Fifty-six years ago, the original Star Trek TV series was launched. The show survived just three seasons, still that does nothing to diminish the impact the program had. If you don’t believe me, take a look at your cellphone. Then, glance at Captain James T. Kirk as he flips open his communicator. Looks familiar, doesn’t it?
Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise traveled the galaxy in the hope of doing good.
Kirk and his crew were tasked with exploring the universe. The opening voiceover still gives me chills. Space: the final frontier; These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!
While I was just a kid at the time the series came out, I was enthralled by the situations the Enterprise crew endured. I know what you’re thinking. The show today looks cheesy, with sometimes silly special effects and actors routinely chewing scenery. But back in the mid-1960s it was mesmerizing. And often the stories had deep sociological meaning.
While there are several episodes dealing with planetary pandemics, I will skip those since I, at least, need some rest from that particular subject. Instead, the one that sticks in my head is “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” The story centers around the planet Cheron whose people have been fighting a civil war for 50,000 years. Kirk and his crew attempt to negotiate a peace with two ambassadors who are so embittered by their hatred toward one another that no one on the Enterprise can get through to them.
Commander Spock and Captain Kirk struggled with the prejudice of the people on Cheron who’d been entangled in a race war for 50,000 years.
The ambassadors insist that their people are too different to get along. Finally, Spock—Kirk’s Vulcan second-in-command—points out, “The obvious visual evidence, Commissioner, is that he is of the same breed as yourself.” What Spock is alluding to is the fact that all the people of Cheron are black on one side and white on the other.
I was 14 when this episode aired in 1969. Race riots had plagued the US for several years, including those in Newark, New Jersey, not far from where I lived. The TV images of the anger and destruction were frightening. Though I will admit here that I was raised in a predominately white suburb, I camped every summer with girls of all kinds—black, white, brown. We spent our days together, slept in the same tents every night, and never gave it a second thought. So, the violence I watched on the news was confusing.
Kirk has no idea why the ambassadors of Cheron hate one another. Finally, in exasperation, he looks at them and says, “You’re black on one side and white on the other.”
One man puffs up his chest. “I am black on the right side.”
When I heard that line, something clicked in my brain. I now understood the idiocy of racism. And—don’t laugh—I truly believed that soon everyone would realize the stupidity of demeaning others because of what they looked like. In my misguided innocence, I thought that very soon racism would be relegated to the past and that we would all get along. Cue “Kumbaya”.
Of course, that didn’t happen. Today, at 65, I wonder what went wrong? How did so many people of my generation not get the message?
I’d like to think we can still repair the damage we’ve done to one another, but maybe we can’t. Perhaps, if we’re not careful, we’ll end up like the people of Cheron, who annihilated themselves and destroyed their planet because of their hate. My 14-year-old self found it hard to feel sorry for them. After all, they were the instrument of their own destruction.
We might be too.
Here’s hoping we come to our senses in time.
Allow me to give you a brief intro to my latest women’s fiction novel for your reading pleasure.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.
When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.