Title: My Captain (explanatory epilogue)
Warnings/Spoilers: The below explanations are entirely my own words and opinions. List is not conclusive or exclusive, only the five and one reasons I chose to illustrate with the character of James T. Kirk.
Summary: Five reasons why the crew of the Enterprise would follow James T. Kirk to Hell and back, and one reason why he would do the same.
A/N: Thank you very much to everyone who reviewed this story! I hope you had a fraction as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I intend to tackle Spock next (even have part of the first chapter done), so be on the lookout for that in the next couple of weeks. Congratulations to everyone who guessed the reasons correctly; and even if you didn't word them the same as I did, most people did indeed catch them. Until we meet again, thanks one more time!
Five reasons the crew of the starship Enterprise would follow James T. Kirk to Hell and back…
Reason: He takes the time to know each crew member, and finds a common ground upon which to lay the foundations of a relationship.
Explanation: James T. Kirk is intelligent, not the shoot-first-think-later brash commander that many fanfictions like to portray him as. He thinks, and quite brilliantly, and every great thinker is first a great reader. Readers are leaders may be a cliché, but it is nonetheless true. A great leader will also use one of his own strengths to find a common ground with a subordinate; meeting there and using a strength to bridge the gap between the two is a principle every leader must master before he can truly become a great leader.
Reason: He protects his crew – from outside forces, from each other, from themselves, from himself – with his life if need be.
Subreason: He uses these instances to teach valuable lessons, turning the scenarios into learning experiences for his crew regarding how to act and interact.
Explanation: He protects his crew from outside forces, as any commander must. He protects them from each other, performing the job of mediator when the need arises. He protects them from themselves, ensuring their safety and health when they are too foolish to see their own needs. And he protects them from himself, for he knows his own inner evil better than most due to a transporter malfunction. More threats lurk in the world than those obvious to the eye; a truly great leader can see both the visible and the invisible dangers that threaten his followers.
Reason: He is unafraid to risk his command image in order to perform his duty or to bring enjoyment to others.
Subreason: No truly great leader takes himself so seriously that he cannot laugh at himself; those men are not loved by those who follow them.
Explanation: Part of what makes James T. Kirk the charismatic commander he is – and part of the reason he drives many fans crazy who think he's no more than a drama queen – is his willingness to risk looking like a fool in order to accomplish his goals. His suave charm and melodramatic flair are two things that set him apart from other Star Trek captains, and that is exactly what makes TOS the magical series it is compared to the other serieses. His gifts and strengths lie in different directions than those of Captain Picard, for example; that does not make him immature, merely a completely different man. As a result, those two Enterprises are vastly different places with vastly different atmospheres. And no matter who among fans dislikes Captain James T. Kirk, one cannot deny the fact that TOS is the utter magic it is, in part because of that man's character.
Reason: They see how he deals with loss and defeat; whether at the hands of friends, enemies, or when those two seem to be one and the same.
Subreason: A true leader recognizes when a defeat or a loss is acceptable as a stepping-stone to building relationships or to furthering diplomacy.
Explanation: Losing is not a shameful thing when it is done to an admirable opponent; and no true leader feels that he must win all the time, must always get the last word, must always be the best at what he does. Such an attitude is both counter-productive and arrogant, as well as unrealistic. When more good will come of a loss than a victory, then that defeat is easier to accept. How he accepts his losses and goes about combating them shows how well he is capable of leading his followers to not repeat those mistakes. However, a truly great leader will recognize that he cannot always face defeat alone, and that he must sometimes accept the help that is offered in order to do so.
Reason: They see how he faces fear, whether his or someone else's.
Subreason: Fear exists; it may not be explainable or even make sense, but it does exist. No true leader simply ignores the existence of fear; rather, his secret is in that he is capable of overcoming it when duty must be done.
Explanation: A true leader never laughs at what his followers fear; maturity recognizes that each person's struggles are equally serious to those people, regardless of how trivial they may seem to others. Fear only becomes shameful when bravery is incapable of moving to the front to hide that fear. There is only one way to vanquish fear; face it head-on, defy it, and accept help from others if one cannot get past it. It is not a shameful thing, merely a fact of life – and learning to properly deal with it both in one's own life and in one's followers' lives is the mark of a true commander.
…and one reason why he would do the same
Reason: They refuse to allow his flaws to cloud their loyalty; rather than resenting his poor decisions, they look past them in love and forgive, banding together to cover for him instead of retaliating.
Subreason: Love covers a multitude of sins, and it is the single most powerful force known in literature. More powerful than death, more powerful than war, more powerful than anger, more powerful than hatred – and the only force known in literary history that is capable of breaking the bonds of each.
Explanation: Every relationship is founded chiefly upon love, and by extension – forgiveness. True love, in its purest, non-sexual form, is a self-sacrificing regard for another without thought of reciprocation; a deep-rooted affection that is willing to overlook anything for the sake of love itself. It is the force that binds the universe together, and the driving power of any great relationship in history, literary or otherwise. Love truly does conquer all, in its purest form, and it does cover a multitude of sins. A leader can command respect, but he must earn love; and the best of leaders will do both.