How is America like Captain Kirk or Star Trek?

William Shatner as Captain Kirk - 60's TV

William Shatner as Captain Kirk – 60’s TV

OK, that sounds ridiculous on its face. Comparing America to a fictional TV & movie character seems preposterous.
I have to assume something from the beginning with you;
a – you know about the Star Trek series and who is Captain Kirk.
b – you’ve either read or heard items related to the demise of America.

Let’s examine some of the background before making this comparison and produce maybe a smile or two along the way. Captain Kirk was originally played by actor William Shatner for a Television series based on a book written by a former Los Angeles police officer, Gene Roddenberry.  Roddenberry wrote scripts as a freelance writer for Highway Patrol, Have Gun–Will Travel and other TV shows, before creating and producing his own series The Lieutenant. In 1964, Roddenberry created Star Trek, which premiered in 1966 and ran for three seasons before being canceled. Every week the crew of the star ship Enterprise sought new places to go and new problems to solve with an authority only made possible by the captain of The Enterprise, James T. Kirk. The premise of the show was principally focused on the exploration by a crew in a large space ship with faster than light travel capability which faced enemies and danger where ever it went. Although one of their prime directives were to avoid tampering, altering, interfering with other intelligent beings and cultures, they seemed to be brought into circumstances which warranted action and sometimes conflict with that directive.

The action and danger sequences usually call upon the resourcefulness of the entire crew but most centrally on Captain Kirk. In a recent interview of William Shatner he had this to say about himself which sort of defined the character he portrayed for 3 seasons and 6 movies. “I’m good at figuring out problems and solutions to problems. I sometimes see things that I can solve right away, I get a whole picture. I think there’s a conscious aligning of the facts and seeing what there is in common, so that you take divergent things that would apparently be unrelated, and find a relationship.” Shatner has seen his fair share of grief, disappointment and heartache. His first marriage ended in a divorce than left him living out of his car, and his second ended when his wife tragically drowned in their pool. He’s had squabbles with some of his leading co-stars and has sometimes put his foot in it as an attempt to patch things up.

There are three basic idealistic concepts spawned from the Star Trek series.

1 – People of all nationalities learned to get along with each other. This included leadership roles for both genders, multi-racial and even people from other other planets (Spock).
2 – Creative solutions to any problem can be found if logic and morality are followed though difficult to see at the time.
3 – Science and invention pave the way to enhance, explore, communicate, protect and understand other cultures.

Every time a seemingly overwhelming problem developed, ingenuity combined with a bit of luck and unstoppable confidence, helped get the Enterprise crew out of a serious jam.

So how does this relate to America as a country and the premise of Captain Kirk? Let’s start this proposition with a question. Is America in decline? A book, not unlike several others I’ve seen over the years addresses that question from a religious viewpoint. Can America Survive?  Author – Dr. John C. Hagee

He sees “seeds of tragedy” being sown in the winds of political correctness and disastrous financial decisions that push America to the edge of bankruptcy and beyond. Decisions that cause America’s bond holders to advocate for a new benchmark currency which would mean the death of the dollar. Such an action would push America into the abyss of bankruptcy and be the downfall of the United States.

He suggests believing in this Bible text, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

He also goes on to talk about the book of Revelations and a final conflict called Armageddon. I often find those who portray future doomsday prophecies based on the Bible will incorporate Revelations. It’s one of those texts which are so dour in prediction, chronologically unspecific and written vague enough so multiple interpretations are possible.

As the saying goes, I wish I had a dollar, for every minister, futurist and author that has come up with the idea the United States or the entire world is on it’s last breath or two and our only hope is to follow their prescriptive remedy.

I’m not trying to pick on Dr. Hagee specifically however, he represents ideas and thoughts that have been expressed before. The Late Great Planet Earth was an apocalyptic book written by Hal Lindsey in 1970, later turned into a movie in 1979. In his book, Genesis, Chronicles, Micah, Daniel, Matthew, James, and Mark all called upon to support his ideas on what’s going to happen to this earth. As does Dr. Hagee, Lindsey uses the current problems of the day, famine, pollution, the destructive potential of war, and possibilities of natural and semi-natural hazards such as earthquakes, weather catastrophes, and the destruction of the ozone layer. All of these calamities either tie together in one huge catastrophic destructive effort to bring on a final war or the earth becomes uninhabitable.

