I’m still cheering Seven’s parting comments at the end of “Prey”, the fourth season’s episode of Star Trek: Voyager that I watched last night.
I shouted at the screen in frustration. There it is, little ship Voyager trundling all by itself in a distant, hostile space, having recovered from attacks by the Borg and then by the Borg’s powerful enemy Species 8472. Now Janeway, in her megalomaniac way, wants to take on the enemy of her enemy. 6 Hirogen vessels are closing, intending to complete the kill, but Janeway wants to step between the hunter and hunted to demonstrate peaceful cohabitation. One Hirogen hunter and one Species 8472 individual, both of whom had been injured, attack and retreat from each other while on Voyager. Against Janeway’s orders, Seven saves the day by transporting both aliens off Voyager and onto a Hirogen ship. The fleet of six disappears with their prey, and I finally exhale with relief.
But Janeway is venomous in her rage at being thwarted. She strips Seven of her privileges, and commands her to confine herself to her quarters, the equivalent of sending her to bed without any supper. As Janeway strides away, Seven defends herself succinctly, pointing out Janeway’s fury has more to do with Seven growing her own identity, different and unique from the captain. Seven will not become a Janeway clone. After a hard stare, Janeway turns away.
While I don’t live in a militaristic society, I do live within various, hierarchical structure. I have a boss for my day job. I was educated by teachers following rules set by various legal authorities. I’m a citizen voting for municipal, provincial and federal governments. We human beings adore telling each other what to do, believing that we all benefit from shared effort. And yet, we also believe that the private thoughts and feelings of each of us should be recognized and allowed expression, so long as no one gets hurt. It occurs to me that somehow I’ve grown up thinking that there are perfect humans out there, (parent, teacher, boss). The ones in authority know what they’re doing, and it’s my job to learn and grow and follow until I, too, know what I’m doing. And guess what? Not gonna happen. I’m never going to have all the right answers, and I’m finally realizing neither did they. My willingness to believe in authority blinds me to the fragile humanity of those in power. I have muffled my own uneasiness.
Seven accepts her punishment. Janeway may or may not have understood the issue, but the social structure on board Voyager seems repaired. I find myself musing that by and large although I’m happy with my social environment, I could stand to follow Seven’s example. I could challenge my unthinking willingness to follow by asking questions, at the very least, of myself.