Humility and Formality
Date: Mon, Mar 9, 1998 4:49 PM EDT
A non-SCA friend sent this to me and I'm passing it on:
"I have a paradox I like to think about at times:
Every individual is important and necessary to the Universe.
No individual is all important or necessary to the Universe."
There's a balance. Somewhere between nothing and everything is a "just right" range.
So maybe the importance applies to one's own sense of self pretty well but when it comes to creating ambiance and our shared reality at SCA events, one person can't make the whole thing perfect, but one person can pretty well mess it up. So there's a lot of responsibility without a balancing opportunity for heroics. Your duty to do your part is real and the more highly visible you are the more duty you have.
When you're squired or apprenticed to a royal peer you get extra glory and extra trouble. The social distance between you and a royal peer is greater than that between squires and "plain" knights, which makes it a different relationship in more than one way. You've probably figured out that some people expect more of you as the squire or apprentice of a prominent peer. Perhaps the peers expect more of you too than you see other peers expect of their associates.
Knowing that people are watching you (and they are) be mindful of the relationship's appearance at events. If it looks just like buddy-buddy, there's potential for more resentment than if you show deference to the peer.
Everyone has his or her own model of the universe inside, and I don't know how yours is organized, so the words that follow may not make total sense, but adjust for your own model as well as you can.
You have some amount of respect and deference and humility in you. Maybe it's a nearly unlimited amount. Maybe you're self-conscious and have to really try hard to show respect. If you're that way, you can either ration that courtesy or you can just let it out in short bursts and then take half an hour or so to recover enough to apply another short burst. If you're that way, I would recommend saving those bursts for royalty. If it's all you can do to be formal once an hour, I'd hate for anyone to spend that on me and then say, "Hey, how ya doin'?!" to the king or queen or baron or baroness.
If you have some deference to spare, show a large part to the Crown, lesser to others of high degree, and save some for the peer to whom you've sworn service.
If you're rich in respect and deference, give it to everybody, even people you outrank. Even newcomers.
If you give an older lady a seat in a bus, WHY do you do that?
To impress other people?
To show respect?
Out of pity or compassion?
To show off your strength and vigor?
To avoid criticism?
To serve God?
To be a good scout?
Because your mother said to?
Because an etiquette book said to?
To take the proper position in relation to the other person?
In one way it doesn't matter why.
In the Society we are putting on a show. We don't have an audience, or it's an audience participation show. At the same time we're creating a piece of performance art (Needham's estimation of it) or a living tableau (mine) or "living the dream" (if you prefer that model), there is a photographable reality. Don't screw that up.
But there's more.
#7 will go there.
Return to topics list, or continue to #7, Humility on the Inside.