An Invitation

A week ago, I joined the rest of my church in a worldwide fast and prayer for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tonight, the President of same church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, called for another fast, this one on Friday, April 10 (Good Friday, heading into the Easter weekend).

“Let us unite in pleading for healing throughout the world,” the prophet said. “Good Friday would be the perfect day to have our Heavenly Father and His Son hear us!”

He also called for this fast to be not just by us in our church alone, but all of us, together, those who are willing and healthy enough for it. To that end, I am putting the word out, so to speak, and inviting all my friends and acquaintances to join us in this fasting and in this prayer.

“For all whose health may permit, let us fast, pray, and unite our faith once again. Let us prayerfully plead for relief from this global pandemic. I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.”

“How do we fast? Two meals, or twenty-four hours, is customary. But you decide. What would constitute a sacrifice for you?”

No pressure, of course, and no preaching intended. I am not trying to shove anything of my religion down anyone’s throat. I merely extend this invitation, by the most effective means I have available, and urge you to accept it. Please, friends and neighbors, unite with us, with whatever faith is yours.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #281: Keep Breathing

“I know what I have to do now: I’ve got to keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise… who knows what the tide could bring?”
– Chuck Noland, Cast Away

I’m including the entire scene this quote comes from, because it is deeply important and profound. It explains and summarizes what I would say is the single most important truth of the entire movie, and one which many people, especially now, are in desperate need of.

For myself, I’ve actually never seen the movie in its entirety, but I’ve seen the end, from right about when Chuck gets off the island through to the ending at the crossroads, and it has stayed with me ever since. For a man to be stripped of everything and survive is remarkable, but even more so for the strength he gained, and shares, from such harrowing experience.

I honestly feel a little nuts knowing that times ahead are going to be harrowing in their own way. I would probably feel a lot better about it if I knew that I were a bit more capable and useful in dire situations, but I’m not. I am so limited, so weak, I have very little to offer in practical terms, and no idea how to use what I do have effectively. Times ahead are going to get very tough, and I don’t know what, if anything, I can do about it, even for myself, let alone for those around me. All I know is it’s going to take everything I’ve got and then some.

It will take nerve, composure, patience, endurance, and, above all, hope.

That may be my one advantage: I believe in hope.

I am certain that there are good things coming along with the bad. I am certain that if we can just look after ourselves and each other, we can make it through all right, and come out stronger. I am certain that when things get bad, the tide will bring in something we can use, something we need. We just have to keep breathing.

I have to keep breathing, and doing whatever I can.

Because I may not know what the future holds, and that is frightening… but it’s also encouraging.

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A Man of Mystery, Am I? The Mystery Blogger Award

Keiko tagged me again! And Matt in the Hat tagged me tooAnd Pinkie! Cool! Thanks!

Rules:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award (Okoto Enigma) and provide a link.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post.

I’ll skip the tagging/nominating part, but my best post? Well, in this entire library of my work, much of which is apparently good and entertaining, and which I am personally very fond of, I would say my single best one is…

Why I Still Love Anime. 🙂

Three Things About Me:

I have had almost zero actual celebrity crushes. Oh, sure, I have admired and been greatly entranced by physical looks and various skills, but I don’t really qualify that as an actual crush, ya know? …but there is at least one such celebrity crush which I have right now: Laura Bailey. Though, really, who doesn’t? 😉

Image result for halo 5 vale actor

There is a difference between “organized” and “neat.” I am apparently good at organizing, but not remotely so good at making it neat. I like to think it’s because I prefer function over appearance.

I am far better with animals, especially dogs, than I am with other humans. And, as it happens, my dogs are pretty good with people, but have no idea how to deal with other dogs. Poetic, no?

Keiko’s Questions:

If there was an alien invasion what would you do?

Die. Probably. 😉

If you had the company of two fictional characters during the invasion who would they be?

Superman and the Doctor. Can’t ask for better brains and brawn to help me try to not die for a little while, ya know? 🙂

My heroes!

If in said invasion, you could carry one weapon, what would that be?

From The Incredibles, Syndrome’s gloves, the ones he can use to suspend and move things. That ought to give me a small edge.

