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Community Building, Legacy, Liberty, Narrative, Perception, Politics

The Allegory of Rusk’s Kids

This Fight

We should have seen this coming. Their history was always leading up to it, but that just might be the hindsight talking.

To be clear, I do empathize a bit more with Kevin in this fight and my retelling of their history may be impacted by that, but I’ll try to tell it how it was. That’s the problem with revisiting history: we use it to justify our own views and believe it to be that way. We are all revisionists constantly writing our own past. If I get something wrong, I’m always up for others to correct me.

Regardless, we seem to be nearing another societal conflict like we had in the Second Baron Brawl, so a look back wouldn’t hurt.  At best we might see where this may eventually lead.

Early years

What feels like forever ago, Rusk Romov was well established in society being one of the original families. He was a respected recluse, keeping to himself and owning enough land to provide for his household. He did have a substantial number of children (not all will be mentioned) that he tended to negligent and – due to his narcissism and selfishness – they were often left wanting. What he lacked in compassion he made up for in expectations and the family thrived because of it. The children developed an interconnectedness, depending on each other. Most of it fell on Solv (the oldest) to take care of the others, but he was also considering his family’s status and respectability (being his father’s child).

Being always on the lookout for better ways to help his siblings, he came across part of their familial land that had long been forgotten.  It had water, food, and all other essentials that were needed. So the seed of an idea was planted.

It wasn’t until years later when Rusk seemed to almost reject the needs of his kids as “too much of a hassle” that Slov finally got the rest of the children together and let the idea flourish. They would abandon their father to his own efforts and all move to the area where they could be free and have ownership of the food they harvested and agency over what they wanted to do. This was an easy choice. Stay and suffer vs leave and flourish?  Everyone left with Slov.

Finding Themselves

While the theory was sound, the real world is never so simple.

As soon as the group started to find a place for themselves, some started missing the authority their father provided. Others wanted an equal say in how they should distribute the work and resources. Fearing a premature end of the utopia he had seen in his mind’s eye, Slov took charge and started giving guidance. I’d like to think this wasn’t a need for power, but because he believed it would be temporary.

Of course some didn’t like this and divided off, starting their own plot of land creating small cliques in which they would live away from the others. The family was large and enough stayed with Slov so that they could flourish, so this didn’t cause a problem. Slov was convinced they would come back when they needed help. Although this specifically didn’t come to fruition, this idea of waiting for weakness took hold.

Time went on and the camps grew. Each one succeeded to the surprise of Slav and – although they didn’t interact with them much – the rest of the society. Knowing that they would eventually need additional supplies, Slav was often talking to the other townsmen seeing if anyone needed help. When that happened (and it happened more than not) Slav told them they would help as much as possible, but in return would join Slav’s pack. This created a bit of a tension with the rest of the community, causing a partition. But the commune was still small and uninfluential so no one made a fuss.

While in the beginning the independent siblings were a curiosity to Slav, he still considered himself their guardian. And the further time went on, the more he started to resent their success to the point that he felt mocked by it. In his darkest nightmares, he even considered that they might resent his success in return and attack him for it. Eventually it got too much and he sent some of his more “influential” siblings to bring them back.

While sometimes they came back with a polite request, the siblings all saw the bruises when some came back more submissively. In turn some of the smaller groups which wanted to keep their independence started to ban together. In the end, this didn’t help much and even as the last group consisting of Kevin, Crimmy, Donbi and a few others engaged in obstinance and fought back hard; all eventually joined Slov though.

Around this time the other barons of the town started having conflicts causing the first Baron Brawl. This left the town looking for new leadership, a request which went unfulfilled since the brawl split the town with everyone from your lowest families to local shops to politicians all taking different sides. Eventually the Geratic family lost and was blamed for everything. What’s worse, they were stripped of all their wealth to pay for the damages and their title (although in private everyone still called them Barons).

While Slov’s group mostly avoided the conflict, there were some promises of help made to a few of his brothers and sisters while they were managing on their own. Caring about his family’s status he ended up providing some assistance to the eventual winners (further establishing his status in society).

Bad Crowds

Slov didn’t know it at the time, but Rusk had checked on his children from time to time. While there was some pride in how well his children had flourished, the interest was mostly due to his irrelevance. Now that the family had finally been reunited, he appealed to Slov to be included. Slov – under the condition that Rusk considered himself no better than the rest of the family – agreed. And almost immediately the need to prove that he was a better guardian than his father took effect.

Fearing a rebellion, he was more stern and watchful with his “independent minded siblings”. When resources were low, the “rebels” were the ones that suffered first. This was always justified with “the tool makers need their strength, for without them we lose our influence.” This was true, but recognizing the consistent undue punishment of specific brothers and sisters couldn’t be avoided.  Neither could the whispers of Rusk into his oldest child’s ear.

