The Canadian actor William Shatner has played many roles from 1951 to the present. But the role he is most famous for is Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. He played this role in what is now known as Star Trek: The Original Series. There were 79 episodes of this series from 1966 to 1969. It sowed the seeds for multiple movies and multiple television series.
A step into space opened his eyes
In the year 2021, at the age of 90, Shatner became the oldest living person to travel into space. The Blue Origin spacecraft flew to an altitude of 65 miles above earth before landing 11 minutes later. Shatner shares some of the technical details of the flight here. But I wish to share his testimony after the flight. He reflects upon the flight, and how it connects with his portrayal of Captain Kirk.
“Last year, I had a life-changing experience at 90 years old. I went to space, after decades of playing an iconic science-fiction character who was exploring the universe. I thought I would experience a deep connection with the immensity around us, a deep call for endless exploration.
I was absolutely wrong. The strongest feeling, that dominated everything else by far, was the deepest grief that I had ever experienced.
I understood, in the clearest possible way, that we were living on a tiny oasis of life, surrounded by an immensity of death. I didn’t see infinite possibilities of worlds to explore, of adventures to have, or living creatures to connect with. I saw the deepest darkness I could have ever imagined, contrasting so starkly with the welcoming warmth of our nurturing home planet.
This was an immensely powerful awakening for me. It filled me with sadness. I realized that we had spent decades, if not centuries, being obsessed with looking away, with looking outside. I did my share in popularizing the idea that space was the final frontier. But I had to get to space to understand that Earth is and will stay our only home. And that we have been ravaging it, relentlessly, making it uninhabitable.”
Earth is and will stay our only home
Star Trek filled countless people (including myself) with beautiful dreams of exploring space, settling other worlds, interacting with new civilizations, and so forth. The New Message from God is seeking to provide an awakening from these dreams, as politely as possible. Star Trek: The Original Series didn’t consider the possibility that the Enterprise would be perceived as part of an invasion force. They didn’t consider the possibility that nearby space would be inhabited by older and stronger nations. If we continue to make this world uninhabitable, we won’t get another one.
It is my sincere hope that Star Trek enthusiasts will consider William Shatner’s testimony. I am happy that a step into space opened his eyes.
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