So what did we learn? (One Duty)

At my home, we have many teaching stories that we tell to youth learning their ways. These stories usually tell of a situation, and then the teller asks, “what would you have done”, or “what is the morale of this story”, or “what did we learn”. The stories are usually not simple; they do not have one correct answer, but instead the goal is to learn to explain your reasoning and what values it comes from.

Yesterday on The Summit I told one such story.

In my clan we know this story as “The One Duty” and the traditional morale is explained as being right is less important than being together. (I’ve been thinking about that a lot, lately.)

I am curious; what does it say to you?

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To me the story is about corruption, its nature and its cost.

Each leader in the story is offered power by a spirit whose only wish is destruction. Each accepts; both, therefore, are corrupted by their yearning for greatness-- to live forever, ever-prosperous, victors in every battle.

What is interesting to me is that the first to acknowledge the leaders’ corruption seem to be the leaders themselves, who halt their immediate efforts at mutual fratricide and lay their knives on the table. Each sees in the other a mirror. In that moment, they seem once more kindred-- but, alas, only to each other.

The clan cannot stand to be guided by the corrupted, and so disbands, so whatever wisdom these two sinners may have learned though their mutual corruption goes to waste. So, even one who repents corruption will not be trusted again easily, even if through the experience they might have become more worthy of leadership.

A thing that strikes me: had either, at that time, have said “no” to the bargain, that one would have presented no mirror to the corrupted sibling-- only a victim. And likely the blow would have fallen.

Perhaps-- probably, if human history is any guide-- the clan (or at least the leader’s own faction) would have accepted that leader, and excused the corruption. All the more if the spirit fulfilled its bargain.

Maybe it is easier to follow a villain than one who is ashamed.

Yet, also, it is the clan’s own conflict-riven hearts that summoned or else birthed this demon, so perhaps the really culpable party in this tale is not the leaders, tempted by power but ultimately repentant, or the demon, which only behaves as its nature dictates, but the clan members themselves.

They, too, could have felt shame over having created this demon that corrupted those who led them, and the clan might have been saved. But instead they turn away in disgust. They cannot join their leaders in their shame over what they had brought about, over the corruption of their own hearts, and so disburse, bonds of affection destroyed, the demon victorious.

So I guess if it’s about corruption, it’s not so much about the corruption of the great, of leaders, but the corruption of the small, by bitterness, self-righteousness, and ill-feeling, which then goes on to tempt and corrupt the great. It’s in the hearts of neighbors and kin that conflict is birthed-- the same neighbors and kin who will turn away in disgust from what their hatred brings.

In the end, then, it’s a warning against harboring bitterness and spite in the only hearts any of us really have control over: our own.

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The moral I took from that story is:

If ambition requires you kill a rival, you should stab them in the dark where no one can see.

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From my perspective, the story is cautioning against division and feeding the cycle of violence.

The violence and conflict began as a war between two powers. This war would then divide the clan over which side they should choose. Finally the conflict would pit siblings against each other for little other reason than to give one of them the power to decide where to direct their violence next.

The violence created division and the division created violence. The origin point of this issue is the war between the two powers. This war would eventually divide the clan and create a conflict between its members over which side they should choose. Finally the conflict would eventually turn siblings into enemies.

In my opinion, the moral of the story is warning against letting hate and violence guide your actions because it will continue to feed off itself until you divide and destroy everything you hold dear.

It also seems to have an element of warning against making things personal. The war is distant and less relevant to the siblings, it neither depicted as good or bad.
The arguments between the clan seem more like a debate or difference of opinion rather than an actual violent altercation, however this creates the spirit of conflict so this is depicted as a bad thing.
Finally the siblings desire to kill each other is the most personal of these conflicts and also seems to be treated as the most unthinkable of the three.

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Not just about this story, but all those stories about spirits offering things to people in general- never, ever take a spirit on their offer. 100% of the time they are only trying to use people so they can get a story told about them, and if you accept it, horrible things are going to happen to you. Try to annoy the spirit into leaving you alone instead.

For this story in particular, well, when the knives came out the clan indeed did see the corruption and betrayal of their leaders. What they also did see however, was a lack of resolve and conviction to go through with their agenda. They had shown the weakness to accept slaying their kin, but not the strength to stand up to it and face the consequences. In many cases, it is the incompetence or indecision of the leaders that lead to the worst disasters, rather than those morally questionable qualities they may have.

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We have learned how easy it is for Molok the Deceiver to sway the minds even of Minmatar chiefs and heirs.

Strangely maybe, the first thing that struck me is about the scene when the Chief and the Heir show their daggers, and their intents. It is a dinner, without us being told who is the host.
For most cultures I know, hospitality and its “rules” of behavior are strong. When you invite someone to your house, your table, you can expect a proper behavior as much as you have to show it.
And hospitality is bearing an even stronger meaning to the Vherokior, and as far I’m aware, for several if not most of the other Tribes.

