Apr. 10th, 2017

dwolfhunter: (Default)
The SCA and the sum of all fears. An opinion.
I joined the SCA unofficially in 1978, officially in 1982. We were "poor college kids (tm)" and we looked and acted like it. I can honestly say that, during that time, I have never been as discouraged and saddened by this organization as I am now. Is it a sadness that is unwarranted? Is there reason to be discouraged? Well, I guess you'll have to draw your own conclusions.
When I and many of my contemporaries began in the SCA we had an optimism and a zeal for the "current Middle Ages" unmatched by our clothes, our armor or our camping gear...but we had fun. We had an atmosphere of sharing and ownership that transcended that fact. We also had the small thin veneer of smarter, older members who taught us medieval ideals and who got us motivated to make nicer gear, or provided it on loan when that was not possible.
Sure, some folks abused the privilege...it happens in any organization. But we policed ourselves. We paid attention to the group and we believed that what harmed one of us diminished all of us. When people abused our charity and generosity...they got the hint to snap out of it or move on. We rarely criticized our fellows for their garb or their fighting gear...because ours was little better, if at all. We made small improvements as we went...and sometimes, we made great leaps and bounds.
We didn't go to events and sleep in hotels...we welcomed complete strangers into to our homes and shared what we had or splurged to make their stay an event in itself. Again , sometimes that went badly, sometimes spectacularly well, and it all balanced out. Our events were small affairs...potlucks and small tourneys ...we broke even most times and what mattered was having fun and getting "our Medieval" on. No one was trying to make money or build a group bank account, and when you worked event staff, you were doing it out of charity and responsibility and a sense of duty . Tourney winners got to sit at high table and crown their ladies Queen of Love and Beauty for the day. Most of us were pretty happy with that. Oh sure, we wanted more pageantry and more "periodicity"...but we knew it wouldn't happen today. We dreamt of making it better and we worked for that.
Bigger is not always better. Neither is more always better. Along the way , some of our rules became "guidelines and suggestions"...and we turned into an "big tent" organization. We welcomed people who didn't really share our ideals and who didn't care about our rules...and instead of telling them to go do their own thing elsewhere, we swallowed the BS they spat back at us about how we were unfair, or elitist or "crushing THEIR dream" and we folded like a cheap suit. Worse, fearing that we were all in danger of legal actions and a litigious society that accepted no personal responsibility for itself, we allowed ourselves to be incorporated..."for our own good". Which is really IMO where we as a group began the long slow slide into irrelevance. Corporations do not act for the good of the rank in file...they operate for the benefit of the Corporation. When an organization repeatedly fails to live up to even its most basic tenets...that organization is broken. When an organization cannot operate without breaking its own rules , that organization has failed.
Also, as we grew in the Society and got so that our gear was more historical, or our craftwork became more proficient, we somehow forgot where we came from. We began to treat the kids coming into the Society like they were deficient because they weren't as good as us...despite the fact that were exactly the same as we were when we began. We began buying our gear rather than making it. We shared less and griped more. We began splitting "households" and guilds off from our local groups to avoid the parts of the local groups we didn't like...rather than solve the issues at hand. Households and Guilds can kill Baronies and Shires by bleeding off members. We've all seen it happen. Hell some of us have MADE it happen. We indulged in internecine politics and petty power manipulation, because that's what volunteer organizations do. Not all of our administrators abused their roles...just enough did.
We also forgot that as new people came in...someone of the "old guard" would have to invest in them the way we had invested in each other or others had invested in us. An attitude of "Why should I spend time and material on them if they're just gonna deploy, graduate, move on to another group?" became more than just an occasional thing...it started becoming the norm. We were bitching and moaning about falling membership while simultaneously driving new member away. We were failing to realize that investment in human capital is all that keeps a volunteer group alive. It's kind of ironic that group mostly composed of self-identified geeks, nerds , etc...would end up treating people the way that they themselves were treated in high school, by the cool kids.
So...how do we fix it? Above all we need to police ourselves first.
1: Re-establish a set of concrete rules and policies to govern the group according to its founding principle: To re-enact/re-create the Middle Ages/Renaissance periods of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. No vampires, no pirates, no elves, no fairies, PERIOD. The words "reasonable attempt at pre 17th Century garb" should be changed to specify the materials and items allowed and not allowed per the historical standard.
2: Our membership needs to remember that Duty, Honor and Service are qualities to be balanced with Compassion, Charity, and Fairness. This organization no longer has room for selfish, egotistical, me-firsters who can't conceive of serving something bigger than themselves.
3: I am not naive enough to believe that these solutions are as simple as they are stated to be. I am painting with a broad brush on purpose here. It won't be easy...but ask yourselves this: Shall we continue as a group of idealists striving to portray a historical period? Or shall we ride the present addled, rot-riddled ship of fools down to its ultimately ignominious demise? Maybe we should get smaller and tighter rather than larger and lose our identity completely. That's all I have. Now I will pull on my asbestos undies and await the inevitable parade of the butt-hurt and the sanctimonious who can expound at great length how evil and mean spirited my OPINION is rather than do anything about the problems we are all aware exist.
dwolfhunter: (SERENITY)
There was a point in time where someone asked my Lady how fast she could get the traditional garb related to an SCA knighting together for me. The answer was moot because it never happened. I have always felt the burning pain and shame of that ...I can't let it go. What did I do that wiped all that away? I have a fiercely adamant view of what the standard is and I try to hold myself to that standard. I am often too rigid. It really doesn't matter any more practically...because as I age I slip farther and farther out of the Chivalry's eye. But it hurts, deep down in my soul...and it reminds me that whatever else I am...I am a chivalric failure
dwolfhunter: (Enh!)
Men(or women) of coat armor should take the field with the inspiration of someone besides themselves in their heart. Champion some person in the gallery that pleases you. Join the combat crying the name of your Baroness, your Queen, your Baron, your King, your best friend. But do not enter the combat only for yourself.
It's not unchivalrous ,per se, to join the combat without inspiration, it's sad. This thing we do, this life within our lives, is predicated on serving something greater than ourselves. By entering the battle with only yourself in mind is disingenuous. At the very least take the place you live for your inspiration. Cry out the name of your Shire, your Barony as your "criee". Take upon yourself the mantle of defending the honor of your place. Do battle in the name of your patron Saint, even.
Saint Martin of Tours (patron of soldiers)
Saint Barbara (patron of artillerymen)
Saint Thaddeus ( defender of the weak)
Saint Michael
Saint George(patron of England)
Saint Andrew(patron of Scotland)
Saint Dennis( patron of France)
Saint Jude (patron of lost causes, or hopeless cases)
etc...
This isn't to say that it isn't more fun, more enjoyable, to champion a consort of some type. It is a great surge of confidence and energy to know that one's love is watching the combat and that they know you strive for them. But if you're unattached...please try the suggestions above. It costs you little in the grand scheme and adds greatly to the flavour of our game.

