I’ve spent a fair bit of time talking about being a Barbarian. That, in a lot of people’s minds, has a fairly distinct definition. While I’ve tried to define it my own way, it’s still based on what the term means in most people’s minds.
But then I join a HEMA group that espouses chivalric values. It’s made me take a step back and think about what each of those terms means, at least to me, and decide if they’re in conflict and how I’d deal with it they were.
This morning, for some odd reason, I started thinking about Patrick Swayze in the movie “Roadhouse.”
Let’s be fair, it’s not a classic of American cinema. It’s a cheesy movie with a few really great scenes that makes it stick out. One of those scenes, in particular, stuck in my head today.
It’s the scene where he’s talking to the bouncers at the Double Deuce and he’s telling them how to handle things going forward.
Here’s the clip (edited):
Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.
In the context, he’s talking about a job with a high risk of confrontation. Drunk people don’t make good judgments, by and large, so bouncers are occasionally forced to fight.
But it’s also good advice in our contentious times where everything is controversial and nothing is beyond causing offense, it seems.
Life on social media and in the real world has gotten volatile. It’s hard to know how to go, which is why I started thinking as a Barbarian.
But that attitude, the idea of living your life as if you risk having your skull split open while being prepared to split skulls yourself if need be, can be summed up pretty well by Swayze’s lines here. Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.
Now, this introduces a problem, though.
You see, being nice is seen by some as weakness. They see it as something to exploit, something they can capitalize on. They see you as nice and want to take advantage of that niceness.
If they’re smart, they’ll do it subtly, over a period of time. They’ll do it slowly enough you might not even realize they’re taking advantage of you until it’s too late.
But most people aren’t that smart.
So what do you do when you realize that people are taking advantage of you? Well, then it’s time to not be nice.
I’m not saying you beat their asses, though that might be warranted. It’s rarely permissible by the rules of society, after all, unless they start it. But you’re not obliged to continue to be treated badly either.
What you’re dealing with, however, are people who want to take advantage of your civilized nature. They know you will likely do nothing to them, so they have no fear of you. They have no reason to fear you.
Unfortunately for them, you’re a Barbarian. They should fear you. They should fear your rage.
While you have to navigate the rules of society, bear in mind that those rules really just require you to get creative in how you deal with them.
Oh, declaring them dead to you is fair. They’re probably even halfway ready for that.
But you can split their skulls as no civilized man, even if only in a metaphorical sense.
Make sure people know what you’ve been dealing with. Provide witnesses who can vouch for it–you and I both know that others will probably see it before you will–and provide evidence. Make it clear who and what they are.
More importantly, though, you’re making it more difficult for them to do this to other people. You’re making it so they have to repair their reputations, which means going against what you declared them to be.
In other words, use their actions to destroy any reputation they may have. Cut them off socially, if possible. Make them pay.
You were nice. Until it was time to not be nice.
But when that moment comes, descend upon the wicked like the fiery hand of God.
Society may say we have to play by their rules, but that doesn’t mean we have to be anyone’s doormat.
Recently, a bit of news has been flying around with some of my friends on social media. It seems a fairly unknown science fiction and fantasy author is making the case that J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” books are racist.
Now, not to get into science fiction and fantasy author politics, but this bothers me.
Why? Because it’s another example of our culture’s deep desire to find the fault in others.
One of my many flaws is a tendency to do things half-assed. The problem is that I get worked up and want to finish the task, and as a result, I make mistakes. Then, my impatience wins out yet again and those mistakes are left. I’m not good at perfection.
Granted, we’re all human. Few of us are.
But some of us actually strive for that perfection, and it pisses me off that I’m not one of them. Especially when some of those have created things like this: