Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Apparently, we have Lucille Ball to thank for Star Trek, and the many spin-offs. In an article that crossed my path today, it explained how CBS turned the series down, and Desilu (then entirely owned by Lucille) considered taking it up. Although the vast majority of the board members voted against it, Lucille, as chair, decided to override their decision and produced it. The article went on to suggest that, were it not for Lucille, we would have never known of Star Trek.
While this is true, I can’t help but wonder just how much of an impact this would actually have on our world? Don’t get upset yet, Trekkies, I’m just posing a question. But we would still have science fiction. CBS turned down Star Trek in favor of their series Lost in Space, a far more schlocky kind of science fiction. How important was Star Trek in inspiring Star Wars, or other sci fi movies? And what about technology? Star Trek had its gadgets, many of which have never been realized, but did any of their futuristic toys inspire any of our technology today? I mean, other than my blue-tooth museum quality original Star Trek series communicator?
Yes, I’m a geek.
The point of this post, though, is not really what we would have lost had we never heard of Star Trek, but rather what have we lost because of certain things that never came to light? To take the most direct example, what of the movies and shows that have never been produced? How many counter cultures were never given a chance? And what kinds of techy concepts have we lost? This might not seem terribly significant, but we can take it even further.
With mass shootings on what seems to be a dramatic increase (although I accept the possibility that it’s just an increase in awareness, but I doubt this hypothesis), what are we losing? When a child is killed, what advances to our culture are lost? What scientific advances will never come to pass?
Historically, we’ve lost so many people to wars and atrocities. The reality is that we have already lost these advances and have no idea. The world we’ve built is what we know. We’re comfortable with it (for the most part) and usually don’t think these kinds of “what if” questions, but I like to wonder about it. One of my favorite “mind games” asks a simple question, if we were somehow transported back through time with nothing but our knowledge of today (I think perhaps to the Renaissance or medieval ages), what would you do to convince the king that he would want to protect you? How would you rebuild your world with those natural resources, but no tools?
This game is akin to what I’m asking here. Those scientific advances, and technological wonders, are probably still in our future. It’s unlikely that one single person, or event, or decision will destroy these advances so much as postpone them. How many years are we now lagging behind of where we could have been if things were different? It’s not so much what cool things would we have, but rather, how many more years until we do?
Unfortunately, many of these decisions were made based on race, gender, religion and a plethora of other absolutely ridiculous reasons. George Floyd is back in the news because of the Derek Chauvin trial and verdict, but this is an example of these same attitudes that we carry with us in our society today. It seems as if there is such overreaction faced by minorities in this nation, which has roots tracing back to those medieval days when people were the property of the lord of the land. Viewing others as somehow inferior not only allows for these morally outrageous actions, but also outright dismissal of their value. When people hold themselves above others, for any reason, they will seek reasons to justify this belief. “Those people” can never be as intelligent, as mature, as trustworthy as us or whatever the case may be.
One of my favorite examples of breaking through this barrier has got to be Madame Curie. Given the opportunity to break that mold, she became the first scientist in history to win not one, but two Nobel prizes in two different disciplines of science.
Not the first woman. The first scientist. Ever.
It’s a feat that I believe has since occurred but is still exceptionally rare. And all of this knowledge, all of this artistic ability, all of this engineering ingenuity has been simply discarded. And we’re still doing it today.