Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Life in the Pedestrian Lane: The final frontier

I never once even considered that in my lifetime it might be possible to exist in outer space …

Back in the ‘60s, I was a big “Star Trek” fan.

The idea of living on a city-sized, self-contained vehicle hurtling through space intrigued me, and I watched each week just to see what innovation the writers came up with to make life interesting and possible.

I was more intrigued with the lifestyle than with the adventures of Captain Kirk and his gang, although I laughed at the Tribbles, suffered when Spock battled his human side, and generally admired all the aliens we met along the way, friend or foe.

And of course, I was also a loyal fan of “Next Generation” and later “Deep Space Nine.”

If James Kirk was the Matt Dillon of the Space Opera, then Jean-Luc Picard was the Hawkeye of the new T.V. offerings and Benjamin Sisko and sidekicks the “A-Team.”

The progression of the series and the spinoffs mirrored the evolution of T.V. entertainment from action-packed Westerns through thoughtful patriarchal tales to communal problem-solving.

Likewise, the society of the space stations changed, from simply living, working and recreation on the original Enterprise to a full-blown town on the Deep Space Nine station, including a bar, run by a quirky alien, where much of the character inter-action took place. A reflection, perhaps, of Miss Kitty’s establishment in “Gunsmoke” but definitely a bow to “Cheers.”

Back in the day I was frivolous enough that I could imagine being there, wondering what my role would be, and if I would really want to be in a far distant spot without my family or friends, or anything I was really familiar with. (And then we moved to Alaska. But that is another story). I never once even considered that in my lifetime it might be possible to exist in outer space, traveling between planets and saving humanity from yet unknown disasters.

Yet, here we are, 50-plus years later. There is an established space station where astronauts live. Granted, it is not the Enterprise, and they probably are not visited by alien races, nor travel by transporter between there and Earth, but it is akin to the Model T, and look what that has developed into.

And this year two billionaires each launched a space vehicle they hope will become tourist facilties in the near future. What has boggled my mind more than the obvious advancement in life as we know it, is the attacks on the two entrepreneurs for “wasting their money” on something so frivolous as space travel when they could have fed and housed the homeless somewhere.

I wonder if Henry Ford was subjected to the same criticism when he developed the first car, and later the production line. Or the Wright Brothers for the first flying machine.

I sincerely question a generation that puts virtue signaling their so-called compassion for the less fortunate — as long as they are spending someone else’s money — before real progress, and castigates private enterprise, insisting the government should do it.

We have allowed our desire for our kids to have what we didn’t have to outweigh our good sense and have bred a generation or two of entitled brats who don’t understand that you work for what you want. Nothing is free. Someone has to pay. And you have to have a dream.

They don’t understand, apparently, that all progress, societal and industrial has been because some individual had a bright idea, scraped together the funds to make it work, then showed it off to his friends. Only the means of showing it off has changed

My grandmother was born in 1895. She lived until the year 2000. I often think of the changes she experienced. She always said that in her life, the thing that made the most difference was “the car,” meaning the ubiquitous use of the internal combustion engine.

She watched as the farmers moved from a horse pulling a plow to an air-conditioned self-propelled combine, and all the related growth in other industries. The societal changes she witnessed must have been just as mind-boggling. As you see, I often shake my head at “the younger generation” and question what this world is coming to (and I am definitely one of the generations that Grandma rolled her eyes at).

I’m sure in years to come, this generation will be rolling their eyes at some youngster who is traveling from home to work by evaporating into the ether in the kitchen then materializing somewhere distant at work, escaping all the traffic snarls created by self-driven cars (this generation didn’t bother to learn how to drive) on highways still waiting for the government to fix them.

And I hope the kid tells him to “suck it up! I got the idea from an old T.V. program grandma mentioned in one of her Sunday columns!!”

Virginia can be contacted at vewalters@gci.net.

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