#KindnessIsALiteracy is a recurring series on TrekEthicist.com that profiles individual characters and how they magnify and represent the literacy of kindness.
While Geordi La Forge may be considered an overlooked exhibitor of kindness, and Vic Fontaine and elemental dictator of kindness, Rom is the expected and welcomed inclusion of this profiled character trait of love and endeavored respite of dissolved direction. Rom’s compassion and kindness towards others only grew throughout the seven seasons of Deep Space Nine, leading a clear and absolute trajectory along his path to become the Grand Nagus. Rom’s diligent compassion for the community is demonstrated time and again with this same perseverance that he holds for his own family.
Elaborating from a strictly psychosocial explication, Rom’s strength of character no doubt was born from his brother’s, Quark’s, extensive, intentional, and constant derision. Countless times Quark called Rom “an idiot” while only sometimes – sometimes – annotating “but I love him.” Rom was forced to confront Quark a number of times, including when Quark attempted to interfere with Nog’s application to attend Starfleet Academy (“Heart of Stone” 1995). Still, he mostly accepted his brother’s persuasion with patience and esteem – while never being far from anticipating taking over the bar, like a good Ferengi.
Rom’s intelligence and leadership came to the forefront a number of times. As he was forced to have to inform Quark, “I’ve always been smart, brother. I just lack self-confidence” (“Little Green Men” 1995). His intelligence of will was tested with he formed a union, which with a careful viewing can be seen was not for his own benefit, but for the other workers at the bar (“Bar Association” 1996). “Workers of the world, unite!” was not a mere echo of another time for Rom, but a pathway into parity of vision for the restoration of dignity for his friends and coworkers. Rom exacerbated the detention of low wage labor by further uniting the majority of Deep Space Nine behind his cause, eventually winning the the full extent of his demands from Quark and in the process gently peeling the layers of cynicism that defined Quark’s greed, preparing him to accept a more tempered tone of the strict Ferengi code.
Rom further put his own life at risk when Deep Space Nine was recaptured by the Dominion and he stayed on board as a Federation spy (“Call to Arms” 1997). Having just married he could have left with Leeta and preserved his own safety, rested in his new marriage, and been an observer from afar, but Rom’s integrity of character would not restrict service for a cause greater than himself. Rom’s mirror self was equally courageous and giving for a united cause, though, perhaps with greater confidence.
Rom’s abundance shyness with Leeta endeared him to many, but his leadership was not as reserved when his participation was tied to the benefit of others. Just as he learned not to be like Quark through Quark’s negligent abuse, he did learn to be like his moogie, Ishka, who would through almost single-handed means brings about a feminist revolution on Ferenginar and establishes benefits and civil rights for women and protections for the poor. This is the Ferenginar Rom inherits as Grand Nagus, a welcome fit for his character and perception of equality (“The Dogs of War” 1999). The Ferengi Alliance is reborn and Rom’s character symbolizes a vision for its future.
Rom’s elemental kindness is his drive for unity. This is demonstrated when he forms the union, and additionally – and tellingly – when he protests the conflict between Ishka and Quark (“Family Business” 1995). Rom cannot tolerate conflict between those he cares about. He will find a way to bring opposing sides together with thoughtfulness and intent of resolution. Rom’s central impulse is for a unity of family, whether that be his direct family or the greater interspecies communities of Star Trek’s future vision.