James Kirk’s cheating of the Kobyashi Maru has one fan questioning things.
Among the many decorated Captains of Starfleet who have sat in the Captain’s chair, perhaps none is more well-known, more beloved, and is the recipient of more hero worship from his fellow officers and Star Trek fans alike, Captain James Tiberius Kirk. One of Kirk’s most notable “achievements” was winning the “unwinnable scenario” for not only did he beat the fabled Kobayashi Maru test but received a commendation for creative thinking in doing so.
Is it possible that one of Kirk’s most lauded accomplishments, beating the Kobayashi Maru test by cheating, actually did as Kelvin-Spock feared? Did Kirk miss the point altogether?
Is it possible that we have all looked back on this particular event early on in his academy days through rose-colored glasses?
Most Trekkies are aware of the legendary Kobayashi Maru test, which places the test taker in an “unwinnable scenario” to test how they handle pressure and how they manage not only themselves but their crew as well in the face of certain danger and even death. If they are aware of this test, then they are undoubtedly are also aware that young Kirk reprogrammed the test so that it could be beaten, because in Kirk’s own words “I do not believe in an unwinnable scenario.”
First of all, I will absolutely praise Kirk’s creative thinking, and his determination to never let himself or his crew be defeated by any entity. Those are both admirable and desirable qualities in a starship captain. The problem with Kirk’s philosophy (other than it being completely egotistical) is that you can’t always cheat death, and you can’t always reprogram life, and this seems to be the point of the test that, by changing the parameters of the test, Kirk misses completely.
James Kirk’s ego may have gotten others killed throughout Star Trek
It’s all well and good to say that you don’t believe in an unwinnable scenario, but I ask you this. What about those nameless redshirts that this website is named for? The faceless men and women who met their demise under Kirk’s command. I’m sure their families received little comfort from the Captain’s lack of belief in a no-win scenario.
Earlier I mentioned that Kirk is egotistical. This is something about the great starship captain that we are all already aware of, but the extent of his egotism after having cheated on the Kobayashi Maru should be examined.
The Kobayashi Maru forces the taker to embrace fear in the face of certain death, not only that but to manage their emotions and those of their crew accordingly. This teaches even the most confident starship captain a brand of humility that Kirk never had to learn, which brings to mind the quote from Admiral Pike of the Kelvin timeline
“You think the rules don’t apply to you because you disagree with them, and you use blind luck to justify you playing God”
I know the words I have written above could be considered slanderous, even approaching blasphemous. For me personally, I would rather be under the command of a Captain that I know can embrace fear and even death and, in doing so, they teach me to do so as well, rather than pretend those rules don’t apply. Then I am ill-prepared if the situation were to ever arise.
Captain James Kirk will go down in Starfleet history as one of the greatest starship captains of all time, and the stories of his exploits and accomplishments will be told for centuries, I’m just not sure if cheating on the Kobayashi Maru should be listed among those accolades, but that is just one Trekkie’s opinion.
What do you think?