A common theme among fans of Star Trek is the idea of living in a Star Trek utopia, and discussing ways of how we are to achieve this. Some go on to describe a harmonious society, perhaps with communist undertones, and with the expectation that we should all should just have respect for all life, apply science wisely, and pursue principles of justice, fairness, and reason. Whenever I see something like this, I must immediately assume either this person doesn’t really understand the fundamental lesson of Star Trek, or, if they do, they are purposely twisting its meaning towards a political agenda. I prefer to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and go with the former, because there’s not many who have watched as much Star Trek as I have.

In the Star Trek future, they still deal with people in society who do not have resepct for all life. They still deal with people not applying science wisely, and they do not always pursue principles of justice, fairness, and reason. These are still issues the Star Trek universe needs to deal with in the future, on an ongoing basis just like we do today. As Q said, “The trial never ends.” They understand that these problems may never actually go away, and these sorts of problems inevitably become plot for episodes and series. A plot is a good thing; it provides a reason for a story to be told. It makes a story interesting and enjoyable to watch and/or listen to. However, the plot is just a vehicle to deliver an underlying core message, to provide us with something of value wrapped in something we can relate to so that we might enjoy a similar positive outcome with our own lives today. Something that allows each of us to live in a Star Trek future today, to turn science fiction into reality.

That core message is simply that each of us must treat everyone fairly, justly, and respectfully, especially those whom we disagree with. This means the capitalist misogynist Ferengi. This means the bloodthirsty Klingons. This means the goose stepping Cardassians. We do this fully accepting the risks associated with doing so. This is spelled out for us eloquently in The Last Outpost; when the Portal offers to kill the Ferengi who double crossed the away team and fired upon them. Riker responds with, “Then they would learn nothing,” and continues to state that he cannot hate what his people once were, and that they (the Ferengi) might grow and learn. Portal suggests they might learn ways to destroy him, and he responds with, “Our values require us to face that possibility.” That is the message of Star Trek; a stoic philosophy of living and life that, once adopted, can allow each of us to live as mindful and content as those in the Star Trek Next Generation future today. We don’t need phasers, star ships, or transporters. We only need to provide others the opportunity to not experience hate and contempt from us so they have the room they need to grow and become better versions of themselves, and that’s what will lead us closer towards a utopian future.