Welcome to Naya Week! This week we'll be exploring the red-green-white shard. For those who haven't read any of this series yet (I've already done Bant and Grixis), I'm using the shard theme week to explore each color's philosophy from their own vantage point. Today is green's turn to be interviewed (as it is the central color of Naya) so we'll get a chance to see why green believes what it believes as well as how green sees each of the other four colors. If you enjoy this series of color pie columns, please check out the first series where I explored each color's philosophy in detail complete with pop culture references (white, blue, black, red, green, and artifacts—check them out) and my second series where I explored the philosophies of all ten of the two-color pairings (Selesnya, Golgari, Dimir, Boros, Gruul, Izzet, Orzhov, Azorius, Rakdos, and Simic—check them out). Now that my linking to seventeen past columns is out of the way, let's get on with the interview:
Green, thanks for being here today.
I'm glad you asked me. I'm always thankful for the opportunity to share my wisdom with anyone who's willing to listen.
Why don't I start with the question that I've begun every other interview. What do you believe?
Jumping right in the deep end. I like it. I guess if I had to sum up my philosophy in a nutshell, it would be this: We are but a tiny piece of a gigantic puzzle. We need to spend less time dwelling on our individual piece and more time on the puzzle itself.
Very metaphorical. What is "the big puzzle"?
Life. Existence. The world as we know it. All the other colors try so hard to make a place for themselves in the world. We don't need to make a place. We have a place. Rather than expend so much energy to become something we are not, we have to learn to accept who we are.
And who are we?
We're creations of this world. We're part of the ecosystem. We're life!
What's our role in it?
That varies from person to person and creature to creature. Each individual has a distinct role. In fact, learning and understanding that role so that you can uphold you part in it, is the most important responsibility that anyone has.
Why is that?
All the other colors' philosophies revolve around making something happen. They feel this crucial need to change things. Each is looking to find an answer. My point is that we don't need to go out searching for that answer. Instead we need to look inside. Each one of us is born with our destiny. We just have to understand what it is.
So your philosophy doesn't advocate change?
No. In fact, my philosophy is much more about stopping change. Well, artificial change. The important thing is this: we don't need to change the world. The answers we seek are already here. There is no more perfect form than that of nature. It is a great irony that so much time is spent to find the thing that sits all around us.
What do you mean?
All the colors' philosophies seem to dwell on creating the perfect world, at least the perfect world as they see it. The irony is that the perfect world is already here. Just take a moment to step back and look at nature. It is horribly complex yet surprisingly simple. It is harsh yet gentle. It's functional yet beautiful. Nature is an odd mix of opposites living in harmony. And it sits right here under our noses.
So you feel that nature is the very system everyone is searching for?
Yes. Please understand, though, that I don't think the other colors know it. They're so busy trying to change things that they can't see the treasure that lays before them. You need answers? Turn to nature. As you study nature you will see that it has built into it, all the answers.
Why is this so?
Nature is essential a system that has to constantly adapt. No matter what you throw at nature, it has to find a way to accept it and move on. This is a system that thrives on solving problems. Thus if you need a place to look for answers, why not look at the ultimate problem solver?
If this is so, why don't the other colors see this?
Because it takes great restraint to just sit back and observe. The other colors simply don't have the patience. In their desire to find the answers they seek, they scurry about, never stopping, as they say, to smell the roses.
And if they did?
They'd see what I see. That nature has already beaten them to it. Nature has addressed any and every issue that the world faces. It constantly addresses them. The key that everyone is searching for is literally beneath our feet.
So once you take the time to observe nature, what do you learn?
You learn that answers reside inside each and every one of us. We are products of nature. We aren't the problem; we're the solution.
What do you mean?
Within each one of us rests great potential; potential that we were born with. If you can take the time to understand your own role you will be able to take the steps to accomplish it.
Everything is preordained?
Yes. That's the beauty. We each have our role in the grand scheme. Each piece fills in its portion of the larger picture. Without each and every piece working in conjunction, the big picture cannot be created.
What do we do to make this happen?
Two things. First, we have to learn to let nature do its thing. Let it go; let it grow. Let nature be. We have to stop getting in its way. Second, we each have to find our own role. We have to embrace our own personal destinies.
In short you're saying, "Let nature take its course."
Exactly. There is a proverb that says, "The wind does not break a tree that bends." Nature is the wind and all of us are the tree. If we fight nature, it will break us. Nature is unrelenting. To fight it is ultimately to lose to it. But if we succumb to nature and become one with it, we bring that strength to ourselves.
Lets assume that nature does have all the answers. Why does that mean that answers lie within us?
As I said before, we are nature. We're not separate from the system. We're part of the system. What this means is that everything I'm saying about nature also applies to ourselves. Let nature takes it's course? Let us take our course. We are on a journey that we have to be open to. Nature has the answers. We have the answers within us. By looking inside ourselves we can learn so much. The key to my philosophy is that the journey is an inward one. Stop looking elsewhere for all the answers. Stop fighting your instincts and follow them.
Why is that important?
People so badly want to believe that solutions rest in thinking through the answers. Here's the problem: We're not born with knowledge. We have to seek knowledge out. What we are born with is biology and chemistry. The things we learn most easily are those that are built into our body. Everyone learns to eat or sleep. It's hard-wired into our brains. With time, we learn that more and more things are hard-wired to our minds. We have to embrace that. You want to learn? Start with what your body already knows. That's what instincts are. Lessons from within. We need to learn to heed them.
