responsibility

Heart of the Order

Looked at honestly, is (Order of the Sith) anything but a means of connecting with, using, and being used by other Sith practitioners? It can be used toward specific ends, for a greater purpose, but it also seems, over time, to have become a thing in and of itself. When you look at it like that though, you detract from what it actually is. What it can be. This order, in the scheme of things, is not very important in itself. What’s important is that it’s here for Sith, solitary practitioners, to use as they so choose. For a while we somehow seemed to fall under the illusion that training is practically the whole point of sites like this… and you know what, for a place that calls itself an academy, that might be a fair assertion. But this is not one of them.

It’s an order, and to put into words the way I’ve looked at it since its inception, it does not decide or even define what a legitimate Sith is. Here, individuals are welcome to share their ideas, practices, experimentations, and whatever else they so desire; inevitably, it shapes the Order, but that is only a side effect. Standards, responsibilities, and many other things begin to take shape and define the place, and they’re challenged, altered, championed… but all of it pales in comparison to the importance of the individual practitioner. Be what you are, and let the chips fall where they will.

It’s as simple as that, and their placement really doesn’t need to be engineered, because to do that is limited, contrived, and indicative of a persons limits. The trials here, for instance, consist of various questions that relate to your own development. They will require you to draw upon your work here at the Order, but their purpose is to get a sense of your comprehension and practice of the Sith Ways, how they apply to life in general, and how they apply to your life in particular. It’s not worth the time or effort when that time and effort can be better spent on things that truly matter. The work you do here needs to reflect the life you live, the person you are. Not whether you’re clever or eloquent. If it doesn’t, you won’t pass.

Membership here doesn’t make you Sith anymore than not being here makes you “non-Sith”. The recognition, the site itself, the connections we make with one another and the systems and methods we build around them… they’re all ripples, manifestations, of real people being here, people who live as Sith. Reptitious talked about a day at his job a while back… that is what makes him Sith. Not his membership here, or the training he’s been exposed to through this place (or others), or the recognition he might get. His practice, his life, may have been affected by all of that, but any recognition someone receives here is, ideally, because of where they’re at and what they’ve become in their actual lives. Without that the recognition means nothing.

The idea of it has always been to gauge as accurately as possible what rank best fits someone in their own lives; it’s one of the main reasons I’m always wary of over-emphasizing contribution here, or dedication, or even responsibility. All of that is necessary for this place to keep going, but none of them spring from roleplaying or intellectualizing. Stolas is another example; look through the forum and you’ll see evidence that his passion manifested in his time here. On Halloween last year he won a costume competition; more recently, he’s shared some of his music. Years before that he wrote an anthem for the Sith, applying his individual talents and passion for music to something here. What he added came from his life.

The same is true of all of us. I’m Sith because I live as one, I go to work and act as one, I get home and think like one, I call a few friends and party as one. Nothing I do is separate from my way of life. I, and others like me, are what give shape to the standards, ranks, advancement of the Sith Way, not the other way around. The heart of an Order like this one rests not in its teachings or systems of recognition, but in the people who those grew out of. The heart of it all, lies within the individual. Over the last few years, we’ve discovered ways in which the growth in the individual can be triggered through work done here, but ultimately, it’s what the individual brings and chooses to take, not what he’s told or given, that makes him a Sith.

(8-24-14)

The Critics’ Trap

I’ve had my fair share of being burnt out on the force realist communities, but in all honesty, the source of all that dissatisfaction is almost always myself. There are and probably always will be plenty to criticize, but what matters is where you place your focus. If you look at the vast majority of students, for instance, you might see a disheartening lack of passion, dedication, or commitment. Or if you come to rely on direct opposition and challenges as the only form of interaction (i.e. conflict) that you find viable, it might be hard to see or use other forms.

I could go on, because in addition to the list of critiques someone else has recently been putting together, you can be sure I have a list of my own. But if I were to focus on the shortcomings or failings to much, or get caught up in them… well, it’s comparable to the differences I’ve pointed out between being ‘self absorbed’ and ‘self centered’ or ‘thinking’ and ‘overthinking’. You can compare it – to a certain degree – to the “traps” along our path, as Miles has described in the past, the traps of passion, strength, power, and even victory.

