Picard Returns, Just In Time…

I am a huge fan of Star Trek (and good science-fiction more generally), and my favorite of all the various iterations of Gene Rodenberry’s vision was The Next Generation. So you can imagine my reaction when I read that Patrick Stewart aka Jean-Luc Picard will return in a new series that will follow Captain Picard’s post-Enterprise life.

There are numerous theories, articles and books that attempt to explain the long-term devotion of Star Trek fans. Most of them boil down to a recognition that its vision of the future speaks to our human aspiration to become better–better people in a better, more equal, fairer society–a society in which human ingenuity focuses on creating social structures that facilitate what Aristotle called “human flourishing.”

Whatever the appeal, there are reasons to applaud Jean-Luc’s return. Right now, Americans desperately need high-profile models of wise adulthood–figures who demonstrate what honorable, intelligent, mature behavior looks like, so that we don’t begin to regard as normal the childish and bizarre behaviors emanating from the Oval Office.

Think about the character of Jean-Luc Picard. He is temperate, waits to gather evidence before coming to a conclusion, and thinks before he (eloquently) speaks.  He is highly disciplined, and in control of his emotions. He gives credit where credit is due. He encourages, supports and clearly cares about his subordinates. He never stoops to name-calling–and never blames others for his own errors or mistakes.

He demonstrates strength and resolve, but prudently avoids unnecessary confrontations, and considers the use of force a last resort.

As one might expect in a series about a fictional starship, Captain Picard is intimately familiar with the science and technology of his ship, but he also appreciates and is familiar with the humanities: he’s an amateur archeologist, a history buff and a fan of Shakespeare.

Picard’s crew isn’t just multi-ethnic, it is multi-species, and he meets the inhabitants of new planets with respect and efforts at mutual understanding.

Most of all, Picard is shown as a steadfast defender of the rule of law–especially the Federation’s Prime Directive–even when adherence to the law requires very tough decisions. In short, he’s a civilized adult.  Accordingly, there is no aspect of Jean-Luc Picard’s character that is not a direct reproof to, and critique of, Donald Trump.

Think of Picard as super-ego, and Trump as id.

Trump could not be more unlike Stewart’s Picard. To call him undisciplined is an understatement. If things go well, he claims the credit; if things demonstrably don’t go well, he blames others. It’s never his fault. He picks totally unnecessary fights. And far from being educated, he is profoundly, embarrassingly ignorant–not just of his ship (of state) and the rules governing it, but also of history, geography, law, science, public policy and (evidently, judging from his tweets) the English language.

Trump’s “crew” is all white; he consistently demonstrates his contempt for black and brown Americans with racist and demeaning rhetoric. I would accuse him of purposely trying to undermine the rule of law, but I seriously doubt that he understands what that is. Evidence is irrelevant to his “agenda,” which is based entirely upon his various resentments and biases.

I have friends who binge-watch old episodes of The West Wing and long for a President Bartlett. I watch Star Trek reruns and pine for a leader like Picard. Unfortunately, Bartlett and Picard are fictional characters, while Trump is all too depressingly real.

That said, the return of Jean-Luc Picard–fictional though he may be– will give us another example of an ethical adult, another role-model to remind us that the moral and intellectual midgets currently infesting our governing institutions are anomalies who cannot be allowed to set the standard.

We need that.


  1. What about Captain Picard, however, post-Borg? Does that affect him in his post-Enterprise years? Does he bend to the “collective” – or however it was characterized? My vote goes for the original series, but whatever the choice, if only we could be beamed up.

  2. mark small: you beat me to stating my preference for the original “Star Trek” series but I do appreciate the multi-racial, multi-species basis of “The Next Generation”. My science fiction preference runs to “Soylent Green” as a warning if we don’t fully recognize Global Warming; and “Planet Of The Apes” regarding “what goes around, comes around”…better known as Karma. And in agreement with your last comment; if we lose this November election I will be wishing, instead of praying, “Beam me up, Scotty!” was an actual escape route.

    That being a physical impossibility, I will be seeking another President Barack Obama as “…another role-model to remind us that the moral and intellectual midgets currently infesting our governing institutions are anomalies who cannot be allowed to set the standard.”

  3. JoAnn,
    “if we lose the November election” neither wishes nor prayers will deflate the goons; we will have Hell on Earth.