Do you feel there are any common misconceptions about your philosophy?
Of all the five philosophies, I believe ours causes the greatest confusion. Everyone can understand "do something." "Let something happen" is much harder to grok. I feel that people sometimes see me as promoting inaction, as if I'm preaching, "don't do anything." In reality, my philosophy is very active. I tell people to embrace life. To live it fully. To look within and learn. I want people to figure out their potential and then live it. That's about as far from passive as you can get.
But you don't advocate change.
Change and action are not synonymous. For example, take a brick and hold it in the air. Now keep it there in the same spot, let's say for an hour. The brick isn't moving, but you're doing a lot of work. Preventing change can be equally taxing.
What's wrong with change?
Nothing. I'm not anti-change. Nature changes all the time. What I'm against is people trying to change nature solely for the sake of change. Take Black, for instance. Black has taken one element of nature, death, and has warped it far from its original purpose.
Death is a tool to remove things that have outlived their purpose. In any natural ecosystem, death is a force for balance. But in the hands of Black, death is just another blunt object to remove obstacles. Black doesn't think about the larger ramifications of it actions. Remove a necessary predator, and the prey grow out of control. Remove the prey, and the predators starve. If left alone, nature will create a self-sustaining ecosystem, but when outside forces step in they threaten to undermine everything.
This seems like a good time to segue to your opinions on Black.
I find Black to be reckless and cruel. Black has no respect for anything or anyone save itself. It will destroy whole ecosystems on a whim because it nets itself some tiny, inconsequential advantage. Nature is all about interdependence. The whole needs to care about the sum of the parts. That is antithetical to Black's beliefs. Black could care less about the whole. In fact, black seems to despise the whole.
Why do you believe that is?
Because the very idea of multiple things needing one another is a threat to Black. Black relies on people's self-interest to control them. When something looks beyond its own needs, it takes away Black's power to control them. And Black's going to have none of that. What Black cannot easily control, Black simply destroys.
You see Black as an enemy.
I just explained how Black is threatened by my worldview and its only response is to kill anything that it feels is connected to my philosophy, so yes, I'll chalk up Black as an enemy.
How about Blue?
Blue's also an enemy, but for a very different reason. Blue sees nature as a force to be harnessed and controlled. Blue outright rejects the natural order. Blue believes that it can force whatever it wants to become whatever it needs.
That's a problem?
It's an outright denial of everything I believe. Your role comes from within, not without. You're not granted your destiny; you're born with it. As far as I'm concerned, Blue is twisting the very values I hold most dear.
You can graft legs onto a fish. That doesn't mean it's supposed to walk. Science is a direct rejection of the natural order. It uses technology as a tool to limit nature's growth. It warps and changes things from what they are supposed to be into unnatural monstrosities.
You see technology as a threat to nature?
I do. Why? Because I look at technology's history. At each turn, technology advanced at the expense of nature. Forests are wiped out to build cities. Pollution from technological advancements kills wildlife. Technology uses experimentation to create things that nature never would. History demonstrates that technology always comes at nature's expense.
So you reject technology?
Yes. I reject anything that usurps the natural order. Look, I've found the answer. Anything that threatens the safety of that is directly in conflict with my needs. It is only natural for me to want to defend the thing that nourishes me.
So if you could you would rid the world of Black and Blue?
Yes, I would. And as Naya shows, it's an excellent idea.
Let's talk about some colors that you're less adversarial with. How about White?
I like White. White understands the idea of the larger picture. It understands the need to evaluate how each piece fits. I also like that white understands that there is a higher calling; that things happen for a purpose. White embraces life. White embraces creatures. White works towards a greater good.
What don't you like about White?
White's a little too obsessed with structure. White loves its rules. While I do believe that there are times and places for structure, white takes it too far. White cannot comprehend the idea that things can happen haphazardly for a reason. Also, White seems a little to stuck on the idea that everything makes sense. White has a hard time understanding things that happen on a whim, and nature is full of things like that. While White has some appreciation for nature, it tends to connect with it with gloves on.
How about Red?
Red is on the over side of the spectrum. Red completely gets the chaotic quality of nature. Red embraces nature's feral side. It isn't afraid to get its hands dirty. Also, Red is willing to disconnect from thinking. Red's okay with things happening without having to understand why. Red is very loyal. Red understands the bond that comes from being rather than thinking.
And Red's faults?
Red is a bit individualistic for my taste. It shares Black's willingness to advance the individual at the sake of the group. While not as self-serving as Black, Red still is a little too willing to kill as a means of control. And there's that whole "destroys everything around it" issue. You could say my people have some issues with fire.
Tell us a little about Naya.
Naya is the embodiment of everything I've been talking about. It's a plane where nature gets to take center stage, where nothing exists to rein it in. Enough red that things aren't too orderly but enough white that they aren't too chaotic. There's a great balance. And as a result, growth on Naya is through the roof. The plants, the creatures, nature in general—everything is growing as big as it can get.
Is Naya paradise?
It is for me. No unnatural death. No technology. There's nothing stopping nature from reaching its fullest potential. As far as I'm concerned, Naya is heaven on earth.
Thank you for taking the time to talk.
You're welcome. Its always fun to share insights.
That's all for this week. Join me next week when class is in session.
Until then, may you learn your own destiny.