From the American Humanist Association’s archive, Gene Roddenberry acceptance speech at the 1991 awards ceremony
On August 16, 2012 At 12:08 pm
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I am very delighted, actually beyond delighted, that the American Humanist Association (AHA) pulled out Gene Roddenberry’s speech, from their archives and shared it with us. The short speech takes place after he received the Humanist Arts Award in 1991.
Roddenberry was a writer, producer, philosopher, and humanist, who created Star Trek and Star Trek: the Next Generation.
According to the clip, his son assisted him to the podium so he could give his speech. After Rod, Gene and Majel's son, whose actual name is Eugene Wesley Roddenberry Jr., assisted him to the podium, Gene introduced him. He hoped his son becomes a future pioneer of humanism. If not, he said he would be satisfied if his son is a good person who tells the truth. I think Rod, who inherited the Roddenberry legacy, according the Roddenberry website, has or at least he is becoming a future pioneer of humanism.
"I have always been reasonably leery of religion because there are so many edicts in religion, 'thou shalt not,' or 'thou shalt.' I wanted my world of the future to be clear of that." ~From personal conversations with Gene in 1990 at La Costa
During Gene's speech, he stated people consider television the worst of things, but he and his fellow writers, turned it into something good, sometimes making it philosophically sound. He stated that sometimes it gives people, who think as humanists, a moment to chuckle as he and his writers pull things over others, presumably the religious.
He said humanism has furnish him, as it has others, with great joy and a sense of reward, thanking others for putting together philosophical ways to have fun with humanism. He thinks it is important to have fun with humanism and “not be sour about it.” He believed humanism is a great thing, but humanists deserve to “pull it over on them,” again presuming superstitious believers, and admires humanists from afar.
He said most of his life he was a humanist and joked that he once thought he was just evil, [until he found out about humanism].
Then he recalled his childhood in church. He stated, when he was about 17, he woke up in church once, as they were talking about “take this as the flesh, the body”, and could not believe what the church was talking about, realizing that he “sat down with a terrible group of people.”
“We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.” ~ attributed to Gene Roddenberry
He stated that this life is full of delight and that we should enjoy the pleasure and delight, even “stick it to them now and then,” adding that should be one of his mottos.
Gene finishes by thanking the AHA again, especially for the various things they have done.
If there ever was a Humanist Celebrant before Gene’s death, he was it, in my opinion. I dearly adore the picture I used of him because it reminds me of a “minister” preparing his sermon. In this case, Gene held a script in his hands, probably a Star Trek script, which “preaches” humanism in a wonderful and entertaining manner and I wrote about the Roddenberrys, adding some of their words and philosophy to my articles on this site, more than once.
I think one can take many things away from Star Trek and even use it as a “Humanist Bible”, even though humanism is not considered a religion, but I have often heard Star Trek fans say that Star Trek is like a religion. For me, humanism is a way of life and Gene included some of the tenants of humanism within the various Star Trek episodes, albeit maybe taking mostly from the Humanist Manifesto II, since humanists did not create the Humanist Manifesto III until 2003, after Gene died.
As one reads over the Humanist Manifesto II, they can see some of what it states are within Star Trek and I remember reading the Manifesto or something like it, as a teenager, thinking, "This is me!" Unfortunately, my religious mother walked into my room, unannounced, saw me reading it and snatched it out of my hands, sternly saying, "THIS IS NOT CHRISTIAN!" Then she walked out of my room with the information in her hand. I never saw it, or something like it, again until years later and it was then I declared myself a humanist or at least a person growing into humanism. I credit the Roddenberrys for introducing me to humanism.
The part I love best about the second Manifesto is the statement that says, “[W]e can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” Humanism inspires and encourages me to "better myself and society", especially when I remember other humanists I admire, both living and dead, such as the Roddenberrys.
Below is Gene’s speech and following it, is the memorial video I made, shortly after Majel died on December 18, 2008. My video was created with great love and admiration for them, because I feel they are two of the greatest humanists who walked the earth. Everything in my memorial video to them is metaphorical, but yet means something to me, as I remember the Roddenberrys.
Thank you AHA for sharing this clip of Gene. It is greatly appreciated.