    We must gird our loins (prepare for action) NOW, pray later.

  4. Unfortunately, 45 does believe that he should be able to turn to someone and say, “Make it so,” in order to accomplish whatever his tiny brain thinks of at that moment. It seems he learned the wrong lesson from Picard.

    I am with Sheila on this TNG was superior to the original, especially in the treatment of women. Even the change to the opening is significant: “To boldly go where no one has gone before,” rather than “To boldly go where no MAN has gone before.” Even Kirk fans have to agree, he was a major horn dog.

  5. OMG; how about trying, “Beam Trump up, Scotty!”? And just in the past few days I mentioned the possibility that, if there is a hell, we are living it now.

  6. How does one know which direction to beam Trump? It would be difficult to find anyone who wants him at either end.

  7. I don’t know anything about Star Trek but unfortunately do about Agent Orange all of which boils down to the only thing that I care about him.

    It’s hard to even imagine someone less qualified for their job.

  8. When it comes to qualities of leadership I like not only Capt Picard but Capt Janeway and Commander Sisko. Though they are each different in personality, they all demonstrate leadership qualities that I admire.

    I have noted that Star Trek is based in secular humanist values which is a reflection of its creator Gene Rodenberry, but they also demonstrate tolerance for those with theistic beliefs. They demonstrate real tolerance unlike some militant atheists. As a humanistic, progressive, feminist Christian, I practice( note I say practice )tolerance for people including those militant atheists.

  9. Well said, Robin.

    I would consider Picard a Stoic based on Sheila’s description. Marcus Aurelius in action and always in control of their emotions.

    Trump is 100% pure bloated ego…exactly the opposite of Stoics. The Stoics saw the Ego as THE problem.

    Nobody would have ever heard of Trump had he not inherited money from his father’s slumlord business. He wouldn’t even be considered average.

    But our country has gotten so twisted where we worship those with money and fame. Celebrity status draws people to the TV where advertisers sell their products.

    Capitalism relies on consumerism. We must BUY, BUY, BUY to keep up revenues which reward shareholders and CEOs. Workers be damned.

    It’s a shell game, and it will eventually erupt because it is unsustainable.

    Trump is just a symbol of a much broader problem which is quickly coming to a head. We are one world and one people. We must accept this…wise foreign leaders see this. Only the USA is still stuck in predatory capitalism because we must meet excessive growth requirements.

    Trump’s vision is precisely the opposite of the direction we should be heading. Sadly, he’s done so much damage internationally; the USA is no longer viewed as a leader in the global, inclusive transformation.

  10. Bravo Todd,
    Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is a cross between a traditional English Sea captain Admiral James Stockdale in regard to his stoicism. He is the consummate leader, far, far from the bloated, decrepit fool that we currently have it the helm of state in this country, guided by honor and principle things that Trump could never contemplate.

    Just as you alluded to, every day Trump remains in office he drives this country from its core principles, ones that have stood the test of time for over 240 years where. While we have made many mistakes as a nation, some of which have been some really big ones, we have always tried to adhere in the end to the standards that our founding fathers laid before all of us so long ago. Trump is well on his way to destroying all of that, literally turning this country inside out and making it into something that could very well end up being seen as a threat to all the other nations of the world. It may be a stretch to say that we might end up being a latter day in Nazi Germany as a result of the uncontrollable, entirely corrupted direction that he and others are hell bent on taking us on but in the end it might not be. If this is allowed to continue we could see ourselves in the most dire position this country has ever been.

    I have been a devotee of Star Trek from its very beginning and I’ve always seen as a very optimistic view of mankind and when it originally came on the air in 1966 I was a 13 year old boy who just four years earlier had lived through the Cuban missile crisis being very aware what was going on. Way back then we came closer to having a nuclear Armageddon than we ever have and for people that were around back then it’s hard to depict just how deeply scary it was. In a fictional way the television show, particularly the first one, showed that mankind did survive, that we did get beyond the period where we came close to destroying ourselves and grew to explore space far beyond our solar system meeting other cultures that it done the same. Every day Trump remains in office he threatens that rosy scenario and this time it’s not fictional but instead of cold hard reality of where we’re at right now.

    May you all live long and prosper!

  11. I had the pleasure back in the early 1970’s to hear Gene Roddenberry speak at the University I was attending. Roddenberry spoke about his battles with Corporate Hollywood to dumb down the original Star Trek in various ways.