What do you imagine the invading aliens to look like?

A bit like…

Image result for alien indiana jones

If you managed to get into a conversation with one of the more friendly aliens and wanted to introduce anime to them, what anime would pick for them?

Level E. To show them our perspective on aliens in a humorous way, culminating in a much happier First Contact than an invasion.

Pinkie’s Questions

Take us back to your birth year! Select a movie, anime, tv series, cartoon or comic from that year that you have seen and liked.

Ah, 1984! A fantastic year, in my opinion, topped off with my arrival, which was preceded by the likes of Nausicaä of the Valley of the WindLupin the Third, VoltronThe New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, Murder, She WroteHighway to Heaven, The NeverEnding Story, and The Muppets Take Manhattan. Ah, a most excellent year! 😉

Do you still have some childhood toys? If so what are they? If not.. do you have any toys or figurines?

Hmmm… Do stuffed animals count? Most of them have gone the way of… well, away, but I do still have a handful of the fuzzy, inanimate friends from my childhood lurking around my closet. A mutt, a husky, a muskox (hey, I grew up in Alaska), a troll, a giraffe (both of those being from a visit to my mother’s family in Norway), a toucan of some sort, I think… that sort of thing.

What did you want to be when you where a kid?

An author.

…well, ok, first I wanted to be a teenage mutant ninja turtle, power ranger, and astronaut, but once I got past that one… yeah, I’ve always wanted to be an author.

What is your rarest collectible, figurine or otherwise treasured possession

Image result for showboat playOh, that’s a hard one. I don’t really do much with collectibles or figurines, and not much of what I have (at all) is rare (yet). But… let’s see… oh!

It’s not like a huge deal or anything like that, but there was this broadcasted stage production of Showboat that my family recorded on tape. My sisters and I watched it a lot while we were growing up. But, of course, it wasn’t something that most anyone recorded or otherwise preserved for future selling on VHS, let alone DVD or Blu-Ray, which hadn’t been dreamed of as of yet. So, when I eventually went looking for a copy, just to see, I was actually fairly surprised to find one. It’s definitely a bootleg copy, but what else might I have expected, eh? And thus, I have a rare copy of play that I can once again enjoy, as I did in childhood! 🙂

(The Weird one) Make up a cartoon or anime series that feature at least five different bloggers! Who are the characters and what is the story?!

…I am going to have to get back to you on this one. 😉

And Matt’s Questions:

What fields of study in science (if any) do you love?

I am much more one for words and the arts than the sciences, so I suppose I don’t really “love” any of them, but… well, I can very much appreciate the whole of science, as it helps us to improve our lives.

What is an anime that really made you think, and struggle mentally and emotionally, more than any other?

Hmmm… I tend to think about pretty much everything, processing everything with my mind and my heart. As for one that made me do so  more than others… well, Shiki made me think about men and monsters in the midst of absolute horror, Angel Beats utterly crushed  me emotionally, and Cat Planet Cuties still has me trying to balance how much I enjoyed the show on one hand and, on the other, how much runaway fan service it has.

May I have permission to call you by a nickname here on the blogs and social media?

Eh, just stick with Merlin. 🙂

Do you have an idea or a preference for said nickname, assuming you are ok with it?

Again, just Merlin is fine. 😉

Weird/funny question time! What is the most ticklish part of you? xD

Wouldn’t you like to know? 😉

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Posted in Blogging Awards, Challenge Accepted | 3 Comments

Sunday’s Wisdom #280: The Choice of Happiness

“Now as the ladder of life has been strung,
You might think a sweep’s on the bottom-most rung.
Though I spends me time in the ashes and smoke,
In this whole wide world, there’s no happier bloke!”
– Bert, from “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” Mary Poppins

…this is one of those times where I don’t think there’s much I can really add to this, ya know?

It’s a simple statement, really, yet it’s stuck with me since my childhood. The world constantly praises the status and station of people who live luxurious, comfortable lives, even when it labels them as greedy and selfish for it. It also looks down, a bit, on jobs that are more strenuous and dirty, and don’t pay as well. It’s understandable, but still a mistake, I think.

