It’s one of those nerd questions you’ll answer eventually: who is your captain? Kirk? Picard? Janeway? Those other guys from the Star Trek series that I didn’t watch? Usually after giving your answer, you justify it. Kirk was the original captain and the heroic space-cowboy. Picard was the diplomat. Janeway was tough as nails. And so on.
Picard has always been my pick for captain, but my reasons go beyond the fact that The Next Generation was my favorite series. Part of the reason is that Patrick Stewart is just an amazing guy.
If you want an example of the kind of person I think all men should aspire to be, take a look at this video of a fan Q&A session at a convention. The entire video is excellent but it’s at about 5:44 that really stands out as Patrick Stewart discusses his own childhood experience watching his father’s domestic abuse of his mother:
As a child in my home, I heard doctors and ambulance men say, Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something to provoke it. Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument. Wrong. Wrong. My mother did nothing to provoke that. And even if she had, violence is never, ever a choice that a man should make. Ever.
It’s a cultural cliche to scorn people for regarding actors and celebrities as heroes. Kids shouldn’t look up to movie stars, not when there are doctors and soldiers and police and scientists and so many others who are working hard to save lives without any of the fame or fortune that the celebrities of the world receive. And those people are heroes, undeniably.
But I think it’s important to recognize, too, the contributions to the world that a person like Patrick Stewart can make with moments like these. When a person like Patrick Stewart speaks, people listen. The power of language holds within it the power to change minds. It’s a power every bit as real and valuable as any new technology, maybe even more-so.
So it’s important to recognize those who use their voices and their status to help champion these messages. Star Trek seems to be a bastion for these types; I’ve already talked about why George Takei is excellent. Whether it is on behalf of gay rights or speaking out against violence against women, I’m glad that their voices are being heard. I’m glad that sometimes, the people who play our fictional heroes turn out to be pretty heroic in their own right.
The woman in the video who asked the question has her own write-up of the moment that’s worth your time. It has a few pictures that are particularly poignant.