    Roddenberry mentioned that originality suffered at the unseen corporate hand of imitation. If a Western or Detective Show was a success in ratings than the conclusion was “the people” wanted more of them – quality was not important.

    A lack of critical thinking seems to have infected America. One thing I remember from those days in the 1960’s and early 1970’s was youth in general challenging the status quo in various in your face ways. The Reactionary Right viewed these society upheavals with alarm. The counter attack by the Reactionary Right was predictable: The Nail that Stands out must be Hammered Down.

    Our science as represented by NASA reached for the moon and beyond. Sure some of the motivation was a part of the Cold War. However, the Space Race proved, what good people could accomplish, even if the public face was crew-cut white men.

    Watch National Geographic’s, ‘One Strange Rock’ hosted by Will Smith. As described, > ‘One Strange Rock’ leverages a cast of astronauts to bring their insight and emotion into the story and share their personal experiences as they explore themes such as the genesis of life, death, cosmic violence, human intelligence and more.<< The interconnections of life on earth is explored and it's fragility.

    Our President Agent Orange has no use for science or reflection instead, today, Pastor Pence has been given his marching orders to develop a military presence in space.

    H. L. Mencken predicted President Agent Orange decades ago.
    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."
    H. L. Mencken

    This brings us to another quote by H. L. Mencken.
    "On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

  12. i have a gag picture of capt picard,on trek set,pointing with his arm out,looking quite pissed,, with the bottom quote, theres the door,now get the f,,, out, now, if i,could just put trump next to him on a photo shop..mmmmm,
    p..s check out the tweet from dc mayor mureil bowser,,
    its a great morning in dc with her quote on trumps rained out parade,,i wish more people had her backbone…

  13. Robin: What is a “militant atheist?” I am an atheist, which means that I’ve employed my critical faculties to avoid buying into poppycock that others say they subscribe to. In fact I’ve gone so far over the edge that my brain demands integrity among all of my thoughts. It will not allow concepts like science and reason to cohabitate with mysticism in sealed compartments. But I am completely indifferent to whatever fantasies others wish to sign up for and how fanatical they choose to be about them. I feel no militancy and unlike large segments of many religions, I have no desire to convince others of my views. Based on recent events in Pennsylvania, however, I’ve become a big fan of Emile Zola’s observation that, “Civilization will not attain to its perfection till the last stone has fallen from the last church on the last priest.”

  14. The term inspirational has never been and never will be applied to Trump. And yet it is probably the most desirable and most effective of all leadership traits. Everything good and decent the human race has ever achieved would not have been accomplished without inspiration. Inspiration is rooted in selflessness. Inspiration motivates people to work towards the greater good, even if that means self sacrifice, which it often does. Trump does not inspire. He conspires. It’s how self-centered people who have never performed a single selfless act in their lives and who care nothing about others behave.

    And so after Trump leaves office, no one will look back with any fondness or longing for his days in power. No one will shed a tear at his passing. No one will be able to point out a single thing he has ever done that elevated the human condition. No one will be able to claim that Trump inspired them to do any benevolent act or to achieve anything of lasting importance. Given all of the opportunity Trump has had to accomplish truly great things, he has always taken the low road. He has been far surpassed by a fictional character like Jean Luc Picard, who has had more positive influence on people that Trump ever had or ever will.

  15. A great program on last season was about a President who was an independent battling both parties in Congress to lead in the country’s best interest. The title was “Designated Survivor”. The President is exactly the kind of role model for which we all yearn.

    The program is off for the summer, but I hope it returns this fall. It reminds of West Wing” and obviously was written by people who are familiar with the workings of government.

  16. Thank you, Sheila Kennedy! For some reason, this made me feel better about it all. I appreciate your creative outlook!

  17. Thanks, Terry M., for your comments on “Militant atheists.” I never see atheists in the street asking people if they have stopped believing in god. I never see atheists on TV sobbing about the lack of reason manifested by millions. I, too, try to have integrity in what I believe, in what I think and in the way I treat others, including the planet. Given the current actions of the “evangelicals” and the on-going crisis involving Catholic priests, I can’t imagine what atheists are doing that is so militant.

  18. Captain Picard was the perfect pick for a new series.

    His experience and diplomacy are prefect for the trying times we are facing.

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