Yesterday and today I’ve exchanged some really informative email with some listeners, and it seems to me that I didn’t do a very good job of explaining why I was disappointed with Adama this week. I hope you’ll forgive me — I’ve had some other things on my mind, and you can probably hear that both Audra and I sound a little different than usual in the ‘cast — and give this a read as I try to share with you some of the thoughts I shared in email.
As many have commented and emailed, I totally agree that the Chief was legally out of line for his actions in calling a strike among the hands on Galactica. Whether he’s justified morally in what he did is open to argument — and right now I’m not sure exactly which side of the argument I’d eventually fall on — but there’s no doubt that Adama’s legally justified in pressuring him and even shooting him. I’ve even seen good evidence to support him legally in shooting Callie.
My disappointment didn’t stem from Adama’s reaction at the end of the episode, but from what happened before the strike — and really even before the episode began. I’m diasppointed in him for letting things get as bad as they did, putting those under him in the position of doing what they did — wrong though it was — to get his attention. In the past I’ve seen him inspire those around himto do what they need to do –even if they don’t agree — through strong leadership. He’s always seemed in touch with the ships and people under his command — at least enough to handle problems like this before they come to a head.
My father was a Major in the Air Force — and he was my moral compass. In my experience, he was a good leader, and I often remember his advice when faced with this kind of situation. He told me, “One doesn’t manage people. One manages things. One leads people.”
To me as a child, this meant that even though he had the authority (and the force to back it up) to simply command me to do anything he felt was appropriate, he often chose to explain things to me; specifically, he took the time in situations that weren’t yet critical to offer me the ability to see the nature of his decisions.
For example, rather than telling me “Don’t take your shoes off in the yard,” he’d say, “Son, I wouldn’t take your shoes off in the yard. Your Mom’ll make you wash your feet before you come in.” It wasn’t an order, so he didn’t have to punish me if I didn’t obey. Failing to comply also didn’t injure me — it simply inconvenienced me. Of course, I didn’t always do it, and I ended up having to wash my feet. My father, however, earned additional respect.
When one day my father simply said to me, “Don’t do that,” I didn’t — not just because he could make me –he could –but because I believed in him and respected his position of authority.
While Adama was justified in his reaction at the end, he failed to honor his responsibility as leader of the fleet to 1) pay attention to and correct early situations that might threaten the supply of needed goods such as tyllium and 2)to act in leadership issues before they reach a point where the only solution is to do something so extreme that it will forever damagethe source of his ability to command: respect and trust.
His dismissiveness of the workers’ concerns and subsequent portrayal of them as clueless civilians that don’t understand the importance of what they do doesn’t jive with what we saw: a group of people who work well beyond what’s healthy for them and even began to voluntarily train their children to do their job when they die. Even the “12-year-old” seemed proud to do his job and proud of its importance to the fleet. These are people who will follow when lead.
What’s more, the workers seemed to be concerned less about their own comfort than that the current production schedule could lead to a total loss of the refinery — which would prove far more dangerous to the fleet than a temporary outage. Imagine this ending: Right after Tyrol’s happy-ending meeting with the president, the tyllium refinery ship explodes from damaged equipment or tired-worker-negligence. The Cylons show up. The end.
My father also always said that “accidents” rarely result from a single error, bet rather from a chain of errors. (He was talking about aircraft accidents, but I think it applies to the outcome here, too.) Consider this:
Link 1: We know that the civilian workers had explained this reasonably through appropriate channels for some time, and we saw Adama and the president ignore them. If Rosma (Adamlin?) had taken their concerns seriously and looked into them, they could have determined if a) the workers concerns were valid (and formed a plan to work out the problems to keep tyllium supply coming without risking the refinery) or b) the workers were simply balking because they were tired (and visited them or otherwise lead them to see the importance of their work). Either way, problem averted.
Link 2: When the Chief returned to Galactica after the stoppage and beat the location of the seals out of the two instigators, Adama could have punished the two and sent the Chief back to address the concerns. He would have enforced his orders, yet avoided the nastiness at the end of the episode.
Link 3: In the end he could have threatened the Chief himself — even shot him if necessary — and likely have achieved the same results. I have to admit that I’m with Sean here: my family takes precedence above anything else, including the survival of the human race. Maybe I’m messed up, but it’s true. If Adama had threatened my family, I’d never trust him again. Ever.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that I’m not objecting to Adama’s threat against Callie, but rather that I’m disappointed that he let it come to that. The fleet — and even we as fans — expect more of him. We trust that he’ll take better care of us and spare us that kind of ugliness. It’s a big responsibility — almost too big for any one person to bear.
But as they say in Star Trek: That’s what happens when you sit in the big chair.