To do that is basically the same as looking at a quality and deciding it is entirely, irrevocably a weakness. But that’s bullshit; patience can be one or the other; stubborness can be one or the other. Name a trait, a quality, and whether it’s a strength or a weakness is mainly a matter of awareness, and choice. Being aware of them, even having to deal with them, is one thing; being tripped up by them is another. Getting hung up on any of these things is a choice though, whether consciously made or not, and I’m the one responsible for making it. Even the difference between a quality being a strength or a weakness is comparable.

None of these things, in and of themselves, are irreconcilable problems, they’re just challenges to deal with. Even opportunities to learn, adapt, and grow. Pretty much any and all problems one can point to in the communities are the same in that regard. They are the bitter that someone who’s been around the block a few times has to take with the sweet. And there’s really no denying that there’s a sweet side to all of it, because there have been a number of passionate, dedicated, and outright inspiring people exemplify (and share) the ways of the Sith.

All I can say, to anyone that believes the former eclipses the latter, is that you determine where your focus is at. Positives or negatives, useful or useless, immersion or escape, strength or weakness. Make your choice, and be honest with yourself about it. It’s no different from the practices some find worthwhile while others deem them to be escapist practices, nor any different from the exercising power, influence, while others obsess over how to control things, and fail.

The critics trap is defined by tunnel vision, by focus on the negatives, the shortcomings and failings of a thing, or of people, to the point that they overshadow and eclipse all of the victories, accomplishments, and overall value that a community can have. It can be climbed out of though, simply by focusing on the things that matter to you, the things you resonate with and feel are important, the things you care about.

Related Posts (by Me)

Ran Its Course
Escapist Practices
Due Consideration
Where’s Your Focus?
Degrees of Control

Related Posts (by Khaos)

Filters
Be Consumed By Your Passion
Passion & Reason
The Relationship Between Master & Apprentice

Vulgar Displays of Power

The Nature of Power

The only time I ever seem to hear people talk of power is when they’re talking about politics. Or when someone commits genocide. Or else something of the like. I find this hilarious, personally, and I’ll tell you why. The only time they talk about this is when it is a vulgar display of power. It’s almost a profane word in the way most people use it. Me? I happen to like power, in fact I am exercising my power in writing, at this very moment. And these words have an affect; whether you think I’m full of myself and reject every proposition of mine, or you completely agree with what I say. Furthermore, how you react to that power is within your power. It’s your choice on what you take and what you filter out, it’s even your choice to continue reading or, alternatively, to ignore these words.

In the simplest terms, power is influence. It’s hardly exclusive to the politicians and the business executives. It’s comical to me that anyone would believe themselves not to have it. You don’t think your choices have affected what talents you have, what college you’re attending, or what hobbies you pursue? And what about your relationships, do you really believe you have no impact on the thinking and emotional state of people you interact with on a daily basis? You don’t think you have an effect on what your best friend thinks of you? No, you have power. The question isn’t “do I have it?”, but rather, “will I admit that I have power?”

There are what I might call different intensities though, if someone were interested in a sort of classification system. The kind most commonly cited today is, as I said, vulgar. It’s heavy, in your face, and is rarely seen in a ‘positive’ way.

The Role of Choice

Choice is the agent through which power is exercised; and we all have the power of choice, inevery aspect of our lives. Does a drug ‘addict’ have a choice in doing heroine? I would say yes, it was a choice to start, and the physical dependency is a symptom (or consequence, if you will) of that choice. Does a homeless guy have a choice between starving and stealing food? I say yes, because even if in some uncommonly principled man, the principles driving his decision would have been his choice. I could give you examples all day, or you could offer your own and I doubt it’d take long to see where it came down to individual choice.

This is what power’s all about: choice. Fate is a crock, destiny’s bullshit; if this life is a rollercoaster, I’m not just the one riding, I’m also the grunt that makes the tracks.

Ripple Effect

Consequences. When it comes right down to it, there will always be ripples, affects of the choices you make. If you just saved someone’s life, that wasn’t God, it wasn’t a miracle, it was your choice. If you just flunked an exam in your favorite college class, that’s a ripple of your choices.

Seeing power in a different light, almost to the point of trivializing it, is just a matter of accountability, to yourself above all others.

