In my travels on the surface, I once met a man who whore his religious beliefs 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 sipping my wine , and he, I fear, partaking a bit too much of his more potent drunk. He went on to explain to premise of his religion, his very reasons for being, that all things were based in science, in mechanics and in discovery. He even asked if he could take a piece 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 that the Gondsman honestly believed his claim that if he could merely find the various elements that compromised 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 the would affect a change in more than a 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 would I show him the variations between drow and 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 no more than a way of conveying universal energies – and that, too, might one day be replicated. My Gondsman companion promised me that he and his fellow inventor priests would one day replicate every spell in any wizard’s repertoire, using natural elements in the proper combination.
But there was no mention of the discipline any wizard must attaint 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 a gradual increase in power, as mystical as it is secular.
So it is with the warrior. The Gondsman spoke of some weapon 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 while 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 token 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 detriment of all the world – Artemis Entreri seems a perfect example – but those 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 has his way, if his errant viw of paradise should come to fruition, then all the years of training will mean little. Any fool could pick an arquebus or some other powerful weapon and summarily destroy a skilled warrior. Or any child could utilize a Gondsman’s magic 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 inventions 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 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 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 in my ow, but I would demand, always I would demand, a sense of humility, dedicated and an understanding of this power I was teaching, an appreciation of the potential for destruction. I would teach no one who did not continue to display and appropriate level of compassion and community. To learn how to use a sword, one must first master when to use a sword.
There is no one other error in the Gondsman’s line of reasoning, I believe, on a purely emotional level. If machines replace achievement, then to what will people aspire? And who are we, truly, without such goals?
Beware of the engineers of society, I say, who would make everyone in all the world equal. Opportunity should be equal, must be equal, but achievement must remain individual.
– Drizzt Do’Urden
Quoted from R.A.Salvatore’s Trilogy The Icewind Dales
I do not know where these words truly come from, but I find thought and reflection within them. They seem to universally bend around topics and areas within the human. Offering no answers, but perspectives which I truly appreciate.