For a contrast between the state of the world and Star Trek, see Part 1. For the similarities between Captain Picard and Pope Francis, see Part 2. For the differences between Captain Picard and Pope Francis, see Part 3.
Some readers will no doubt take offense at the connection I have made between a religious leader and a franchise that is most often described as “humanist”. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, was himself a vocal atheist. I can only reiterate that I am inspired by Star Trek-type reminders wherever I happen to see them, and I see them in Pope Francis.
To the pope’s mind I don’t think there is a zero-sum conflict between humanists and Catholics. He once asserted that the litmus test for spiritual utility is not faith, but doing good for others. To atheists the pope expressed without cynicism the expectation that they can “do good. We will meet one another there.” This invitation to cooperation is as close to a Star Trek overture as First Contact with the Vulcans.
If any of us are inspired by the philosophy of Star Trek, let us begin to live out its ideals. Let us treat one another as co-equal participants in an open and inclusive federation. Let us make our life’s work about self-improvement and the discovery of breakthroughs that will improve many lives. Let us go boldly to the frontiers and fringes, where people of goodwill are simply awaiting an invitation.
You don’t have to be a pope to do that. You simply need to say with a loving heart, “Come to me”.