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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Star Trek State of Mind

'Live long and prosper' is an abbreviated version of a traditional Jewish religious blessing. It came to a wider public in the Star Trek TV series. It was used there by the character Mr. Spock (actor Leonard Nimoy, himself Jewish) as the greeting of the Vulcan people.

One of the major benefits of growing up in a major city is the exposure you get to multiple cultures. New York is a melting pot within a nation that welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” as it reads on the base of the Statue of Liberty. One of our nation’s strengths is figuring out how we can live together peaceably as the United States of America, taking advantage of all of the benefits and challenges that brings.

I am not a trekkie, but my brothers really enjoyed the Star Trek series so I have seen many of the original episodes and a few of the newer ones. This fictionalized world represented a small microcosm of a multi ethnic universe. Each one accepting of each other - accepting their strengths and weaknesses. Growing up in the New York public school system, you were out of school for the Jewish holidays. We may not have been celebrating them, but we had respect for what they represented. My sons were exposed to a similarly rich community throughout their public school years. .It didn’t matter if their friend’s name was Aftab or Jose or John. They learned early on that people come in different wrappers. Look past their wrapping to get to know who they are.

One specific example sticks out in my mind. There are times during the year that as Christians we fast from food or television or meat. I let each of my children decide when they thought they wanted to try it for the first time, knowing that it takes incredible disciple, especially if you are in a school setting for lunch. One year one of my youngest son’s classmates was also fasting for Ramadan and the teacher told her she could spend her lunch time in the library instead of sitting at the lunch table watching everyone else eat. This was a dear friend of my youngest. Their last names required them to stand in line next to each other. Despite the fact that he was the shortest boy and she was the tallest girl, they were always very friendly. We were also observing a fast and he decided that he wasn’t going to let her out do him, so he also gave up his lunch time.

Both children were representing two different faiths with equal reverence and respect. The lesson we learn from this is that we can learn from each other, even though we may not agree with each other. My mother used to say, we have to learn to agree to disagree…I would like to add peaceably.

Lieutenant Uhura represented a strong capable woman on the Star Fleet enterprise…although I think my brothers really enjoyed the fact that she had pretty legs. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Bones, Sulu and Chekov all taught us valuable lessons in the 1960s. That people focused on a peaceful existence can thrive. Even when they encountered the numerous enemies throughout the galaxies, there were standard operating procedures and consequences in place. Can we remember this as we complete 2016 and venture into the unknown, these next 4 years?

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