Siege Diaries 3/2/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  Do I see and assess myself accurately?

This is–and I expect always will be–a work in progress.  I tend to both over- and under-estimate myself.  It goes back to one of my core issues:  sometimes I take shortcuts in fields where I know a lot/have a lot of skills, because I can get away with it–right up until the point where I can’t.  And then I proceed to beat myself up for my sloppiness/lack of rigor.

I also, honestly, have a very hard time believing that most people want to be around me.  Still. After all those years. Even with friends.  I keep thinking I need to be perfect.  I keep thinking that who I am isn’t going to be interesting to them.  Or I keep thinking people are just putting up with me and are really plotting their escape.  But give me a  reason to talk to people–a group project, or a problem to solve– and I do just fine.  I work really well in teams.  I listen to people.  I’m pretty good with consensus. I explain things well.  Just don’t focus on me.  If we’re all focused on a process I’m explaining, or some piece of knowledge, or in having a discussion, I’m pretty confident.

Oh, and one more thing:  I am extremely shy in the presence of people I don’t know well but respect or admire or look up to.

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Shostakovich #6 well underway.  Figuring out how to do very delicate shading, as there is not a lot of variation/shadows on the face this time. For awhile there, his nose was just blaringly white, but I think I’ve toned it down enough.   There is still more fill-in/shading work to do–the neck in particular is still too coarse, but it’s getting there. Right now it’s at that odd stage that looks really strange because the hair isn’t filled in yet. But you need the face to be done first.

Met with my new manager today.  As I suspected, the recent changes were dictated from higher levels.  I know her decently well.  I think she’s going to be fine, but I was honest about the fact that having our team essentially dissolved was a bit of a shock.

It was like my early birthday in the the mail today. My order from Kaliyana arrived (two black tops), as did a bottle of calligraphy ink, a pocket score of the Shostkovich 5th Symphony, and the fabric-covered button forms (which I ordered back in December, I think?)

Rocket Cat is up on Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists and has about 1.1K likes now.

And there are more thoughts on recent events…

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Perceptions, part 2.

I have had some private conversations about the SCA buffet controversy. I’m going to speak not about this incident in terms of how it impacted the participants–that seems to have been explained and resolved.
This isn’t about me, either.  I didn’t see the ceremony.  My “reactions,” such as they are, are second-hand.
 
I’m going to speak about what I observed as it impacted others. I was logged into an online forum, not watching the ceremony, but engaged in text channels while others were watching live. Regardless of the eventual explanation provided, the events freaked several people out. and angered others. These are not people “looking to find offense.” These are not “snowflakes.” Several of them are very well-respected Peers, but some were also, by their own description, “nobodies.” These are people who had a real and genuine reaction, in that moment, for various reasons. After the fact, once things were explained, these folks mostly went silent.  A few worried about optics, which I wrote about on Sunday.
But.
They–and many who spoke out–are now being told that their initial perceptions are “wrong”, that they are stupid and hyper-sensitive for even having those reactions. That they’re examples of everything that’s wrong with this world.  That it’s their reactions that will chase away newcomers. 
No wonder they’ve gone silent.
 
This bothers me.
Some of these people are my friends. Many are deeply invested in the Society with their service and other talents. They are being told to shut up by people with a great deal of perceived power. And whether it’s intentional or not, they’re coming to understand that their personal reactions and feelings are deemed to be, if not worthless, then certainly not worthy of considering or understanding– by people they believed respected and valued them.
 
Look. I know we’re all different. We come to the SCA for different things. There are a lot of different issues in play in this particular controversy, many of which may not have anything to do with the actual events and people involved. There have been some good conversations  about how to handle these situations in the future, and just how powerful perceptions can be. 
You know what makes people leave?  Or decide to not come back after a visit or two?  Feeling as if they will never have a voice.  That feelings and emotions are things that other people–who are not you–get to have, and that your job is to deal with it, to fit in.

Do you know what it means to be the shield of the weak?  To put your own power and privilege into play to listen to someone else, and then to raise your own voice where that voice is needed, even though in doing so you may risk that very status?   No, I am not talking about imposing advocacy onto those who do not seek it, for those who need no shield because they are well-armed.  I am talking about those whose voices are silenced–including those who are self-silenced.

What do we want our Society to be?  JFK famously said, “…Of those to whom much is given much is required.”  I have been given much, and the promises I made as a Peer are important to me as a person who wants this community to thrive and grow and to live up to its aspirations.

What I want folks to consider is kindness. Resist the zero sum narrative. Resist the words that attack others for the sin of feeling too deeply. None of us knows what wars others are secretly fighting.

I am asking that all listen.  Listen, without judgement.  Listen, without prejudice.  Listen with kindness and compassion.  Listen because you care about more than just yourself and your friends.  Listen because it’s hard to listen.  Listen, because it is the first step to justice.   And where there is silence, do not assume acquiescence.

Justice: the most difficult of virtues–both deeply personal but with enormous implications for the community.  I still hold to the simple definition I found while studying medieval treatises on virtues and vices, one stated by Augustine: “Justice is to give each person his due.”   But the Stoics elaborate this more clearly :

The virtue of justice is one of the main themes that runs throughout The Meditations of Marcus AureliusFor Stoics, this is a less formal concept than the English word implies and really refers to social virtue in quite a broad sense. Justices entails the exercise of wisdom, kindness, and fairness in our relationships with others both individually and collectively. However, it’s also bound up with Stoic pantheism, the belief that everything in the universe, including every human being, is part of a sacred whole. We’re all in this together as citizens of a single world-city – a notion sometimes referred to as ethical “cosmopolitanism”. More than that, though, the Stoics believed that nature intended human beings to actively help one another. We’re fundamentally designed to co-operate for our own mutual benefit – and malice or conflict between us, though common, is against our true nature

I am confident that good people of good will can, together, create great things that are far more than the sum of their parts. That’s what the SCA has largely done over its 55-year history.  And I don’t think ill of anyone. I honestly just think people need to challenge some assumptions.  I know that when I’ve done that for myself, it’s been revelatory, and it’s made me a better person.

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