Today - January 8th - marks 25 years since "Past Tense, Part I" was first aired and introduced audiences to Sanctuary Districts and the horror of the Bell Riots, giving Trek arguably its greatest and most impactful piece of social commentary in the history of the franchise. In the narrative of the two-parter which originally aired on January 8 and January 15, 1995, the economy and societal fabric of America had deteriorated in the early 2020s to the point where the unemployed and those without economic prospects were herded into "Sanctuary Districts" inside every major American city - ostensibly for their own good - and left to fester unattended except for daily meals and half-hearted attempts to find jobs for occupants of the Districts. Sisko, Bashir and Jadzia are accidentally transported back in time to the week of the Bell Riots and materialize in San Francisco near Sanctuary District A, Jadzia going unnoticed at first except by a kindhearted but largely oblivious local broadcasting tycoon who takes her under his care and Sisko and Bashir being rounded up by District security and taken inside where they remain confined until the end of the two-parter. Chaos ensues as the Riots unfold just as history recorded but the real Gabriel Bell dies, Sisko has to assume his identity to ensure that history isn't changed and the military and police storm the District to free hostages and put an end to the riots with good and heroic people dying in the process. The timeline is preserved(with arguably one small change that goes largely unnoticed by anybody), our heroes return to the year 2371 safe and sound and we learn that treating the downtrodden like nuisances to be shoved under a rug and hidden from view isn't a good recipe for a healthy and prosperous society. As we look at the way certain things are unfolding in our present, real-life world these two episodes have become as relevant as ever and show us the direction we could go if we're not careful and don't take proactive measures to prevent. The Earth shown to us in "Past Tense, Parts I and II" isn't yet "real" history nor does it have to be but as the Star Trek franchise has shown us time and time again since 1966 fiction and the creative community can point the way - sometimes clumsily and with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer on the head and other times brilliantly on-point without a lot of flash and pomp - to a better future if we just realize we don't have to settle for the direction that some politicians seem to want to take us. What have we learned?