Peace, Love and Understanding

Posted in Making Magic on October 6, 2008

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

Welcome to Bant Week! This week we'll be exploring the green-white-blue shard. For this and each of the following shard theme weeks (oops, did I just give away four whole theme weeks?) I've decided to write a third series looking at color pie philosophies. My first series talked about the philosophies of each individual color (white, blue, black, red, green, and artifacts – check them out). My second series talked about the color philosophy of all ten two-color pairings (Selesnya, Golgari, Dimir, Boros, Gruul, Izzet, Orzhov, Azorius, Rakdos, and Simic – check them out).

I've decided to take the five shard theme weeks as a means to explore a different facet of the color pie philosophies. As a writer, I am very big on motivations and as such, I've spent a lot of time trying to get into the "head" of each color to understand how it justifies its own position and how it sees the four other colors. So today, I am going to interview White (as the central color to Bant) to help demonstrate White's philosophy from White's point of view. I'll let White talk about its allies, its enemies and anything else White feels is important to clarify its philosophies.

Let's get started:

White, thanks for joining us.

I'm glad to be here. When you first talked to me about having the chance to explain my beliefs in my own words, I was quite excited. I feel if people had a better understanding of what exactly it is I represent, that I'd have more people sympathetic to my cause.

Why don't we begin with the most basic question? What do you believe?

At the core of everything, I believe the following: there exists right and wrong. I'm talking about crystal clear absolutes. Certain things you should do and certain things you shouldn't do.

And how do you know what those absolutes are?

They're pretty obvious if you just stop and think. Am I doing things that help people overall? Am I being the best person I can be? Simply put, are my actions making this a better world? Am I doing the right thing? It's really not that complicated. People have an inherent sense of right and wrong. You know when you're doing something you shouldn't. It's where the essence of guilt comes from. Down deep you know when you're doing something you shouldn't.

The purpose of life is what, not feeling guilty?

The purpose of life is simple: Do good things. Be a good person. Help those around you. There is a moral path. Follow it.

And if someone doesn't?

As the saying goes, "If you don't embrace good, you enable evil". Maybe not consciously. I don't believe the majority of people set out to do the wrong thing. But people too often allow themselves to rationalize doing something that deep in their heart they know is wrong. It is these lapses that allow evil to flourish in the world. I know my enemies try to portray me as an out of touch zealot. I'm not proposing anything more radical than the philosophy that people should work toward the betterment of one another. That people should strive to do the right thing even when doing so might cause some internal struggle.

Why is this so important?

If everyone followed this philosophy, we could create a world at peace, one where everyone works together so that we're all happy. We have the resources for everyone in the world to have what they need. Things like hunger, poverty and crime are all symptoms of a world that hasn't yet embraced the philosophy I'm talking about. We could live in a utopia. It is within our grasp. The only thing preventing people from reaching this utopia is the people themselves. We have the power to make this a better world. People just have to step up. People have to learn to do what is right.

If it's so easy, why haven't we gotten there already?

I didn't say it was easy. Doing good means fighting the temptation of evil and trust me, evil is quite tempting. Good requires work. It requires dedication and focus. Being good requires learning to put the needs of the larger group above the needs of the self.

What do you mean?

Let's say for example there are twenty people and there is enough food for everyone. The right thing to do is divvy up the food so that each person gets their share. No one goes hungry. But if one person hordes the food such that others cannot get any then some people starve. Why should there be starvation when there is enough food for everyone? What is the justification of the person who hordes the food when in doing so they cause others to be in pain? My point is that we make our society better by choosing as individuals to value our society. We can make our own life better or we can make everyone's life better. If you want to improve things, you have to step out of your own little box.

And how do people do that?

By just doing it. Every day we're faced with moral choices. In our heart of hearts, though, we know the right thing to do. The key is building up the discipline to do it.

So it all comes down to self-discipline?

Yes and no. I do believe that many of these choices can be made for you. For example, this is why laws exist. Laws keep an individual from making poor choices. When we as a society understand that certain things cause problems, we can create rules that keep them from happening.

