This speech (skip to about 1:50) by Benjamin Sisko in the Deep Space Nine episode “The Maquis” is the turning point where I realized that this was a truly great show (and this was pre-beard Sisko!) and is still one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. Listen to this.
“The trouble is Earth. On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in paradise. But the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there, in the demilitarized zone, all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints—just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not.”
I was turning to this scene a lot last night when I was thinking about how so many people feel free to dictate the virtuous path to other, less well-off people and make all sorts of beatific moralizing statements from the comfort of their (metaphorical) armchairs, and how empty and frustrating these statements are to anyone who doesn’t have the luxury of a comfy chair to see the world from (and I’ll be honest—the chair I’ve got is somewhat comfortable, as far as chairs go… which is why I try my hardest not to preach to people who don’t have what I have).
Deep Space Nine is far from a perfect show and suffers from a lot of the same problem other Star Trek series have, but I’m being completely honest when I say that the show, and this scene in particular, has changed the way I think about the world. It may be a cliche, but I feel I can sincerely say that Star Trek has made me a better person (it also upsets me that DS9 is so underrated compared to other series and frequently loses in popularity contests to Voyager—fucking Voyager!—but I digress).
Also, a parting thought… can you really be a “saint” if you’ve spent so long in comfort that you can’t understand the thoughts of the people who don’t have the same comforts you do?