The world can only look to what the world has, the physical things, as a source of happiness, but happiness is, on some level, a choice. No, not just a choice, it’s an attitude.

Not to say there aren’t things that legitimately, for whatever personal reasons, make us happier. And also not to say that we must accept our lives as they are, always, without ever pursuing our dreams or improving our status. There is nothing wrong with doing what makes us happy, so long as we don’t do so at the cost of other people’s misery. No, it is merely that the world’s measuring stick of happiness is not always accurate.

Happiness does not come from wealth, status, fame, etc., and so it need not depart with it either.

Indeed, how many times have we seen people who are rich and comfortable, and yet are absolutely miserable?

And how many times have we seen people who are poor and struggling somehow able to smile and laugh anyway?

Not to say those are exclusive, of course. Rich people, poor people, every other kind of people… no one has a monopoly on either joy or misery. But how joyful or miserable our lives are doesn’t depend what we have. It doesn’t depend on how easy or difficult things are. It doesn’t depend on where we are in life or our station in life.

Our happiness depends on us.

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Blogger Recognition Award

Thank you, Pinkie, for the award and the shout out! I am humbled (and happily flattered) that you think me so wise! 🙂

Alas, for time constraints (life has been *really* busy, enough that it’s taken be awhile to respond to this and other award tags), I will forego nominating anyone else. Outside that, however, I am pleased to share my story, as humble as it may be.

The Rules:

  1. Say thanks to who nominated you and leave a link back to that person’s blog.
  2. Give the story or history of your blog.
  3. Give two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  4. Nominate 10 other bloggers and link their blogs.

The story of my blog? Well, it begins with an idea!

I grew up consuming stories. I would read, watch cartoons, television shows, and movies, listen to stories on tape and records (yes, I am that old), and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on. But for me, it wasn’t enough to just consume it, I had to think about it. I’ve apparently been saying, “The characters ought to have done this instead,” for longer than I can remember (according to my mother), and I’ve never really stopped. 🙂

Well into adulthood, I kept commenting on whatever I was reading or watching. Combine that with my skill with words, born of my love for writing, and there were quite a few pseudo-reviews I wrote in emails to my family. As I was thus talking everyone’s ear off in this fashion, a very good friend of mine one day suggested I start a blog. I mean, if I was going to be commenting anyway, I might as well avail myself of the larger audience (and possibly bother my friends and family with it a bit less, LOL).

That idea rolled around in my head for a short while, refusing to leave, and one day I just decided to do it. 🙂

I looked around, found WordPress, jotted down a bunch of ideas over a day or two. The biggest initial problem was finding a name for my soon-to-be blog. I’d grown accustomed to the online handle of Merlin, so that was going to be in the name, but Merlin’s what? Merlin’s Tower sounded nice, but a bit more foreboding than I wanted. The same for Merlin’s Vault. Merlin’s Den spoke a bit to my wolffish side as well, but somehow it just didn’t quite fit.

That same friend of mine offered the title “Merlin’s Musings” for consideration, and I loved it at first sight! The rest, as they say, is history. 😉

Of course, I wanted to build up that history as quickly as possible. As I was unemployed (though searching furiously) at the time, I had plenty of time on my hands to work with, so I made it my business to produce an archive relatively quickly. From there came a daily schedule that lasted for a bit over half a year, if I recall correctly, even after I had successfully found a paying job.

Image result for variety spice of lifeVariety being the spice of life, I did something different every day for those first few months. Sunday’s were for quotes, and over the course of time, they have become the longest-standing staple of my blog, the one I have never missed (outside some very extenuating circumstances, of course). Monday talked about favorite things in Top Picks, Tuesday Review had a self-explanatory title, Wednesday was about Masters of Storytelling, Thursday was about music (and anything else that crossed my mind), Friday was the day of Challenge Accepted, and Saturday’s posts became “This Week on TV.”

Obviously, that schedule has gone through a great number of changes since those early days, just as my skill and style and the setup of the blog itself have gone through changes. Which goes into both pieces of advice I have for new bloggers.

