In the second issue of The Raven Roundtable I recall saying something about our household philosophy or, more specifically, our lack thereof. Recently though, I've had an opportunity to espouse somewhat on my philosophy at least. How it relates to House Corvus, I'll leave to your own interpretation.
As many of you know, I have been trying to get the Order of the Pelican to recognize Baroness Susan Douglas of Andover for her work in the SCA. In the process of collecting some signatures on a petition, I mailed a few to some people I knew in Northern Atlantia. One woman wrote me a note wherein she expressed her deep regrets that she was having some trouble getting signatures. Because her efforts weren't yielding the desired fruit, she felt as if she were letting me down and kept apologizing.
This is a copy of the letter I sent back to her. In it, I touched on several items that I think define my position in the SCA and in life. I wanted to share them with you because, in many ways, the words I expressed to her apply equally to everyone in House Corvus. This is especially true in the latter portions. While the actual words may have been written for a specific woman, the sentiments apply to all of us here.
"I am so very grateful to you for your kindness and generosity; especially with regard to my attempts towards Susan's elevation. But, you worry yourself too much and needn't. I have known from the onset that this would be a difficult proposition. And I also knew my biggest obstacle would be the penetration of the so-called "Northern block".
"The vast majority of every Atlantian Order resides in the North. It is very difficult to garner any support for Southern candidates because, sadly, a very small percentage of the Northern Peers ever stray from their home territories. Thus, our worthiest people still manage to be overlooked. It is ironic that "lack of traveling" is usually the very reason cited by these members for holding back a Southern candidate's induction. Your own attempts on behalf of Susan are the perfect example of this.
"Sacred Stone averages about two Kingdom events each year. In the twelve years I've been in the SCA, Susan has organized and worked Troll for every one of them. When people tell me that they do not know who Susan is, what they are actually saying is, "I have never attended a Kingdom event in Sacred Stone." Or worse, that they have attended and simply do not bother to notice the people working on their behalf. Either way, it's a tragic state of affairs.
"I don't say this with malice or ire, but frustration and a bit of hurt. For this situation can never change until worthy candidates such as Susan are recognized for their merits, not their visibility in the "order circles." The ongoing parade of some individuals merely to "get them seen" at the "right event" merely exacerbates an already monumental problem and is the primary reason that so many orders are perceived merely as political tools for political players. It is a situation, however, that I will continue to combat.
"Far too many people seem to shrug their shoulders when confronted with the SCA's (or life's) inequities. It's imperative that I not do that. Life is too important to be squandered with lamentations. I'd rather mine be filled with just actions. The pursuit of Susan's Pelican is just one of many wrongs I hope to right in my lifetime.
"I agree that, because of the way the SCA seems to work, the actual induction into any Order is virtually valueless to any person of character who receives it. But what that induction represents does have value to the people who do not understand the politics of the situation. The newcomer, the child, the wide-eyed novice who still believes that the SCA really is founded on honor and chivalry and courtesy; theirs is the Dream that I am striving to protect.
"Time enough for cynicism, becoming jaded, or (worse) becoming a part of that very corrupt and unjust system. Our mission, yours and mine, is to preserve the ideal. This is a dangerous undertaking. It would be a lie for us to teach people that the SCA is based on our highest ideals. But, so long as people of good heart and noble action strive to bring about those ideals, in any way possible, and on any level, so too can we honestly say that members of the SCA strive to live up to those same ideals.
"I'll even state that it is not the majority of the SCA who pursues this dream. But when has the world ever been changed by the majority? It is the small handful, the people with vision, the people with dreams who have always shaped the world in which we live. Why should we expect the SCA to be any less so? I might add, that these visionaries have always had to work against the majority (an interesting conundrum, since it is the same majority whom they serve and whose lives are enriched by their efforts).
"If I have learned anything in my life and in my time in the Society, it is that extraordinary people are often "passed over." After all, the example that they set only serves to remind the vast majority just how mediocre we are. Thus, when the truly worthy, people such as Susan, come along, they are overlooked to preserve our own sense of self-worth. I know I feel this every time I am in her presence. My Pelican, every Pelican, is a sham and I know it. Confronted with her contributions, her dedication, her Spirit; all of my achievements become hollow, empty things bestowed on me by well-meaning, but still blind, people. After all, she is the one who shaped and molded me in the SCA from the beginning. And, no, the student did not surpass the teacher here. I still have so much to learn from her and will continue to try and live-up to the example she sets for service to the Society.
"This is why it is so important that you not berate yourself, even a little, for your inability to garner local support for Susan. You certainly need never apologize! For you, too, are one of those special people. Of course, you're frustrated! But, your feelings only do you credit. Only a person of genuine heart could feel badly when someone of Susan's worth is being ignored. But, please, please, do not feel like you have let me down in any way. For you have not.
"You continue to be what you have always been: my friend, my confidant, and an eternal source of inspiration. Every time I see your smile, I know that there is something good and decent in this world. And it is that knowledge that empowers me for yet another day.
"I hope, that in my small way, my tilting at windmills (like Susan's Pelican), I can inspire you too. The fight against injustice is only over when everyone stops fighting. And, so long as I'm alive, there'll always be at least one person in that fight. I know that pretty much just makes me a bothersome nuisance to many people, but to some, just one or two even, I hope I inspire the same hope that you and your friendship engender in my own heart. -- BRAN TREFONNEN --
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