“I am pleased to see that we have differences.
May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.”
-Surak of Vulcan, Star Trek: TOS, episode #77, “The Savage Curtain”
There are few pop culture phenomena that serve to shine a light on the value of relationships and our connection to one another more cogently than Star Trek. The show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, believed that what made the show so successful was its emphasis on interpersonal connections. Early in 1970 he wrote, “We believed that the often-ridiculed mass audience is sick of this world’s petty nationalism and all its old ways and old hatreds, and that people are not only willing but anxious [sic] to think beyond most petty beliefs that have for so long kept mankind divided.” This statement explains the reasoning behind the fundamental sameness of the many diverse beings in the Star Trek Universe. No matter how vast space may be, no matter how far we must travel to reach one another, at the core we all share… something. Even in the fantastical world of science fiction, there is the theme of Oneness at the center. (Would that our current political climate reflected this appreciation…)
While sameness resonates from the core of the saga, Star Trek also manages to highlight the significance of our differences. Characters representing myriad facets of the human psyche encounter each other, interact, and often form strong bonds because of how their disparate individual strengths serve to complement those of the others. There is an emphasis on interdependence, appreciation, and the importance of relationships to see us through difficult times.
Again, from Gene Roddenberry: “If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.” Star Trek’s creators are urging audiences to be united in appreciation of each other because of our differences, rather than in spite of them.
Imagine if we were to each devote the time and energy to being aware of our connection – our Oneness – while at the same time understanding that our differences are actually an element of strength in our relationships – enabling us to complement and support one another in times of stress and hardship… We might actually achieve a world in which we can all truly Live Long and Prosper.
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