5 Political Lessons we can learn from The Drumhead

Unapologetic political post with opinions!

I’m writing this post under my own name as with everything in politics. It’s a personal thing. It’s also collective. And it feels good to share.

I’ve been open about my political leanings. I’ve worked in that battle field. I’ve stood for election many times and served public office for some years. My underlying principles have been always been Liberal and Star Trek was the influence and educator for me.

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But I was born in Hawaii!

When I went to bed the night of the US Election, I noted that I felt the same as I did the night of the EU referendum. Smug reassurance that everything was going to be fine and go the way I thought it would… and should.

Watching the results come in that night  I felt like the crew of DS9 checking on the weekly casualty reports during the Dominion war.

Whilst Star Trek appeals to Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, the overwhelming majority of us all share it’s core philosophy.  That’s why campaigns like ‘Trek Against Trump’ gained such widespread support. And why I have only encountered a handful of a Trump and Brexit supporters – hey we’re all internet friends!

But the next morning as I sat drinking my 4th Diet Coke at 6.30am, with a screaming 2 year old, a vomiting dog, news that a relative had passed away and Trumps face grinning through the TV. I nearly surrendered to the fact that humanity is in the midst of a self destruct phase. Then I heard Captain Picard’s voice calmly speaking. img_1226

That’s when I remembered that doing nothing isn’t an option. So I rewatched The Drumhead and in my angry, defeated mindset, Picard reminded me to keep fighting the cause.

You’ll recall a Klingon exchange officer is accused of smuggling information to the Romulans but denies causing an explosion in engineering. This leads to an investigation into the crew which reveals a young officer lied about his Romulan heritage when applying to Starfleet. The Drumhead is one of Star Trek’s finest hour. But Picard’s words to Worf chime true at anytime and during any political climate.

This was the moment for me I realised that Star Trek isn’t just a ‘utopian vision’. It’s a working political model. It is continually tested and challenged. This is where Star Trek can give us hope during these times.

So whether you’re feeling sorry for yourself and the frightening shift away from liberalism, freedom and common sense, Or if you’re conservative and believe in devolving power to the lowest possible level, Here’s five lessons we can take away from the TNG episode The Drumhead. Let me know what you think. Are there any you’d add?

  1. Constantly reevaluate your own beliefs and hold them to account.

I have put this first as I believe it is the most important and key to our development and growth as a person.  Picard does this early on in the episode when talking to Admiral Satie. She wants to begin the investigation by limiting Tarses movements based on her Betazoid assistant’s intuition (that Tarses is hiding something). She makes excellent points. She speaks calmly, she’s intelligent and her argument has plenty of merit. You can see Picard considering carefully. When she asks if Picard would act on similar advice from Counsellor Troi, he acknowledges the hypocrisy of his stance and resolves to correct it instead of making excuses for himself. I’ve rarely ever seen a politician .. or person admit this during a confrontation.

2. Let your logic and emotions work together in harmony.

There’s a reason why that guy in your office, who claims ‘he identifies mosts with Vulcans’ because he ‘doesn’t let emotions get in his way’ – is a complete Jerk. This is because unlike Vulcans, he has not completed the Kolinahr and he doesn’t follow the teachings of Surak. When human beings try to suppress their emotions, things go bad. This is where Picard excels and Admiral Satie fails. Picard can sometimes seem cold when in fact he is always congruent with his emotions. Perhaps this is why they don’t always come bursting out (unlike that guy in your office!). He is quick to notice his gut feeling and tells Worf “This doesn’t feel right”.

Admiral Satie on the otherhand seems very ‘in control’ of her emotions, which in our culture is applauded. She is quick to loose control though when her buttons are pushed. There are similarities to Trump here. They both are capable of provoking intense feelings in others – particularly fear. However when Picard used Satie’s fathers words against her and when Alec Baldwin, Cher and every media outlet used Trumps words against him, their fragile inner emotional state can’t cope.

3. Everyone believes they are the goodies and doing what’s best.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that no matter how awful or misguided someone’s beliefs are, Everyone thinks they are doing what’s ‘best’ or ‘necessary’ despite the actual outcome. The same is true with Picard and Satie. In fact they have much more in common than not. They both want the truth, they both want to protect the values of the Federation.

I often had to remind myself of that when I was working with (what I now consider) moderate opposition parties. The difference is in the policy and how you will achieve the goal. Satie believes that the overarching importance is “protection of the Federation” – and any measure however unsavoury is worthwhile for the great of good. However Picard sees the rights of the individual as sovereign. That by protecting the one, you are upholding the values of the Federation which you seek to protect. We see Picard implement a person centred policy many times, e.g. Measure of a Man, The Offspring, Insurrection.

On a side note, I once considered taking an action that was morally questionable but for a good cause. I watched the DS9 episode “In the pale moonlight” where Sisko brings the Romulans into the war. After watching that episode I was convinced it was the necessary thing to do. But after weeks of considering it I thought to myself “Would Picard have done that?”. I thought of the Drumhead and realised that Picard would have found another way. For me and my conundrum, it wasn’t the ‘right’ thing to do.

4. Step up to your duty.

Whether you’re a voter, party member or president-elect. We all have a role and responsibility.

When Picard sees that Tarses will need legal representation he calls on Commander Riker who steps up to protect Tarses without hesitation. When it is suddenly revealed that he is part Romulan, the audience gasps and we’re all thinking he is guilty as hell. Riker may have reacted with a presumption of innocence and jumped to Simons rescue. Or he felt the same as the audience but knew his duty was to protect Simon. Either way. Classy.

Not only is this a reminder on how to treat others but with lots of big news stories hitting out headlines almost daily it’s vital to continually scrutinise, challenge and determine what is actually important.

5. Lecturing other people about their beliefs rarely changes their mind.

Picard eloquently explains his position to Satie, as does she. As she won’t change her mind, Picard needs to remove her power. He does this by enlightening others. He provides evidence so Admiral Henry from Starfleet Security, the rest of the crew and even Satie’s staff can see her for what she really is.

Hateful words spread fear but silencing them can give their cause credibility, as they claim to be repressed. Picard puts the spotlight on Satie and allows her to reveal the full extent of her fanaticism.  This allows followers like Worf to re-evaluate their own stance. Picard took a person centred approach again as he is aware that change comes from within and given the full facts, a person can make an informed decision. The draw back is that the person receiving that decision changing information generally has to be well balanced, constantly re-evaluate their own beliefs, has harmonised their emotions with their logic and will step up to do their duty. Which is why it worked so much better in 2367 than in 2016.

Shaka … When the walls fell.

 

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