When the Star Trek came out, in 1966, I was 10. I was interested in it, but I was more interested in Apollo and the Moon. When I was in college from 74-78, it was on in re-run and we tended to watch most of the shows, entertained by the imagined technology as well as the short skirts and scantily clad "alien" women -- Star Trek didn't ONLY push the envelope on racial and social issues!
Yet again, I'm struck by the incongruity of Nimoy passing at a time nearly 50 years later and finding the US unable to put a person in orbit at all, with the last trip to the Moon having been Apollo 17 in December of '72 as I approached the halfway point of my sophomore year or high school!
It is difficult to separate youth from thoughts of potential, unlimited horizons and bright outlook for the future, but here is an easy contrast. The Wright brothers first flew on December 17 1903, on October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, and on May 2nd, 1952 less than 50 years later the first commercial jet flight took off. By 70 years later, we had made six successful Moon landings, but in the nearly 50 years since, we have not been back, and in fact at this point lack the capability in the US of being able to put a man into earth orbit.
Star Trek was and is popular because unlike the vast vast bulk of future projection -- both scientific and social, it is fairly utopian as opposed to dystopian. Rather than assuming that mankind would be snuffed out by nuclear bombs, plague, war, or some other combination of greed, violence, stupidity, or as appears to be the case, just giving up. Star Trek asserted that humans would continue to work, innovate, explore, risk, and eventually spread out into the galaxy. It was optimistic.
So far, we have managed to retreat on the space front in the near 50 year span at which our war posture would have to be called "peace" relative to WWI, WWII and Korea that marred the time from 1903-1969. The Moon landings may well be remembered as our "high water mark" in the sense of Lee at Cemetery Ridge, Hitler at Stalingrad, or the USSR in Afghanistan.
Who is "our"? -- unfortunately, it would be Western Civilization, with the USA having been the nation that carried the torch to where it was dropped. A nation and civilization that decided as many had before that concerns at home, political battles over a barely growing economic pie, and comfort for the dying embers of a once great land are more important than exploration, advancement, innovation, competition -- and yes, challenge, sacrifice, and the never certain quest for glory.
So, in the spirit of Jimmy Carter, rather than reaching for the stars, we seek to make less bother of ourselves to the planet. A quiet future, attempting to bother no one, potentially even finding jobs for wayward Jihadis as a sop to those less educated on the proper role for man to play in this universe.
"Live Long and Prosper" -- we shall do neither, as we have lost the life spirit that enables the best in humanity and have traded it for the insanely regressive. Perhaps, to paraphrase the Klingon, Spock picked a good time to die!
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