Episode 3.24: Shakaar

Leadership is a rare skill in the world.  Most of the time, our leaders are chosen not by their skill in leadership, but by completely unrelated skills.  Wealth, diplomatic savviness, even scientific acumen are skills that can propel someone to leadership, but these don’t necessarily translate to quality leadership.  They don’t inherently cultivate leadership expertise. Humility, ability to inspire, and levelheaded decision making are qualities a leader should possess.  Shakaar is a natural leader, whereas Winn is the stark contrast.  This episode pits these two against each other.  Kira herself is mostly an onlooker, someone who is there to be the eyes of the audience.  It is worth pointing out, though, that Kira has intense loyalty to Bajor to so often be willing to listen to Kai Winn “for the good of Bajor.”  The side plot with O’Brien and Quark is quite fun and primarily a subplot that helps round out the feel of the show by not permitting relentless focus on the main storyline.

The visuals surrounding each character really bring out these contrasts.  Shakaar is surrounded by people in every scene except when he first meets Kira.  Within days he’s surrounded by a huge band of followers, all who trust their lives to his decisions.  His inner circle defers to him, but in a respectful way.  They offer opinions freely, but are willing to accept whatever he decides to do.  Their trust in him is so deep, they are willing to go against fellow Bajorans for him.  That is no easy task for these people, Kira in particular.  Conversely, Winn is seen completely alone in her scenes.  She doesn’t even have her usual, elderly follower.  All her orders are followed through her formal position as acting First Minister and the innate sense of duty in others; she doesn’t inspire loyalty.  Even when Lenaris, Kira, and Shakaar arrive in her office at the end, she stands alone and easily dethroned.

Their actions are starkly contrasted as well.  Shakaar is initially shown in a humble capacity, a mere farmer.  His concern is for the health of the land and the people who work in Dakhur province.  He wants the people of Bajor to empower themselves, and he sees Bajorans as reclaiming their dignity through working the soil.  He is not focused on how the galaxy views them.  He agonizes over decisions that would endanger is people.  He even is gravely concerned for the Bajorans who are tracking them, putting himself into harms way to attempt to negotiate with Lenaris.  He knows his actions in that canyon would spark civil war if he opens fire.  Shakaar is even willing to talk with Winn to find compromise.  Conversely, Winn betrays him by trying to arrest him without discussion.  Winn merely wants to increase her powerbase by increasing the influence of Bajor in the galaxy.  She doesn’t care for the health of her people; she wants to use the reclamators to sell the food, not feed Bajorans or give them dignity.  She increasingly overreacts to the situation, by trying to arrest Shakaar, then by declaring martial law and suspending the rural governments.  Any small disobedience is an affront to her power as First Minister; her pride is so fragile.

I wonder how hindered we are as a society that our leaders can so often lack leadership qualities.  Even a simple survey of politics finds many of our “leaders” are in it for self promotion instead of the public good (whether you are red or blue, you can find these people in your camp).  They resemble Winn far more than they resemble Shakaar.  Business is filled with self-serving managers who think of their bonuses and the bottom line far faster than the people they manage.  Some folks I know say this kind of self-serving behavior is the only way our society functions; when a person looks out for themself, they incidentally carry others around them into a better situation.  However, one of Shakaar’s beliefs is that no society can thrive if it marginalizes some of the people (as Winn was trying to do to the residents of Dakhur Province).  I’ve got to believe that if decision makers were more focused on the greater good, our resources could be more efficiently leveraged to help a greater number of people.  But then again, I’ve been savagely accused of overly idealistic opinions.

Random Thoughts:  1) I didn’t at all touch on the undertone of the lack of separation of church and state if Winn became First Minister.  It’s a light touch, I think, compared to the contrasted leadership styles.  2) The Bajoran practice for the dead can carry on for months, indicating they have a strong belief in the afterlife.  3) Fantastic line from Odo:  “A price of giving people choice is they sometimes make the wrong choice”  4) Winn intentionally insults Kira by downplaying her mourning of Bareil.  This insults her love of him and her faith practice for him.  5) I believe this is the first time the application for Federation membership is officially mentioned as being active.  6) The view of Shakaar’s farm conjures feelings of the Dust Bowl in my mind.  7) Shakaar is tall, a full head taller than Kira!  7) Furel’s story is a nice story for a side character.  8) Shakaar and Lenaris bond over Resistance stories in the canyon.  This helps facilitate real negotiation by engendering mutual respect.  9) Kira’s action at the end to blow out her mourning candle for Bareil is obvious; she’s ready to move on.  Specifically, she moves on to Shakaar, who shows interest in her in this episode.

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~ by Joshua Black on May 18, 2017.

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