What Being on Star Trek Taught Me
by Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D
“The Prime Directive [in Star Trek] is not just a set of rules. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.”
As an actress back in 1967, I had no idea that guest starring on a classic episode of Star Trek entitled “The Apple,” would change my life forever. But, strangely enough it did!
It took many years before the realization hit me, that I was now part of a franchise that not only had “legs” globally but also had a deep and profound message, that included one of hope for the future of this planet and our place in the universe.
Through Star Trek’s mythology, we glimpse an inspiring vision of a future where men and women, all races, colors, creeds and persuasions share equal status and are united for the greater good of what is referred to as “The Federation.” It was very evident in nearly every episode that all life, even the kind we did not understand, was critically important and needed to be respected. Courage seemed always to be a constant in the Star Trek Universe.
On classic Star Trek, the original series, I played a character named Yeoman Martha Landon and I was Chekov’s love interest. At first you might have mistaken me for eye candy in my little red mini dress uniform, but in truth, I was also a full fledged member of the Enterprise crew and landing party which meant I was packing a “phaser,” as well as carrying a “tri-corder” and I even got to kick butt in a fight sequence! I liked to think of myself, way back then, as one very liberated and free spirited Yeoman, at a time in our history when the “Femme” spirit was just dawning. You never saw me bringing coffee to any male crew member and that was a big step forward for female actresses on television in those days. I was even a “red shirt” who lived through the whole episode, despite the urban myth that we all die in act one.
There is a YouTube video for the trailer for my classic Star Trek episode, which is entitled, “The Apple.” It features clips from the highlights of the show and is great fun for me to watch and re-visit today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dEI2JF1sGnw
I really enjoyed working on that episode and especially loved the show’s motto of “Live, Long and Prosper and it’s equally wonderful response of, Peace and Long Life.”
If we had all known on a deeper level about the importance of manifesting our own future in those days we might have advocated saying it more often!
I never dreamed back in my early 20s that holistic health care and anti-aging for both people and animals would be a profound calling for me. I also never dreamed that I would one day write four books on this subject (soon to be five), write this blog, or become a co-producer on a feature length documentary film project about the enormous need for the return of the sacred feminine principle that will upon its completion spotlight female empowerment. That film project is entitled “Femme: Women Healing the World.” But again, Star Trek has that “epigenetic” (that which rises above the genome) magic about it. It inspired me to believe that all good things are possible and to not just ‘be’ but ‘become,’ higher versions of ourselves. It seems to have inspired many young men and women to have the courage to “boldly go” where no “man” [or woman] has gone before. I certainly got that message loud and clear!
Star Trek opened my mind to a multi-verse that offered a macro perspective from an astronomical view of the cosmos and also a micro- and nano-perspective. The vision of learning and exploration of everything I could read, experience and study was a path I would follow all my life. The notion of being of service, sharing, contributing to charity and being of value to all life, became a source of courage and aspiration for me. The need for balance harmony and even anti-aging hormonally, in rhythm with the lunar and solar calendar, became areas of fascination. I have been an advocate for bioidentical/bio-mimetic hormone replace for both men and women now for many years.
In being a part of Star Trek, I learned that there is something embedded in its heart of hearts, which is called “The Prime Directive,” or Starfleet’s General Order #1. Trekker’s, as we prefer to be called, believe that the most prominent guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets is The Prime Directive. It dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations. Just to flashback to “The Apple” and my character’s role in this episode, if you have or ever will see it, we are directed by Captain Kirk to violate the Prime Directive. This takes place, in part, when Chekov and I virtually demonstrate to a pair of the planet’s inhabitants a human embrace and passionate kiss, implying that love making and babies follow in due course, and that this is natural and not something to be forbidden or feared. Loving and being loved and making love is our birth right. This is something these particular aliens were not aware of, as it had been forbidden. ￼ All the native people of this planet were permitted to do was feed a giant, god-like, computer named ‘Vaal’ some fruit offerings! They were not, as I said, allowed to make love, or to have children (“replacements” as they referred to them). But on a positive note, they also knew nothing of violence, except for flowers that shot trespassers with a poisonous powder, until we came along. Now, I don’t mean to give you a “spoiler” for this episode but indeed this directive and the need to think for oneself and “do what you will, but harm no others,” would be an important part of what made me who I am today and that is a person who challenges the “powers that be,” and cannot stand by and watch the garden that is this planet and the life upon it be poisoned and polluted by Big Government, Big Corporations, Big Factory Farms, and Big Pharma, who day after day gobble up our personal freedoms. I personally have had enough of the Wall Street giants and political machine’s agenda that is imposing GMO seeds and “herd” medicine upon us.
