Now isn't that original for a blog title!
There has been a lot of discussion in our shire lately about "the Dream" of the SCA. It got me to thinking about "back then" (meaning when I naively got into the SCA and thought everything was perfect) and how I view things where I am now.
I do still see good in the SCA. I see the lady who is attempting to make good period garb, figure out how to wrap her hair like in the pictures so it stays on and is comfortable, and wants to try to make it within her period. That's good. I see the fighter who is striving to look good. Not only with is fighting, but in the way he presents himself in other areas. Has his own herald, makes nice trappings, and acts courtly at all times. That's good. I see the lord who is working with youth combat and wanting to make honest fighters out of all of them. Making sure that they understand the rules of combat, the code of chivalry and that they respect their fellow youth and adult fighters. That's good. I see the lady who is working to learn some period recipes so that her next feast is more authentic. She brings her trials and errors to potluck so that we can try it and critique. She signs up on cooking lists and tries her hand at redacting a recipe. That's good. I see the family that slowly pieces together a more medieval encampment, learning to build furniture and sew tenting, slowly leaving behind the "mushroom farm" and blue tarps for a pavilion and tent and eventually plastic web chairs for period folding stools and chairs. That's good. And I see a Group working together to do a demo and trying to make it look like they understand the middle ages, putting a bit of effort ito design, costume, and presentation. They put aside their differences for a few weeks so that they can get this accomplished. That, too, is good.
I think that there will always be "bad" round. Bad being that guy who shows up to events in a half thought out t-tunic, pair of jeans and flip flops and considers himself "in garb." Bad being that woman who doesn't put any effort into her feasts and thinks that mashed potatoes, Kraft mac-n-cheese, and hot dogs are perfectly fine feast foods. "Heck everyone eats it so why not?" Bad being that group of kids who show up to fighter practice, but never come to an event and their only reason for showing up is for the aggressive male goat head butting. Bad being the parents who let their kids run around unsupervised and then get angry because the autocrat had to bring their drunk kids to them and asked to leave the property. Bad being the officer who just never finds time to do his office, but won't step down and "lose power." Bad being the group that would rather not do anything rather than help "the other side" try to accomplish something that will make everyone look good.
This is the part I hate to write. The UGLY part. You've seen it. You may even have been part of it. The ugly part is that part where you see someone defend their friends even when they know they are wrong and should do right. The ugly part is where you work to make other people look badly even going out of your way to do so (and not looking so pretty yourself in the process). The ugly part is when you get into the SCA for your own selfish reasons. When awards and titles and fame are more important to you than helping other people, being kind and wanting others to succeed as well. It's ok to have dreams and aspirations, but to want them above all else, IMO, is pretty ugly. The ugly part is a group that is so divided that it looks like two (or three or four) groups rather than one. The ugly part is forgetting the code of honor.
Unfortunately, I've seen a bit too much ugly lately. It saddens me because it isn't what I thought existed when I first got into the SCA. I remember a time when I could leave my pouch with $200 cash in it on a table all night while I was dancing and come back the next day and find it right where I left it (or at the very least turned into the constable) with all its contents still in it. Yet lately I have heard of more and more instances of encampments being raided, money being stolen and people's personal possessions gone through to profit oneself.
I think that we really need to step back and remember what it was about the SCA that got us involved in the first place. For some people it was for self-glorification and those people are going to be like that no matter what organization they are part of. For other people it was something that was bigger than themselves. Something bigger than them and their friends put together. Bigger even than all the kingdoms put together. That something is honor, chivalry, and courtesy. Those are the lofty goals that we should all be working towards.
Enough soap boxing.