Gene Roddenberry, the "Great Bird of the Galaxy," would have celebrated his 94th birthday today. His optimism spoke to a basic need I too seem to have had already at age 9 (and still have), when he introduced the Enterprise, Vulcan philosophy, the Prime Directive, and intergalactic and inter-species (never mind interracial) comity. His version of the human trek insisted that "there is a tomorrow — it's not all going to be over in a big flash and a bomb, the human race is improving, we have things to be proud of as humans. No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids — human beings built them because they're clever and they work hard." WA
I saw Roddenberry speak at my school when I was an undergrad in the 70s, at a time of American "malaise" when we all seemed to need a re-infusion of that kind of humanistic, pluralistic, naturalistic, melioristic thinking. We could use a booster. Who else is going to build the better future?
In an episode from Trek's next generation, a young space cadet informs his captain that "William James won't be on my Starfleet exams" and is instructed, in a line Roddenberry didn't write but did inspire, "Nothing really important will be. Open yourself to the past, history, art, philosophy, and all of this might mean something."