Tuesday, November 13, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 59


'Star Trek' reflects human progress

Michael Ahlf

Star Trek meant a lot to me growing up. I had access to all the original episodes, and watched them quite often. I loved Next Generation
throughout its duration, as well as Deep Space Nine. Now the new series based on Gene Roddenberry's vision has finally hit. 

In a very serious way, Star Trek has affected America's history. One of our test-space shuttles (the OV-101), which never actually went to space
but served as a test bed for equipment, was named Enterprise.

Star Trek was the host of the first interracial kiss on television, and each series had a habit of paralleling important issues into one show or

Star Trek is unique. It has been the one show on TV in which humanity is idealized and humbled at the same time. In the Star Trek universe,
humanity has gotten beyond the pettiness of economics and racial politics and has united to go off into the galaxy.

Wherever we go, there is something unknown, something more powerful, something new to understand. It's a very sobering lesson mirroring
today's reality: We have attained so much, but still have such a long way to go.

I am actually pleased with Enterprise. Those who expected to see the utopian ideals of the Federation from the Next Generation may not like it,
but I do because it's closer to us.

Enterprise is set as humanity literally reaches out to the stars. Humanity has figured itself out ­ racial differences don't matter among the crew. On
the other hand, there's a definite animosity to the "high and mighty" Vulcans, since humanity views them as having held back aid and help in
getting to the stars. The ship is cramped, not always sparkling, and the medicine isn't as great as other series'. The technology is unwieldy at times,
though it gets its job done.

The universe of Enterprise isn't exactly clean either. There are hostile aliens, there are those that are just hard to communicate with, and unlike
every other series, we are under-gunned compared to the rest of the galaxy. But there are a few things that even this series has to teach us.

First of all, humanity works at its best when we work together. That ship wouldn't run without all its crew giving their best effort. Second, the crew of
Enterprise recognizes that they are out there to learn, and to expect the unexpected.

Most important, however, is the message of hope. The Star Trek series, and Enterprise in particular, should mean something to us. They're not
about present events, though the scripts will sometimes mirror important issues. It's about humanity at its best, that we not only get to the stars, but
we go beyond, and we're still around hundreds of years from now.

Gene Roddenberry died on Oct. 24, 1991, but he left something behind we can still look forward to. Thanks.

Ahlf, a senior electrical engineering 
major,  can be reached at mahlf@mail.uh.edu.

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