About the Schtick this past weekend.

Jul. 17th, 2017 01:15 pm
[personal profile] storytimewithjoe
So in reading through various Facebook comments from people in Caid, I see that a number of my friends are discussing their upset about the theater displayed during Coronation court.

Was it what I would have done? No. But… it isn’t my reign. Nor is it about me.

Each Kingdom in the SCA is very different. In other Kingdoms, we tend to see the “dead king” tradition, in that the outgoing and incoming Crowns come up with some sort of schtick to explain the reason for a transition. Sometimes, the schtick is good and exciting and believable. Other times, I’ve seen some really gory schtick (fake blood squirting everywhere). And yet other times, I’ve seen some schtick that was just, well… terrible. But hey, the world doesn’t end. The Kingdom doesn’t fall.

Caid, by its nature, tends to be a bit stoic and liturgical, in that coronations often follow the same exact type of formula as the one before… and the one before. This has an advantage in some ways in that we know what to expect and we know when/where to do what – it is our tradition. But on the other hand, if you are the kind of individual who really doesn’t care for repetition, or views it more as “stuffy ceremony”, our coronations might not hold the same magic for you that one with more theatre and schtick could give. If that is the case, like in the scenario I described above, the world doesn’t end. The Kingdom doesn’t fall. Both styles have advantages and disadvantages.

During this reign, TRM have chosen to add in some theatre to Their courts. And yes, some people don’t like it. But I want you all to consider this – other people do like it. Why? Because it is something different – something fresh – something unique to this reign that makes it different than the one before, and the one before, and the one before. I am not defending nor condemning anything that has happened thus far, but simply trying to help put it in perspective. The world hasn’t ended. The Kingdom will not fall. Some people will not like it. Others will absolutely love it.

Perhaps you are one of those people who enjoyed the schtick. If so, GREAT! I hope you enjoyed the heck out of watching it. Perhaps you are one of the people who found it disrespectful to the Crown and/or tradition. If so, I am absolutely not telling you that you are wrong or telling you how to feel. But what I am humbly requesting is that you be kind and be an adult in how you express your concerns or views. Why? Because there is a huge difference between witnessing something that you think appears disrespectful (which is an absolutely valid interpretation) versus the people in the schtick INTENTIONALLY BEING disrespectful. Note the difference? I have personally spoken to TRM and believe them to have good intentions. Are they doing all the things as I would do them? No. But there is no reason for me to expect them (or anyone else for that matter) to do that. But are they doing things to intentionally be rude, or intentionally be disrespectful or just to mess with people? I do not believe so.

For me personally, I just don’t view court schtick as being the hill I want to die on one way or another. But that’s me. If you find that you just cannot participate in a reign that does schtick of this kind, that is 100% your right and your option. You can take a mini-vacation and come back later if you like. The world will not end. The Kingdom will not fall. And I will not criticize you one bit. If it ain’t your thing, it ain’t your thing.

But please – whatever you do - be respectful. Be kind. Be considerate. Be honorable. And be an adult. That is all I ask. Thank you.

Fear and fighting

Jul. 12th, 2017 12:33 pm
[personal profile] storytimewithjoe
Having some time to kill, I spent the evening yesterday re-watching the movie, “Pride”. In one scene, a speaker mentioned something that really struck a chord with me. “When you are fighting against an enemy that is much bigger than you and much stronger than you, and you suddenly find an ally that you didn’t even know about, it is the best feeling in the world.” I know what it is like to feel alone in the world. And life taught me not only the importance of standing up for myself, but standing up for others. I may not be a fighter in the physical sense, but there’s more than one way to fight.

When I was a young child, I stood out like a sore thumb. Awkward, fat, painfully shy, bookish, and generally “weird” compared to other kids; I naturally became the target of a lot of bullying. Growing up in a very small town had a lot of disadvantages in this regard. It meant that everybody knew everybody and everybody knew everybody’s roles – including who was the class-wimp. I knew I didn’t fit in, and I didn’t even really try. Why bother trying to be around people that treat you badly, right? I had a couple of friends (all girls), and that suited me just fine. But I didn’t understand that that made me even more of a target. One fateful Saturday, I remember being at the beach not far from the house with a friend of mine. It was low tide. I remember that because there were some older kids out on the flats looking for clams. (Stupid older kids! They wouldn’t find any clams on the bay side! But whatever). I didn’t know any of those kids. I had never seen them before. But I had a natural fear of anybody taller and stronger. The next thing I knew, one of the kids came running over to where my friend and I were digging around in the sand. After kicking over the sandcastle that I built, he grabbed me by the front of the shirt, and roundhouse punched me. Again… and again… and again… I screamed for help, but there was nobody around. My friend ran off to get help, but there I was – unable to defend myself – I didn’t even know how. I tried to struggle. I did everything I could. But I couldn’t get away. He kept hitting me, slapping me, pushing me down, and choking me. Eventually, I spotted some adults walking along the beach, and they yelled out for him to stop. At that point, I bolted for home. I had never felt so completely TERRIFIED in my life! That experience has never left me. That feeling of complete paralysis has never ever gone away. Even in my dreams I can’t fight. I might find myself in a dream-situation where a fight is taking place (imagine a bar fight), and as I go to swing my fist, it feels like a mega-rubber-band is holding my arm back, making it feel like my arm weighs 1,000 pounds. I am incapable of throwing a punch – even in my dreams. Frustrating? You better believe it is!

