Image from Mr. Nimoy’s Twitter
Like many of you, I was saddened to hear of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. While he will be remembered for his many achievements, the one for which I will remember him the most is as Spock, ambassador to a brighter future.
Star Trek was before it’s time in many ways. The show was not always successful, indeed it was occasionally schlocky. But it was different from most TV then and even now. As I recently discussed (long distance, electronically) with a friend, the show portrayed a future that was different, better, brighter than our (then) present. Star Trek said: We will not come as conquerors, but as explorers, to seek out new life and new civilizations.
One of my favorite Star Trek episodes in the original series was Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. This was a classic original series episode. I was blown away (at the time) by the scene in which you learned that the Frank Gorshin character, Bele, pursuing his escaped prisoner, Lokai (Lou Antonio) is a racist. And the basis of the racism is which side of his face is black vs. white. It was a complete shock. And it made me think about my own world, “Wow, when you put it that way.” Good science fiction does that.
Later, in the Next Generation series, Spock becomes an ambassador. I find this exceedingly appropriate. The writers of the original series would often use Spock’s alien perspective to shed light on essentially human problems. He was the ambassador to that brighter and better future, one that is saved by a more evolved view of the world. In the episode mentioned above he says to Bele, “We [Vulcans] were once a people, like yourselves, wildly emotional, often committed to irrationally opposing points of view… Only the discipline of logic saved my planet from extinction.” Finally, as Bele refuses to believe that Lokai can change, Spock says, “Change is the essential process of all existence.” Quite the message. It’s not too late for you (so it’s not too late for us).
The main character of the series was, as everyone knows, Captain Kirk. But the one everyone remembers is Spock. While I know that Mr. Nimoy is much more than the part he played, I will continue to fondly remember him as that ambassador to a brighter future.