He had the world’s best comfy chair and big screen TV but he still didn’t choose just to stay home and watch re-runs. What can we learn about travel from Captain James T. Kirk?

Explore

Explorers sometimes go off the edge of the map where it says “here be monsters” or at least visit places not mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide. Captain Kirk was an explorer.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Now that’s a mission statement. Did it always work out great? No. Did it mean that they had to give up access to great Mexican food and every once and a while have a chicken sandwich and coffee with tribbles all over them? Yes.

Meet the Locals

Captain Kirk had his loyal traveling companions and brought food with him just like mom used to replicate, but the best part of his travels often came from his interaction with the locals. If we travel to learn more about other cultures we can do that more from interacting with people who live there than we can from just hearing about it from a guide or reading about it from a guidebook. Even without a Universal Translator (although the iPhone is getting closer) we can learn enough words of the local language to at least greet people.

Respect Local Cultures and Customs

“We don’t do it that way at home” is a dangerous line. We travel to see places and people that are different but differences can be challenging at times. Captain Kirk had a rule called the Prime Directive (Starfleet’s General Order #1) which said that:

As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture.

It did not mean that they agreed with the rules, the norms or even what that society held sacred. But it meant that they respected the people (beings) enough to treat there customs with respect. I will come into contact with beliefs that I disagree with when I leave home, but treating people with whom I disagree with respect is not unfaithful to my beliefs.

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