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Nov. 30, 2020

Rules Or People?

Rules Or People?

“Somewhere deep down you know the difference
Between love and following orders
And if the chorus I sing is offensive
It’s proof that you’ve yet to address your disorder”

-The Classic Crime - Glass Houses


One of my favorite bands is The Classic Crime - and probably one of the songs that first caught my interest with them was Glass Houses. It is more than just a nice catchy tune but also gets to the heart of something that has always bothered me about a lot of people - myself included at times.

Too often we spout platitudes and try to always go along with our ideals - even when it means ignoring the pain and plight of others. I am not pointing at one side or the other - in fact both sides have been equally as guilty of this crime. Christians have been very unloving to people in the name of being righteous - even to the point of failing to follow what Jesus called the greatest commandment - to love thy neighbor. We have failed this commandment time and time again - and you know what - we will continue to do so (unfortunately) because we are flawed humans.

You look at all of the civil unrest this year and yes - even those movements - are full of platitudes which ignore the pain of people. Their grievances are - by their own “holy” texts - able to be rectified by their own marches/protests/riots/looting/etc but they do this at the cost and the pain of others by either inflicting bodily harm, death, or “relieving them of their property” - aka theft. There is the belief that the rectification of the problem (aka being righteous) is more important than the wellbeing of other people. Proof positive that even the non religious follow religious patterns as well.

Now I am not saying that one is worse then the other - in fact both are equally as dangerous and as evil as the other. We may look at things from our own worldview and judge things as evil or good - but at the crux of the problem it really comes down to the fact that it’s either about following orders or loving other people. And when it really comes down to it - we should love others first and worry about being righteous second. When we put things in the proper order and context, then all of a sudden things appear much clearer.

Now this doesn’t just apply to justice/righteousness. This has a much bigger and deeper impact - especially in a Christian’s life. This applies to the law of the land in general - as well as the rights afforded under those laws. Sometimes it is better to voluntarily give up our own comforts and rights in the pursuit of loving other people - and that is not always the easiest thing in the world to do. To do that - it voluntarily invites discomfort into our lives - which is the complete opposite of what humans do naturally. This topic has come up in multiple venues recently - especially around the topic of masks in the past few months. I have seen both good and bad conversations around this in the past few months. I find myself wanting to jump in and maybe be a little sarcastic - but at the same time I need to remind myself that loving others is the most important thing in the world - especially if I consider myself a Christian.

I got to thinking about this during a recent session of Pathfinder. I had to create a new character due to the death of my previous one - and I have been slowly building his backstory and history of the new character. While I was building out my new character, I was working on picking the new class and his personality. There has been one class through my various ideas that has never crossed my mind to play - and that is Paladin.

Part of the things that have always bugged me about Paladins in Pathfinder (and pre 5e D&D) was that Paladins had to be lawful good - and if they ever did anything beyond lawful good it led to the revocation of their abilities - essentially making the Paladin useless. While thankfully in our game there has been a little flexibility which would make it feasible - the tradition of Paladin is where the phrase lawful stupid comes from and it led me to think on this for a bit - and also how I can introduce it with my character to create “conflict” with the Paladin in the party.

Traditionally Paladins would enforce the law first - and care for the people second. Typically these things would coincide with each other - but in the cases where they didn’t (aka the thief steals something in plain view, some lies, etc) the law becomes first beyond anything. A strict D&D/Pathfinder Paladin - in a sense - is no better than a Christian that doesn’t love others or a protestor beating others in the sense of justice.

So. when it comes down to it, it’s either justice or people - and I will prefer to love instead of demand justice.