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Talk versus Walk
[01/10/2009] [Bowen]

Of all the problems that persist through this game we play, none is more prevalent at every level of group and personal status as the issue of flat out unchecked complaining. That is not to say that all players complain, or that all players stand for it, but we must ask ourselves several questions.

Why complain?

What separates a complainer from a non-complainer?

What effect do these two attitudes have on the future of Amtgard?

First, the reader would do well to understand that I, in no way, believe criticism is a negative act; however, complaining and offering criticism, however, are two completely separate avenues of voicing discontent.

Why someone complains, what causes them to take an act of offering negative comments without any recommendation for improvement is easy to explain: it is the path of least resistance. When faced with a bad situation, one which upsets and angers us, the easiest thing to do is to simply complain and blame someone else.

Complaining frees us of perceived responsibility, allows us to feel better about ourselves in the process, and fits perfectly into Amtgard's favorite past time: bitching. So we know why it happens and it is as predictable as the sun rising and setting; because whatever the situation, whatever the outcome, there will always be complaining.

What does complaining get us however? Nothing. Complaining gets no one to anywhere they want to be and it alienates friends and acquaintances alike. With all that has been said so far, with all you have read so far, one may find themselves wondering how I recommend handling those situations which frustrate and agitate us. Let's explore that in a moment because we have reached the answer to the first question.

Why complain? Don't.

So then, back to the matter at hand, how do we responsibly handle our concerns without complaining? The more direct route is also the hardest and that is to act. Rather than simply talking about what you see wrong (constructively or not), standing up and taking action is almost always the quickest, and often most effective, path to change.

We see things wrong with our game and our groups. Read the Electric Samurai forums often enough and you might believe that our game is nothing but trouble. But you would be wrong because men and women have stepped up to fight back against the problems they have seen.

From Rulebooks to Events to Legal Troubles, the reason Amtgard exists today and the reason we get to enjoy it is thanks to those who didn't complain but acted. When given the chance to take the easy road and to complain and blame someone else, these folks took the responsibility of fixing the problem upon themselves and fixed it.

So what then do complainers deserve? Exactly what they get: injustice and inequality. Those who sit back and pass the blame while they see these things, regardless of how small or large the problem, deserve to be stuck with them until such time as they step up of their own free will and fight the fight that many before them have done and continue to do. The fight to have a better game and a stronger community.

That brings us to the answer to our next question: What separates a complainer from a non-complainer? A complainer sits back and blames others for the problems he sees expecting others to fix them for him. A non-complainer takes the matter into his own hands and fixes the problem for others. So which are you?

Looking over these two attitudes, any sensible person will see how they affect the future of Amtgard. Let’s not make the assumption that everyone who plays Amtgard is sensible though and explore further what effect these two types of players will have on the game we all enjoy.

Let’s start with complainers. Various wrongs exist without corrective action taken leads to a new era for Amtgard: one of backroom politics, one of corrupt leaders, and one of dangerous players. Sure, people see the problem but no one does anything to correct it. New players enter the game and those who stick around are taught, subconsciously, that this type of behavior is acceptable. Enter the spiral downward and what’s left can only be described as an incestuous nightmare that crosses West Side Story with the Emo Lunch Table at your local high school.

Now we take a look at those who take action. Various wrongs appear but they are dealt with quickly. Corrupt leaders and dangerous players appear but they are quickly booted and/or reigned in. New players join the game and prosper because they are treated fairly and they see similar fair treatment given to veteran players. Your group, and the game, flourishes through fun, enjoyable, and responsible interaction with its players, community, and Amtgard in general.

So where does that leave us?

With a choice.

You, the reader, right now have the choice to make a difference in your group and in this game. Do not let my words above fool you into believing that action is only necessary in a reactive measure because often times proactive action is the most effective. So think to yourself about your last park day. Go over it in your head and ask yourself if you left your group in a better situation, even marginally, then when you arrived.

* The next time you see someone struggling with the rules that you know like the back of your hand: Help them!

* When there aren’t enough Reeves to adequately handle a battlegame: Drop out and don that golden sash!

* If someone declares their intent to run for Office and you doubt their intentions: Step up and give people a choice!

In the end, Amtgard is only as strong and moral as each of us. It only lives through us and it only persists through us. You have a large responsibility if you choose to accept it but the rewards are worth the trouble. Become involved in making your park, and Amtgard, better as a whole and you will see those rewards in the enjoyment of the players around you.

My final words to you, dear reader, are simple: Stand up. Inequality and injustice only exist where no one fights them. Bring about a change and find your enjoyment through, not only your deeds, but the enjoyment others get from those deeds.

Viva la Amtgard.

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