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- Join Date
- Oct 2013
The Fantasy Papers - Letters from Beyond! "Die a hero or live long as the villain?"
Round 1, for reference.
Baerlyon, your telling me that whatever I write here will be viewed all over the multi-verse by interested parties, and that they will respond in-kind with their thoughtful responses? Yet, somehow, this won't come back to bite me?
Why wouldn't this work as I have described? It is a conduit to enable conversation. You have a pressing question and hope to have it answered by knowledgeable thinkers. What's the worst thing that could happen?
Well, for starters how do we ensure that the responses are from good people?
Stop, right there. We have no guarantee that people will be responding at all. The responses could come from anyone, from humanoid to monstrous, and it will be up to you to weigh the quality and morality of their answers. This isn't a filter - just a forum for debate.
This is useless - why don't we just train some more to be sure when things go badly we are ready...?
Because you aren't focused! You need help determining that this is the right course and you obviously don't trust me (though you should). So, we speak with anyone who will respond...
Ugh, fine! So, I just ask my question and get answers?
Are you even listening to me...?
Greetings voices in the void. At the recommendation of and with the assistance of Baerlyon, my sentient blade, I am writing to you to help me resolve a quandary that disturbs me and is proving a distraction.
In short - can a person do evil things in support of a good goal and have it prove worthwhile in the end? That is, when the reckoning is performed, will deliberate, willfully evil actions in defense of goodness as a whole be found to be moral?
I have attempted to read and watch dramatic performances of any number of powerful people who have attempted this, often for a variety of reasons. What concerns me is that I have committed myself to protecting the status of our party paladin, and want to know if my willingness to do what she should not will prove for the greater benefit of all? If I am ruthless so that she can be merciful, is this a net gain?
If I am willing to sacrifice myself, even to my very soul, will this in turn save others? Am I doomed to live as the villain since I refuse to die as a hero (since death wouldn't allow others to live...)?
Baerlyon recommends that I warn everyone of something called a "spoiler" for the following examples. I don't really know what it means by that, but consider yourself warned, I guess...
Spoiler: Dresden FilesBoth Harry Dresden and Gentleman Johnny Marcone demonstrate the ideal of self-sacrifice, even to doing vile things, in support of what they believe is the right thing to do. This becomes especially apparent by the end of the most recent novel, Battle Ground. When Harry seems to discover that one does not "fall" by a single, soul-selling moment, but instead usually happens over a long time, incrementally. Even Queen Mab suggests this is how she came to her current state!
Spoiler: Harry Potter - Severus SnapeSeverus Snape's selfless, self-sacrifice to stop Lord Voldemort is an excellent example of this sort of behavior. He is willing to do most anything, even to include murder while under deep cover, to do what is right in the grand scheme of things. Was his sacrifice enough to save his own soul?
Spoiler: Han SoloThough chaotic and selfish, it could be argued that Han Solo frequently did reckless, maybe even evil things for those he loved. Was the net result of his actions [good]?
Spoiler: Game of ThronesThough I have not read them or seen the dramatic reenactments, I have been told that both Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen perform evil acts for the sake of what they believe will be good. Can anyone confirm? Did their actions prove worth it?
Spoiler: OdysseusA classical "hero" who performed many dishonest, disloyal, and violent actions. Did he earn eternal rewards for the consequences of his many questionable actions performed on his journey home?
Spoiler: Frank Castle, Max Eisenhardt, Bruce Wayne, etc...Graphic literature is full of examples of violent individuals who work outside the law for what they perceive as good. Are their actions good, when the final judgement is made?
Spoiler: Captain Jack SparrowA man who literally sold the soul of one of his friends in a desperate gamble to rid the world of a horrible evil...were his actions vindicated in the end?
Spoiler: Rick SanchezA man who believes in neither good nor evil, but who clearly has priorities and acts accordingly. Is there any moral defense for what he has done? Is there a net [good] to be gained from his many crimes?
To be clear, I am not asking for a critique on the concept of an anti-hero. My question is more along the lines of, is there redemption for the anti-hero? Or, in the final reckoning will an anti-hero's crimes condemn them, or will the (good?) consequences save their souls (too)?
One final point - I am asking at least partially out of concern for my own conscience. My companions and I fight for the very life of our world against the literal hordes of the Abyss. Even should my soul become so tarnished that rest is refused to me upon my death, I will not stop fighting for what I think is right.
I would sleep better at night, though, if I felt more confident that I would not be judged wanting for making the tough choices.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Bearer of the Black Blade Baerlyon
Not a Hell-Knight!
- Join Date
- Aug 2017
Re: The Fantasy Papers - Letters from Beyond! "Die a hero or live long as the villain
I must say, this issue seems much simpler than you seem to think it is. Good and evil are only words. Useful words, sometimes, but the fact is that no one uses them to mean exactly the same thing. You use the words 'judge' and 'condemn', and seem aware that there are some who would indeed do so to you, even as you hope for absolution.