First, you are the boss. Whatever anyone else may want of you and your blog, you are the one in control. That means it is entirely up to you, and you alone, what you do and what you produce. So… do whatever it is *you* want to do with it! 🙂

Second, along the same lines, don’t be afraid to shake things up. You are free to try new things and experiment. You are not beholden to how things are, or were. You can make of your blog whatever you want to make.

…which goes into a third piece of advice: if you want to make any income of any sort with your blog, then you need to learn a lot more about marketing, production, and such. I suck at that sort of thing, and that is why this is squarely my hobby instead of my self-employed job. 😉

And on that note, I think I shall close with just saying:

Good luck!

And have fun!

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Posted in Blogging Awards, Challenge Accepted | 3 Comments

Sunday’s Wisdom #279: The Meaning of Words

“Feelings and ideas have no physical substance, Ms. LaFollet. We can’t just hand them back and forth the way we would apple or an orange or a brick, so we devise symbols which carry their weight, and we call those symbols words.”
– Dr. Adelina Arif, Echoes of Honor
Honor Harrington
series, by David Weber

Yeah, I’m plowing my way through this series, and loving it. Not least because of all the quotes it has to offer a humble blogger like myself! 😉

The exact context of the quote involves an effort to teach sign language to a species of empaths and telepaths who have never had need of it before, but which will allow them to communicate more fully with their more vocal friends, the humans. This is inspired by how one of the empathic creatures has been deprived of his telepathic sense by a severe injury, rendering him unable to communicate with his own species as he once did. In essence, he is now “mute,” in a way. That strikes rather close to home in my own life, as my sister is deaf, and though we have never had problems understanding each other, I have seen many others, both hearing and deaf alike, who have not had it so easy.

The simple ability to communicate freely, and the power that gives, is so easy to take for granted. To lose it, or never really have it, can be devastating.

I am inspired by the miracle of human language. As the quote says, words (or whatever other means we use), were made, and are still being made, to carry the weight of ideas and feelings. Though they are intangible, lacking all form of physical substance, there is no denying the reality of them, and the importance of them. That very importance is exactly what drives us to strive to communicate in the first place, by whatever means, the thoughts and images and meaning which form within our own heads. The expression of it, the effort to take these things in our heads that lack all physical form of substance, and share them, to implant them within another person’s head and heart… is that not a magnificent thing?

To understand others, and to be understood. That is the meaning of words, of language, the bridge which connects us all, our minds and our hearts. It is the fruit born of every desire for peace, and happiness, and knowledge, and power, and life itself.

Language is nothing less than the combined effort of all of humanity as it reaches towards mutual understanding.

That is why it inspires me, because even as we tear each other apart in terrible wars, our words, our languages, keep developing.

We are still trying to understand, and to be more than we have been.

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I’m a Real Neat Blogger!

Of course it’s when my blogging takes a steep dive that I start getting a bunch of blogging award tags in quick succession. 😉

I am playing a bit of catch up right now, so forgive me, please, for doing this more efficiently than artistically. 😉

For instance, I was tagged two or three times as a real neat blogger, so I’m just going to combine my response to a single post… and I will forego tagging anyone, so, this particular branch of it ends with me. That’ll be a recurring theme with these award tags.

So, thank you, Keiko, and thank you to Anime as a Cup of Tea!

The Rules

1. Display the logo.

2. Thank the bloggers for the award.

3. Answer the questions from the one who nominated you.

4. Nominate 7 to 10 bloggers.

5. Ask them 7 questions.

So, questions and answers over teatime first, from Anime as a Cup of Tea

If you could change one anime’s ending, which anime would it be?

Well, I could take my pick of anime with unfinished stories, but to tweak an actual ending… Angel Beats. I mentioned in my review how the ending is heart-rending, then sort of backpedals, and then they added a new extra ending thing… yeah, just pick one of those and stick with it, ya know?

…or maybe I would just have Spike live through the end of Cowboy Bebop.

…or maybe not…

Any movie that you wish you could reset from your mind so that you could rewatch it again and again?

