Welcome! I'm Ilene Johnnestoune, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Come join me on my wanderings, as I share my interests both within and sometimes slightly outside the SCA.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Three Ideals & A Declaration

*Dusts off blog*

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, but hopefully I’ll have a little more free time over the next few months to get back to a semi-regular schedule.  Today’s post is due to some observations that I’ve made recently, and the conclusions I’ve drawn.

When we join the SCA, one of the earliest things we learn is that our Society is built on the ideals of chivalry, courtesy, and honor.  These are things that we should all be striving for, if we are playing this game.  If you ask any given SCAdian, they will tell you that absolutely they try to live up to those ideals.  But as with so many other things in the world, I am finding that not everyone practices what they preach.

I have had occasion to witness behavior that does not fit into these ideals.  Now before anyone starts saying “hello pot, this is kettle”, I do not claim to be perfect, and do not claim to live up to these three goals all the time.  We are all human, and we are all going to have times where we behave a little inappropriately.  That is not the circumstances I’m focusing on.  I’m looking at the people who consistently behave in a manner that is hurtful and detrimental to others, and to our game.

I realize the people I’m friends with, and who will read this blog, are not the people I’m writing about.  The people who inspired this will probably never read it, and that’s okay.  Sometimes it is enough to get a concept out into the world, so that others are made aware of it.  That way we can all be more vigilant, and when we see something happening we can step in and address it.

So, what’s happening? To be perfectly honest, the specific details aren’t necessary.  The basic problem is that there are people who are regularly being unkind to others.  Ridiculing someone in front of others.  Chastising someone for voicing an idea.  Speaking ill of others in public, especially when it’s to somebody who is friends with the person being bashed.  Putting people on the spot in a conversation by asking them something that is personal.  Actively campaigning to persuade others of somebody’s “bad nature”.  Just plain saying things that are unkind and unnecessary. 

Sadly, these are all things that I know are happening.  So where does that leave us?  If we approach the ones committing these acts, especially if we were not present when it happened, then we become the discourteous and un-chivalrous ones.  But on the flip side of the coin, if we do nothing, are we not just as guilty?  How do we balance doing the right thing while still upholding our ideals?

These are the questions that I have been asking myself lately.  As a peer, I feel an even greater obligation at this point to try and prevent as much harm from being done by these people as possible.  I have a few ideas that I’m trying to run with for right now.

  • I’m trying to be mindful of who is associating with these people, especially those gentles who are new to our game.  Perhaps if I can make myself available as another source of advice and assistance, the gentles will feel less need to get involved in the bad situation.  You can’t stop people from being drawn to a magnet, if there is no opposing force there to counteract it.
  • I’m trying to be more aware of what is going on around me, in hopes that I will witness something that I can address immediately.  It seems that the people who do these things try to keep it as private as possible.  Perhaps if the opportunity arises to call them out on it, they will be embarrassed enough to cease.
  • I’m going to be as good of an example of courteous behavior as I can be.  If enough of us behave appropriately, then more people will learn what is correct.  When somebody then behaves inappropriately, it will be more noticeable and less accepted.

I realize that these are very small things, and may not make a huge difference in the end.  But if I don’t step up and make an effort, who will?  If I don’t make my voice heard, than I have effectively stepped aside and accepted the bad behavior.  That’s not what I signed on for when I joined this Society.  I am standing up and refusing to let others tarnish the Dream I enjoy so much.

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