(This article is part of a cache of articles that were misplaced by Randall in 2007. The cache has recently been found, so the management is posting the articles over the next few weeks, with apologies to the submitters for the three-year turnaround.)
I was originally going to write an article dripping with contempt and frustration for those individuals out to quash what little shining hope remains in Amtgard. I took a moment to really analyze the source for my frustration and found it. This article became more about posing a rhetorical question along with some self-examination, simmering in heavy explanation about how my epiphany came to be. It's not completely directed at the narcissistic warlord telling the flurby newbie to 'take a leg, bitch! or the selfish role-playing vet who stifles new and creative ideas. Nor does my frustration stem entirely from watching belted knights make a mockery of sportsmanship, or listening to inflammatory tomes of gossip spew from the lips of the jaded. It weighs heavily on my own 'battlefield cowardess,' a play on words describing the inability to speak out against injustices when it really matters.
I've been park champion and pro-tem duke, been pro-tem kingdom champion and even finished a successful term as kingdom monarch. With these offices comes experience. Before stepping down as monarch just last June, I considered running for kingdom champion. Luckily, I came to my senses and decided against it. Why? It was obvious that to be a great champion, you have to have the moxie to make the calls others only practice in front of a mirror or behind a keyboard in the safety of their own homes.
I've made calls that demanded standing by a specific set of convictions not necessarily accepted as the norm in a kingdom with both noble traditions and nasty habits, but, in retrospect, I began to realize the pock marks of self-inflicted ineptitude that mar my limited span of Amt-memories. . .of pressing moments and great injustices that required righting, and were only met with timid silence, embarrassments that will haunt me til the day I die. And yet, as much as these accumulated badges of shame weigh on me, they have educated me more than any piece of advice or great article could.
I present to you a non-exhaustive list of situations where a brave word on my behalf may have changed the course of self-perception.
During a hot summer park day, a small battlegame rages on. In the final moments of resolution, a vet wildly flails florentine-fu into a new face at the park. Smashing into the sword and board newbie, the minor injury that occurs pales in comparison to the champion's inability to make the right call. He hopes that the disgruntled newcomer will let the injuring of their pride pass and prays that the 'should have known better' vet will take a hint. It's on that day that I lose a couple people to a different park.
Preparing for a good day at a kingdom weaponmaster, a pair of young and boisterous youths engages in playful roughhousing. This tussle between brothers is quickly interrupted by the full-force strike of a flat blade HACS weapon to the middle of one of their backs. I stood there and watched the whole scene unravel, watching as the knight wound up his above-the-head swing. Instantly, the angry youth adamantly requested that the aggressor never take a swing at them like that again. I watched in muted disbelief as the belted veteran simply shrugged and walked away.
Sitting and recording a friendly day out at the park during crown quals fighting, I see a veteran with a polearm lacking in courtesy padding facing off against a two month newbie. With useful tactics, the above the head stance is textbook, yet the injuries the newbie suffers that day are both physical and emotional. He had yet to experience the explosive brunt of the potent desire of others to excel in all they do. With bleeding knuckles and gravely disheartened realization, our barony has lost a smiling face to the grim reality that not all fellow Amtgarders take newbie fragility into consideration and that people in power don't always question the safety of weapons and intent.
A relic quest starts off with eager hopes had by many. As the game progresses, smaller non-militia teams, lacking in tactics and battlefield prowess, take unconventional and un-sportsmanlike methods to ensure that the all-consuming war machine does not claim all the relics that day. With patience and time wearing thin, team engagements begin to reek of out-of-character hostility thinly veiled in competitive spirit. It is when a band of excited flurbs gets rolled by the kingdom's co-op juggernaut that my own foundation of all that is fair and inspired is rocked. A neonate 'Order of the Mask' barbarian is limbed by a wounding spell. Remaining on both feet confused by the end result of the foreign spell, the explanation he gets from the veteran is take a leg, bitch.
These moments have been seared into both my Amtgard career and personal mundane life with painful acceptance. And with every breath, I strive to deny myself the comfort of apathetic silence.
I suppose now is as good a time as ever to pose the redundant question I mentioned earlier: "What are the characteristics of 'battlefield cowardess'?" Is it the inability to speak up in certain moments that shape the Amt-lives of others? Is it found in the violent and competitive drive to break the will of others to continue in the game? Perhaps perpetual thuggery and acts of intimidation are its by-products? Can it be a masked fetish to hurt fellow Amtgarders, ensuring one's front of supremacy? Is it one's resolution to sit on the sideline or behind an internet handle and become a fountain of ever-flowing jaded contempt on why the system has failed us all?
Maybe it's all the above and more, mixed and matched to fit the needs of the individual.
'Battlefield Cowardess' is a jab at 'Battlefield Prowess'. It's aimed at pointing out that, along with the brave and noble characters of myth and legend, so do exist their antitheses: vendetta harborers, ill wishers with a knack of driving others away for personal gain, and those who idly sit by and allow the ocean of offenses to remain unchecked. It exists on both sides of the railroad track. It exists in both the 'in-crowd' and the 'wrong crowd'. It exists in both the best companies and the most nefarious households.
It's not my job to ensure that every new face is coddled to death, but I will also not make them learn the ropes through tough love. From here on out, I will strive to speak my mind when an individual is being malicious both on and off the field. I am determined to remind the helpless that they are not alone. I will make an oath to myself that when I say that I will strive to be the best in everything I do, it will be not only in fighting, arts and sciences, and role-play, but also in personal interactions with kindred spirits. This represents a personal resolution to never live with Amt-regret or what-ifs ever again.
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