Nah. I’m not one for that idea. I like remembering everything I ever watched. 😉

Who do you think is the most underrated character of all time?

Oh, that’s a tough one. …a really tough one. I have literally never thought about that one. I have no idea!

Assume that you’re a main character in an anime, what genre would the anime turn out to become?

A slice of life, comedic family drama.

You can slap any character you want, who would it be?

I do not slap. I entirely punch the lights out of…

DOFLAMINGO DON QUIXOTE!

Seriously. There are not many people I would be so categorically and diametrically opposed to, and very, very few I have wanted to hit more.

A gif that you can’t get out of your mind?

No such thing at the moment, but, because this one is amusing and adorable:

https://external-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/safe_image.php?d=AQBA4SuhLgpyf4q1&url=https%3A%2F%2Fmedia.giphy.com%2Fmedia%2FYl4WyTxplsoEOdgLMv%2Fgiphy.gif&ext=gif&_nc_hash=AQB1SehoqrQVbQXd

A friend from an anime that you desperately need?

Sheska, from Fullmetal Alchemist. A bookworm after my own heart! 🙂

Now, for Keiko‘s questions!

What was the highlight of 2019 for you?

The end, because of the holidays, the time off from work to spend with family, have fun, enjoy exceedingly good food, that sort of thing. 🙂

Have you set yourself any goals for next year?

Yes. I want to finish writing a novel that I’m working on before the end of 2020. …I’m not doing so hot at that, but I’m trying.

Which three fictional characters would you like to be stuck in a snowstorm with?

Edward Elric, to provide us some shelter, if necessary, with his alchemy.

Roy Mustang, to provide us some fiery warmth.

The Flash, to find our way home and get us there as quickly as possible.

Currently, what’s your favourite OP/ED?

Heh, I don’t think I mind getting asked this one so much, because I can have a different answer every time! 😀

Color of Happiness
Ah My Goddess: Flights of Fancy

Do you prefer anime or manga?

Hm… I don’t so much favor either, but I have gotten my hands on far more anime than manga, so, I’ll say anime. 🙂

If you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?

Hmmmm… I have no idea. (Which seems to be a recurring theme of late)

What’s your favourite time of year?

Image result for christmastime anime

Christmastime! 😀

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Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs

The last time I read an urban fantasy about a Native American skinwalker, it was a rather unfulfilling experience. Thus, I am happy to report that my first experience with the Mercy Thompson series, by Patricia Briggs, left Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock far, far in the dust. Not to say it’s a masterpiece, but I personally enjoyed it so much more.

Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a part-native woman, the descendant of a line of skinwalkers who could change themselves into coyotes. There are intimations that she might be capable of much more, but Moon Called does not delve too deeply into that. Indeed, it largely just sets things up for the rest of Mercy’s saga to follow. But I somewhat digress.

Mercy works as a mechanic, but she has connections within much of the supernatural community. She was raised by werewolves, specifically the super-alpha pack of North America, and she has a more local (albeit powerful) Alpha for a neighbor. Her old boss, and still sometimes-helper now that he’s sold her the business and semi-retired, is a metal-working Fae. It should be noted that the Fae outed themselves to the public eye of humanity, at the bidding of their terrifying overlords some years ago, and they’ve been dealing with lots of prejudicial backlash ever since. There are also vampires, one of whom is a regular customer of Mercy’s, exchanging her services in place of the money in their “protection” racket. Mercy even has a local undercover cop for a friend, though the human faction is mostly the background that the supernatural characters have to navigate their way through. Oh, and there are witches, whom every supernatural faction, including Mercy, is familiar with.

These many connections Mercy has are important to the plot and her role in it. She’s not some wizardly private detective, or a glorified hunter, a necromancer-for-hire, a millionaire wizard, or a bullied, oppressed, nerdy incubus. She’s a humble(ish) mechanic with one special skill she knows about. But she’s capable, brave, smart, has good instincts, and she cares enough about those around her to do something when a crisis hits and threatens them all. And that’s basically what she does. She’s not on a case, or on a hunt, she’s just dealing with a crisis, which is a useful, remarkable ability in and of itself.

