#KindnessIsALiteracy: Seven of Nine
#KindnessIsALiteracy is a recurring series on TrekEthicist.com that profiles individual characters and how they magnify and represent the literacy of kindness.
Seven of Nine is established in “Stardust City Rag” (2020) as a mother figure; loving and in the continuous pain of having lost who she refers to as “my child,” Icheb, to Bjayzl and those who murder Borg (and former Borg) for their cybernetic parts. This is not the first time we see Seven as a mother. In Voyager’s “The Collective” (2000) Seven becomes the adoptive mother not just to Icheb, but to Azan, Rebi, and Mezoti as well; Borg children liberated from the collective by Voyager just as she was. Caring for the well-being of these children, their health, education, and redevelopment towards a post-Borg life gives Seven a sense of purpose that fits as naturally as her engineering skills or deftness in the astrometrics lab.
On the surface, Seven of Nine is an unexpected candidate for the #KindnessIsALiteracy series. On Voyager she was considered abrupt, impatient, and inconsiderate of her other crewmates’s feelings or temperament. This was, at least, according to Harry Kim, The Doctor, Chakotay, B’Elanna, and even Captain Janeway. However, Seven’s primary function throughout the Voyager series was growth. Jeri Ryan commented in a 1997 AP article, that she took reference from her young, (then) three year old son who was developing alongside her character, stating, “He’s my own little case study” (1997). Seven goes on to adapt to her own humanity and in that course finds a more subtle approach to dealing with others.
Seven is assisted in locating her place in this new post-Borg life by Captain Janeway’s unyielding faith in her abilities. However, playing kadis-kot with Naomi Wildman and Neelix seemed to have a humbling effect on Seven, bringing her back down to a more simple frame of reference and perhaps, allowing her to re-attain her lost childhood. Still, it must be stated that Seven recaptured her humanity equally with her own power of intuition as she demonstrated in “The Raven” (1997). Through these struggles to refamiliarize herself with the tenets of humanity colliding with her Borg sense of perfection, Seven demonstrated her kindness most notably to her willingness to sacrifice herself, repeatedly, for the Voyager crew on mission after mission. This became an ingrained trait for Seven. We see this again years later in “Stardust City Rag ” as she places herself in harm’s way playing the role of prisoner – and bait – to help Picard rescue Bruce Maddox.
It is true that self-sacrifice is not always molded by or intended towards kindness, but for Seven, it is just that. It is a path for her to justify and reorient her primary goal of a life lived well, recuperative, and solemn towards an oath that was formed between herself and Janeway to explore her option to become human and not return to the collective as she had desired. Seven’s kindness was always underneath the surface. She worked to grasp the full range of her humanity most notably in “Human Error” (2001) as she utilized the holodeck to free herself from all Borg implants as well as her inhibitions. Through these trial runs at human love and kindness she would elect to have the surgery that The Doctor performed to free her from Borg failsafes limiting emotive connections outside a collective frame of reference, meaning, she could love freely. Having imagined herself in the full depths of humanity, she could then make it reality.
With that newly attained freedom to live outside of Borg technological limitations, also comes the full breadth of feelings such as remorse, pain of loss, and regret for the past. In “Stardust City Rag,” Seven states that she works with the Fenris Rangers to attempt to preserve some resemblance of order where there is no law or justice for the marginalized. Seven has, along these years, channeled her Borg sense of perfection into a passion; passion for justice for those yet to attain the privilege of liberation that Janeway gave her and a need to restore her own personal history to a lived example that matches her depth of integrity and kindness. It is her reverence for justice that enables her kindness to supercede her history with the collective. Seven states to Picard that among the worst things in life, in seeking justice, is “to give up.” Seven of Nine does not give up on the promises and potential of a kindness that enables justice, nor does she remove herself from the responsibility of that endeavor.