In my travels on the surface, I once met a man who wore his religious belief’s like a badge of honor upon the sleeves of his tunic. “I am a Gondsman!” he proudly told me as we sat beside each other at a tavern bar, I sipped my wine, and he, I fear, partaking a bit to much of his more potent drink. He went on to explain the premise of his religion, his very reason for being, that all things were based of science, in mechanics and in discovery. He even asked if he could take a peace of my flesh, that he might study it to determine why the skin of the drow elf is black. “What element is missing,” he wondered, “That makes your race different from your surface kin?”
I think the Gondsman honestly believed his claim that if he could merely find the various elements that comprised the drow skin, he might affect a change in that pigmentation to make the dark elves become more akin to their surface relatives, and given his devotion, almost fanaticism, it seemed to me as if he felt he could affect a change in more than physical appearance.
Because in his view of the world, all things could be so explained and corrected.
How could I even begin to enlighten him to the complexity? How could I show him the variations between a drow and a surface elf in the very view of the world resulting from eons of walking widely disparate roads?
TO a Gondsman fanatic, everything can be broken down, taken apart and put back together. Even a wizard’s magic might be no more than a way of conveying universal energies–And that, too, might be one day replicated. My Gondsman companion promised me that he and his fellow inventor priests would one day replicate every spell in any wizards repertoire, using natural elements in the proper combinations.
But there was no mention of the discipline that any wizard must attain as he perfects his craft. There was no mention of the fact that powerful wizardly magic is not given to anyone, but rather, is earned, day by day, year by year, and decade by decade. It is a lifelong pursuit with gradual increase in power, as mystical as it is secular.
So it is with the warrior. The Gondsman spoke of some weapon called an arquebus, a tubular missile thrower with many times the power of the strongest crossbow.
Such a weapon strikes terror into the heart of the true warrior, and not because he fears that he will fall victim to it, or even that he fears that it will one day replace him. Such weapons offend because the true warrior understands that wile one is learning how to use a sword, one should also be learning why and when to use a sword. To grant the power of a weapon master to anyone at all, without effort, without training and proof that the lessons have taken hold, is to deny the responsibility that comes with such power.
Of course, there are wizards and warriors who perfect their craft without learning the level of emotional discipline to accompany it, and certainly there are those who attain great prowess in either profession to the determent of all the world–Artemis Entreri seems a perfect example–but these individuals are, thankfully, rare, and mostly because their emotional lacking will be revealed early in their careers, and it often brings about a fairly abrupt downfall. But if the Gondsman have his way, if his errant view of paradise should come to fruition, then all years of training will mean little. Any fool could pick up an arquebus or some other powerful weapon and summarily destroy a skilled warrior. Or any child could utilize a Gondsman’s magical machine and replicate a fireball, perhaps, and burn down half a city.
When I pointed out some of my fears to the Gondsman, he seemed shocked– Not at the devastating possibilities, but rather, at my, as he put it, arrogance. “The invention of the Priests of Gond will make all equal!” he declared. “We will lift up the lowly peasant.”
Hardly. All that the Gondsman and his cronies would do is ensure death and destruction at a level heretofore unknown across the Realms.
There was nothing more to be said, for I knew that the man would never hear my words. He thought me, or for that matter, anyone who achieved a level of skill in the fighting or magic arts, arrogant, because he could not appreciate the sacrifice and dedication necessary for such an achievement.
Arrogant? If the Gondsman’s so-called lowly peasant came to me with a desire to learn the fighting arts, I would gladly teach him. I would revel in his successes as much as my own, but I would demand, always would I demand, a sense of humility, dedication and an understanding of this power I was teaching, and the appreciation of the potential for destruction. I would teach no one who did not continue to display an appropriate level of compassion and community. To learn how to use a sword, one must first master when to use a sword.
There is another error in the Gondsman’s line of reasoning, I believe, on a purely emotional level. If machines replace achievement, then what will people aspire to be?
And who are we truly, without such goals?
Beware the engineers of society, I say, who would make everyone in the world equal.
Opportunity should be equal, must be equal, but achievement must remain individual
Drizzt Do’Urden (R.A. Salvatore) (via thebarondumbassofthesevenseas)