And she doesn’t do it all alone. That’s something I really like, even if it means some solutions come to her instead of the other way around. Many other stories have the main protagonist doing everything on their own, or maybe they do everything “with help,” but Mercy is simply helping out, and receiving help in turn. It really is a group effort, and she’s not the de facto leader of everyone around her. She’s very independently-minded, and not really part of any group or faction, but she’s not all on her own. She really is part of the community around her, even if she doesn’t entirely realize that herself.

Now, that does come with a certain trade-off. She feels like a central character, but not always the central character. She plays an important role in the plot, but she isn’t necessarily driving it. As a result, some of the things she has to deal with, and the way she deals with them, can feel a bit contrived.

For instance, the constant aggressiveness of the werewolves. They are human, but with a literal beastly side to them that seems to have largely merged with their subconscious, and which often directs their behaviors, such as the constant territorial, predatory, and generally aggressive behavior. It gets a bit ridiculous to believe that these people are somehow surviving unseen in modern society, instead of, say, constantly leaving a mile-wide wake of violence behind them. But Mercy navigates all of that almost flawlessly, with a special skill for knowing how best to calm the situation, or werewolves, at hand.

It also… strained belief, we shall say… when it turned out that werewolves have mates, which they presumably go through the act of breeding with, yet successful breeding is almost impossible for them under any circumstances. The exact details to that, I will not go into. Suffice to say that I find the natural, animalistic need to breed to be a bit at odds with a supernatural creature’s apparent nigh-inability to do so. There’s even this whole thing where all the female werewolves hate Mercy and would happily tear her apart simply because she could breed, while they simply can’t. That doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, I could see some of them being that jealous and vicious, but not all of them.

Then, of course, there’s the plot itself. I thought it was about one thing, but it turned out to be completely different. I thought I saw some pretty clear indicators of some vast, treacherous conspiracy, but it turned out to just be one guy and his motley group of pawns, which wasn’t even really unified, which sort of diminished the tension a bit by the end. Finally, most of the book, as I’ve mentioned, seemed to be about setting things up, most especially Mercy’s place in the supernatural community, the fact that she does what she wants and what she feels is needed no matter what anyone else says, and, of course, the love triangle between Mercy and two Alpha-type werewolves. I can understand why they would be attracted to each other, but there was more “telling” than “showing” about it actually happening.

So, there’s a few ways in which the book might have been improved, or at least different, but it’s not half-bad at all. I enjoyed Mercy, and not because of some razor-sharp wit or awesome power, but because she’s a good person and I would probably find her easy to get along with. She had a mess come her way, and dealt with it, and the many tangles surrounding it, as best she could, and she got it right. She has a variety of friends who are also enjoyable in their own right, and the urban fantasy aspect felt… well, real. Not overdone or epic, just real (for the most part).

I wouldn’t say I was riveted from start to finish, but I was interested, and I am still interested in reading the rest of the series, and quite soon.

Rating: I would give Moon Called, oh, say, a good 7 stars out of 10.

Grade: C-Plus. Bordering on a B-Minus.

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(Though I’ve certainly never seen a car mechanic dress quite like that!)

Posted in Books, Tuesday Review | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Sunday’s Wisdom #278: Vote Your Conscience

“As long as every one of us votes his or her conscience every time, then we’ve done the best – and the least – we can do under the circumstances.”
– Commodore Gaston Simmons, Echoes of Honor
Honor
Harrington series, by David Weber

This may have been more appropriate to share, say, the Sunday before the next major election in my country. However, I am an impatient little imp who would rather get it out there as soon as possible. And, of course, if the stats of where people are when they see my posts is any proof, then, through the miracle of the internet, I am not speaking only to people in my own nation. That is a strange feeling for so humble a blogger as myself, to see that my posts are being viewed all around the world. I am sure it must be a most interesting experience for anyone who doesn’t speak English and has to rely on translating software. But I digress.

