Today is the 50-year anniversary of the very first TV episode of Star Trek. On September 8, 1966, when Star Trek launched, I was a little boy watching with rapt fascination at what ultimately became a touchstone for the science fiction community. That first episode absolutely captured my total attention and continued to do so as my mom, dad, siblings, and I watched every weekly show. Today, I think it is safe to say that Star Trek has stood the test of time and made its indelible mark in time.
The Star Trek attraction is something that we still need today. Although it came to us as entertainment, it portrayed certain universal truths that we can never outlive. William Shatner reflects on some of these truths (as told to Nicola Bridges, “Why We Love Star Trek” Parade. August 28, 2016. pp. 4, 5, 12, 14):
“We adhere to the multiple positive stories that Star Trek suggests—that there’ll be a future, that technology will have gotten us out of the hole that it had gotten us into, the future will be bright and the Earth will still be here. And that’s the future people want to embrace. Star Trek offers a look into that future. It’s what makes Star Trek endearing, and enduring.” (p. 5)
People naturally yearn for a bright future, a positive story, a happy ending. We crave it. The greatest leaders today are those persons that voice optimism and hope. They have a can-do attitude and they look for the best in others.
Shatner’s statement that technology will have gotten us out of the hole that it had gotten us into speaks of the folly of people as well as their ingenuity and ultimate victory. No matter how complex the technical problems might be, we all believe that we will be able to solve them. It may not happen today, next week, or next month, but in time, human ingenuity will prevail.
Great leaders understand and capitalize on these basic human desires. They are what make the world go around. That is why we will always need the Star Trek attraction. Indeed, Star Trek is even more attractive today than it was 50 years ago.