But aren't you then forcing your way onto everyone else?

I'm not sure forcing things like "don't kill one another" or "don't steal" is wrong. People need rules. People need guidance. Laws aren't cruel. They protect society from those that wish it harm. I should have the right to be able to exist without the fear that others are going to harm me.

Your critics would say that you're stepping on individuals' rights...

In a society, people don't have the right to do whatever they want at the sake of everyone else's well being. Freedom of speech doesn't allow me to cry "Fire" in a crowded theater. I'm not against individuals having rights. My issue is that those rights can't trump the needs of society. Someone else's right to fire a weapon at whomever they wish should not supersede my right to not be hit by a weapon. I'm just saying that lines must be drawn. A person's ability to do whatever he or she wants needs to stop when it begins adversely affecting others. A world without laws is chaos and in chaos, everyone suffers.

Let's change up the topic. Part of why you're here today is to talk about the other four colors. Let's start with Blue.

I like Blue. Blue gets the big picture. You can tell that Blue thinks about things. Blue doesn't rush in on a whim. When I get together with Blue I can sense that both of us are looking ahead. We're trying to figure out what actions we can take that will lead us to the results we want. I'll be honest that our goals while similar do not overlap. Blue is very focused on perfection. Blue is trying to make a better world, but in a much more technical way. I want peace. I want everyone to live in harmony together. Blue seems more focused in making everyone reach their own potential. Don't get me wrong. In many ways I admire this goal. My only problem is that blue seems to push things farther than is necessary.

What do you mean?

For example, Blue and I both want to end hunger. For me, it's because I don't want anyone to be hungry. For Blue, it's a matter of seeing how much food we could produce if we maximized our resources. But once we exceed the needs of the people, once everyone can be fed, I don't see the point of continuing. I'd much rather turn our focus to a different problem. But for Blue, it's not about the end goal as much as it is in figuring out the potential. In my opinion, Blue wastes valuable resources to learn things that don't matter.

But you and Blue get along?

Very well. Blue and I can talk. Blue is willing to try and understand other view points. We don't always see eye to eye, but Blue values the communication. And Blue sees the need for rules. Blue sees the value in structure. Yeah, Blue sees it more as a tool than as a means of protection but at least there is understanding.

What about Green?

It's funny. I like Blue and Green but they really are opposites. Blue likes to think. Green doesn't. Green follows its gut. Blue likes to plan. Green doesn't. Green follows its instinct. Blue wants to understand others' viewpoints. Green could care less. Blue is orderly. Green just isn't. Green has a very chaotic side that I don't get. While I understand the need to use force from time to time, it always comes as a solution to stop a problem. Green seems to use its force on a whim often for no reason that I can establish. Green can be wild solely for the sake of being wild.

But you are friends with Green. Why?

Green taps into a completely different side of me. Blue is cold and distant. Green is warm and loving. Blue's a little individualistic for my taste. Green understands the interconnectivity of it all. It knows that affecting one part of, well, Green likes to call it the "eco-system", affects everything else. Each action has consequences across the group. Also, Green gets the sense of a higher power. Green sees that there are decisions that come from something bigger than us. Green is spiritual. True Green focuses that spirituality in a very different way than I do. It's much more passive. Green seems to take its higher calling to stop things from happening rather than, as I do, to promote things to happen.

Is it odd for you that you get along so well with two colors that are essentially enemies?

I like to think that I'm the balance between them. Blue is set upon the idea that everything is malleable while Green seems sure that everything is already what it's supposed to be. You know, the old "nature vs. nurture" argument. I see the need for improving things but I also see the value in appreciating the things that come naturally. As far as I'm concerned, the joy of discovery comes from understanding what parts you want to nourish and what parts you want to improve. I feel both are possible.

So what is it like teaming up with both colors for Bant?

It's interesting. As the central color, I feel like I have the ability to call the shots. I'm the one playing peacemaker and as such I have the ability to steer where we put our focus.

What is that focus?