Commodore Gaston Simmons is a very minor character, really. But he is one of the officers serving on a panel in charge of a series of serious court-martials, alongside one of the more major supporting characters. In the face of this grave responsibility, taken on in most unusual circumstances, the officers involved are as rational and level-headed as anyone could have a right to expect, even when they disagree on what course to pursue. The decisions they make are difficult, but vital, weighing consequences of life and death in the pursuit of justice. They do this based on all of the available evidence, but they can’t always be certain. So what do they do when they disagree?

In short: they each cast the best vote they can, in accordance with conscience.

The results are not always what any of them really want, but that’s just the way it goes. They have to live with that, and knowing that they did their best, whatever their limits, means they can live with not getting things perfect.

There is something very profound in that, I think. Especially since Simmons says this in response to when one of his colleagues is apologizing for not being able to vote in unanimity with them. He brushes that aside, and explains how important it is that they be able to disagree. They cannot afford to forsake their consciences, but as long as they do their best, well… that’s all they can really ask of each other, isn’t it?

I’m sure my point here is fairly obvious. 😉

I don’t believe we need to stop disagreeing with one another. Indeed, I don’t believe we could or should do any such thing. I believe that, on some level, many of us have actually demanded that very thing without even realizing it, or realizing the danger of it. But most of all, I believe we have forgotten that all we can ask of each other is our best. We’re all in the same boat together, so we need to work together, and that includes each of us doing our best. Not “doing the same as the person next to us.”

It’s not their best, or even my best, but our best, that we should worry about. Each of us, doing our own individual best, and allowing the same for others, lets us all do our best.

It may be filled with bumps and bruises to our egos, and our perspectives, but it’s the only way forward: together, but not in lock-step with each other.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #277: Civilized Humanity

“We will act as civilized human beings, and we will punish wrongdoing, not simply compound it with barbarisms of our own.”
– Commodore Honor Stephanie Harrington, Echoes of Honor
Honor Harrington series, by David Weber

If you couldn’t tell by the numerous quotes I am drawing from the series, I am very much enjoying the saga of Honor Harrington. 🙂 Part of that, a huge part, is how it depicts… for lack of another way of putting this, the humanity of the characters in a wide variety of situations. There is a definite trend that shows how people can either behave like civilized people – with such virtues as honor and compassion being shown even between enemies – or not. And that is a deliberate choice which must be made.

When Honor says this, she is speaking with the de facto leader of a group of woefully mistreated prisoners. Honor has a plan to turn things around, to defeat their enemies and escape, and she’s going to need the help of this man and everyone else they can get. But, first thing, there are a few ground rules she lays out from the start. One of these is what happens after they win (if they do). Many people fail to think about that, let alone address it right from the beginning, so everyone will be on the same page about it much later on, at the critical moment.

To be clear, the ways in which these people have been mistreated are too numerous to count and too abhorrent to contemplate. Anyone under such circumstances, treated so inhumanely, and with such a cavalier attitude, could be forgiven for wanting nothing but blood vengeance, and perhaps they might even be celebrated for taking it. The need to strike back at one’s tormentors can be overwhelming, and well-justified. Yet it is incredibly easy to lose one’s humanity in the midst of such, and Harrington is right to insist that she will have none of that. They aren’t just going to do what is needed, they are going to do what is right. They are humans, not animals, and not monsters, and that is something they cannot lose, or let go of, or let the enemy take away from them. So, they will punish their tormentors in accordance with civilized law, not lawless barbarism.

Humanity is found in justice, but lost in vengeance.

What surprises her is how readily her new ally agrees to her terms. As he explains it to her, it is the fact that no one was going to hold their keepers responsible for their actions, their crimes and inhumanity, which has been worst of all. Harrington is enabling the victims to strike back at said keepers, yes, but, even more, she is promising them that they will be held accountable. With that, there will be no need to repay evil with evil, because the good of justice will finally be delivered. And, finally, if they succeed and survive, then a good man wants to be able to look himself in the mirror in ten years without having to forsake his humanity to do so. So, for the promise of freedom, justice, and humanity restored and preserved all at once… yeah, he agrees to her terms.

A man of honor may do terrible things out of horrible necessity, but only because he sees no better path for him to take. Offer him that path, and a he will gladly take it.

That is how humanity became civilized in the first place: finding the better path.

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