With tributes like this salute from astronaut Terry W. Virts, from the International Space Station, on Twitter, it seems almost ridiculous to add to chorus, but I think I do have something to add.
I’ve long been planning a series of posts and essays around a theme of taking the messages we get from fiction way too far, and well, sometimes there is no time, like the present.
Spock is among a small group of fictional characters that represented father figures and positive male role models in my life, in the absence of real life ones, while growing up. It feels good to get that off my chest. It feels a little cheesy, and cliche, to admit that fictional characters could have such an impact, but I can’t help it, it’s true.
People who know me well might find it strange I’d include Spock in such a list of influences. I’m not someone that lets logic take complete sway in the choices I make in my life, but that’s the thing, neither did Spock. No, I’m not going to comment about his character’s internal struggle with his Human and his Vulcan side (although it is a compelling part of the character’s story), but with his external relationship with James T. Kirk and Leonard McCoy.
The three formed a triumvirate that at times, in their open conflict with one another, had a discourse that enabled Gene Roddenberry to surface what he thought were important aspects to leadership, to curiosity, to passion, to ethics, governance, and morality. They were at times the Ego, Id, and Super-Ego, and at times the Body, the Mind, the Spirit. Not always the playing the same roles in relationship to one another, but always, empowered by their trust to speak their truths, and find shared meaning in their mission and friendship. Paraphrasing Jen Ferrin, “Think like Spock, Feel like McCoy, Act like Kirk”. In a real way, it was their relationships to one another, that influenced the kinds of friends I seek and keep. They take courage on my part, similar to the kind Joe Campbell expresses in a recent post called “The Lies I Tell Myself”. You friends know who you are.
I’m watching “The Undiscovered Country” today, while my family is out doing some shopping, as my own way to give a tribute to co-creation of Leonard Nimoy and Gene Roddenberry. It features a story written during the fall of the Soviet Union, about the potential fall of the Klingon Empire, and the peacemaking that’s needed, before a desperate war would probably commence between it and The Federation. Spock helps coordinate a dialog. There are actors on both sides, including Captain Kirk, that do not know how to foresee a future without the military balance of terror. Shenanigans happen, including the assassination of the Klingon protagonist of the peace process. It’s an underrated movie. I wish I could share a link so that you could view the documentary, the “Perils of Peacemaking” included on the bluray. There’s mention of the fall of the Soviet Union and the compassionate, proactive role we needed to play, in order to make sure that what remained of the Soviet Union would not devolve into a collection of failed states. Looking at Russia today, it seems we have failed, we have let the youth of the world down, and that’s frightening.
The last word, from Leonard Nimoy himself, a man who will live on in the character he brought to life, in his writing, in his art, in the people he helped to inspire: