I recently went about to watching some episodes of Deep Space 9 again. I have to hand out a big thanks to Watch Trek for being the awesome source of trek related material that it is. Included in that list of awesome was the ability to watch the entire season end for all of Deep Space 9 from season 7 and thus the ability for me to be judgmental about elements of fiction. Of course if you don’t have a back story to all of this I will provide something in brief.
The prophets were the Gods for the Bajoran people. Well at least that is how they appeared to the people of Bajor, in fact they were a group of aliens that inhabited an artificial wormhole nearby the Bajoran home planet, and were set outside of space and time meaning that linear time did not exist for them. As such they provided the Bajorans from time to time with various items which solidified them as Gods in the eyes of the Bajoran people. And really that is where the God like activity tends to come to a stop. You see, the Bajoran people have clearly been through hell, and you can make all kinds of speculation that the Prophets are actually an ascended version of the Bajoran people [which would go a long way to explaining why in the world they seem so attached to the Bajorans]. In addition, because they have that whole “Out of time” thing going on, they really can pull that off without breaking to much of the cannon [which was of course all undone with the 2009 movie]. So lets assume for just a second that the Prophets are the ascended version of the Bajoran people somewhere down the timeline. This would mean that they would have access to most of their history, and at least the key religious details would likely be preserved [and if you have any errors in religious text, you can blame it on the final incarnation of the Bajorans having bad records that were damaged in the occupation or any other tragedies that befall their people]. This also lets Sisco off the hook because if in theory his mother (Sarah) was a Prophet, and she was a future Bajoran, than sure we can call him part Bajoran.
And that all works out fine and dandy, the problem that I have of course is that this makes no sense in respect to the whole nature of the Prophets being all that useful to the Bajoran people throughout the rest of time and history. Completely dismissing any times in the past when there was disorder and the likes, you have the Occupation and the indecent with the Pah-Wraith [It’s a cool name until you start to realize that they were using the word “Pah” to describe spirit at which point it just comes off as a job the Universal Translator failed to make heads or tails of]. You see, there is this constant reason that the prophets are letting Bajor suffer because it will make them better off in the long run, the Bajoran Holocaust at the hands of the Cardassians was for their own good of course. Or letting Sisco get the shaft with the whole ruining of the family life thing [leaving Jake Sisco behind, one thing that “The Visitor” had established earlier might have a negative effect on poor Jake’s life]. But again and again you just here the prophets going on about “This is how things are supposed to be”. It wasn’t until the point where Sisco realized that the Prophets needed him for something bigger than the Dominion war and he essentially threatened to commit suicide [running head long into a dominion fleet] unless they did something about the situation. I’m guess it is at that point they decided it was time to weigh their options and choose between their whole scheme being messed up or just wiping out hundreds of thousands of dominion troops. The reality of the situation is that their plan required a lot of suffering on the part of the Bajoran people in order to work. Now if they had some crafty goal of trying to get the Bajorans in a place where they would be ready to ascend and to do that, they would have to go through a living hell or some nonsense I might buy it, but there really is no need for that kind of thing, if you have the power clearly demonstrated by the Prophets on multiple occasions, than really all you have to do is essentially just give them some pretty direct orders about being patient, teachings, etc. and then actually protecting them. I guess what I’m saying is at that level, one should realize that just because you took the painful holocaust filled path to enlightenment, doesn’t mean that everyone should have to.
I think really the greatest example of this is the scene in season 7 when Kai Winn was praying to the orb of prophecy asking here what to do. Now we know that these orbs can and do communicate, and so as such all you would have to do is say something to the tune of “Hey Ms. Winn, I know that you have had it rough, but it’s not because we don’t love you, it’s just you have to fill out this path.” Or “Ah, look this is going to sound strange, but that guide the Pah-Wraith sent you is a cardassian, we’re going to need you to throw him into the Fire Caves”. It’s probably a solution that would generate results a lot better than ignoring her and knowing it would drive her to support the Pah-Wraith, I mean all it would take is a few words of encouragement and you could probably solve this issue 10 times quicker without getting your emissary killed / magic’d away / etc.
I’m sure someone will say that without the pain and suffering, the Bajorans wouldn’t be the same people. I only have to say that at that level of Enlightenment, I’m sure you can find a way to teach your people to be peaceful, resourceful, warp capable, and religious without completely destroying them every couple of years with a disaster.