Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When its not a game.

As some of you might have heard, there has been some rumbling lately (not wide spread, but definitely more than one person) about some members of the SCA leadership (peers, officers, "elders") who have generally been accused of "bullying", for lack of a better term.

As to the "if"s and "what"s of the accusatios, I frankly leave that to cooler heads then myself. I too have fallen under the wrath of a few "others"  in the SCA who made no bones about how much they disliked me, and how much better the society would be without me in it. I am not impartial on that part of the subject, so I'll keep a respectful distance for the time being.

But there is another point.

One of the more often said replies to these situations is "its only a game." Alright, that's fair, the SCA is only a game, and doesn't pay the bills for most of us. But there is an implication to that that I think some of us are missing.

When we say "it's only a game", that really implies that while it's not worth it to bully someone here... but it might be acceptable somewhere else.

When is it okay to bully someone? Under what circumstances are we supposed to say "this is okay" when talking about whisper-campaigns, intimidation, slander, or just general mean-spiritedness?

When is it okay to be ugly towards someone just for the sake getting your way?

When is it okay to drive someone off because you don't like them or disagree with them?

You see, its not.

Its not okay at home.
Its not okay at work.
Its not okay in church, or on sporting teams, or clubs...
Is sure as hell is not okay at school.

Bullying, and it's associated behaviors, is just flat NOT okay. We (are at least supposed to) stand up to it in all of these other places...

and yet when we hear about it in the SCA, low and behold, someone says "its just a game", and then we start with the "ignore them and they will go away" train of thought. Then comes the "just don't play with them", or "don't let them bother you".

Funny how that never worked in school, or the office or anywhere else. Even places where I wasn't compelled to be, the damage was done.

Bad conduct, however you want to call it, is never something to be ignored, or passed on. its not a problem that with or about a group, its a problem with a person. Its a problem because someone has individually chosen to put energy into making someone else's life unpleasant.

If this were a argument on a playground, we'd probably tell the aggressor to go home.

If this were a coworker, the options to address the issue cold go all the way to legal action with money involved.

If this were a sports team, or a charitable organisation, the mundane society we live in would strongly encourage us to call out the antagonist, and not let the antics persist.

The SCA is a society composed of people. And sadly, some of those people choose to be mean.

They probably are mean elsewhere too, we just don't see them in their day-to-day jobs to know.

Its not just a game. Just because we put on funny clothes and take on different names does not change the effort, or the energy or the passion that we invest in it. The SCA is no less important to us than vintage car is to a collector, a rank is to a marshal artists, or a "thank you" is to the guy who randomly helps a stranger carry his groceries. We would be appalled if any of those people watched their efforts or collects torn down or demeaned. We would call their attackers bad people, and we would call for action.

But somehow, we've been taught that the SCA is "just a game", that the words and actions we feel here shouldn't be as hurtful as others, even though our triumphs can be a hundred times more uplifting.

We've been told, or heard, that we can work around or ignore people who Bully in the SCA.

I submit that we have been told wrong, and many of us repeat the same in good faith, but from a mistaken perspective.

Meanness does not wear a costume, or take on a fake name. It is a stark reality, an ugly truth, and a fact that some of us have to deal with more than others.

We either begin talking about it right now, and talking about how to engage others on this issue, or we're sewing the potential seads of our own destruction with our inaction.

I'm not saying Fight. I'm just saying that we need to start talking, to each other, and to those who have wronged us.

The first step is yours....

When are you going to take it?


Honorable Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Mooneschaodwe Minister for Arts and Sciences
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King"

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ivo. Of course, we dont get along with everyone at work. We dont get along with everyone at school. Yet we have (for all intents and purposes) have to continue in those structures. Yes, I can get a new job, or go to a new school, but I still have to work or go to school somewhere.

When it comes to the SCA, I think that people see it as a volunteer society, that people can leave if they choose. Also true, but I maintain that we have to be somewhere.

I agree that it isnt okay to bully. I dont get along with everyone (but I think that I get along with more than most, and do better than many), but I also dont talk behind peoples backs.

I think that sometimes, someone says something, then that comment is blown up, away and repeated with mal-intent, when the initial intent just wasnt there.

This is something that I said to my husband on the way to the event, (not at all related to this situation).

As a good human being, my JOB should be to help other human beings be the kindest, most moral people they can.

I cant make them think/say/do anything. But I can try to help. We wont agree on everything, but I can try.

I hope that I am able to stand up to people who I see bullying, either at work, at school, or in the SCA. If you see me bullying, call me out. I will appreciate it in the long run.

--Adena

Talbotthemad said...

Well said.
In the past, I have interpreted "it's just a game.", as "if you don't like it, leave."
While, yes, there is some merit, to that, why should I be required to change my behavior, to quit playing my game, so that other people can continue their own, boorish actions?
I have experienced the, I hesitate to call it "bullying", per se, but the "old boys club" actions, myself. It is both disheartening and painful. It feels like a perverse, negative reinforcement, to try to better oneself, better ones craft, and better ones group, only to have it happen, time and again.
And it feels like it is getting worse.
Even in the, (wow!) 19 years that I have been playing, I have seen it deteriorating.
We ask ourselves, "why can't we get new people to play?", when, perhaps, we might also ask ourselves, "how can we KEEP people playing?", and "why are people being, or feeling like they are being, driven away?"
I apologize for the long rant.
~Talbot

Talbotthemad said...

Well said.
In the past, I have interpreted "it's just a game.", as "if you don't like it, leave."
While, yes, there is some merit, to that, why should I be required to change my behavior, to quit playing my game, so that other people can continue their own, boorish actions?
I have experienced the, I hesitate to call it "bullying", per se, but the "old boys club" actions, myself. It is both disheartening and painful. It feels like a perverse, negative reinforcement, to try to better oneself, better ones craft, and better ones group, only to have it happen, time and again.
And it feels like it is getting worse.
Even in the, (wow!) 19 years that I have been playing, I have seen it deteriorating.
We ask ourselves, "why can't we get new people to play?", when, perhaps, we might also ask ourselves, "how can we KEEP people playing?", and "why are people being, or feeling like they are being, driven away?"
I apologize for the long ramble.
~Talbot

Peter Polk said...

Well said.
Have seen and been bullied.
I will outlive them.