"Hey, kid. You wanna run something? A tourney? A feast? Maybe even an event? Come over here. I got something for ya. All you gotta do is vote for me and we’ll get you where you need to be . . . "
We all know the way to run things in Amtgard -- you either get elected or you get appointed. The process varies from kingdom to kingdom but the end goal is the same. Whether you try to get votes or try to submit bids, you’re angling for permission to do the things you want to do.
The system prevails because it’s in everyone’s interest to keep it that way. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but think about it – if people think they can get your platform without voting for you, why should they vote for you? If an officer thinks he can get your work without giving you a bid, why should he give it to you?
There are two distinct impulses contributing to this. On the one hand, good deeds are dreamed up as a means to an end. The goal in this case is to become an autocrat or an elected official, which reduces the good ideas and good platforms to mere tools on the road to some kind of power and attention. On the other hand, people believe they need permission in order to run anything. Since the second impulse is the foundation for the first, it’s the one that needs to go.
We’ve also got the problem where people are upset when their bids are denied, they lose the election, or someone else gets appointed. People feel that they’re not being allowed to do things. This is a kind of code – "Let them do things" is another way of saying "Let them have an opportunity to get awards". The problem here is they do have the opportunity. They just don’t realize it.
Amtgard is full of things that need to get done and you don’t need to be appointed for most of ‘em. If you have a great idea for a battlegame, there’s plenty of time in the day to run it. Tournaments, special games, things like that – folks are always eager to have them around. If the champion doesn’t like it, spread the word anyway and run it after the day’s events are done. The park’s dirty? Don’t wait around for someone to say so. Clean it. Summer sure is hot? Bring some water. Sell it if you want and donate the money to the club. Want something neat like entertainment at a feast? Do it yourself. Feel like volunteering? Sign in as reeve. Like movies? Coordinate a demo. You don’t need permission to do any of this. It’s just like the e-Knight game – you don’t need to hold an office for the 'Help out' button to be available.
And yes, sometimes you have an idea that’s too big for one person’s ability or budget. Sometimes you do need the kingdom behind it. In that case, maybe you do need permission, a bid, authority. . . and maybe you don’t. Maybe you just need determination, hard work, and talent. If your idea is too big, run something smaller and make it so good and so much fun that everyone will want to participate in your Next Big Thing. And heck, if your small event flops, maybe the kingdom had the right idea in not giving you tons of cash to run something bigger. But if it doesn't flop, and it is a success, then maybe the next time the bid comes up or the kingdom votes, you'll get the support you want. They might get your work regardless, but by picking you they'll get someone who loves to help out as opposed to someone who loves to hold office.
When it comes down to it, nobody elected anyone to draw the Fink. Nobody appointed the autocrats of Sword Knight Boot Camp. Nobody submitted bids to make Amtgard Combat. Nobody voted for Forest War. And, perhaps most important of all, nobody elected anyone to hold an event in El Paso in 1983 to tell people about something called Amtgard.
This is the lesson of Amtgard. It is the calling of our highest honor. Masters are appointed to do a good job. Knights don’t need to be appointed.
It doesn’t take a lot to make Amtgard better. If only a tenth of the people who read this article pledge to do something fun for their park, that’ll be something. The question for you is whether you’re one of those people. So if you have a good idea – an event, a feast, a tournament, a donation, newbie garb, loaner weapons, a website, a gathering, a charity, anything at all – go out there and do something.
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