Friday, September 18, 2009

We were going where no one had gone before

Being born in 1956 meant that I was officially part of the Canadian baby boom (1947 - 1966), however, it also meant that I was just a shade too young to have been part of the wild and anti-establishment movements of the Sixties. Not to say I didn't know it was going on - I lived through it all - the nuclear bomb drills in school, the assassinations of Martin, Bobby & John, the race riots all over the US, the arrival of the Beatles in America, the protests against the Vietnam War, the Manson Family and the music and the flower children who danced and loved their winding way throughout the entire decade. Touched by it all, but unable to actually participate, my thinking was not like that of any generation that had come before me.

I was 13 years old in 1969 and Star Trek had been beaming into my universe every week for 3 years. I never missed an episode. It truly was the brave new world and I believed. Believed that there was a greater power, that good would always triumph over evil and that we would all someday live in a society where neither race, religion, wealth, gender, nor political stripe would mean anything.

I think that Gene Roddenberry's vision influenced us in a way that no other generation before had ever experienced. It wasn't just what was in the message - it was that the message was visual. We all saw the same images, as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Scottie and Bones hurtled through the universe. This was not like a book that some of us had read and each imagined just a little differently from one another - these were powerful visual images of a multi-national crew of men and women working together to achieve the same ends - and all of us saw it exactly the same way. This was good triumphing over evil week after week, planet by planet, surrounded by sophisticated technology created in a world where scientists developed tools that were intended to be used for something other than weapons of mass destruction.

I loved science fiction and besides my other tv favourites such as Lost in Space and Dr. Who, I read many of Isaac Asimov's short stories, was profoundly touched by Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" and very much affected by John Wyndham's "The Chrysalids". Then Gene Roddenberry gave us a new universe, and I embraced it. Now if I could just figure out who was behind it and how to make it happen.

All of these things were molding a young mind to reject organized Christian religion and the dogmas associated with it. It was painfully obvious to me that the Church (and I mean this in the broadest sense - basically all Christian religions that I had experienced to that time, namely Anglican, Catholic, Baptist and United) had not only fragmented society into sects that at best were suspicious of each other and at worst initiated wars against each other, but it had done nothing that I could see to alleviate the great suffering of so many of the world's people.

One thing about television - it had brought the real world right into our living rooms and there was no longer any way to gild the lily.

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