What Star Trek Can Still Teach Us About Social Justice

Throughout my life, no matter what transitions I've gone through, there has always been one constant: I am a huge nerd, and with Star Trek Beyond now out on Blu-Ray and DVD, I couldn't be more excited for my next paycheck.

From cell phones, to natural language queries, tablet computers, and more, an occasionally shocking number of the many modern technologies and conveniences we often take for granted could fairly be said to have taken their imaginative roots right from many of the familiar sci-fi gadgets of our favorite episodes of the series.

For many, it showed us a universe beyond our imaginations, in a way that felt almost real enough to reach out and touch.

It showed us a world where our differences existed, and were acknowledged, but also celebrated. Members of different nationalities, ethnicities and genders were treated as equals. It was a world where struggles for personal gain and prestige had been put aside for the common good of humanity, and an end to intraspecies conflict had brought about an age in which scientific endeavors were every bit as important and well funded as our nations' militaries are today if not more so.

We got to see strong female characters, One of the many feminist touches we can actually, believe it or not, most likely thank none other than Ms. Lucille Désirée Ball for, and, thanks to Nichelle Nichols, even women of color in bridge and command positions. Captain Kirk taught us that being a ladies’ man and fighting for women’s reproductive rights are not mutually exclusive, and in the case of my personal favorite series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, fans on the autism spectrum were given a character to relate to in the form of Lt. Cdr. Data, LGBT fans were given an early attempt at addressing our issues in the season 5 episode “The Outcast,” and we were all shown a future in which poverty and hunger had essentially been eradicated from human society.

Perhaps most importantly, it showed us a society we could all learn to strive for if we put aside all of our institutionalized biases, self interest, and greed, and actually learned to see each other as human, not by having to erase our differences in order to do so, but by celebrating them, and recognizing each other as equals, and siblings on our journey through the universe.

Unfortunately, for all of our technological advances, much of what was science fiction then is still science fiction now, and even as NASA is right now discussing the theoretical possibility of real life warp drives, it saddens me to look around and see a world where a racist, misogynist carrot could become our president elect, and find myself left with the disheartening realization that the world of equality, true social justice, and human siblinghood all of my favorite childhood memories of the series led me to believe in may very well be even farther from our grasp than the stars if something doesn't change soon.

And unlike building the Enterprise-D, this is something we are actually capable of, right here, right now, today. We just have to be willing to open up to one another, and learn to love each other for our differences instead of hating each other for the things we don't understand yet.

And to be honest, as much as the chance for humanity to meet an alien civilization before I die seems pretty freaking cool, the chance for us to actually be a civilized race ourselves before we get there would be a whole hell of a lot cooler.

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