To Boldly Go

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before” This , the opening narrative for the 1960’s television series Star Trek, was more than a catchy phrase for a popular television show – it was an embodiment of the American spirit. So what happened?

The 1960’s were a period of unrest in America, due to the Vietnam War and racial tensions, but it was also a period of increasing American pride. The Space Race was in full swing, Kennedy had made his famous “What can you do?” speech and, although the government was not too popular, Fourth of July parades crowded the streets of every small town. As far as Americans were concerned, WE were going to “boldly go where no man has gone before” and the television shows of the time proved it.  Besides the space explorers of Star Trek, there were the deep sea adventures of Sea Hunt and the Robinson family of Lost in Space – each showing, or at least implying, Americans as the point of the spear for continued exploration of uncharted territories on Earth and beyond.

SpaceIf you were able to time travel and bring someone from 1965 to 2015, there is no doubt they would be amazed by many of the advances. Smart phones, electric cars, the internet and even cable television would probably seem like fiction turned reality- after all, many of these concepts had been featured in the popular television shows and movies of their time.  But I think they would also be disappointed because we seem to have stalled somewhere along the way.

Aside from advances in communication, transportation and even entertainment, our parents and grandparents expected more for future generations, specifically they expected America to continue to explore. They had visions of colonies deep under the sea and even on the surface of Mars, explorers blasting off for far distant universes and returning with tales of yet-to-be-discovered cultures and they even thought they could communicate with alien life forms and invite them here. If they saw us today, they would see a space program which exists in name only, deep sea exploring limited to searching for more oil and the few remaining alien communicators viewed as rejects from The X-Files.

Many Americans believe that spending money on space exploration, Mars colonies or deep sea cities is like pouring good money down the drain. They believe there is no benefit in worrying about what is “out there” when we can hardly take care of what we already have. Call me a dreamer, maybe because I grew up watching some of those shows (or their reruns), but I believe exploration is more than about finding new worlds. It is about giving people hope, about giving them something to cheer for and about restoring American pride. We could all use a little bit of that.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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1 thought on “To Boldly Go

  1. I am someone who has firsthand experience of those heady days of aspiration, ambition and hope. The tv shows of that era gave those in the future much to live up to. While Star Trek was entertaining, the CBS show Men in Space was more prescient of the advances that were to actually take place, along with some of the sacrifices that early space explorers would be called upon to make.

    All that said, the benefit of historical analysis points to many of the advances made in that exciting time being driven by the Cold War and the fear engendered by a little lump of Soviet metal named Sputnik orbiting overhead.

    Can progress come without fear? History points to it coming more slowly, as many of the great scientific and other advances have been motivated by fear of war, disease, etc. Perhaps that is the next great human challenge – to find a positive motivator for progress.

    All I know is that I don’t want to wait for another four centuries for medicine to find a cure for male pattern baldness (check out Capt Piccard in Star Trek the Next Generation if you have any doubts about ‘progress’ in that area).

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