Following Your Heart
Welcome to Jund Week! Yes, the black-red-green shard finally gets its time in the "theme week" sun. As I have done with each of the other shard theme weeks, I am going to be interviewing the shard's central color (this week that would be red) to understand the color and its philosophy from its own vantage point. Remember this means we are going to see the subjective take on how Red sees Red. (If you missed it, I have already interviewed White, Black, Green, and Blue.) If you enjoy this series of color pie columns, make sure to check out my previous two: my first straight-up objective series on color-pie philosophy (white, blue, black, red, green, and artifacts) and my second series on the ten two-color pairings (Selesnya, Golgari, Dimir, Boros, Gruul, Izzet, Orzhov, Azorius, Rakdos, and Simic). Wow, twenty links in one paragraph—that might be a new personal record. But enough of the past; let's focus on the present. Without any further ado, let's have a chat with Red.
Thank you. I'm excited to be here. I'm very pumped. I have a good feeling about this.
That's good to hear.
I just have this excellent vibe. You know when things just feel right? This interview feels good.
I'm not pulling any punches today. I'm just telling the straight dope. My mouth to your readers' ears. Actually, eyes I guess.
Let's be blunt. I'm misunderstood. Of all the colors, I'm the one most people don't get. They think they do. People think they understand me, but they don't. People really like buying into the stereotype.
That I'm just a crazy, angry color that enjoys smashing things.Akroma, Angel of Fury
You do have a history of smashing things.
It's a game about fighting. Of course, I smash things. In a battle, there's no emotion more focused than anger. It's a "get things done" emotion, no question. But I'm a lot more than just anger.
That's why you're here, to help us understand the real you. Let's start with the traditional opening question: what do you believe?
I believe in being true to who you are. I believe in following your gut. I believe in not letting others stand in your way. I believe in doing what feels right.
"What feels right." Interesting choice of words.
Yes, I feel. Proud of it. You know what sets me apart from the other colors? That I don't stop acknowledging all the feelings I have. I don't deny or subvert or repress or rationalize away my emotions. I see them for what they are.
And what are they?
They're a metaphorical compass. They show you the way.
The way to what?
The way to live. Why would we feel things—and really, really strong things—if we weren't supposed to listen to them? I don't know why we have a need to be happy or sad or angry or fearful or whatever feeling we have at the moment, but we do. And if you ignore it or fight it or in any way avoid it, it just comes back even stronger. I'd love to sound like I made some great breakthrough, but the answer is so bleeding obvious that I can't take credit.
And that "bleeding obvious" answer is?
Listen to yourself. Your emotions are a powerful, primal force. They guide and shape you. Let them. There's my amazing philosophy. Don't fight who you are or what you feel. Embrace it! Accept it! Be it!
That's the beauty of my philosophy. It's actually that simple.
Doesn't following your impulses sometimes cause problems?
Yes, but you know what? So does not following them. You know the number one cause of therapy? People not coming to grips with their own emotional needs. You can ignore yourself for some amount of time, but in the end your emotions will get what they want. They don't give up, they don't go away and they get stronger with time. Trust me, fighting your emotions is a losing battle.
So we're just victims of our emotions?
I wouldn't use the term "victims." We're products of our emotions. They make us who we are.
But aren't emotions inherently unstable?
What makes them unstable? They're often unpredictable. They're seldom properly understood. They can cause confusion, but that's a far cry from being unstable. It's not like they're some bomb waiting to go off. In fact, emotions only explode when they're ignored for a long time. If you address you emotions and understand what they need, they're quite accommodating.
Emotions can lead to explosive situations.
This just demonstrates a general ignorance about emotions. Emotions don't by their nature cause conflict. They resolve conflicts that predate them. In fact, talking through emotions tends to be one of the best ways of resolving conflicts.
You have to admit that anger is explosive.
Repressed anger is explosive. Unresolved anger is explosive. Anger that you don't deal with is explosive. Everyone wants to equate emotions with causing problems. Emotions are not the cause of most problems. They are the first sign that such problems exist. They are the key to helping recognize problems. It's just another case of blaming the messenger. See, it's things like this that are responsible for my stereotype.
That I have no control. That I'm an unpredictable loose cannon. That I'm the cause of every problem that erupts around me.
You are a big advocate of chaos.
This is one of my pet peeves. How did chaos get such a negative connotation? Guess what, we're all chaotic creatures. Have you ever dealt with us? We're not real rational. We act on whims. We make illogical decisions. We don't always do what's expected of us. And that's not a bad thing. I hate that certain parts of society try to shame us for just being what we are.
"Certain parts" would be White?
All I ask for is some basic freedoms. Let people be who they are. Let them believe and think and say what they want. Let people have the ability to express themselves even if that makes other people uncomfortable. White's idea of saving everyone is making them all the same. Sure, White's methods bring about peace, but at what cost? A fascist state is peaceful.
What happens when one person's freedoms conflicts with another's?
Let the two of them figure it out.
That might cause conflict.
So what? When did everyone get so afraid of conflict existing? Conflict is a wonderful thing. It causes resolution. It leads to change. History has demonstrated time and time again that the thing that advances societies is conflict.
Conflict also causes loss. Conflict leads to pain and discomfort.
