The Jihad: The Errant

Well, that was a fun little time-pocket episode. Admittedly I was torn between the prince and the coward as the saboteur, but the contrast between the beginning and ending of the whole thing was really rather striking.

Individuals of various pronounced skills and personalities from various species are brought together for a heist. Except what needs to be stolen has already been stolen, they are just the fourth attempt to steal it back.

Their goal in obtaining this object — which is of utmost religious significance to one of the species represented — is to avoid a holy war which would be enacted on the whole known galaxy by the wounded species if their religious relic is not returned (apparently the general population of this species doesn’t yet know it’s missing).

SPOILER: The fact that it was taken because someone believes war to be their birthright and that the purity of their religion prevents them from said birthright is very interesting. It is made more interesting by the diverse group of individuals who are peacefully brought together in order to prevent the violent inclinations of an individual. As Spock, or any other Vulcan might put it …

the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or even the one.

What I like least is that the violent inclinations — and no other part of his personality — are seen as a sort of illness or insanity of which he must be healed, rather than a belief he chooses to uphold. Is this something that we can accept as true of his specific species? Or must we acknowledge the episode’s historical context and the fact that even today when one person chooses mass violence to further their own beliefs others will view such action as being a “mental health problem”?

To believe it as specific to his species gives the writers the benefit of the doubt (and not out of the question given that Kirk asked how the individual would be punished).

But to do that without acknowledging the historical context/implications would be to let them “off the hook” in much the same way chalking up mass violence to “mental health problems” is how many today wash their hands of the role they play (however unintentional) of allowing harmful/othering/deadly beliefs to flourish.

Who hurt you, child, that pain is all
you seek from nest to burning nest?
Who planted in you — when still small —
the sight that you alone know best?
Such seeking ever finds itself
in every wrong upon the shelf
as though all trouble's yours alone,
the world a waiting carving-stone.
Such seeing never comes without
a lesson sure or accident
that no one thought to give dissent
and show you how to love your doubt.
Who turned your faith? And answer true
to carve yourself a better pew.