My own inspirations are summed up in my battlecries "For Ysabeau and Glory" and "Ad melliorum Deii gloriam". Add this to the fact that I carry her arms upon my shield as an escutcheon of pretense and you can see how clearly she spurs me on.In both a period and "real world" sense.

Try it, you'll like it.

Baron Hamish


_________________
I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy.
Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), French essayist.

"Envy the nation that has heroes!" " Pity the nation that needs them!"- From "Reign of Fire"
dwolfhunter: (Default)
I am going to really stir the pot here.I am going to postulate a theory that comes close to blasphemy. No historical example of Chivalry is really all that good in terms of use for the SCA. As usual we need to look at this like generalists, not specialists. Many of DeCharny's,Lull's,Keen's theories and usages are VERY good exemplars of what we should be doing. But the Victorian model has good points as well.Chiefly its idealism and sense of fairplay.
I would suggest that it is time for the Chivalry and Royalty of the SCA to create their OWN model.To establish real and concrete standards for themselves. Using the classical texts and the victorian ideals as source materials and using their own judgement to fill in the gaps.
I argue that chivalry is a flexible concept bound by an iron band. The flexible concept is the "Ideal". The iron band is "Do what is right because it's the right thing to do." Why must we be bound by anything other than "Do the right thing"? Because it's still possible to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. The reason I say that the Chivalry need to do this is that they are the living examples that SCA communities look to for edification.
Thus, they must be the new arbiters of what chivalry for the SCA is. Some are some aren't.
Now, that's very hard thing to do. It's difficult to establish hard standards when you (like everybody else) are trammelled by feet of clay. But what makes y'all knightly/noble is your ability to transcend the muck and mire of daily life and carry yourselves as knights/nobles. Therefore it falls to y'all to create the new example.
A new example that calls forth the ancient ethos of chivalry but is tempered by the idealism of victorian sensibility and modern common sense. There are MANY knights and Peers who do exactly this everyday in every kingdom. Look around you and take on that mantle for yourselves. Then pass that knowledge and enforce it rigorously.
Open a new book on what model of chivalry we in the SCA use. Your time has come. You are the yardstick we will all measure ourselves against. We will weigh ourselves, measure ourselves and (if you have truly been good examples) we will not be found wanting when our time comes.

If I'm wrong say so...but it's how I feel.

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