Destruction seems inevitable according to these authors and hundreds of other lesser known doomsday prophets. God who apparently created the whole universe just to play out this scenario will sit back as all of his creations are destroyed or as Dr. Hagee predicts, all the good people will be uplifted through an event commonly called the rapture and the rest are stuck in whatever future calamity awaits.

Now some people might think this is just too much to believe however, after listening to the media about global warming, monetary crisis, riots, terrorists, guns in schools and sequestration due to budget cuts, secularists will find many things to fret over as well. This isn’t because there aren’t real and serious problems to solve or evidence of moral concerns here and elsewhere but, look at our history. We have had several major financial upheavals, yes there have been others besides the latest recession or the 1929 start of the depression. We have had a revolutionary war, civil war, global wars and decidedly ugly riots in the streets. Each time some catastrophic weather phenomenon occurs, Eco-advocates predict dire consequences if we don’t create new laws to restrict carbon emissions. Whenever someone goes on a rampage and uses firearms to kill innocent people, the gun-control advocates insist only new laws will save us. Then we have had political leadership which said we must pass major health care legislation or the entire population of the U.S. will see increasingly higher medical costs and only the wealthy will be able to have coverage. Never mind what’s in the proposed bill because after we pass it we’ll know what’s in it.

Captain Kirk - William Shatner 1980s

Captain Kirk – William Shatner 1980s

What’s common about all of these disasters and problems? Observe those who  find a platform and advocate their cause suggesting they have the answers. Analyze the results of their solution. Do they follow their own rhetoric or do they use it to advance their popularity? See how these religious leaders sell books, achieve great notoriety and make money from their orations. The same thing occurs with many politicians, some of whom have left office, warn us about disastrous global warming while flying around on private jets and own businesses which derive profits from carbon offsets. There are also those referred to as preppers, a newer name for survivalists that for years have listened to the Hal Lindsey’s, or others such as Howard Ruff. Newer people have come along and sell everything from pre-packaged foods to survival shelters.

All of them seem to forget the one thing that has always prevailed. We are a nation with a lot of Kirks, Spocks, Sulus, Chekovs, McCoys and Uhuras for role models. Perhaps not on such a dramatic scale but they’re the ones who have worked hard to understand and solve problems, set precedence in culture, equality, creativity, design and in short inspired others toward new invention and further scientific achievement.

In summary, we have problems and they can’t be minimized but if we continue to work at solutions, work within our communities and build bridges of understanding between ourselves, then we will be following the example of a seemingly simple sci-fi show into the 21st century and beyond. Gene Roddenberry said it well. “I laid out a pathway, and then the only thing I will take credit for is, I surrounded myself by very bright people who came up with all those wonderful things. And then you can appear very smart.”

 Star Trek cast - space shuttle Enterprise

Original Star Trek cast standing by the space shuttle Enterprise

America’s problems are at their core a moral dilemma with lack of logical direction, as are those of Iran, North Korea, Israel, Russia, China, etc. They will not be solved with threats, missile bases, currency devaluations or economic sanctions. They can’t be legislated into action either. The voting public in America has to become educated and sufficiently sophisticated to choose better leaders, based not on how they smile, shake hands or give speeches. They need to be as qualified as any responsible person in the private sector. It’s going to take the courage of several Captain Kirks (men & women) to make decisions which won’t necessarily be popular but set a course for a more dynamic future.

Above all else, reject the idea we are on a crash course to doomsday and only some mystical all powerful supernatural being is going to get us out of this mess. We should dismiss these men (or women) who rake in millions as purveyors of the supernatural or those that live like tycoons while advocating we drive electric vehicles or limit the amount of toilet paper we use. We need to roll up our collective sleeves and solve our problems and reject these charlatans.