We need help Star Trek!
Looking at Star Trek TNG for thinking about leadership in the coming year(s)
The most powerful aspect of Star Trek that many of us don’t fully realize is that founder Gene Roddenberry specifically wanted to depict the future as something positive for us to strive for vs. a dystopian future that much science fiction depicts. Only long after I watched Star Trek did I realize this extremely positive impact on my outlook on life above and beyond just the science. I thought it would be fun to briefly rate and examine the TNG characters and see what other’s think. (I mostly liked the characters)
Jean-Luc Picard: Captain
This is a no brainer, but let’s compare him with these weaker characters:
Geordi is like a lame superhero who simply reaches into his utility belt every time he has to solve a problem (How many times did batman go into his utility belt?…less than 10 times in three years in the old Batman series.) Where’s the character and complex problem solving in simply using a tachyon pulse, or tri-phasic energy beam or whatever other out-of-this-century physics thingamajig he could come up with. I’m not down with these newer superheros who appear to use mostly their magical powers to solve problems — I can’t relate that to the real world today — unless of course you’re a fan of leaders who just spew obnoxious BS to boost their ratings (and power….sigh).
How does Picard solve problems? He harnesses his knowledge of history, human behavior, the art of war, philosophy, a little bit of physics, and even Shakespeare, plus a lot of brass balls to skillfully and cleverly solve problems and save the ship and billions of lives. Something we can relate to today. He makes us think Destiny, Divine Provenance, The Great Spirit, the Emergent Property of Matter and Existance, God, whatever you call it is with us. That’s important. That’s the kind of person I want sitting in the chair and running things around here. Not to mention his passion and compassion gives us hope that there are people like that up there in the ranks of power somewhere or sometime in the future.
But to Geordi’s credit, I did like the way he was always helping data to become more human. That was sweet. Plus Geordi was just a nice, likable guy, and although not a Scotty, he did save the ship many times, so good to have him around.
I want to like Will Riker, after all he’s the first officer. Really….I actually do like Will Riker, he’s a likable guy and he also saved the ship many times. But I really can’t point to anything spectacular and off the charts about him other than his playing jazz on the trombone. And his character really didn’t develop — I’m sorry growing a beard helped a little, but it worked on Lincoln not you…sorry Will.
Data: Lt. Commander
How could you not love Data? Yes, he’s a clear rip off of Mr. Spock, but not loving either one of them is like not loving pizza. His struggle to be more human, to integrate all the things he’s learned into understanding Humanity, is what life is all about. He’s even not afraid to sing. Yes, his lack of being human preventing him from being in the same class as Picard, but you can’t blame him for basically being born Pinocchio.
Worf: Chief Security and Tactical Officer
Worf wins the award for being the most improved character — hands down. He was an idiot in the first Season. But the development of his focus on honor and proudly being himself despite being so unlike the other characters (humans) was admirable. He isn’t the smartest tool in the shed, but he’s smart enough and he respects his own weakness and knows when to apply his strength (as long as Picard is around to keep him from straying). And most of all, his character is beyond question.
Guinan: Bar Tender (and spiritual advisor)
I love Guinan. She wasn’t one of the mainstay characters, but everything she said was spot on. Yea, I can see how one would get annoyed by the idea that she talks a lot and has a bit of a smirky smile all while never putting her ass at risk by beaming down to a planet or risking her life fixing a plasma conduit while the engines are running during battle, but her love, intuition, empathy, wisdom, and just generally being a good person eclipses all that. She pulls off being the wise bartender in spades. I especially like the few times when nobody, including Picard had any #%!! idea what was going on at times, but she had it all nailed. A little cheesy, but she pulls it off.
Beverly Crusher: Chief Medical Officer
I like that Beverly is strong and doesn’t mind telling people what she really thinks. Cudos Bev! She wasn’t especially insightful or clever (yea she had strong medical knowledge, but that’s above our pay grade in this century and goes into the category of superhero magic, so it doesn’t count). Her pushing back on Picard and being a strong woman was my favorite part of her character. I would have liked to see her more as a captain(she was a capitain in one of the movies or was it the last episode), but her focus on Medicine brought her to a different destiny.
Deanna Troi: Ship’s Counselor
I’m ambivalent about Deanna. I lost count of the number of times she said something like “Captain I sense hostility” and I was waiting for Picard to say something like, “Duh, Deanna, and I’m paying you how much to state the obvious!!?”. But she was warm, caring and so helpful to the crew. She was the goto person often — you need somebody like her around, especially the rare times she got mad at some of the dudes and put them in their place.
In addition to Riker and Geordi mentioned above:
Wesley Crusher: Starfleet Cadet and Engineering Officer
I pretty much hate Wesley. Yea he’s smart, but somebody who is just a smart character is again one step away from simply having magic and that doesn’t sit well with most reasonably intelligent people. Nothing he did applies to the real world back here on Earth. Yea I like when he met the Traveller at the end who helped him understand his destiny, but I wish the Traveller mentored somebody else, even the barber would have been a better choice.
Note: I liked Will Wheaton is his role in the Sci Fi show Dark Matter, he was a evil asshole — totally worked. But I guess I was comparing that character to Wesley who was just such a toad. Who’s idea was Wesley? Nobody likes a smart ass.
Tasha Yar: Chief Security Officer
She was almost as much of an idiot as Worf in the first season — seeing everything through the lens of somebody who just wants to use their gun. But she had potential just as Worf did. She was really powerful and humble in the later episode where she appeared (returned for an episode) due a time rift and ended up doing something incredibly honorable. Since she was only on the show for basically one season — she gets an honorable mention because I would have liked to see her character develop, but didn’t have the chance.
Gowron — Leader of the Klingon Empire
I mean, look at those eyes! He has the best eyes by far of anybody on Star Trek, and you need to see them in action motion. That alone gives him an honorable mention.
However, in addition, despite his being a warrior, a typical Klingon, you gotta give him credit, for showing how a leader might behave with honor in such a wretched society. You can’t blame somebody for the cards they got dealt, and with Gowron you got a sense, that he was basically as good as a Klingon could be and still be a warrior. Plus he wasn’t a jerk, he was just a Klingon and in the end he was pretty reasonable with Worf and showed him due respect.
Q — Omnipotent Being
Yea Q is a spoiled brat asshole — a very dangerous combination for an Omnipotent Being. But you have to consider that he keeps coming back to visit and he would never actually hurt anybody on the Enterprise (and never did) even though he could easily wipe them all out. This shows that he probably respects humans more than he admits, even seeing something in them that he and his people lack. Plus, I think Picard might see a little spark of humanity in Q and appreciate that Q gives Picard an opportunity to deal with some really nasty and complex stuff. Can we blame Q for being such an ass? He could easily be lot worse and kill a lot of the humans for fun — but he always gave them a chance and was in the end mostly a good sport considering that he probably didn’t know any better. Q reminds us that humanity is still very young and (hopefully) will grow into a highly honorable and intelligent species if we can survive some of our worst demons.
Which of these characters do we need today in the real world?