Q Is For Quran
In the Star Trek universe the Borg is a collection of humanoids from thousands of different species that are enhanced with cybernetic implants to become mindless biomechanical drones of a single interconnected collective. The Borg was introduced to Star Trek fans in The Next Generation episode “Q Who?” when Q, the seemingly godlike character played by John de Lancie, is snubbed by Captain Jean Luc Picard. Q asked Captain Picard if he could join the crew in order to help lead the Enterprise in its exploration through space. Q warned that there were dangers that nobody in the ship could imagine. The Captain refused saying that humans were more than capable to deal with anything the universe had to offer. And in response the Enterprise was transported into an unexplored sector of space where it would encounter a Borg vessel for the first time.
The Borg was like nothing ever encountered. They were nothing short of cybernetic zombies intent on assimilating every form of technology that comes across their path. There was no negotiating or reasoning with the Borg. Resistance was futile. In an exchange of weapon fire, the flagship of the Federation was no match for the Borg vessel. The only thing the Enterprise could do was run as fast as it could to get away. But the Borg vessel was faster and it easily caught up with the Enterprise and started firing weapons. Captain Picard and his crew were doomed.
But it was at that darkest moment when Q returned to the bridge. Q asks the Captain if he still believed that he was as prepared as he needed to be. Captain Picard admitted that he and his crew were frightened and that they are indeed inadequate. The Captain pleads with Q for his help and says that they need him. Q obliges and with a snap of his fingers the Enterprise is returned home back into Federation space. Q congratulates the Captain for admitting his need for help, claiming that another man would have been humiliated to say those words.
Yesterday it was reported that President Barack Obama sent a formal letter of apology to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. The United States Ambassador to Afghanistan delivered the letter personally. In it, Mr. Obama expressed his deep regret for the burning of Qurans at a United States military base in Afghanistan.
The burning of the Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of the Supreme Being. Most Muslims treat copies of this book with reverence. Defiling or dismembering copies of the Quran is considered desecration. Discarding copies of the Quran is forbidden. Worn out copies of the Qurans can be burned but only through ritual intended to preserve their sanctity.
Earlier this week it was revealed that NATO forces at the Bagram Airfield tried to burn a truckload of Islamic literature, including copies of the Quran. Afghan workers said they rescued the books from the incinerator and then smuggled them off the base to show to local religious leaders. This ignited an escalating series of violent protests that have targeted anything that represents a Western presence in Afghanistan. The death toll includes two U.S. soldiers who were killed when an Afghanistan soldier turned his weapon on the Americans. Military officials have tried to mollify the anger of the people by launching an investigation and repeatedly apologizing. And in an attempt to help quell the violence, Mr. Obama expressed his regret to Mr. Karzai in a personal letter in which he vowed to hold to account those responsible for the incident.
But conservative presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Mr. Obama’s apology to Afghan authorities for burned Qurans on a military base was astonishing and undeserved. In fact, Mr. Gingrich said that the Afghan President owed America an apology for the shootings. Mr. Gingrich actually said that there seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Mr. Obama’s attention in a negative way and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the President of the United States. Mr. Gingrich added that Mr. Obama has gone so far out of his way to appease radical Islamists that he is failing in his duty as our commander in chief.
It’s not hard to imagine a Captain Gingrich sitting on the Enterprise trying to escape the clutches of the Borg. Instead of being able to put pride aside ego Mr. Gingrich would stick out his chest and allow his ship to be assimilated. Instead of being able to lead with a sense of humility and keeping focus on what is good for his crew, As the Borg used their superior weaponry to wear down his ship’s defenses Captain Gingrich would probably demand an apology from Q before he would allow the godlike being to assist his ship and crew.
A good leader needs to manifest the behavior he or she would want from the people who are their responsibility. If a leader runs an organization that makes a serious stumble then that leader should have the character to step in front of it and take charge. Admitting a mistake helps a leader to develop a culture of trust. It lets everyone know that you are modest and imperfect. But more importantly, it lets people know that it’s not the avoidance of making a mistake that should be the focus but how we respond to it. Leaders who are able to apologize and change direction when appropriate gain so much more than a leader who is stiff and unwilling to bend.
Mr. Obama saw the unrest and offered an apology in an attempt to assuage anger and a feeling of disrespect. People are dying because of the protests over a careless act by a handful of people who are in Afghanistan and are operating under the direction of the President of the United States. Should the President apologize for the behavior that resulted in mass demonstrations that have been violent? No doubt that depends on who you ask. I do know that if I was on a starship that was about to be boarded by a group of space zombies, I would much rather have Mr. Obama in the captain’s seat than others.