In 1967 I arrived at my cousin’s home. The visit was to be routine. It was common for us to visit relatives as we were immigrants and had little funds to spend on entertainment. This sunday was as any other except we were going to a cousin I had visited. A cousin whose family was in the US for much longer than we were and therefore they were smarter and more “in tune” than we were.
Being “in tune” meant you were “in”, part of the whole. That’s what I wanted and I guess we all wanted. We came from Cuba and there was no going back. That life was over thank God America was there, we loved America, but at times it seemed America did not love us.
So here I sat on a cold winters rug. My parents sat me near my cousin. He was odd and silent. Maybe too many new relatives had sat where I sat, maybe he was quiet, whatever the case he was quiet and so was I.
That day a show was playing on tv. Back then what tv showed was good enough. We had cbs, abc and nbc. three channels ruled and some minors tried to play on the big leagues but truthfully it was the top three and then some black and white shows no one had heard of. Even I love Lucy was still on the major channels before they went off the air.
Yes back then at about midnight or soon after they would run the “central broadcasting signal” short for you were about to get nuked! Then the national athem and the universal big band residue of static would play until morning programing would start with the national athem again.
So back to that faithful night. I sat staring at Heehaw! Heehaw was a red neck Wonderland. It glorified the old south and backwoods “country” origins of america. It was a variety hour type show and a pretty good one, if you could stand Tennessee Enrie Ford and others that ruled its stage. It was a comedy and musical hour of pain and anguish like no one could expect.
As I sat glued to the channel hoping The Wonderful of Disney or Wild Kingdom would rescue me. But alas to now avail. Since I was invited and had no say on what channel or programming was to be watched. I watched the show and hated every minute. I thought it was boring stupid and just unbareable but mostly could not understand my cousin picking it above “anything” else on planet earth. But I was a guest and as a good 3 year old guest I sat and watched quietly as expected.
The show seemed to end and anything including static could have been welcomed when a single tone rang..
Bing…dang…wong. the screen filled with stars. The stars were racing at me on screen. It seemed as I was engulfed by them when a voice came on. The voice said “these are the voyages of the starship enterprise, its 5 year mission to explore new worlds…” I was transfixed…
I sat staring at the screen, it was new and strange. I had never seen anything like this. It was about what we were going to be, not what was or what everyone thought would end our world. Here was a time that just was and it was tomorrow. It had a team isolated like me and they counted on each and also liked each other. There was a captain, a captain doing the same things I would do if I was the captain. He sat in command and everyone was trusting him and he protected them.
This was something I had dreamed about. The stories, the challenges, the honor, the bond, the trust. It was so fundamental. They knew they could always survive and it was due to that bond, thier trust in what was right kept them assured of thier ability to precervier.
There was an alien..
He was not a stranger, in fact he was the most trusted. His relationship with the captain was deep. The entire crew was human. There were no specific races of human just human .. it was so gentle. It was so warm.. it was so human, in the words of Spock.
So people say whats the big deal about Star Trek. It was a big deal. It was the first time we had a group of humans that were humans…. and that alien he was not just the stranger he was the trusted advisor, he was trusted and his trust was earned, he lived in among strangers, he was everything I thought I was to most and most to me.
Why is star wars not the same, simple there are no humans on star wars. Star Trek is our legacy thats to be written. star wars is something that will happen somewhere to someone.
Kirk leads us to what we want to be and Spock reminds us of how others can help make us better.
Live long and Forever Prosper…