The novel coronavirus has caused a major disruption in how people live all around the globe. Some are now considering how society may change for the long term as a result and one lesson may come from Star Trek.
The Vulcan salute solution
With social distancing becoming the new normal, people are wondering how to greet each other without contact. Health professionals and social scientists have been considering life without handshakes. William Hanage of Harvard’s School of Public Health thinks handshakes will return in the “distant future,” but Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggests that handshakes should end as a form of greeting, even after the coronavirus pandemic is over.
In a world without handshakes, how will people greet each other? London’s University College Professor Robert West University, who advises UK Government ministers on behavioral science, thinks Star Trek can provide the solution. Speaking to the Sun, West suggests the Vulcan salute could work as a new form of universal greeting. “It means live long and prosper — so in the current situation it is particularly apt,” West says.
The greeting which involves parting your hand between the middle and index fingers, with the thumb extended could prove a bit tricky. The British professor and sci-fi fan admitted that even though he can do it as he has “had practice,” the gesture may prove “too hard” for some, and therefore it might not catch on.
The Vulcan salute has become synonymous with Star Trek. It was first introduced in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Amok Time.” The original script for the episode called for Spock to meet with Vulcan elder T’Pau and exchange greetings. Spock actor Leonard Nimoy suggested creating the salute as a form of greeting to introduce something unique to Vulcan culture. He based the gesture on one used in some Jewish ceremonies.
While the gesture might prove difficult for some, it could be worth the practice. Professor West is right that the Vulcan salute and traditional greeting of “live long and prosper,” and response “peace and long life” are something everyone should be able to embrace. It is a message we need now, more than ever.
Professor West isn’t the first to suggest the Vulcan salute as the new universal greeting. Star Trek’s George Takei was already on board just as social distancing joined the vernacular in March.
Live longer and prosper. pic.twitter.com/iQ4gPtXT3Z
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 5, 2020
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