by Viscount Sir Galen of Bristol
©2004, Paul T. Mitchell,
This work may not be reproduced in any form, written or electronic, without the permission of the author.
I wonder that you should ask me whether you should encourage your man to be a fighter or no. Did you not save the letters I sent you on your last patient? Such a second chance as you have is a rare thing, to be treasured. Do not fail again.
Very well, I see we must review the basics. Like any other activity, combat in the SCA is good or bad only insofar as to what use the participants (and we) make of it. Use your best judgment; however poor it is, your judgment must do.
Is he the sort who would enjoy combat for its own sake? Would he be fulfilled by the knowledge that he is making his best effort, and that his skill is improving? Would he think it a day well-spent in which he exerted and sweated and put out his level best only to be defeated? Could he take pleasure and smile of such a day?
If so, guide him away from fighting. Point out the expense, the violence (even though the violence is mock — they show more courtesy to each other on the field than in traffic), the time-consuming nature of it all — there are so many other things he could be doing, and besides, there’ll be plenty of time for fighting later! (In such a case he should be guided towards heraldry, or autocratting feasts or anything out of the limelight and unappreciated. We’ll see how long his self-fulfilled attitude lasts then!)
But if he is the sort for whom fighting is a means — to respect, to rank, to power — or to whom fighting is a chance to indulge his cruelty, his pride or compensate for his imagined failings, then by all means he should fight.
It’s just the same game all over again. If his purpose is virtuous, then we deflect his attention elsewhere. If we approve his aims, then we encourage him. Fighting, like all else, is a path; but will it take him to us, or to Our Father’s enemy? Our expectation must decide if we will encourage him, or distract him.
Remember, they live in their bodies! If fighting leads him to courage, gentility, courtesy, humor, affection, health, honor, chivalry or nobility, it stands strongly against us.
But if it would sway him to jealousy, envy, resentment, disappointment, enmity, desperation, pride or a willingness to place victory above all, we must make it seem to be as attractive as possible.
I hope your patient is keeping proper company. You have distracted me from discussing what sort of comrades he should have. Next time, perhaps.
Your affectionate uncle,