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What Makes Us Human

By Mriana ~

Due to some recent events in my life, this story was originally going to be a comparison of theists and non-theists concerning “judgment and forgiveness”, but it was a great struggle for me to write such a story, in part because as a former Episcopal licensed lay minister, I feel I fall into a trap of preaching. That is not something I wish to do, but I still want to tackle the subject and the various elements it involves.

However, I was a very bad Episcopal licensed lay minister, in that I would often rant about Christianity in the office of the priest, under which I served. I make a far better lay humanist minister and after posting this inspirational story, in different ways, on a couple of forums, it finally occurred to me, this is the story, because it touches on many things that are very human- regrets, sorrow, grief, inspiration, joy, love, fears, encouragement, perseverance, human frailties, risk taking, and even living on after death. All those things make us human, but the only things I do not address, at least not directly, are judgment and forgiveness. That and religion.

Usually I do not talk about this, at least not much, but someone asked me the other day on the Star Trek board I moderate “did you ever meet her?”, referring to Majel Barrett Roddenberry. Many people, especially those on the Roddenberry board, knew I wanted to meet Majel before she died. I never met her in person, because I was waiting for her to come to me and I was so heartbroken when I came home December 18, 2008 and saw literally hundreds of emails in my inbox concerning Majel. I had not opened any of them, but despite none of the subject lines saying anything drastic about her, I knew she had died.

Ironically, I was afraid to open any of them until I came across one from my dear friend in Texas, with the subject line asking if I heard about Majel. I opened that one and my friend confirmed what I already knew. After I read it, I broke down in tears, due to so many missed opportunities. I was devastated and could not write Star Trek or make anything by way of Star Trek for a few days.

However, before she died, she contacted me. It was a written correspondence, and I did not realize it was really her, thinking it was a joke, up until I got the personally autograph picture of her in the mail. She asked for my mailing address and at first, despite the reason of wanting to send me something, I was skeptical. I was like, “This is a joke, right? People know I want to meet Majel before she dies, so someone is playing a joke on me right?” Even so, I gave the benefit of the doubt, took the risk, and gave her my mailing address.

Apparently, it was not joke. The signature on the picture, the way she signed it, is unmistakable, from what I can tell. Sadly, it was a few months before her death and my greatest wish was to meet her in person before she died. She was a wonderful woman and I ended up apologizing for not realizing it was really her, but I guess she was use to that because she did not take it personally. She was a very remarkable woman. I think the most wonderful thing about all of this is that she personally took the time to personally contact me and personally touch my life a few months before she died.

What was the gift I gave her? It was really a simple little thing, nothing big, nothing worth any money, and I did not spend any money, but filled it with a lot of love and appreciation. I made it myself, with a little help of fellow members and that site was one of the ways she would have known I wanted to meet her so badly. It was a birthday gift, which she did not get exactly on her birthday, but she still received it before her death, thanks to her assistant.

The Gift:

A few days after her death, I started some personal therapy, despite still being in a bucket of tears over her death, because it was one of my life’s dreams to meet her personally and I missed it. Despite my pain, regrets, sorrow, I gave in and made a memorial video, as well as wrote a story concerning Lwaxana’s death (or a rewrite of my story). I found making the memorial video very therapeutic and ended up able to rewrite “The Fourth Loss” ( ) even better than the first time, which was also very therapeutic.

The video has various symbolisms in it, in which to show how I feel about the Roddenberrys and the message Gene tried to put in his show “Star Trek”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and movies up to a couple of TNG movies. It was the first Star Trek fan thing I managed to do after her death and with a lot of love:

Afterwards, I felt a little better, but here it is, a few years after her death, and I still find myself crying occasionally, but after her death, there was one thing a fellow Trekker/Trekkie shared, in memory, about meeting her. For some reason, he broke down in tears when he met her, shared a personal story with her, and then apologized for crying. Her response was, “It’s what makes you human”.

Despite wishing to share my own story with her in person, I carry that saying with me, as well as my own variants of it, in memory and love for the Roddenberrys and the message they shared in the media. They were like the parents I never met and in some respects helped to raise me [through the media]. In addition, they are one of many reasons as to why I am a humanist today. They touched so many lives before they died and I was lucky that Majel touched my life before she died. I will never forget it either.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry B. Feb 23, 1932 D. Dec 18, 2008
Gene Roddenberry (Eugene Wesley Roddenberry) B. Aug 19, 1921 D Oct 24 1991

During my own artistic therapy, I did a couple memorial wallpapers ( for each of them too, but regardless, I never let go of Majel’s saying, “It’s what makes you human” and I have said it many times, in various ways, to other people when it seemed appropriate to share. Thus, I am a mixture of my own life experiences and carry with me the “teachings” of the Roddenberrys, which are humanistic.

Even so, I try to pass on to others the way Majel and Gene touched my life, along with their humanistic message. My hope is that this story is inspiring to others, because it includes so many humanistic messages. While there is more to my story in relationship to the “Roddenberry Philosophy” than just what I shared in this article, it is what makes us human and is very humanistic.

Not long before Majel died, my friend, fellow Star Trek fan, and writer from Texas kept saying, “I know one person who will get you on a plane, and I’m sure you will do it for her.” The only things I regret is that I never got the chance or even the chance to tell Majel just what she and her husband, as well as their humanistic message, meant to me, but I think she knew, especially with “The Gift” I made her, with the assistance of others.

It was not until September of 2010, almost two years after Majel death, that I finally mustard the courage to take my first (and hopefully last) plane trip. Regardless, I got on a plane a total four times before the whole trip was over, but it was in Majel’s spirit and support of a couple of very special people, who know who they are, that I did it, despite it being horribly agonizing for me. Despite my anxiety and fear, I was not going to miss another chance at life or meeting others because I was too afraid to travel by plane or any other mode of transportation I chose to make a long trip. It was also the first time, but not the last time, I took the chance to travel a great distance from home, just to meet someone, regardless of how it turned out in the end.

In addition, David Alexander, who also interviewed Gene ( ) for an article in The Humanist ( ), wrote an authorize biography of Gene ( ) . In it, Majel stated that Gene wanted the book written showing his flaws and all. Therefore, neither one of them was perfect, but all of this and more is what made them human. I learned a lot through them and from others too, concerning what it means to be human.

Despite any flaws we may have, all of this and more is what makes us all human, and worth forgiving others and ourselves of any mistakes we might make in our journey through life.