At the last O-W Police Committee meeting, after the press was let back into open session, I looked down to find a larger than usual fuzzball on the floor. I was just about to announce “Oh, look a Tribble!” But giving my audience a quick once over, I thought better of it. My comment could have been met with a few chuckles but I feared it would be sea of blank stares. Always the cautious speaker and over the years slightly paranoid of the public opinion, I kept that little observational humor to myself. I have experienced the blank stares before, usually from my children not getting my ‘mom’ humor but didn’t want to test it on the OWPC.
So… for all of you who are not science fiction geeks or are not familiar with Star Trek, an explanation is in order. A Tribble is a fuzzy fictional little critter that resembles a large furry dust bunny, pompom or bedroom slipper. It was first introduced on an episode of Star Trek in 1967 called The Trouble with Tribbles. These lovable critters were brought to the Starship Enterprise by a trader and warmed the hearts of many aboard the ship with their soft touch and tranquil cooing. The trouble with the Tribbles came later as they reproduced so fast that soon they were everywhere and even took over the bridge and Captain Kirk’s command chair. The ever-present fuzzballs were never a threat but just always under foot and became a nuisance. The rapidly replicating Tribbles soon proved that there can be too much of a good thing. But in the end the Tribbles saved many lives when Captain Kirk discovered a trough of deceased Tribbles in a grain bin destined to feed people on a far-off planet. The Tribbles ate the toxic grain, died, and revealed the Klingons’ evil plot to overthrow that planet.
I came to become a Trekkie late in life, like just a few years ago. When the original Star Trek aired, I was still in diapers and once the series came back in reruns, it never entered my TV radar. I have always been a fan of science fiction movies but never watched Star Trek until Travis got me hooked on all things Trekkie. Even though the original series is far from tech savvy, I still love the story lines which were advanced in gender and racial justice for the time.
The series portrayed women in roles of command and respect and races of all kinds were embraced. There was no segregation on the U.S.S. Enterprise even though 1960s America still hadn’t conquered that problem. And the first ever interracial kiss happened between Captain Kirk played by William Shatner and Lieutenant Uhuru (Uhuru, Travis tells me, means Freedom in Swahili) played by Nichelle Nichols.
Star Trek is not just a futuristic fantasy; it deals with ethics, history, has been known quote Shakespeare a time or two, and is thick with theological references. The many humanoid and alien races reveal different human characteristics, both good and evil. Other the years, mortal enemies turn into allies, reflecting real life world skirmishes. The goal of the federation of planets is to aid and protect without interfering with the internal or natural development of alien civilizations. In the age of Star Trek, the earth has advanced to a place where there are no longer wars, no famine, and all races live together in harmony. Now that’s a futuristic fantasy that I pray comes true.
The lesson drawn from the Trouble with Tribbles for me… hmmmm. I guess, don’t underestimate the power of the warm and cuddly, for it can be effective in blotting out evil. And won’t this old angry world be more a peace with a soft furry Tribble cooing in their lap? Keep on the sunny side!
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