The absence of Black and Red has allowed us to focus on the utopia I've talked about before. Without the selfishness and chaos, we are able to push the people towards a greater good. Green nurtures the good within while Blue finds ways to change the parts that aren't working.

So the focus is on self-improvement?

I like to think of it more as societal self-improvement. Everyone is working towards a similar goal—making Bant as ideal as possible. People are putting the good of the group first and we are creating something very special. This is not a world where some are happy at the expense of others. This is a world where all are happy at the bequest of others. We are creating a true paradise.

And this is possible because...

Black and Red aren't here.

Let's talk a bit about them. How about we start with Black?

Okay, what do you want to know?

What is your opinion of Black?

I've talked a lot about the needs of putting the group first. Black's entire philosophy is in direct conflict with this. Black is me, me, me. Black is all about being selfish, about ignoring the needs of the group. There is no other way to put this—Black is evil incarnate. Black pushes immorality as if it is some badge of honor, as if hurting others for self gain is something to be proud of. I actually have trouble talking about Black because I just start to get angry. Black is, in my opinion, the greatest cause of pain in the Multiverse.

Pretty harsh words.

This is an interview so I'm being polite. Trust me, if I told you how I really felt it would make what I've said so far feel very tame.

Why such anger directed at Black?

Because Black thrives on the pain of others. Black preys on human weakness. It's not just that Black has its own agenda. Black's agenda comes at the sake of every other living thing. I talk about the importance of walking the moral path. Black spits on the moral path. Black revels in being immoral. Black actively enjoys watching offers suffer. Black is antithetical to everything I believe in. Even worse, Black is a direct obstacle to everyone achieving my goals. A selfless society can not exist in a world of selfishness.

What does that mean for the role of Black?

As far as I'm concerned Black is a disease. It's moral decay. I treat it like I would any other cancer: I make every effort I can to cut it out.

Doesn't killing violate the very code you're trying to uphold?

Maybe the cleanest way to think of this is moral self-defense. Black exists to destroy everything we hold dear. If we don't get rid of Black, Black gets rid of us. I feel important enough in my cause that I'm not going to let that happen.

Now that I understand your views on Black, let's turn to Red. How do you feel about Red?

To understand the contrast of Black and Red, let me use a metaphor. When Black kills, it's first degree murder. Black means to kill and plans out how to make it happen. When Red kills, it's manslaughter. Red didn't set out to kill, it just did so in a moment of passion. First degree murder is worse than manslaughter but in each case the person's still dead. So yeah, Red isn't as bad as Black but it causes the same bad things to happen. Allowing Red to flourish is just as destructive to our cause.

What bad things?

Red is obsessed with the idea that it should be able to do whatever it wants, consequences be damned. If people suffer as a result, Red believes that's just the cost of doing business. This is the real danger of Red. Red's likeable; red's charismatic. Red never means to do anything. It just happens. But dead is dead and anarchy is anarchy. Left unfettered, red would get rid of every law it could get its hands onto. How can we achieve our goals if we let someone continually destroy what we're building? Red isn't evil but it's horribly misguided and irresponsible. It's just as much a barrier to our goals as Black. While it saddens me to destroy Red, it's an unhappy task that must be carried out.

Let's talk a little more about Bant. What is it like not having Black and Red around?

It's heaven. I've fought so long to eliminate Black and Red that finally having the world with them absent is liberating, intoxicating really. We've been able to accomplish so much. Bant is a peaceful world. Its people live in harmony. Yes, there are squabbles but they are such a different animal than in a world with Black and Red. Bant is the utopia that I've been striving to build. It's the culmination of my philosophy. When people ask why I believe so strongly in my beliefs, now I can just say "look at Bant".

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

No problem. I'm always happy to enlighten others.

That's all for this week. Join me next week for another column where I intermingle my private life with my public one.

Until then, may you work towards building your own utopia.

Mark Rosewater

[Editor's Note: Due to forum maintenance over the weekend, Mark's article does not have a forum link attached to it this week.]

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