For the rest of the time that we lived up north, I lived in fear. My family didn’t understand what happened to me. And at the time, they seemed completely non-sympathetic. As an adult, I realize now that what my parents and sisters were actually trying to do was to NOT step in because I needed to learn to fight for myself and stand up for myself. But as a kid, I felt – abandoned. And what it taught me was that if I was going to survive, I had to stay hidden. So when I made my way around town alone, I did so in the shadows. I didn’t walk around the main sidewalks to get to the library (my favorite place). Oh no. That’s where That Big Kid might be! Instead, I took the back roads, and alleyways. Stay hidden. Stay invisible. Never attract attention. Then and only then would I feel safe!

Fast forward to college. I was still quite a nerd. But I had at least learned a bit more about being social. Bigger and tough guys still made me extremely nervous, but I had learned that I could generally argue my way out of fights. So maybe there would never be a reason for me to have to fight in my adult life? But alas, that was not to be.

In the 80’s, I lived either in the dorms or in truly horrific apartments-from-hell just off campus. And right at the northwest corner across from my university stood a Women’s Health Clinic. I didn’t really know much about it, other than knowing it had been torched a couple of times in the past. One day as I headed to class, I saw a group of protesters outside the clinic, holding up signs showing dead fetuses and how “murderers lurk here” among other gruesome things. Now, just so we are perfectly clear here, I’m going to give you some insight. I don’t *like* the concept of abortion. But whether or not I *like* it doesn’t matter even one little bit. Why? Because I 100% support a woman’s right to choose! As far as I’m concerned, it is HER body and I don’t believe the government has any right whatsoever to tell her what she can and cannot do when it comes to choices about her own body. So when I saw those protesters, it made me angry. What right did they have to harass a woman who is scared and hurting and needs help? What right did they have to imply that a woman should feel shame or not have control of her own body? And what right did they have to BLOCK a woman from entering the building? Gods forbid she needed to have some life-saving procedure done and the protesters blocked her from entering under a false assumption (as if why she is entering the building is ANY of their business!) And more than anything, what upset me was the fact that I had read of women dying in botched back-alley abortions because they were denied safe medical procedures. Who was going to help these women? Who was going to stand up for these women? Who was going to help protect these women?

That’s when I realized something. I had to. I had to be willing to get hurt. I had to be willing to put my own safety and well-being on the line. I had to be willing to fight. So wearing a twisted coat-hanger on my head to show I opposed the protesters, I joined the fight and escorted women safely into the clinic. And I met some wonderful and incredibly giving people who were smaller than me, weaker than me, but showed bravery like I had never seen before.

Later on in college, I had discovered that my basic core beliefs about religion had a name and that there were others who believed as I did in the magic of the universe and divinity of both masculine and feminine forces. But I also quickly learned that there were those who hated us for not subscribing to their religious beliefs. So as a young Pagan who was thrilled to no end to happily embrace a religion that I actually BELIEVED in, I proudly wore a pentacle and talked to anyone and everyone who asked me about it. After all, it is a religion – just like any other religion – and it is nothing to be ashamed of. But I knew so many people who lived in fear. They were afraid. “I’m a doctor,” I remember one person saying. “If people knew that I am a Pagan, I will lose my career.” I heard the same thing from a Lawyer and from several other professionals. And let’s not discount how many friends of mine I had who would not be public about their religion because their families would disown them. This made me furious! Why should anybody anywhere be forced to hide who they are and what they believe in because of fear of what others will think? What was this? The dark ages? Sadly, in so many ways, it was. So I fought! I held very public ceremonies. I made myself available for questions, interviews, articles, etc. And when the day came, I risked my life for my faith. Out in the middle of nowhere Florida, friends of mine holding a ritual in the woods were literally shot at by their redneck neighbors who thought they were “satin-worshippers”. (that term still makes me laugh my ass off! It comes from a hate-letter left on the front porch of my friend’s house). By the next Full Moon, I learned that the redneck neighbors cut down all the trees near the property line so they could get a better view of what was going on – not to mention a clearer shot. And that is when I, along with others, showed up to conduct a large ritual; along with an escort of cameramen from a local news-station covering a story of religious freedom and persecution from the ignorant.

So much has happened since the late 80’s and early 90’s when all this happened. I have gone through a lot of changes in my life. I have experienced many things. To this day, I have still never been in a physical fistfight with anyone. And to this day, even in my dreams I find myself incapable of swinging a punch. But I HAVE learned to stand up for myself and others and have learned to fight!

NEVER will I hide who I am!
NEVER will I allow anyone in my presence to bully another into submission!
NEVER AGAIN will I take the back trails or alleyways out of fear.
And if tomorrow I am struck down because of what I believe, whom I love, or what I stand for, then so be it. At least I will die as the person that I am as opposed to living in the shadows, away from light and love.

Hmmmm… maybe I HAVE learned how to fight?

April 2017

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