Responsibility

Yeah, that’s right, responsibility. To yourself and, by extension, to the people you care about. I’ve heard people talk about wanting to do whatever they want whenever they want all the way through high school, I’ve heard myself gripe about that to over the years. The only response I have to that these days is pretty straightforward… Everybody has the power to do as they please; the trick is to legitimately figure out what you want as an individual, what your dreams and aspirations are, to put value into saying “I want”.

And once you’ve done that, there’s no excuse. With that kind of awareness, you have responsibility to yourself to make choices and exercise your personal power, moving yourself closer to those dreams you’ve had. If you don’t, that’s your choice to… and it’s a weak one.

Concerning others, they are accountable to themselves to. As self-absorbed as I can be, I am not the only Individual in the world.

“Respect the Individual, not just yourself.”
~Khaos

Returning once more to this lecture as an example, I don’t feel I’m responsible for how you take my words. Do with ’em what you like, I couldn’t force them down your throat even if I wanted to. Power over others is just as much of an illusion as others having power over you, at least in the sense that most people seem to see it.

Vulgarity and Subtlety

Some of the examples, as broad as they’ve been, hopefully point out that those blatant displays of influence aren’t the whole picture. Power, like passion, is a defining point of all life, from one-cell organisms to humans.

Violence is blatant, and there’s power in it; legislative influence affects a lot of people, so it’s easy to see. But take a closer look, and you can see it’s a hell of a lot more than that.

It’s only a matter of awareness. Right under your nose is all the power over your life, maybe more than you would believe. It’s not something you can attain, just something to recognize. The air you breath, it’s there to, even if you don’t acknowledge it. You use it even if your ignorant of its presence.

Sith Quote | Ashton

“I like to feel life is full of Victories and accomplishments as well as struggle. Struggle I hope comes from reaching for goals rather than having to endure life for the most part, and I exercise my responsibility to do so. What I am saying is I feel Victory is key to living The Path of a Sith.”
~ Ashton, Sith Knight

Effortless Brilliance

Totally effortless brilliance probably doesn’t exist, but the appearance of it inspires awe and amazement in people that don’t know the mechanics or details of what you do. In terms of writing a story, some (perhaps most?) people don’t take into account the time and effort of creating what turns out to be a creators magnum opus. One can become enraptured by the intricacy, completeness, precision, and power of such a creation, and the possibility that they could do that to – in their own way – often escapes them. An artists “innate talents” are nearly always blamed, because for people that have never created something of brilliance, they must point to something they don’t believe they have. And who’s to say… maybe they don’t.

That’s the funny thing, I bet most people really couldn’t hack it, ever, if they tried their hand at something, because they don’t have (and will not generate) the necessary dedication and strength of will to follow their dreams, do what they know in their heart is their calling, or keep pushing to make something happen in such a pursuit. It might be because they don’t know what they really want or what calls to them, or it could be that they know and are wrapped up in doubts about their ability, about the validity of what they want to go after and do with their time, or any number of reasons. But statistically speaking, most people will only ever know of greatness as a witness to someone elses creation.

Most people don’t have it in them to even try. You have only what you make – or take – for yourself in this life, and most people just don’t seem capable of shouldering the responsibility to themselves that would result. You can try and say that they’re responsible and accountable even if they won’t admit it, but the fact is that if they don’t believe they are, you’re probably not going to convince them otherwise, and anything to change that will usually be viewed as a threat to the security of their comfortable (but boring and unfulfilling) lives. When that’s the case, the time and effort it would take to have a chance at getting through and shaking their secure, familiar world is arguably better spent on other things (or other people).

But you know what? That’s perfectly fine. I’ve talked a lot about hierarchy in the last few months – or, more than I usually do anyways – and there’s a parallel between something I’ve said about that, and something I’m going to say about this: the weak, the mediocre, the regular people, the herd, or whatever the hell you want to call it, they have their place. In any given context, some people are going to fall into that category, and they damn well ought to because if everyone was at the top, or successful, or brilliant, (or, again, whatever you want to call it) it’d be meaningless to be among them. Being the “best” in any way is, from the perspective of any onlooker, relative to your contemporaries in a particular context. There’s ‘crappy’, ‘fair’, ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’. See what I’m saying? If everyone was ‘best’, we’d all be equals… and it just so happens we’re not.

(Written July 26th, 2012)