William Shatner has been part of the Star Trek legacy for fifty-five years, and he will always be known as Captain James T. Kirk, the commanding officer of the starship Enterprise that saved the galaxy and offered hope to planets getting savaged by aliens. And for Shatner, that hope is what Star Trek is all about. When reflecting on the franchise’s enduring popularity, Shatner told People TV’s Couch Surfing that there is optimism in this franchise that we’ve come to love.
Shatner thinks that we as mankind are poisoning ourselves and that eventually, if we don’t make changes, we will all be gone. But we have a different choice, and that is what Star Trek is all about. It shows that humankind can exist 400 years from now if we, as he says, “follow what we need to follow.”
The fact that Star Trek exists 400 years from now is sort of a promise that if we do those things, we will, your children, your grandchildren will continue to live and live in fairly decent circumstances if you follow what we’re supposed to follow. Star Trek says we exist 400 years from now, so there’s hope. That’s what the audience gets, is the hope. That’s the message of Star Trek, and that’s why I think Star Trek is popular.
If there is one thing that we have learned as fans it’s that we do have choices that can either make the world, the galaxy, a better place or make it worse. And those choices can have far-reaching consequences. But the captains who have commanded the Enterprise, Voyager, and all the other starships in Starfleet offer hope when they stand up to hate, to wrong, to injustice. In doing so, they represent the differences we ourselves can make in our corner of the world. We don’t command starships, but we do have an impact on the world around us. Thanks to Star Trek, we can see how big of an impact one person can make.