Monday, January 10, 2011
This photo was taken at the 2007 wedding of Navy officer and astronaut Mark Kelly to Gabrielle Giffords. Mark Kelly's twin brother Scott is currently aboard the International Space Station. Mark is slated to pilot the last scheduled Space Shuttle mission. But that's now in doubt, because his wife, Member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in Tucson in what the FBI consider a political assassination attempt.
Mark Kelly is now at his wife's bedside, while his brother Scott monitors events from space. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range. She underwent brain surgery and her recovery is still in doubt. The alleged shooter is in custody. But many are pointing to the extremism, violent rhetoric and heated political atmosphere--particularly but not exclusively in Arizona-- as contributing.
Nineteen people were shot in this incident, and six have died. The dead include a federal judge who served his country for most of his life, a 79 year old woman retiree who came to shake hands with her Congresswoman, and a nine year old girl who was born on September 11, 2001.
The soul of Star Trek applies to the real world, even when situations don't involve today's space pioneers and forerunners of the dream of the future that the Star Trek universe represents. Bigotry, prejudice, willed ignorance, distorting and inflating political issues and unleashing the rhetoric of violence against opponents, are all "illogical" in Star Trek terms. So is permitting firearms in public places, especially at political events. Solving problems without violence whenever possible is not just a Star Trek ideal but a commitment.
Situations such as this one, including everything that led up to it over the past year or so, might help renew the commitment of Star Trek fans to those ideals in today's world. That this real world violence directly affects the human adventure in space only emphasizes this more.