Lesson 094: Strongest man is he who stands alone
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 6/9 ('The Quality of Life')


Data, an android and senior officer aboard the Enterprise, works on an assignment with a scientist who has utilized artificial intelligence in developing a new set of tools called the Exocomp.

The Exocomp, a small polyhedron object, is able to maneuver around the starship and use instruments to perform menial tasks, which may be fatally dangerous to humans.

Data soon realizes the Exocomps have become sentient and as such, he fights for their right to be treated as living beings and not just objects delegated to servitude.

When Capt. Picard and LaForge become trapped in a situation where only the Exocomps can perform any possible chance of a rescue, Data stands alone in opposing the forced deployment of the Exocomps on the suicidal mission.

Eventually, Capt. Picard and LaForge are rescued by the Exocomps and in doing so the Exocomps prove themselves to be alive, especially as one of the Exocomp sacrifices its life to save the lives of other Exocomps.

Afterwards, Data explains to Capt. Picard that it was very difficult for him to sanction the usage of the Exocomps to rescue the Captain and LaForge, even though he understood it meant possibly sacrificing both the lives of Capt. Picard and LaForge.

Data reminds Capt. Picard, that in the past, Capt. Picard had fought with Starfleet for the rights of Data to be recognized as sentient when no one else would stand up for him and that, it was in the same vein that Data stood alone in support of the Exocomps rights.


To fight for the rights of others who cannot stand up for themselves is a most valiant cause.

As these battles are usually against the established acceptable norms of society or culture, they can very easily end up harming personally, professionally, and at times even physically, the individual advocate for siding with the underdog.

These hero advocates are never in the fight for the selfish reasons of seeking fame and fortune for themselves. Rather, they feel compelled to dedicate themselves to the fight because there can see no other option but to fight. Their glory comes in the satisfaction of righting a wrong, in spite of great risks to themselves.

History is replete with such real and fictional advocate heroes - from President Abraham Lincoln, who, in his struggle for the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves, eventually gave up his life to an assassin, to the fictional character Atticus Finch in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, defending the field worker, Tom Robinson, a metaphoric 'mockingbird' who is wrongfully accused of a crime, to Susan Brownell Anthony, prominent civil rights leader and a key player in the Women's Suffrage movement in the US, who did not live to see the fruits of her labor by the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1920 allowing women the right to vote.

Henrik Ibsen, the 19th century playwright said 'The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone.'

Within each of us lie this strength, willing to fight for the wronged, the down-trodden, oft forgotten and dismissed members of our society. What most of us lack is the passion for the cause which would allow us to look beyond our comfort zones of regular meals, nightly TV, air conditioned environments and convenient shopping malls.

Isn't it ironic that even as we, the humans, can so easily decide to not step-up to fight for the right cause, yet, Data's decision to fight for the rights of the Exocomps was, as noted by Capt. Picard, the most human decision ever made by Data, the android?

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