At such an event, coming with a dagger, a murder intent, are quite a brand left after that.

Take a weapon with you, and it may speak more than words, apologies, or beyond what your mind even thought? Even if the stone hasn’t bitten the flesh.
How can a trust be repaired once it is torn, even if there is no further consequences?
How can relying on a foreign, hateful spirit, or murder, can lead to good ways?

I’m wondering if it is a nefantar tale, or if that is a sebestior tale about Nefantar.
Given the word “Ammatar” was created by Gallente and stuck, I guess it is, or it has become, the later?

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In most versions, the implication is that it is a clan gathering. So yes, an event where they are present in those social roles, but no guest rights involved. Sorry for the unclear translation my retelling.

It is a Sebiestor tale of the Nefantar. We use the word ‘Ammatar’ for ‘Minmatar willingly co-operating with the Amarr’.

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The lessons here are threefold:

First: When we are not united, we crumble in the face of hardship. No one of us is so gifted or important as to be more capable or valuable than the group we serve. We must never put ourselves first1, and those who would exhort us to do so may well seek the destruction of the group.

Second: Beware of offers from those whose motives you do not know. If you can’t figure out why someone is making an offer, ask yourself ‘what’s the worst thing they could be after?’ Even if they’re not, you’ll be more prepared.

Third: The lesson every housecat knows: don’t get caught. :wink:

1. It’s important to recognize the difference here between ‘putting oneself first’ and ‘principled objection to the group’s course’. To many, standing up and saying ‘this is wrong, I will not do it’ is acting out of self-interest. But it is not. A group that embraces corruption and evil harms itself, in the long run. To object to such things is service to the group, even if it is not service to the group’s leaders in that moment.

It is equally important, however, to recognize that actions taken out of necessity, while they might appear corrupt or evil, need not be so. The difference is intent and mindfulness. In extremis, when there is no other way, actions may become necessary that would normally be unthinkable. In these situations, if such actions are taken, then when the situation is over, the group’s leadership bears responsibility for the action, and some effort at repentance, if not restitution, should be made. But this effort must be sincere—it is far too easy to let the easy way become habit while claiming ‘necessity’.

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This story is clearly a metaphor about Proving.

Two opposed philosophies, personified by the rival leaders of the clan: the Chief and the Heir. One represents stasis, stagnation… the other represents change, growth. Each has its attractive qualities, and each has its drawbacks.

The spirit is the Proving and the knives are simply the means to accomplish it. It is given to each of them equally.

And what do they do with the opportunity? They squander it! Instead of wrestling with the difficult decisions and making a choice, they are overcome by their own weakness and make no choice at all.

This is the moment that the clan proves it is poshlost, unworthy of the Flow. We know this because the clan dissipates - the thing they each coveted most, destroyed. They could have chosen stasis and lived on comfortably, if in shackles; or change, and lived in constant danger, though free. Instead they chose nothing, and nothing is all they became.

The moral of the story is simply this:

Even making a bad choice is less destructive than making no choice at all.

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To me the story is about choice and the price of ultimate goals, also greed, coupled with an idea of decency when it comes to morale in respecting another human being.

First there is the conflict in the clan. In a time of trouble it is natural for a group of people, who survive together, to have polarized opinions on what to do. It is the leaders role to take care of such polarization and quell the conflict.

The sad part is that both leaders put their own desires above the ones of the clan and even if they planned to lead the clan with their promised prizes, it is all sad and wrong.

More importantly - to be ready to hurt and destroy another being in order to achieve an ultimate goal, be it eternal life, or anything else, is a really sad morale and it taints a leader greatly. Most of all, a leader should put others above themselves, gotta be a servant.

A good morale is to be able to achieve a goal without hurting or destroying another being in your path. That is decency and gives purity of heart and a clean conscience.

When the leaders realize what they have done, the indecent choices they’ve made, they put down the weapons. Because they still have decency in their hearts and don’t want to make such a bad moral choice, not willing to get an ultimate prize to the detriment of the other. They want redemption.

But there is also a consequence of every choice. Seeing that their leaders have put personal interests above the clan and accepted a foul deed deal, the clan-mates disperse. Even when the leaders obviously tried to do the right thing. Clan folks are right to leave, cause they don’t trust their leaders anymore. Leaders have proven they are not capable to lead, let alone quell the conflict.

Because in that conflict, the ultimate goal has been the well-being of the enslaved Matari folk. And there are no easy choices to be made on this particular road, given the complexity of the situation and what is at stake. But with decent morale values a choice can be clear, if not easy.

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Touching the wrong item of cutlery causes immense social awkwardness.