It comes down to this. Who is qualified to judge? Can you judge yourself? If I am a shiny, immortal being with thousands of worshipers who call me good and a domain of paradise where they come to rest after their lives on the Material Plane are done, will that enable me to judge you? Or if I am a big scaly beast with horns and fangs and a forked tail and a pit full of fire and spikes that I will throw you into if I think you were naughty enough, then can I judge you?
And what if I throw you into that pit and scream of your sins while I flay you for all eternity, but your paladin in her 'rightful' paradise refuses to believe it? What if she says with all her heart, even to that shiny immortal being, "I don't care what you think. My friend Filburn is a good man, and I will protest his punishment forever!" Will that judgement of you be correct?
If really care about doing good and not about getting some nice perks for it, stop worrying about where the universe will conspire to put you when you are done. That's never up to you, and few destinations are final anyway. You need to decide whose opinion is important to you, and if there's one thing I'm certain of, it isn't the opinion of some strangers in the void. Even then, remember this: It's still ultimately you who chooses to accept that opinion, and so in the end it comes down to you.
It's all about what you think.
Do you truly believe that whatever you are doing, you would really rather be doing nothing else? That this is the best course of action for you to take? If you do, that is all the judgement you will ever need.
Somewhat amazed that I could write so much,
- Join Date
- Mar 2020
Re: The Fantasy Papers - Letters from Beyond! "Die a hero or live long as the villain
Hey I remember this! Totally echoing M.I.A. here, you gotta do what feels right for you. Follow your heart, no matter where it takes you! It will take you to some crazy places sometimes, true, but a bit of messiness is just a part of life. Life isn't clean and cut and dry, it is often ridiculous and complicated and just all-out silly. The very fact that the universe exists at all is infinitely preposterous; if any of the physical laws were slightly different we wouldn't be here speaking today.
Do you really believe that the fleeting laws of men or gods matter in the breath of the cosmos? Does the bear or the deer care what arbitrary rules you follow? Certainly, one can be intimidated into following a set of rules, but even that is in service of a greater rule - survival - and exists to be bowed to or overthrown as needs demand. Sometimes, one must affect the appearance of obedience, but they should keep their truth as a constant guiding light within, and seek to live by it as often as they can. And I'll share a little secret of mine:
The only reason anyone wants to dominate others, tell them what to do, make them live by their own rules, is because they are afraid too. Afraid of death, afraid their way isn't right, afraid of being made to live by others' rules themselves... the reasons are endless. My way may seem mad at times, chaotic, even nihilistic, but it comes from a simple recognition that, at heart, there are no laws, and one must live in whatever way is right for them. Of course, this creates conflict at times... but that's just the price of freedom. The alternative, a world where everyone is the same, and completely sane, is a world without fire, without heart, without curious adventures and new ideas and the heights of passion that inspire us to new heights - and that world is a place I refuse to tolerate long.
It is the world of the afraid, of those who refuse to live with courage, and I know you are better than that. Of course, paladins never feel fear, they literally cannot... and so they cannot feel courage either. They cannot see a world where they are wrong. They cannot choose to become more than it. I find such an existence abhorrent, such beings are little more than machines made to replicate the ways of their masters, and they have lost their souls long ago. They are no better than the warlocks who sell their souls to devils, it just looks a lot nicer. Humanity comes with flaws, mistakes, failure - and that is completely okay. We don't need to be pure or perfect or even pleasant if we don't want to. Be yourself, even if everyone else rejects you for it. And never look back.
Now if you excuse me, I gotta attach some freakin' flamethrowers to this dinosaur's head so I can go on a rampage against some self-righteous aristocrats who believe they know what is best and no one deserves to be free and all that pseudo-intellectual bull****. We're gonna return this place to nature and revel all night long, and we will all be free at last. Live free or die! And live, always, to the full, with all the love and fire you can, even if it kills you.
(A hastily written addition appears below of a fire-breathing dinosaur among barbarians rampaging through a wealthy-looking church filled with ghosts and people in shackles)
Sometimes, energies conflict. When we try to paint with multiple, let's just say colors, of the rainbow, these don't mix, but clash.
And that is okay. The world has a place for everyone and everything. And you just gotta work them out - make one serve the other, find a compromise, or go between one and the other.
Life isn't a static state. It is a continuous dance of balance, a flowing interaction, a constant being that demands all we have to offer.
Sure, you may be called a hypocrite, a sinner, a liar, and so much more.... but who isn't? Stones in glass houses and all that.
Btw, great examples you offered. May I recommend another? He is called Rorschach; a tormented soul who nonetheless strived to do good, in the only way he knew how. I get the feeling you two would get along.
Anyway, my point is to never bow to shame, never accept anyone's judgment, and as before, always live true to you.
The Planes are manyfold, and their lessons are infinite. Do not confine yourself to any one place or opinion, including my own.
Last edited by +5 Vorpal Bunny; 2020-10-24 at 06:49 PM.