In today’s information age, we can challenge our own planet’s “Prime Directive,” through many different avenues.
As I take a look back through the rear view mirror of my life I think the real meaning of the Prime Directive hit me hard. Star Trek helped me realize that we each have the ability to vote in favor of violating the Prime Directive when we know harm was being done to that which is pro-survival of the planet! I am certainly not alone in this way of thinking as there are many people today who speak, write and live their lives, a bit outside the box and champion causes in any way they can for the greater good! The idea being that we are all entitled to “live long and prosper,” and I certainly hold Star Trek responsible for that brilliant idea. If you believe, as I do, that we are all important and every one of our actions matters, just as much or as little as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in the Amazon rainforest affects the weather in Asia. In this circular manner of thinking we therefore all matter! This idea is known as the “Butterfly Effect” and through this principle we realize that we all leave footprints behind with every step we take, and these form lasting imprints in the bio-sphere and in the collective consciousness, just as every thought we think can become manifest in a positive or negative manner.
The importance of The Butterfly Effect allows us each to see clearly that we can truly set our intentions to manifest the Star Trek vision or at least something like it, by expanding upon it to include quantum thinking from the macro universe right down to what some in quantum thinking refer to as the, Higgs Boson or “God Particle.”
When united in thinking loving and grateful thoughts, we are truly part of an expanding pool of positive, infinitely possible potential in a supportive, collective consciousness.
Instead of hanging on to the old fashioned idea of adog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest paradigm, we can look back and see that as a species we survived this long journey by cooperation, not domination and aggression.
There was in our ancient history and the Star Trek universe a balance between the sexes rather than the patriarchal society we endure today. Star Trek taught me that a work crew could become like a family even when made up of individuals, from all parts of the universe. On the Enterprise each crew member had their own unique value for the greater good of the team and the mission. Now I am not saying that having watched or having been a part of Star Trek is required by any means to achieve peace on this Earth. I am suggesting that to “boldly go” has many meanings and resonates with different people on different levels. I am just sharing that it taught me that whatever it takes to make us learn and explore at whatever age we find ourselves is a very good and positive thing. It certainly has been that for me!
Here are some ideas that I have found of value to explore as a result of Star Trek and its Sci-Fi genre. I glimpsed what seemed to be a gentler, less invasive form of medicine and healing. We all have seen in Star Trek the medical miracles take place in the ship’s sick bay. Sometimes Bones (Dr. McCoy) would allow an alien life form to exercise their own healing technologies when what he knew failed. When asked to perform miracles, Bones was famous for saying, “Damn it Jim, I’m a doctor not a_____.” Most of you can probably complete that sentence in many different ways. Dr. McCoy surely did. I
t seems Star Trek gave me the courage to look outside the box and to explore the ancient physicians and other schools of thought for inspiration in today’s world of healing for both people and animals. Therefore I have studied in depth technologies such homeopathy, Western and Chinese Herbal medicine, various types of energy healing such as Reiki, etc.
I have really enjoyed studying all aspects of healing (including nutrition) from the ‘greats’ such as, Paracelsus and Hippocrates, who used mostly vinegar and honey. In more modern times Samuel Hahnemann and his exploration of homeopathy and its infinitesimal dose have inspired me greatly.
I have found many of these modalities have merit and important applications todays medical paradigm, especially when we look at them through the quantum looking glass.
Quantum entanglement theory sheds light and illuminates for us how long distance energy healing might be not only beneficial but actually be explained through the quantum theory of entanglement.