In the greater community, the Geratic family became fed up with having nothing and began demanding more. At first they retook the previous businesses that worked exclusively for them in the first Brawl while – lets just be blunt – torturing those “traitors” within their own family who thought they were going to far. After a brief time the other families started opposing these actions, and Slov – at the suggestion of his father – got involved as well. He made deals with the Geratic family with the intent of taking some of the businesses for his own. The deals also kept the bloc he had formed for his own family safe.

This move put him in a bad light with the rest of the town. They associated him with torture and conquest that the Geratic family was engaged in. While this was happening, a few of the Geratic children, including Stephan, joined Slov solidifying the social belief they were allies. Luckily for him, the Geratic family made two major mistakes:

The first was to attack a newly established and generally ignored recluse, Amber. Comparatively she was self-sufficient and the ties she had with others were only strengthened when one of her businesses was attacked. Her inclusion in the brawl was a much needed reinforcement.

The second was that the Geratic family – in its hubris and paranoia – attacked Slov’s bloc. At this point Slov became an unlikely ally to Amber’s group and they pummeled the Geratric family ending the brawl.

This should have been where it finished, but the small group of Geratric children which were making a home with Slov’s group (and befriending Kevin specifically) were still active. Problems also arose because Slov was now extremely influential and more businesses were wanting to join his block threatening to split the town. Amber (who had taken on the role of mayor while everyone else was recovering from the brawl) took issue with this and started to form an opposing bloc in an attempt to stop Slov.

The hostilities between the two groups stagnated over time. A third brawl – which everyone agreed would ruin the town entirely – was always being considered.

Tragedy

As time went on, the constant irritation from the rest of the town slowly sowed discontent in the children of Rusk. To make matters worse; Stephan, understanding the suffering of Kevin’s group, kept stroking their desire for independence – building irritation. Then there was Rusk’s own desire for family pride that kept him urging his son to attack the self appointed head of the city outright and take the leadership role themselves. Under the pressure of it all, Slov took the best action he could: he started to work with Amber to a peaceful resolution.

This was too much for Rusk and he declared that Slov was unfit to guide the group any further and this was the push that everyone needed to go their separate ways. This also angered Rusk and he reverted back to the authority he depended on long ago to pull them back together. Stephen (being a bit of an outsider) didn’t quite understand, and fought on behalf of Kevin’s group. This started a small rebellion within that small clique of children (as well as a few others) which Rusk eventually submitted to – in the same way that Slov did in the past.

While Rusk hated Stephan’s friendship with Kevin and hated even more that they started working with Amber, he pretended to respect their need for independence. But whenever he could find a secret audience within this group, Rusk would appeal to them asking them to come back. Crimmy and Donbi being closer to their dad than the others were partial to this. In a reversal of roles, Rusk started to sow a rebellion of Crimmy and Donbi against Kevin, and Kevin (with Sephan and Amber advising him) started disrespecting his siblings rebelliousness.

And this is what led to where we are now: Eventually Crimmy was the first to leave Kevin and go back to Rusk (no longer appreciating the disrespect and wanting a more stable situation). Donbi followed a bit after. Rusk, seeing this incorrectly as an indication that no one agreed with Kevin, started to get his children to try and rescue everyone else from Kevin’s authoritarian rule.

This of course was projection. All the children started to take a myriad of positions. Some that were loyal to Rusk started to get angry because they saw how he was incorrect. Others that were loyal to Rusk were convinced that Rusk was right and Kevin was in the wrong, others still that were loyal to Rusk sympathized with Stephan’s values wanting to bring pain onto the betrayers of the family. Many that were loyal to Kevin started to leave the family altogether wanting to just be part of the town proper, some that were loyal to Stephan started hurting anyone and everyone thinking they were all potentially loyal to Rusk because they couldn’t see beyond “family loyalty”, what was surprising was that the overwhelming majority that were loyal to Kevin fought by his side in unison against their father.

Conclusion

Regardless of where you fall in thinking that someone was right or wrong in this fight, I think we can see that everyone is suffering. Through Rusk’s hubris and inability to see his children as peers needing respect and comfort and love despite his own pride, he is driving his family apart.  His children – although never perfect – worked best when they respected each other. The town was at peace when they found an equilibrium that satisfied everyone (without excluding anyone’s pain). Authority is needed at times, but the stagnation of it only causes us to delude ourselves.

Where the family Rusk goes from here greatly depends on how the town learns from it’s history. Can Amber and Rusk possibly find some common ground? I think this would be one of the best outcomes. Then Kevin’s friendships wouldn’t be a threat to Rusk. Could Kevin give up his desire for independence? Yes, but that shouldn’t be expected because of his desire to escape being the constant punching bag when things go wrong. Can Rusk engage in self reflection and realize all this is because he can’t let go of his “family pride”? Yes, and he should…. do you?

This is a tragedy of the highest degree. Simple solutions everywhere, none of which will be taken and in the mean time the innocent are being severely hurt.

Let us learn from the family Rusk and try to be better.

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