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Amtgard Politics and Yelling at Empty Rowboats
[02/01/2006] [Okami Cio Cio]

When our still young Duchy was a younger Barony, we went through all the normal growing pains any social club undergoes. Some folks fit in, some didn't. Some folks found their niche, some didn't. Some folks worked and helped others didn't. There were personality squabbles, to be sure. Some people butted heads against one another, vowed their dislike for others. Showed their support, or gossiped or what have you. In the end, it all worked out fine. How? It's a bit of a mystery, but I think I can shed some light on it, and perhaps help some folks who end up dealing with those same struggles now and then.

Foremost in our group's success is having everyone play nice together. Do we always agree? No. Do we always want the same things? No. However, we've got so many players that are dedicated to treating each other, friend or foe, with respect and kindness. It seems to rub off on others. I, for one, hope it stays this way.

For me, the key that has helped make this work was remembering a very important lesson in regards to dealing with other humans. It is a very hard lesson to learn, and will simplify your life when you learn it. The lesson is this: Everyone does everything they do for their own reasons. These reasons have a lot less to do with you than you think.

There is a Zen proverb about a man who is fishing in a heavy fog. A small rowboat floats up to his craft, bumping into him and frightening him something awful. He starts shouting, "Baka! What are you doing! Can't you be more careful? You almost tipped me over!" Soon he realizes that there is no one in the boat, it is simply adrift. He was mad and yelling, but his anger went no where.

That's the lesson part again: Most people are empty rowboats.

They're floating along, doing their own thing. Are their motivations nefarious? Maybe. Some people do truly want to cause havoc and discomfort in others. Some people indeed want to make trouble. Most people, however, believe that their intentions are pure. They've come to a decision and embarked on a course of action because they believe it will be best for them, for others, and for the other boats floating around in the fog.

When we'd been a Barony for only half a reign, our Baroness took a job offer out of state. She had to move quickly, and her Regent asked me to take the position of Regent up. I agreed, most the folks in the group told me they wanted me to, we planned on ratifying it at an althing, and *poof*, we'd be done. Only a couple months left in the reighn and we'd have plenty of time ot plan for coronation and quals.

Then a family of rowboats drifted up. These folks were a married couple with 3 kids of voting age. They attended the althing (almost no one else did, cause there was only one candidate and a couple orders of business.) and voted against my ratification.

Here's where I made my error (and created my own Karma).

I yelled at these rowboats. I was furious! They'd done this out of malicious spite, and I didn't even barely know them, nor they me! Why would the be so eager to put myself and our poor Baroness through such a pain? What on earth could they be thinking?

I'm sure all they were thinking was that they didn't understand our corpora, the process. That there was really not any reason to not vote me in, but they didn't understand that we would not run another quals to prove I was worthy. To this day I still don't know what their actual motivations were.

The moral is that their motivations didn't matter. For good or ill, they were doing what they wanted and were able to do. In yelling at them, I was the worse for it, especially knowing that they were just floating on their own waters. I let my feelings and my expectations ride herd over common sense and good behavior. Another month passed and I was voted on again and ratified (they joined in on the "aye" vote.) Sure, I had to juggle a little harder to get Coronation set up, but I still did it fine. (If I remember it was a lovely meal, with singing, lots of awards and a good time had by all.)

I still get frustrated or even mad sometimes when things don't go the way I'd like them to. I'm pretty sure most people do. However, each day I find it easier to recognize that the actions of others don't demand my upsets. And that if I meet frustrations with kindness, they often times float away leaving calmer seas.

In watching the dramas that often play out in various parks, on the internet and what have you, I often smile, not meanly mind you, but with understanding. I can see folks yelling at their own rowboats, fighting, feuding and in the end more full of more bile and upset than when things began. I wish for them to someday find that this does not work, and serves more hurt to them and their groups than help. Sure, it's tough to feel you've been slandered or put down or criticized. In the end, we'll all be judged by our actions and deeds more than by the words of others.

My boss has a quote on her wall that says, "People will remember how you made them feel before they will ever remember what you said." I've been trying to remember that in my dat to day dealings with friends, family work associates and other Amtgarders. I hope it helps them. I know it helps me.

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