Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Superior Neutral

For +Aaron English

I took a silly quiz today about what kind of Dungeons and Dragons character I would be. Apparently I'd be a Lawful Good Human Sorcerer, 6th Level. That factoid is essentially useless to me as I haven't participated in any Role Playing Games (RPGs) since fourth grade, when I actually did play a little D&D. I was struck, however, by the "Lawful Good" part. It might be a little too true. I like law and order. I have faith in our government and our justice system. Not completely -- I'm not a fool. Still . . .

I am not just an optimist. I am an idealist. As I've gotten older I've been mocked for my shiny outlook, as if I don't see the injustices that are perpetrated in our country. I do see. I am wounded by the pain they cause. Yet I continue to believe that people are innately good and I try to be a Good Person. I am trying to teach my children the same.

Perhaps as a result of my positive outlook, I believe that most of the laws that have been enacted are reasonable efforts to provide safeguards for the general citizenry. I (mostly) abide by them. True, there are a couple rules I flaunt. Speed limits. Right turns at red lights. Others I can’t think of right now. Generally, I am a Lawful Person.

After I posted the results of my quiz I was challenged with the following: “So yesterday I was wondering about the spectrum between lawful good and chaotic evil. Is there a superior neutral?”

I’ve been pondering that question for hours. I keep thinking about the countries that remained neutral during World War II, and the US attempts to remain neutral through the beginning of World War I. In both instances neutrality was posited to be the superior choice. Non-combatants were idealized as above the fray. In reality, though, by not participating they made possible the harmful actions of the aggressors. Inaction was – as far as I am concerned -- a morally bankrupt choice.

Thinking about that my conclusion was that of course there is no superior neutral.
Then? My children started fighting. I have no idea what it was about – probably having to time-share our iPad and the game in which they both are engrossed.

I chose not to engage. They are old enough now that it is up to them to find a solution. They are (generally) past the point of causing each other intentional physical harm. They are invested enough that they’re unlikely to damage the “toy” over which they are fighting. As a parent I want them to learn how to negotiate a settlement. Life skills, I call it. Also? It’s too damn petty for me to care.

Eventually they came whining to me, pointing fingers and complaining. I stayed above the fray, removing the object of their mutual desire and setting them both to another task. They also were required to come up with a proposal for how to avoid the situation in the future.

So, for all my optimistic, law-abiding, moralistic worldview, I guess I’ll have to tell my friend that there is a superior neutral. At least in my home.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, parenting. We learn so much. It's so hard to explain to those who aren't doing it!