Recognizing Skill and Good Works

dennis grace amazing at
Tue Oct 22 08:04:18 PDT 1996

Aodhan replied to Lyonel:

> dgg> True, we don't recognize
> dgg> individual areas within the arts and sciences,
>Actually, we do.  The Award of the Sable Thistle is given for skill in a
>specific art or craft and the field in designated on the scroll and in the roll
>of precedence. A person can receive multiple Thistles, each for a separate
>field.  The Thistle carries an Award of Arms, if the recipient does not already
>have such.  We just don't have a separate award for each field.

Actually, you don't--not by award title, per se.  As you say, the specific
art or craft is designated *on the scroll* rather than by the award.  Saying
that Lord or Lady Whosit has a Sable Thistle lends no clue as to where their
area of skill lies, unlike some other awards.  I personally hold no opinion
at this time as to whether archery or anything else could be appropriately
recognized through this particular venue and not another, but you see where
the potential area of concern might be in this matter.

>Frankly, I wish we could do away with our peerages - the only one with any real
>medieval precedent is Knighthood and we have it on the wrong end of the
>spectrum.  And the Grant level is a complete fabrication.
>It was rare in the Middle Ages for one to receive recognition (by way of titles
>or land) from the Crown; it was *extremely* rare to recieve such recognition
>more than once in a lifetime.  Yet, we have a system in which people actually
>expect to get such recognition several times over the course of a few years.
>>From the records of the last few reigns during which I served as Zodiacus
>Herald, the Crowns of Ansteorra have been giving out, on average, over 500
>armigerous awards per year.  That's about 10% of the Kingdom being called up
>and formally recognized in Court.  Did 10% of England or France ever see their
>King in person, much less receive recognition in His Court?
>We have too many awards and they are given out too freely.  What we have
>resembles, more than anything, the Boy Scout merit badge system. Is it really
>necessary to have awards and titles in order to recognize those who have done
>well?  Is not public acclaim from the Crown enough?
>Baron Aodhan Ite an Fhithich, ML
>Dobharchu Herald

I really must question His Excellency's attitude about awards.  They are
given out too freely?  Just this weekend a lady shared with me that for the
first three years she played, she was expected to serve constantly at
events, and when she was finally brought up for a recognition--after three
years of steady service--the awarding coronet  commented he thought perhaps
the award was a bit hasty.  The lady telling me these things had tears well
in her eyes at the suggestion that her efforts of several years were
apparently considered incidental. Is this the kind of thing you champion?  I
would hope not.  Every single thing the vast majority of us do is
voluntary--*without any guarantee of return*--be it fiscal, verbal, visual,
or what have you.  We live and breath mundanely in an extremely
materialistic society where, if you don't have something to show for your
efforts, then you must not have made any efforts, and are therefore a
failure. One of my greatest joys as Baroness of 1000 Eyes was the privilege
of recognizing people's efforts.  In a Society where almost everything we do
and experience is through the volunteered services and activities of all
individuals involved, to suggest stinginess with recognitions seems
extremely contrary to the spirit required to make this the grand game that
it is and should be.  

If you are complaining that the recognition of others makes your job a
little harder, then shame on you.  I do concur that there are times when
awards are given freely enough to cause "recognition inflation" and call the
worth of those awards into question--there is no doubt that the
responsibility of giving awards and recognitions requires the thought and
consideration of a good balancing act.  On the other hand, if only 10% of
the populace is being recognized, what of the other 90%?  You almost seem to
be suggesting that you feel that *more* than 90% of the populace do nothing
meriting regard for the most part.  That kind of attitude can't possibly do
much along the lines of encouraging more committed involvement.  

I also might point out that many may think, "well, that's easy for him to
say, he's already got a brass hat."  When those of us who have achieved well
in the Society start making noises that suggest stinginess or jealously of
recognition of others, it's not pretty, and it's not noble. If you frankly
disagree with and/or loath rank and title, then put your money where your
mouth is and shelve the coronet and title.  Yes, you're quite right that in
period, recognition from the crown was a rare thing, but so was monthly
travel between shires and baronies and principalities and kingdoms for the
sole purpose of getting together for a day with friends, and tournements and
wars with 100% survival rate and many other aspects of our Society.  Ergo
the "C" in "SCA" that helps to make the "S" part possible.

Aquilanne, OL, OP, Baroness, Bannthane

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