Cross-posted on The Obama Diary.
It is with the most heartbreak that millions of us have learned that Leonard Nimoy has died at the age of 83.
The advantage of having older brothers who were a full decade older than you is that instead of the traditional sibling rivalry which obtains, they acted more like surrogate parents. My oldest brother, Tony, was and is a Trekkie. And as I became old enough (around 7 or 8), he introduced me to the wonders of Star Trek. This was in the days before reality shows, non-stop talk shows, non-stop courtroom shows. Independent stations had slim pickings for what to broadcast, so they broadcast old TV series. And I can honestly say that I think I never missed an episode of Star Trek when it was broadcast in syndication.
Growing up in el barrio of Washington Heights, Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk, Bones, Uhura, and the rest of them opened up a universe of imagination for me. My circumstances may have been somewhat constrained, by my mind soared at warp speed. And Mr. Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock was a master class in acting. Being half-human, you could always see the tight control that Spock placed on his human emotions. And when they broke out, Mr. Nimoy portrayed them in such glory that it wasn’t hard to wish that Spock would give in to his human side and abandon the logic of the Vulcans. And even though Spock was supposed to be coldly rational, Mr. Nimoy presented Spock as a being in love with the Universe, enraptured by all its wonders.
His In Search Of… was also seminal viewing for me. Every week I’d be treated to some mystery of human history and culture. That too opened a world of possibilities for me, and drove me to read and learn more about this spaceship Earth. Without Leonard Nimoy, my childhood would have been much the poorer, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today.
Leonard Nimoy was a humanist in the best sense of that term. He was a lover of humanity, a believer in its better instincts, and one who had great hopes for it. Great souls like Leonard Nimoy are rare, and must be appreciated all the more when they grace us with their presence. He wrote, he acted, he directed, he sang. And he kept faith in humanity. What more can one ask of a life?
I leave you with a tweet which encapsulates the man. Rest in peace. I have always been, and always will be, your friend.