Hope Still Trumps Cynicism
When people express idealism, so many times that idealism is met with a sense of jadedness and cynicism. Those beliefs belong to the 1960s, so many say, and that decade is long over. Hippies became yuppies, and dreams of changing the world turned into me-first visions of climbing the corporate ladder and making big money.
But conviction in justice, fairness, freedom, equality, peace, and government of, by, and for all the people is not bound to one time but represents values that are eternal. We can change our world. We can rise above social ills that have plagued us for centuries and journey from darkness into light. We can end poverty and homelessness; we can feed, clothe, shelter, educate and provide health care to every human being on this planet, even if we've never done it before. We can not only believe in but fight for a better future. Idealism is alive and well, and it will motivate us to meet and overcome these challenges.
As a "Star Trek" fan, I've always wished to live in the world of the 23rd century, a world where citizens of the planet have overcome our darkest impulses and come together to cure some of our worst diseases, unite as one world, and explore the stars. Every New Year's Day, my best friend and I have a tradition of watching my favorite movie, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," a lighthearted and uplifting film in which the Enterprise crew go back in time to save the world from destruction.
That movie and the novelization of it contain numerous contrasts between the "primitive and paranoid" world of 1986 and the better, more enlightened Earth of the 23rd century. My friend and I have made a tradition of watching this film at the beginning of every year to reaffirm our belief that this better future is possible.
Tonight, I am reminded of two memorable scenes in the novel. The first involves 20th century whale biologist Gillian Taylor helping the Enterprise crew sneak into a San Francisco hospital to rescue an injured Pavel Chekov. Gillian is filled with hope when confronted with crew members who know nothing of gender discrimination.
"'Wait a minute,' she said. "How come I have to be the patient and you guys get to be the doctors?"
'What?' McCoy said, baffled.
'Good Lord, Gillian, what difference does it make?' Jim said.
Gillian saw that he honestly did not understand why his suggestion might irritate her; and that gave her a view of his future that attracted her far more than all his descriptions of wonders and marvels."
In a later scene, Gillian gets her first complete look at the bridge of the captured Klingon ship in which the Enterprise crew traveled back to 1986.
"A Black woman glanced up from her console, saw Gillian,and smiled at her. The Asian man who had helped Chekov entered and took his place at another control console. Gillian stared around in wonder. She was in a spaceship that could travel from star to star, among a group of people who lived and worked together without being concerned about race or gender, among people from Earth and a person from another planet. Gillian broke into a grin. Probably a silly grin, she thought, and she did not care."
In spite of all the unnecessary suffering and injustices still occurring, tonight we've been given a glimpse that this more just, egalitarian world is possible, that we have the power to make it happen, that we are not prisoners of the past.
The future begins now.