They're necessary evils. As the saying goes, you want to make some omelets, you have to break some eggs.
Your critics would say that you break more eggs than necessary.
Than necessary? What does that even mean? "We've calculated our war and deduced that we should have exactly one thousand, two hundred and thirty-four casualties." I do what I do to get the job done. I'm not Black. I don't take any joy in causing others pain—That's not completely true. If they really deserve it, there's some joy in that. My point is that I'm goal-oriented. I do what I need to do to get what I want.
You admit you have a violent side.
See, this is where this stupid stereotype comes from. Everyone wants to focus on my angry side. You know what? I'm also very passionate. I'm loyal, I'm devoted, I'm focused. I live my life to the fullest, and that doesn't just mean punching everyone in the face that I feel like. It means falling deeply in love. It means standing by the things I care about. It means putting my all into what I do. It means being invested in the outcome. Yeah I scream, but I also laugh and cry. I know the game doesn't have the ability to show off a lot of the other sides of me, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I embrace all my emotions, not just the ones that look intimidating on the battlefield.
How do you feel about someone like Blue that actively shuns emotions?
It's the antithesis of what I believe, so no, I'm not too fond of Blue. Blue is cold and uncaring. If Blue had its way no one would ever express any emotion. Blue doesn't like the unpredictability of emotions. Blue can't find a way to make them make sense. Because they don't. That's the beauty of them. If we could just break down what makes our emotions work, they wouldn't be the wonders that they are. It's their complexity that makes them so intriguing.
Do you view White as uncaring?
No, White cares. White has stronger desires than Blue. It's just that I can't connect with the things White prioritizes. White is willing to trade in individuality for protection. White wants to treat everyone the same to ensure that no one gets hurt. But don't you see the irony? It's the very act of saving everyone that hurts them! What are you protecting them from if they have to lose the most valuable thing they have, their identity, to get it? Blue's the same way.
Blue is searching for answers so hard that it shuts down the very source of information.
Our emotions. If you want to understand a person, you have to understand what drives him. You have to see what he cares about and what makes him do the things he does. To better understand people, Blue removes the very essence of what makes them what they are.
To you White and Blue are each in their own way doing the same thing?
That's one way to think about it.
How do you think about it?
I don't think about it. I'm talking a lot today, so that might give you the misconception that I'm big into thinking. I'm not. I don't think about solutions. I feel them. My actions are based on what I feel is the right thing to do.
What is that with White and Blue?
Destroy them. They actively seek to remove the things that I hold most dear. I can't let that happen.
You just got finished saying that you don't want people to see you as the angry, destructive color.
No, what I said is that I don't want people seeing me as just the angry, destructive color. I can be very angry and quite destructive. Get between me and the things I care about and I'll rip out your throat. Make no mistake, I can be quite dangerous. My hope today is that your readers can understand that I am more than just that. I am a devoted, caring, passionate color capable of utterly destroying you if the need arises.
You do get along with some of the colors though, right?
Yes, I'm pretty chummy with Black and Green. We built a whole shard together.
Ah yes, Jund. Tell us a little bit about it.
It's awesome. Imagine a world of total freedom, a place where anyone can do whatever they want.
Like eat each other?
Freedom does come at a cost. If you want to eat me, you're free to do so. At the same time, I'm free to try and stop you. I could even try to eat you if I want. The great part of this is that the creatures that remain are true specimens of triumph over adversity. They have taken whatever the world could throw at them and managed to work their way through it. That's pretty impressive.
Let's talk a little bit about Black.
I like Black. Black's the only other color that really gets the idea of looking out for your own needs, of understanding that you have to do the things that make you content. I wish Black bonded a little better with others, but we are kindred spirits. Also Black knows how to have a good time. You want to find a wild party, talk to Black. You should see some of the places Black has taken me. Crazy stuff. Plus, Black cannot stand White's little power trips. I love listening to Black go off on White. I can't repeat any of the things Black has said about White in a family publication, but suffice to say it's quite funny while also being horribly vulgar.
How about Green?
Green understands being unrestrained. And Green definitely doesn't try to overthink things. Oftentimes, Green doesn't even think at all. I also like Green's feral side. When you want to go on a rampage, Green's your color.
Anything Black and Green have in common?
They both get my destructive side. Black and Green are each willing to blow stuff up. Also, from time to time when I go a little crazy and let loose, Black and Green are there to back me up. They'll jump in the fray right alongside of me. Black and Green are both awesome colors. Good friends.
Anything you don't like about them?
Black thinks more than I like and Green is a little too comfortable with certain types of structure. I don't trust either of them to always make the right decision. But hey, nobody's perfect.
Any last words before we wind this interview up?
I just want to reinforce that I'm not a crazy color. I have my chaotic side, but that doesn't mean that I lack purpose or focus. I know what I care about and I'm more than willing to take whatever actions I have to to ensure that I get what I need. So next time you see me in the game, maybe take a moment to see things from my perspective. You'll see that I'm a little less random than you might think at first glance.
Thanks for sitting down with us.
Thanks for having me. I'm always excited to talk about things that I feel passionate about.
That's all for this week. Join me next week when I bring you the other 40,000 words.
Until then, may you take a peek at your own emotions.