A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted September 8th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
With those words – narrated by Canadian-born actor William Shatner who played the starship’s captain, James T. Kirk, and heard for the first time by
millions of television viewers across North America 50 years ago this first full week of September – a fascination with Star Trek was lunched that (through reruns of the original show and through its many TV and movie sequels) has captivated legions of ‘Trekkies’ around the world to this day.
In all of the Star Trek shows and movies, one of the major attractions has been the endless parade of mysterious life forms (with not just a few looking very much like ourselves) that the crew of the Enterprise would encounter on those “strange new worlds” they explored in our solar system and beyond.
Yet when our minds come back from those other-world fantasies and adventures, what is vitally important to remember is this. …
Going back at least as far as Galileo and his primitive telescope more than four centuries ago, when we first began scanning the stars above us – and going back through all of the more than five decades of firing capsules, shuttles, and orbiting satellites and telescopes and of sending un-manned robots to probe outer reaches of our solar system, so far this is the only planet in of the vast darkness of space that supports the survival of life as we know it, including our own.
So far as we know, after all of the trillions of dollars spent on high-tech space exploration, this is the only oasis capable of making a home for a diversity of life in the universe, and look at what we’ve been doing to it.
Look at all of the poison we continue spewing into our earth’s air and waters, and all of the plants and trees we continue to mow down, along with the creatures that make them their home.
Right here in our own Niagara region, more than 80 per cent of the forest, savannah and wetlands have been seriously degraded or destroyed over the past couple of centuries. And if that’s not enough, and right now we have a board full of bozos running an agency, paid for with our public tax money and disguising
itself as a “Conversation Authority, hatching schemes in concert with some of the most unimaginative and backward thinking planners and builders on the planet to blow away even more natural places to make way for more urban sprawl.
While I’ve been thinking about the anniversary of Star Trek and what, collectively, we humans have been doing to this star we live in a few quotes come to mind.
There is this one from the remarkable mind of Stephen Hawking – “I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.”
If you want something a little more down home, there is this one from one of my favourite old hippies Willie Nelson – “The water and air on Earth are being adversely affected by our bad habits. We are fucking up our home…damn, are we dumb.”
Finally, here is something beautiful I read this past July in Vanity Fair, a magazine that contains far more interesting content than some give it credit for. It is a short statement shared by the legendary singer Tony Bennett on the occasion of his 90th birthday about how inspired he was when he first cast eyes on a photo of our Earth, taken from space in 1972 by the crew of Apollo 17.
Tony Bennett’s statement goes like this –
“All my life I’ve been a humanist. But what really put this into focus for me was the day, 44 years ago, when I saw this photograph for the first time: our planet Earth, taken from outer space. I remember being so captivated, thinking about what it must have been like to frame the entire world between two fingers. What a perspective. All the tribulations, the wars, the prejudice—and everything that divides us—simply melt away when you realize that we’re all together on one planet and that every problem should have a solution. As Ella Fitzgerald used to say to me, ‘Tony, we are all here.’ ”
So as millions around our world celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek’s first show, always remember that when the crew of the Enterprise completed its journeys, it always looked forward to coming home to the blue and the green we have that makes the miracle of life, as we know it, possible.
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