What's Up, Doc? Lessons Learned from 'Star Trek' Series

By Randall Freeman, PhD

“Space, the final frontier…”

I was barely 11 years old when Star Trek first came to television. In the original three-year run, the starship Enterprise and her crew encountered many new life forms and met dozens of new civilizations. She also addressed many of the serious social and political issues of the 1960s.

William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and Nichelle Nichols’ Lieutenant Uhura shared TV’s first interracial kiss in the 1968 episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”. It followed by mere months the murders of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. It ironically appeared on the fifth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Nov. 22, 1968.

Star Trek did not shy away from important issues of any kind. The Vulcan philosophy of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) was also introduced in 1968’s “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” The idea that people gathered together to accomplish a goal was greater than whatever goals could possibly be achieved on an individual basis was another breakthrough for television of the time. We Terrans can learn a lot from other civilizations if we allow ourselves to listen and observe with an open mind. We are greater together than apart.

As an impressionable 11-year-old boy, I became engrossed in Star Trek. I thought at the time that I was simply watching an outer space show. Upon reflection, I realized that it was much more than that.

Star Trek helped me to realize that prejudice was ridiculous. The episode “Let This Be Your Last Battlefield” showed me the insanity of judging people on appearance only. The entire planet of Cheron destroyed itself because the people who were white on the left side of their face and the people who were white on the right side of their face could not or would not accept these tiny differences in appearance.

There were many more such examples. I learned to realize what my own strengths and weaknesses were and to build upon my strengths while striving to strengthen my weaknesses. I came to realize that guiding young people into realizing their own potential was what my life needed to be directed toward. It took some time, but I came to accept and embrace that I was meant to be a teacher.

As a teacher of young children, teaching the curriculum is only a part of my job. Assisting the children to work toward what they aspired to be was another critically important part of my job. I should make it clear that it is not what I think they should be or what the family believes they should do, but what THEY want for their lives.

Individuals need to decide for themselves what they will do with their future. For those who love and support them, our job is to guide them along their path. Every person has a different path.

This is for me the essence of Star Trek’s message: Boldly Go Where You are Meant to Go. There is no Final Frontier.

Beam me up, Scotty.

Randy Freeman and his family have lived in Menifee since 1993. Randy teaches kindergarten in Perris and his wife Karen teaches first grade here in Menifee at Freedom Crest Elementary School. They are the parents of four daughters: Daniela, 17, and 13-year-old triplets Sarah, Holly, and Megan. Randy earned his PhD in early childhood education in 2011 and has served on the Menifee Union School Board since 2008. As he explains it, this makes him Karen's boss for the first and only time in the marriage. His column will appear here every other Tuesday.


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