I am deeply saddened by the news that Leonard Nimoy has passed away. Some of my earliest memories of childhood were watching the original series. The show was on every weekend and I watched it religiously. Spock was my childhood hero. I wanted to be just like him: incredibly smart, calm and unflappable in the face of any catastrophe. When being smart and idolizing such a character earned me the scorn and ridicule of my peers, he taught me not to let my emotions get the best of me. Though I never so much mastered my emotions as bottled them up. But I think Spock grappled with that as well.
I remember when Star Wars came out, and, like the other kids my age, I was infatuated with it. But when Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out 2 years later I began to see that the beauty of science fiction is not in the fancy gadgetry or the heroic space battles, but rather it is a way to put people in alien circumstances and explore what that does to one’s humanity (for better or for worse). See humanity and the world in a different light, and, hopefully, think about how to make each a bit better. I think Star Trek did that better than any other sci-fi franchise.
I lived for a number of years without a TV, and just recently started watching some of the various Star Trek series (my favourite being Voyager) with my wife. I started noticing a theme that runs through almost every part of the Star Trek franchise: there is always a character who is trying to come to terms, in some way, with what it means to be human. Data, Seven of Nine, The Doctor, T’Pol, Odo and the original template, Spock. Like all of us, Spock had to grapple with a part of himself that he wasn’t comfortable with, but, ultimately turned out to be an essential part of who he was. What is more human than that?
This is expressed the best in Kirk’s eulogy: “Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.”