January 21, 2020 by phicks2012
There exist in our world many wonderful people, and I am endlessly grateful for their existence, but there also exist those who envy what we have — or are perceived by them to have — and who will seek to take it from us without any regard for honor, or truth, or law. They believe that if they have power, whether it be the power of wealth, or fame, or title, or intimidation that they then can order the world as they will and be above such petty things as law, or tradition, or simple right and wrong.
Such people may possess sufficient superficial charisma to fool others into believing that they are worthy folk with a functional moral compass, but they are not. They don’t hesitate to use any means whatsoever to remove from their paths to power those who seem to serve as impediments. They lie, they cheat, the steal (ideas or intellectual or physical property), they misrepresent, they demean, they work to drive wedges between allies and friends, and (let’s face it) a thankfully small percentage of them will kill outright. We aren’t dealing here with the final group though, because no one in their right mind (other than law enforcement, and probably not even them) really wants to. We’re talking about the mostly non-lethal (but still nasty) kind.
They expect their perceived enemies to back down and quit the field in defeat, leaving the way clear for them to take up the reins of power — thus allowing them to do as they see fit and to reorder the world to their personal liking, regardless of whether what they want benefits anyone else, or whether it in fact causes harm.
If foes stand firm, or have strong enough reputations to withstand attempted character assassination or accusations of malfeasance or worse, such attackers will often, themselves, depart the chosen arena in a rage at being thwarted. In short, they may “take their show on the road” — though they are also very likely to continue spreading false tales, and giving other self-serving reasons for their departures, laying the blame on those they failed to defeat. However, at least they will be gone, and healing finally can begin.
But what happens when we see them doing the same things again, or think we do, from a distance? Do we take it upon ourselves to warn their new friends — often at the risk of seeming ourselves to be bitter and vindictive people — or do we hold our peace and risk seeing others harmed? What does personal chivalry decree? Do we “out” them, or do we warn only close friends who might easily be negatively impacted, and leave the rest to time and fate, trusting that eventually — because, as they say, leopards do not change their spots — they will show their true natures and thus betray themselves without our help?
While it’s true that some people never seem to be called upon, in this life, to answer for their sins, I’ve found that many actually are, because they become over-confident and push their luck just a bit too far. They come to assume that they have gained enough power or influence to do as they please and get away with it, and when this happens, and they revert to type, they may discover that they’ve burned one bridge too many and damaged their own ability to manipulate.
Then, if we are very lucky indeed, when their perceived power begins to crumble they will go away entirely, leaving us and our friends and families in peace. Or, if they continue to speak ill of us out of spite, they will do it at such a distance as to be totally ineffective and irrelevant.
The verse below will be used in our local monthly SCA Newsletter, the Equinox, and was written about such folk, and in gleeful commemoration of when they crash and burn.
When hearts rise covetous from places dark,
And in their shadowed greed do truth defile
With words defaming, lighting evil’s spark,
And fan the flames of infamy with guile,
Then we may fail to see the dangers there
That huddle cold, and venomous, and real
Behind facades that men may choose to wear
That motives hide, and blackened souls conceal.
Believing that with power they can change
Aught that they will within their worldly grasp,
They go forth seeking leverage and range,
And to remove what lies within their path.
Swift to demean and blacken good repute
They dream their foe will flee the challenged field,
Or ousted be to clear the envied route,
And leave, themselves, enraged if none will yield.
Then, should we see them rising up again
At some safe distance, upon foreign sod,
We wonder should we raise a warning then,
Or leave their final downfall unto God.
Thus we might caution give to those beloved
That they be not by artifice deceived:
Go not unto the battleground ungloved,
Nor trust that falsehood will not be believed.
But blindness lingers only for a while,
Until all eyes are opened, worldly wide.
Then may we see that craft oft wears a smile,
Behind which brutal villainy may hide,
And villains do not e’er their natures change,
Nor alter how the world their eyes behold.
The more things change the more they stay the same,
And patience is repaid a hundredfold.
[14 December A.S. LIV, 2019]