"Enterprise: Archer's speech"

The last television series in the original spirit of Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek" ends with the founding of the Alliance, which would eventually lead to the Federation, which would in turn join the many peace-loving peoples of our portion of our galaxy in a common endeavor and start a magnificent future.

The human commander of the starship Enterprise, Captain Archer, walks to the podium to deliver the founding speech of the Alliance. But what he says is left unrecorded. Many fans of the series regretted this, and I for one took it upon myself to imagine the content of that speech, using my own ideas of what it should have contained.

Earth has orbited its lone primary close to four hundred times since some humans created a political entity called the United States of America. It was Earth's first such entity based, not on tradition or territory or conquest or the force of personality of a ruler, but on ideas. In its founding document those ideas were couched in terms then contemporary. But just short of a hundred Earth years later, the people of one of the newer constituent states, called Nebraska -- people who could be thought unexceptional, agriculturalists for the most part -- rephrased them, in words which leapt beyond their time, beyond matters of gender or heritage or spiritual system, beyond for that matter boundaries they could have barely glimpsed, of species and planetary origin, words which I am proud to carry engraved into a plaque mounted on the bridge of my ship:

You recognize, of course, the influence of these words and of the ideas they embody on the Charter you have just adopted. They are simple -- once they have been set down. But they have power. The people of the United States of America realized this and, uniquely at first for their species, took their great oath, from their chosen rulers and from all who at any level undertook public service or defense, not to persons or politics or belief or territory, but to their Constitution and for its protection.

In the succeeding hundred and eighty Earth years after the Nebraska formulation, these ideas prospered until much of the planet lived by them in superficially varied forms. From a world almost entirely occupied by empires, even later at the outset of our first great planetary war, we progressed to one in which whole continents, and much of what remained, lived under laws made with "the consent of the governed."

Even in the awful aftermath of Earth's last great war, a war in large part based on the confrontation of them by opposing ideas, oppressive or atavistic, the ideas endured and prevailed. Buoyed by the optimism and expanded horizons that followed our First Contact, with our first extraterrestrial friends from Vulcan, they flourished into the basis of planetary peace and prosperity and of Earth's worldwide government.

It is these, our ideas, that we humans have offered to you. Notwithstanding over a hundred Earth years of human trade and exploration in interstellar space, despite success in conflicts, despite other contributions from human luck, perseverance, scientific advance and creativity, they are really all we have to offer that is unique and, we would hold, of sufficient value to put before you.

Others have technology more advanced than Earth's. Others have stronger military traditions. Yet before today, technology and weapons had still left the planets and the empires to which many of them belonged in a state much like that of the Earth the Nebraskans faced, still divided, still threatened from without and within, with prosperity hindered by boundaries, hampered by the the lacing of strength with the weakness of fragmentation. In this milieu, we of Earth survived and gave evidence of how our values inspired our lives. We offered our ideas by trying to help, by suggesting, by acting on them, by replying when asked what made humans different.

You have seen fit to accept our offer, and to launch upon the great adventure of founding this Alliance with a core structured upon those concepts which Earth held, and holds, precious, which enriched us and once saved us, and with which we launched into the Galaxy.

May they serve us, all our species from all our worlds, well. May we all, as the Vulcans would say, live long and prosper.

And now where do we, the Alliance, hopefully to ripen very soon into some kind of true federation, go from here?

The human who first achieved warp drive for Earth said to seek out new worlds, new life and civilizations, and to go where no-one had gone before. And a human thinker who died during the Earth generation before First Contact, looking forward to a time such as ours, wrote that our future endeavors should be inspired by two one-word directives: "seek" and "hope."

I have one more human thought to propose -- let us make it so.

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2009 Anthony Buckland, anthonybuckland@telus.net
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last modified: May 11, 2009