As a boy growing up on a farm, I remember being transfixed, watching the original series of Star Trek on a black and white TV. Despite the lack of color and the ever-present static haze of rural television reception, the show had a profound effect upon me. It introduced me to so much that was outside the narrow bounds of my world, transported me (if you will) to a broader universe, and inspired me to think in much grander vistas. As its rise to a cultural phenomenon attests, Star Trek has done the same thing for millions and millions of others.
Perhaps more than any other TV show, Star Trek opened our collective psyche to consider possible futures and possible worlds and possible thoughts and possible philosophies that we never would have imagined. I wonder if our ability to readily embrace the innovations of the technological revolution isn’t in part a result of the influence of Star Trek. Having watched the crew of the Enterprise employ miraculous devices, this opened the door, and the desire, for us to do the same.
While it’s likely that the character of Captain Kirk had the greater influence upon me personally, Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock certainly had a profound impact as well. I would attribute some of my interest in science, and in logic, of course, to his influence. Mr. Spock also gave me one of my all-time favorite words to use: Evidently. Just love how that sums up so much so concisely – all the available data points to the most logical conclusion that one can draw – i.e, Evidently.
That attribute that he is most famously known for, the use of the intellect to control the emotions, while seemingly one-dimensional or “de-humanizing”, was actually neither. As Eckhart Tolle teaches us now, and the Buddha taught long ago, we are not our emotions, we have emotions. We are a consciousness that can step back from our emotions and regard them dispassionately. And we can choose to identify with the emotions or with that deeper consciousness.
I have also found it noteworthy that Spock’s approach to logic and emotions evolved over time, a transformation that required decades and several movies to take place. In Star Trek VI he utters a very memorable ( very memorable to me, at least!) paraphrase of a biblical passage, to a younger Vulcan protégé. The original passage goes: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” which the movie turned into: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, Valeris, not the end.” Signalling an embrace of his humanity and his emotions.
Growing up in a Scandinavian farm community, I had no exposure to other races, cultures, philosophies, or religions. The character of Mr. Spock introduced me to all of these. It was mind expanding. Leonard Nimoy, through his compelling portrayal of Mr. Spock, opened many doors for greater understanding. With his passing, the era that Star Trek ushered in is beginning to close. One wonders what trajectory the next era will take.
May the gifts he has given us Live Long and Prosper.
I shall miss him greatly.