A Responsible Essay

by Hector of the Black Height

I've been wanting to write this essay since early October of A.S. XXXIII (1998), but we all were rather busy on the 24th with our Kingdom's first Coronation and thereafter life has kept busy. Still, this message should be passed. I think it's still relevant.

Over the past few years I've written a fair bit about Ealdormere as it has moved from Principality to Kingdom status. I've also listened to what others have said and read some of what others have written (whatever I've seen). In all this discussion and publication I have seen and heard very little about an idea critical to our evolution into independence. That idea is responsibility. As a separate kingdom, we are responsible solely for the game we play.

For years we haven't liked parts of the game we played, but we could always blame the Middle Kingdom for those (sometimes with cause, sometimes without). Now we have nobody to blame but ourselves. No convenient scapegoats, no ready excuses; we don't have Ohio to kick around any more. As of 24 October we've had to look in the mirror, not on a road-map, when we feel the need to allocate blame.

Now we don't have the Middle Kingdom to fall back on when our internal politics get stupid. Yes, sometimes the Midrealm meddled in our game. Sometimes it acted in a heavy-handed manner. Sometimes we were pointed in the wrong direction. Sometimes we needed to have our heads pulled out of the sand. In the event of future problems we could go to the Board for intervention, I suppose, but talk about airing dirty laundry in public! No, it's best that we straighten out our own problems for ourselves. There are no Common-Sense Police; we are all released into the Great Game on our own recognizance.

So what?

We all must play nicely. Don't hurt others. Think before you speak or -- for the electronic among us -- before you post; at least one person will be happier for it. We are all responsible for our own actions; who else could be?

We now have an obligation to be positive. Before Coronation I we could define ourselves in terms of being what the Middle wasn't, which is a negative approach and set our identity in a negative framework. Now we must define ourselves, measure our progress and plot our course in terms of ourselves and ourselves alone. This is a great place to be. Ours is an amazing version of the great game. We have a lot to be positive about! If we want our Kingdom to be a happy place the only we can do that is by being happy with ourselves.

We must evolve institutions that include and empower, not exclude. We must make an effort to get to know each other. This isn't easy in a corporate entity with as many players as Ealdormere, but we cannot retain the sense of community that got us this far without more effort. That sense of community, that sense of accomplishment, didn't just happen. It took a lot of work by a lot of people to get us this far. It will continue to take work to make Ealdormere stronger and happier and a better place.

We cannot coast.

I play the great game because it's fun. I love this place because of all it's given me; friends, knowledge, experience, recreation, an outlet for my arts. I want to pay back the people who have given me so much, and the best way I can do this is by making sure Ealdormere is still here tomorrow, so the next newbie can stumble in the same way I did and you did, gentle friend. I want this place to be here in the months and years to come, for other nice people to learn from and grow into, for our children to grow up in. That's up to each of us to make happen, and the only way it will happen is if people make a conscious decision to make Ealdormere work.

It's easy to talk about "the light of the North" and "the shining jewel from the Crown of the Middle". It's harder, but I think more important, to talk about "this great way to meet pleasant people", "this wonderful opportunity to learn" or, best of all, "this place I'm really comfortable in". What you learn, as ever, is up to you. So is being a pleasant person or a comfortable one. That's the heart of Ealdormere. Peer and peasant, newbie and King, we all have the power to be pleasant people, to be comfortable and to make others comfortable. That's what will keep newbies coming out. That's what will keep established members playing.

So let's all try to be nice to each other. What a great way to define a Kingdom. What a wonderful responsibility to have.

Copyright A. McLean 1998. All rights reserved.