As the title of Baron shifts to my friend Dyimi, and the Ecclesiarchal council begins to assemble for the first of its meeting, I find that my thoughts go frequently to the nature duty and responsibility as it relates to my new title. Today, I wish to form these thoughts into something we all might learn from.
It is completely natural that the first duty of a cleric would always be to the God or Goddess who grants them their favor. As bearers of their power, we must always ask ourselves: What would they do? What would they want? How would they wish us to act on their behalf? As a servant of Erastil, I am fortunate to have a God who speaks often to his followers with simple messages and clear thoughts. Erastil’s written texts clearly spell out purpose, lesson, and example for any subject we wish to learn. Not every cleric finds their path so clearly laid before them.
But even Erastil does not give every answer or direct every step. He leaves much of our journey for the compass of our heart to guide. As enlightened beings, we are tasked with deciding what is most important and work to its benefit. For me, this secondary duty has been to my family members as long as I remember. I had other responsibilities—other friends to support and goals to seek–but my family was the one weight that could tip the scales at any time. Now I wonder if I was misguided. I wonder if I was misjudging the reach of the scales.
Erastil teaches that family and community are connected—that the two build from the same bonds and harness the same strength. To give and sacrifice for one’s family is therefore of the same worth as such acts for a neighbor or companion. For much of my life I couldn’t understand how this could be true—I did not understand how anything could be as important as the people I woke beside and lived with every day. But now, in this place, perhaps I understand. Ursandova and its people are connected to me in the same way that I was connected to my Mother and Father, or in the way Sasha was connected to me. We are all brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers in this land. And we must work together like a family if we are to prosper.
Which brings me back to my duty. When I arrived in this land, I was sure that Erastil wanted me to quest at Sasha’s side—to literally push the back the wilds in Erastil’s name. With Sasha gone, I think that this part of my duty here is over. Now it is time to build on the land we have cleared and to gather Ursandova’s people as a shepherd gathers his flock. My place then is not over the next hill or in the thick of battle. My place is here, with the people Erastil has gathered to build a new nation.
I had believed at one time that there was such a thing as a ‘Duty to Self.’ I’m not sure what I meant by such a thing, for it seems strange now to even put the words together. Perhaps acting out of duty to self is simply a justification we use for selfishness. Perhaps it is a flaw in reasoning inspired by our own mortality. It would be nice if there were a justification I could marshal for putting my own desires ahead of any other’s…but I have found none. As Erastil teaches, our duty is to our families, to our communities, and our place within them. It is always a matter of ‘we’ and ‘us’…’I’ does not figure into it.
Consider these words as you assist the council in its duties. Never must selfishness guide the hand of state. Our actions must always be for the greater good and the lasting peace. Our truest duty is to our people.