from TIME Magazine, April 18, 1988 inside front cover Special Advertising Section A Letter
from TIME Magazine, April 18, 1988
inside front cover
Special Advertising Section
A Letter To The Next Generation
From Gene Roddenberry
the creator of STAR TREK
Text copyright (c) 1988 by Gene Roddenberry and shamelessly reprinted here
without permission. I suspect Gene won't mind, given the context.
"Good wishes from a television dramatist who lived a hundred years before
your time. I create science fiction tales set in your 21st century and
beyond for television and movie audiences. These are tales which reflect the
affection and optimism I have for the human creature. I welcome this
opportunity to share my perspectives with you.
"For many living now, today is a time of fear and even despair. Some
believe that life has become too complex for us. Or too artificial. Or that
this era's nuclear missles, its waves of hysterical nationalism and
quarreling superstitions, perhaps mean a violent end for the human creature,
as soon as the close of our present century.
"I believe the complete opposite to be true. The present tumult in our
world is the natural and understandable result of a vigorous intelligence
moving out of the savagery of our life form's childhood. Instead of
humanity's demise, our era seems to be filled with evidence that we were
meant to survive and evolve much further.
"For example, a recent flood of remarkable human happenings includes a
primal invention as revolutionary as the discovery of fire, the wheel, and
language. We call it the COMPUTER, an astonishing device which handles
information at near-light speed and in ways suggests humanity has been gifted
with the perfect servant. Next, largely because of the computer, we have
begun to recognize that the human brain is an equally astonishing device
whose TEN BILLION or so neurons appear to interconnect into a potential of
TRILLIONS of thought patterns. Rather than being unable to handle the
complexities of today, the combination of computer and brain appears to be
doubling human knowledge every six or seven years, leading us toward
knowledge and ability our ancestors would have considered godlike.
"Which means that the human future is not for the fainthearted. The
most dramatic happening in our era has been our first efforts to move out
from our home planet. Our first moon visits are remarkably similar to the
early sailing craft that visited the American New World. Bold children both!
Those early sea voyagers found a wilderness as forbidding to them as the
moon's landscape seemed to us much later on.
"I find it equally remarkable that, so far, no other intelligent
life-forms seem to exist on those other worlds overhead. In fact, everything
about our sun and its planets proclaims 'RESERVED FOR HUMANITY.' What a
lovely educational arrangement for the offspring of our fertile Earth-egg
planet! Having left childhood behind as we move out from our home planet,
humanity is ready for the stretching and learning of adolescence.
"What better place to evolve into adulthood than in our own solar
system? There exists, out in our own 'backyard', an incredible treasure
house of eight other planets, plus dozens of moons and other raw
material--plus the almost inexhaustible energy of our hydrogen furnace sun
with which to shape those materials to our needs.
"All of which makes it interesting that the galaxy's other stars are,
for now, inconceivably distant. Even traveling at light speed, most range
from thousands to millions of years away. In its own way, this fact is as
heartening as the apparent absence of other intelligent life on the worlds
circling our own star. If our universe is a gigantic life- and
intelligence-creating machine as some believe, what better way of protecting
life forms than a system of natural laws which protects them from one another
until they become adult and capable of understanding the master plan?
"One obstacle to adulthood needs to be solved immediately: We must
learn not just to accept differences between ourselves and our ideas, but to
enthusiastically welcome and enjoy them. Diversity contains as many
treasures as those waiting for us on other worlds. We will find it
impossible to fear diversity and to enter the future at the same time.
"If the future is not for the fainthearted, it is even more certainly
not for the cowardly. One of the saddest spectacles of our time is to watch
the leaders of Earth's nations meeting together clumsily and embarrassedly
exchanging slogans containing grains of friendship and understanding, yet
fearful that this might constitute some awful blasphemy. Those who insist
theirs is the only correct government or economic system deserve the same
contempt as those who insist that they have the only true God.
As I began by saying, I am a television dramatist who lived many years
before your time, and I realize that the human future will be infinitely more
complex than anything I am able to imagine. I hope, however, that by your
time some small truths will be found in the rough sketch of tomorrow that I
offer here. If not, at least you may find this a pleasant and entertaining
/s/ Gene Roddenberry
Explanatory Note: "In 'Open Forum' sponsored by Volkswagen prominent figures
in American culture pass on their ideas and views to those who'll inherit the
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