Syncretism of the Aspirant

Kamelot - Soul Society
Hangnail - I Aspire

Phyllis feels her conscience at a crossroads, and writes to herself, to dissuade herself from going down one dark path.

Autumn 22, 501 ADV: Another epistle, addressed to no one in particular. Enough copies for her companions are made (though she does pause a bit before giving one to Gerald), and the last she keeps on her person.

One thing I have struggled with as an enforcer of the law is the balance between what control of themself a criminal should retain, and that which they forfeit to someone such as I due to their actions. As the scale of what I'm involved in grows, this idea becomes less reactive, and the divide shifts from "guilty criminal" to "potential criminal" and — as we are imperfect creatures — eventually slides into "everyone." I fear myself growing more and more zealous in pursuit of an orderly and just world. I fear myself becoming like the Obscurati, slipping so that I eventually find I agree with them and join them. The more I discover, the more I find similar. Here is where I hope to find some kind of clear, definitive border, and to prepare my ideological defense against them.

I feel as if I would struggle with the same even if my forté were not charms and illusions, deception and glamour. I would ask the same question of myself if I employed martial prowess, like some of my companions. Violence need not always be physical.

Who am I to take the reins of this world and act as its judge? Am I not flawed in the same way as everyone else? To declare myself some kind of sovereign over all, somehow immune to the law — not the letter, but the spirit of it, that which the letter only tries to capture — that I swore to uphold? Violence necessary to prevent worse violence is one thing — such is my line of duty — but to aim to bring all of humanity to heel in the name of peace and order is hypocrisy of the highest order.

Yet one thing remains true. I am sovereign over only myself, but I am sovereign over myself. There exists power that originates from the self, that internal wellspring that Triegenes harnessed, that which van Copenhoff held on the debate floor. There is something inviolable about the ability to assert one's sense of self — to transition from believing what one has been instructed to believing in something with their own conviction.

It is the eternal paradox: if, as a whole, the hearts of people would drag us to ruin and chaos, then a complete intervention is necessary, and we must be saved from ourselves. But, if as a whole, our collective judgment is only clouded, and we all have the capacity to become more perfect versions of ourselves, then we only need gentle nudges here and there — instead of van Copenhoff against an unlearned and unsuspecting populace, van Copenhoff against those with wills equal to his own, neutralizing each other in the battleground of ideas and debate.

The trick, then, is to ascertain which of those possibilities our world collapses into, given a look through the scrying pool into thousands of years into our future. It is impossible to divine. Even if we could crack open ourselves to view our own contents, who among us has the language, the knowledge, the ability to truly comprehend what we saw? Yet we need not rely on blind faith, either. Remember my previous letter, remember that even if we fail in this world, we may succeed in the next — the potential must have been there! We need only reach out to grasp it, and there we have determined our answer.

Those such as the Eschatologists of Komanov's cult, those of the Clergy that sell indulgences to followers afraid of Purgatory, of the Obscurati who seek the reins of this world (I am unsure, but I surmise they plan to remake the very foundations of this world in pursuit of similar ideals I've stated, to place themselves as sovereigns) — they all share something in common. Dissatisfaction. A belief that this world, as it currently is, has nothing for them. Perhaps even the worst tenants of Seedism fall into this same trap, such as Ekossigan, believing that they only need to endure the present in the promise that things will eventually get better.

Closer to the truth is an outlook that mixes Seedism's 'life well-lived' exhortations with that of Heid's intended teachings — a love of this world, as it is, flawed as it is. The ability to take stock of what is precious in the brief time we have on this plane, before we meet our end. Our focus should not be on the end, on some kind of reward after death, be it a heavenly reward or an earth reshaped to their image — but on the life well-lived, here and now! To find satisfaction with the earth the Ancients left us, and to tend to its gardens with the intent to preserve it going forward.

We grow from this world, we do not shatter it apart to reconstruct it. If anything, I intend to help make it so the people of this world discover that sense of self and collectively wield it against those who hold bleak outlooks.

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