Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Shatner also felt that simply showing that Yosemite still exists in the 23rd century is a testament of hope, for it could only survive if humanity got control of its consumerist excesses, the expansion of industrial development and tract houses, highways and motor vehicle trails to every corner, the pollution and climate crisis that threatens life and our vital needs for water, and so on. This is always a tricky part of Star Trek, for while it is good to sponsor hope for the future, it's irresponsible to suggest it will happen automatically, and certainly not if we keep on doing what we're doing now. To its credit, Star Trek doesn't do this, or at least not very often.

Why should Yosemite even symbolize hope? Because even as our industrialization continues to threaten the natural world, we are beginning to realize how essential the natural world is to us, not only as the only source for much of what we need physically, but as sustenance for the human spirit. We grew up as a species in nature, we are utterly part of the earth.

Though there's nothing said in the film to indicate this, the fact that the Star Trek bridge crew shown on shore leave are all spending it in natural surroundings, speaks to the need for humans to renew their spirit in nature. That Yosemite exists suggests also that the technological 23rd century still values the natural world---one hopes more practically and more fervently more than we do.

More could have been done and should have been done with this idea in this film. It treats nature a little too much like a combination of scenery, extreme sports venue and Boy Scout nostalgia. Still, there's more here to support a connection with nature than in most Trek films. Star Trek IV may have had a stronger ecological message, but the essential human relationship to nature wasn't really dramatized.

Here we see humans in probably the most ancient social setting, the small group gathered to eat, tell stories, laugh, make decisions, sing, and wonder together about the meaning in their world, the animals around them, and the stars above them, in the light and warmth they gathered against the darkness and the cold...around the fire.

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