me of an article I read about the spread of Argentine ants. These ants used to live only in South America, but modern human transportation has allowed them to build super-colonies around the world. These ants are territorial and very aggressive toward other ants. However, when scientists put together Argentine ants from super-colonies on different continents, instead of fighting each other, the ants recognized one another as family. They didn't fight each other but instead rubbed antennae together in friendly greeting.
I hope Capt. J. L. won't mind if I say that working on the translation with her has been like waving our antennae at each other. Of course, just because we are the same species doesn't mean it's always easy to communicate. We e-mailed back and forth several times, trying to find the right words. What, for instance, did I mean by saying Spock was "a pill"? How could we translate a quote from the Bible for people who might not recognize it the way many Americans would?
Or maybe I should say we were like Uhura at her communications console. We've come closer to having Star Trek-like technology in the past fifty years, since the first human went into space. As Russians, you probably know that when Yuri Gagarin fell to Earth after that historic space flight, he told the first people he met, a farmer and her daughter, that he had to "find a telephone to call Moscow!" I only recently heard that quote, and I laughed to think that now regular folks carry the equivalent of Captain Kirk's communicator every day.
Star Trek has been right about a lot of its predictions. But I hope it will be wrong about others: I hope we won't have to play out Star Trek VIII: First Contact and half-destroy ourselves before we finally get our act together.
I'm not sure Vulcans will come to our rescue, like in that movie, but I do believe it's people with Star Trek-like philosophies who will help avoid the stupidity of global destruction. In fact, Trekkies want to offer the antenna of peace and fellowship to all life-forms, not just ones that look like us. Two of my favorite Star Trek episodes are about that: "The Devil in the Dark" (1967), from The Original Series, and "The Measure of a Man" (1989), from The Next Generation.
In the first, as you know, Spock mind-melds with the Horta--a life-form that looks like a pepperoni pizza--and discovers she's an intelligent being protecting her children from humans who were thoughtlessly destroying her eggs. Once the Horta and the humans can communicate, they work together peacefully.
And in "The Measure of a Man," you remember, Captain Picard has to defend the android Data's right to self-determination against a prosecutor who proclaims, "Data is a toaster."
In a chilling speech, Picard's friend Guinan points out to the captain that there have always been "disposable creatures" who have no rights.
Spock, Picard--and all of Star Trek--argue that there are no "disposable creatures." There are no "ants" who are not part of our interconnected family on Earth. In fact, Star Trek says, Let's get out our antennae and wave them like mad at the Universe, trusting that we will find members of our family out there too.
Thanks to Capt. J. L. for translating the video. Our work together gives me hope that Star Trek was right about humanity's peaceful future. I hope you enjoy "Star Trek, My Love."
Live long and prosper!