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Whose Responsibility is it, Anyway?
[11/21/2002] [Snicker Furfoot]

"Okay, next up is 'Scenes from a Hat'. Ryan and Colin, you're Monarch and Regent of a land of Amtgard. Wayne, your role is the strangely charismatic, yet completely insane guy who thinks he's the emperor of the world. Steve will represent the populace. The first scene is.... Ryan and Collin are giving each other awards, and Steve runs to tattle to Wayne..."

Not a real scene from Drew Carey's hit comedy-improv, but closer to reality than you think. I'm here today to talk about responsibility - responsibility in and out of Amtgard. Each of us has responsibilities, but what do we do with it? Where do we go? Why is it important?

In the real world, our responsibilities are usually pretty easy to figure out - Food, Shelter, Clothing, Cigarettes, Booze.... and each with a significant and known penalty if those responsibilities aren't met. But Amtgard is not reality - in fact, to many people, it's just a game. And like many games, when someone gets tired of it, they just put it down and walk away - because there's no reason they can't. No punishment, no negative karma, nothing to fear, and they can always come back and do it again six months later. Of course there are extremes - the prime minister who stole from more than one treasury and had awards and titles stripped (why were they ever allowed to touch money again after the first incident?!), the "so-called Knight" who turned out never to have been Knighted... oddly, many of these people still get rewards for their actions, as though they had actually done something good (that "so-called Knight" ended up getting Knighted after all). It sometimes feels like the Special Olympics [*] here with everyone getting an award just for hobbling to the finish line, no matter how badly they did. Why do we continue to reward failure, and congratulate incompetence? Because no one is willing to take the responsibility. The very people we elect to handle this job are too afraid of hurting someone's feelings to stand up to them and say, "You will not damage my Kingdom any further. Leave and don't return." Or at least acknowledge PUBLICLY that there are problems. Too many times I've seen people get away with damn near everything up to and including assault and battery, because no one wanted to rock the boat. No one wanted to take the responsibility to do the job that needed to be done. Well, to those people, I say, "You're cowards. Each and every one of you. To Thine Own Self Be True. Stop hiding, and start doing!"

Maybe you're not quite that far yet - maybe you, the reader, want to know "how can I avoid becoming a cowardly King or pointless PM?" Simple:

If you're running for park officer, make sure you CAN do the job. Make sure you know WHAT the job is about. Don't do it because you have friends who will vote for you. Don't do it because it'd be cool to have a crown on your head, or give out awards. Those jobs come with responsibilities, and those responsibilities need to be met. Yeah, CHAMPIONS, that means your lazy asses, too. I've seen one decent Kingdom-level champion in 10 years in Amtgard, and that's just pathetic. Again, if you can't do the job, don't take the position!

What about the park officers who had the best of intentions, but real life got in the way? Well, real life sucks - I'll be the first to admit that. So do what's right for the park - let someone know, and step down gracefully. Don't sit on your ass for 12 weeks, and then whine that you had "personal issues" when someone kicks you out and replaces you. If you can't do the job, it needs to get done, and if you're in the way, expect to get shoved aside. If you really want to help your group, step aside and let someone else do the job that you can't.

But what if our gentle readers aren't so stupid - maybe they're just stuck in a group where the monarch won't let anyone else get elected, and keeps giving awards to his girlfriends and brother, and ignores everyone else. What do you do then? Run away? Make your own little park? Or do you accept the responsibility of turning your own park around? If it's one thing a bad monarch can't stand, it's someone with the balls to stand up to them. So do so. Publicly. And frequently. (The world is not so small that we don't know what you're doing, Talon.) I'm not saying it will always work - but it's better than just sitting there and taking it. DO SOMETHING!

There are a million stories like this in Amtgard - sadly, it all boils down to responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions. Do what needs to be done. Stop trying to "win" Amtgard, and start trying to help it.

My use of the Special Olympics here is not intended to denigrate that fine institution but rather to compare their methods to ours in a negative light.

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