March 26, 2020
Stories about the future, it bears repeating, are a reflection of the present. So when we yearn for the optimism of Star Trek: The Next Generation, what we really miss is the optimism of the era in which it was produced.
The first season of Star Trek: Picard starts off dark, and mainly stays that way, because in order to have any credibility it must reflect our current dark times. Too many of us have allowed our outlook to be based more on anxiety than hope. And maybe we should be afraid — disastrous climate change, with no good solution in sight, is enough to make anyone despair.
The pandemic has only made things worse.
A couple of days ago, I took a walk in my neighbourhood. I could see the fear in people’s eyes. It made me sad when they stepped off the sidewalk onto the street to avoid getting too close to me, even though I understood why.
But I also see all the extra time and effort that so many people are putting into making sure we come out of this all right — maybe even better than before. For example, thousands of people in the community are signing up to volunteer in a variety of capacities to help those in need.
If there is a message to take away from the just-finished first season of Picard, it is that the way back to optimism is by overcoming our fears. The knowledge that we will die is what gives our lives meaning. Instead of being afraid, we need to do the hard work it takes regain our optimism. That means making the most of these precious years we have.
In some ways it seems kind of frivolous to be writing about a TV show during a world wide health crisis. But we take our inspiration where we can.