#KindnessIsALiteracy is a recurring series on TrekEthicist.com that profiles individual characters and how they magnify and represent the literacy of kindness
Beyond Rom, the most obvious person to be featured (not that there won’t be a few surprises later on) in the #KindnessIsALiteracy series is Data. Data is repeatedly referred to as successfully emulating humanity, though he would rarely agree according to his own self-assessment. Data went beyond human traits to capture and characterize exaggerated forms of basic kindness for which the crew was largely reminded of their own inner value. Data liberally exhumed these traits of kindness for all species and forms of life.
In “Pen Pals,” when Data is contacted by a child from a pre-warp species, Sarjenka, and continues their dialogue, he is aware he is forgoing the tenets of the Prime Directive. Data, being a bright spot of influence on the Enterprise, eventually brings about a situation where they assist in restoring geological stability to Sarjenka’s planet. Through the lens of Data, the Prime Directive is seen to be cruel, inhuman, and to an extent there is large agreement. Data’s compassion for Sarjenka and her planet outweighs the mandates of the Federation.
Data disobeys orders again, all in the spirit of the best of human kindness in “The Quality of Life.” Through his own insights, Data comes to understand that the little tools, machines, the Exocomps, are in fact alive. Data intervenes to save the Exocomps at the risk of Capt. Picard’s and Geordi’s lives. This is all done in the spirit of the Picard’s passionate defense of Data’s life, individuality, and worth in “Measure of a Man.” In so doing, Data’s compassion of kindness protects a newly evolved species.
In “Time’s Arrow” Troi quotes Data’s explication of his similitude of the capability of friendship, stating, “As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs eventually are anticipated and even missed when absent.” Such is the inherent kindness in Data’s network that friendship is not beyond the abilities of his computations.
Data’s excessive honesty in “Ensigns of Command” reveals one of the most vital aspects of kindness: humility,
DATA: Captain. Doctor. I am honoured by your presence, but may I suggest you attend the second concert.
CRUSHER: Why, Data?
DATA: Ensign Ortiz will perform the violin part. My rendition will be less enjoyable.
DATA: Although I am technically proficient, according to my fellow performers, I lack soul.
CRUSHER: Data, telling us why you’re going to fail before you make the attempt is never wise.
DATA: But is not honesty always the preferred choice?
PICARD: Excessive honesty can be disastrous, particularly in a commander.
Data is so trusting of the perspective of others that he sees within himself limitations that are not there, but only exist with his cognitive framework of an analysis and comparison of humanity. Data sees soul as the emblem of human creativity, and through humility, declines to embellish his extraordinary talents in comparison to people. His humanity is exerted through a kindness ranked with humility.
Data’s most touching movement into humanity is when he creates his daughter, Lal. Data extends his own lifeforce through his child in “The Offspring.” Lal is the image of kindness, sympathy, vulnerability; through all those character traits they are reflections of Data. Data’s kindness and compassion gave birth to a vital loving lifeform. It may not be considered much to say that Data was kind to his child, but it is a great deal to say that Data demonstrated kindness through the values he instilled into his child.