Star Trek has taught many people, including myself, to be free thinkers and the phenomena has been so significant to people globally that you will even find courses taught today on university campuses that deal with the impact of Star Trek on several generations and its prime directive is discussed often. For example, The University of Texas, El Paso offers a “Thinking Boldly with Star Trek” course. The CroatianTimes.com site offers information about a Star Trek course at their Croatian University, sharing with us that, there are students at the University of Rijeka in Croatia who have been discussing philosophical issues based on themes from Star Trek for some time. This is thanks to one Professor Boran Bercic, who is a huge fan of this popular TV and film franchise, because he finds Star Trek to be an inexhaustible source of many philosophical themes. “What does Data tell us on functionalism in the philosophy of mind? Is he human? What do the Prophets show us on time? These are the topics we deal with,” says Professor Bercic, adding that the university council had no problems with accepting this idea, (because) “studying Star Trek is not unusual in the world.
The main literature for the students is a Croatian translation of the book, Star Trek and Philosophy, published in 2009.”
I guess I am just like students and philosophers who all around the world for 40+ years, continue to read, study, discuss and explore both ancient wisdom and new age thinking. Like other Star Trek renegades, I tend to look at both sides of every equation and use great faith and great doubt as a governing principle, knowing full well that there is a consequence or reaction to every action we take here on planet Earth. Star Trek clearly teaches this in its mythology. It also teaches us, as other great Sci-Fi franchises have done, that if we can imagine something there is a high probability it can be done one day. Mr. Spock might caution that this is true only if it is logical!
Star Trek taught me that even though I couldn’t really travel to other worlds (although I did get to be beamed down on the show) I could explore everything in my own imagination and read all the various points of view on the possibility/probability that space travelers may have already explored our planet in the distant past, either in the form of something like “us” or even something microscopic, such as bacterial or viral hitchhikers on meteors.
The writings of Eric Von Daniken and Zecharia Sitchin opened the door to other aspects of “Ancient Alien” thinking, along with the television series of the same name. In that vein, I explored various world religions and philosophies which opened my mind, and taught me tolerance for all belief systems and again, thanks to Star Trek, to the idea that there are many paths to find a higher power such as explored in Emmanuel Itier’s, beautiful documentary film featuring the Dalai Lama, entitled, The Invocation, where we learn about the web that weaves us all together, allowing us to therefore see where we are all more alike than different. These strands that connect all life extend out to the finite edge of our universe.
Meeting so many interesting people through the Star Trek franchise led me to inner spiritual travels by exploring meditation and Eastern philosophy, including Buddhism and the writings of great thinkers such as Paramahansa Yogananda and spiritual poets such Rumi. We can boldly look inward more easily sometimes than outward and explore a different cosmic perspective, one that is uniquely our own making as long as we stay open and continue to expand, learn and grow. If we open our minds and hearts to infinite potential, we can think outside the conventional box that limits us and use Star Trek as our metaphor — we can then use our imaginations and expand on the probability that we are not alone in this universe. We can then explore the dualities and the paradoxes that define our human nature. One could envision a debate today between the creators of, The Hunger Games and Star Trek’s legendary creator, the late Gene Roddenberry. Just how different would their positions be on their own prime directives and the future of our planet? The last word on the subject might just have been the proud bird of the galaxy himself, (Gene Roddenberry) who in an interview for a 1991 edition of, ‘The Humanist’ magazine, implied that, The Prime Directive might have had its roots in his belief that Christian Missionaries were interfering with other cultures.
There we have it, to interfere or not to interfere, becomes the classic question or Prime Directive, of good vs. evil and that definition depends solely on our own belief systems and our own point of view regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In my Star Trek episode, “The Apple,” Spock points out that Starfleet Command may not agree with his choice to interfere with the computer controlled culture in “The Apple,” to which Kirk replies, “I’ll take my chances.” We can clearly see at play here the age old question as to whether or not we humans have the right to exercise our free will and take our own chances when the greater good is at stake. One could take this even further and envision a war in some hypothetical place and time, where every soldier individually and collectively no matter what their orders or what side of the line they were standing on, laid their weapons down and refused to fight! Now that is what I call the greater good. Who loses a war after all? The planet, the women, the children, the wild life and everything that creeps and crawls on this earth are the losers. If I could create a prime directive of my own, I would direct and decree that there be no more wars. Let the people with the dispute, be represented by their respective leaders and let them battle it out. Or better yet, let a giant computer game be the ultimate battle ground and let the elected participants be the determining factor as to who wins or loses the conflict and save the planet from the ravages of the foolishness of war!
Do we each have our own Prime Directive that we live by and just where did it come from?