Montreal·Point of View

What Star Trek taught me about life

The real-life learnings of the Star Trek franchise are far-reaching. Here's a look at some of the main takeaways from the shows.

The sci-fi franchise has inspired generations of people to be optimistic, perseverant and inclusive

Members of the "Star Trek" crew toast the newest "Trek" film during a news conference at Paramount Studios in 1988. (The Associated Press)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the biggest science fiction franchises to have ever graced our television screens: Star Trek.

Five decades later, the dynasty is still alive and well. The latest movie, Star Trek: Beyond, is just around the corner and the next TV iteration is set to premiere in 2017. 

Growing up, I was a Star Trek: The Next Generation watcher. Mostly because of my older brother (yes, we had a lifesize cardboard cut-out of Jean-Luc Picard).

But I have to admit, at the time, I don't think I quite understood the nuances of the storylines. Star Trek was a cerebral show, riddled with social commentary and real-life learnings. It was also much more intellectual than other sci-fi franchises (*cough Star Wars cough*). 

Now that I'm older, I can better appreciate the Star Trek philosophy. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the life lessons Trekkies have taken away from the franchise (in no particular order):

1) "It is the struggle itself that is most important." (submitted by Noah Redler)
Commander Data, an android, is constantly striving to be more human. He struggles to understand human behaviour and emotion, and over the course of the series does successfully find ways to increase his own humanity. But he never quite makes it. We like to think he eventually realizes that it was the pursuit of the goal that mattered more than achieving it.

Brent Spiner plays Lt. Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation (CP PHOTO/HO) (Canadian Press)

2) Boldly go! (submitted by Andrew Fazekas)
Yearn to discover new horizons. Star Trek teaches us that exploration is key, and the unknown is not always bad. The show deals with encountering new species and stumbling upon potentially hazardous environments, and yet they get through it and learn something new. Don't be afraid of exploring the next frontier!

Andrew Fazekas is the author of Star Trek The Official Guide to Our Universe: The True Science Behind the Starship Voyages.

3) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." (submitted by Patrick Morrell)
This was something Spock said in The Wrath of Khan, before he proceeds to (SPOILER ALERT!) sacrifice himself so the crew can escape danger. 

4) There's nothing like friendship. (submitted by Milen K)
"The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many."
In the movie Search for Spock, Captain Kirk pretty much overturns the previous lesson when he saves Spock. This is one of many scenarios on the show that highlights the importance of friendship, especially between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. 

5) Equality for all.
The original series opening narration used to say "to boldly go where no man has gone before." Over time, ths sentence evolved into "where no one has gone before." This highlighted the gender-neutral, race-neutral nature of the storylines later on. With Star Trek: Voyager, the captain is a woman. And different races co-exist peacefully and work together. 

6) Do not interfere in other people's way of life. (submitted by Brittany Olah)
The Prime Directive, the guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets, forbids Starfleet personnel from interfering with the development of other civilizations. Basically, a nod to state sovereignty.

7) Throw away those vices! (submitted by Vrej Hezaran)
The Star Trek environment is predominantly a money-less society. People don't work for financial gain — we don't hear about salaries, raises and pensions. Instead, they work for the betterment of society. They put aside things like racism and greed and end up achieving great things as a result.

What are some life lessons you've picked up from Star Trek? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
 

About the Author

Molly Kohli

Social media editor/Tech Columnist

Molly Kohli is the social media editor for CBC Montreal . She also brings her love for all things digital as technology columnist on CBC Montreal's weekend TV show, Our Montreal.

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