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There's been a lot of discussion on LJ and elsewhere lately about SCA Peerage and What It's All About. For me, this leads to a lot of complicated stuff that I've been trying to sort through in my head. For the record, I'm not a Peer, nor am I likely to be one anytime soon. (Sooooo not ready, according to my own expectations.) These opinions are my own and do not represent the opinions of anyone else, though I may be influenced by the knowledge of others. Clear? Great!

My brain tends to analyze things by asking questions. My first question is: Why is the Peerage such a volatile subject? The answer is, of course, that SCA is not just Happy Pretendy Funtime Games that we play on the weekends. For many of us, the SCA means family, friends, an entire subculture. This is our tribe. This is where we belong, where we feel safe and accepted and wanted and loved. The SCA is important to us. It is part of our lives. Thus, to varying degrees, we take it seriously. The Peerage is an important part of the SCA, and, thus, we take that seriously, as well.

This is all fine and good. Awards, including Peerage awards, are a way of recognizing those who have done great things. Recognition is important. Also, Peerage awards let people know that the person wearing that medallion and circlet is damned good at what they do and is respected for it.

There is, however, far more to the Peerage than that. This is where the waters can get muddy, the opinions more varied, the definitions more vague. What does it mean to be a Peer? Is it okay to verbalize that you want to be a Peer? Why is okay or not okay to have or verbalize that goal?

In my opinion, it all comes down to motivation. What I think a lot of people don't realize is that, in order to get recognition as a Peer, you have to already be a Peer. Getting the award (as [livejournal.com profile] alysaundre put it so nicely), "doesn't magically change a person from an amateur to an expert or suddenly grant them the infinite knowledge of those that came before." I see Peerage awards as recognition and encouragement: "You know what? You're awesome. Those things you do? We appreciate them. Keep doing what you're doing! Keep growing and doing what you love!" This is what being Elevated means to me. Of course, there's a pretty high level of "awesome" that one needs to achieve to get there, methinks, but my point is that it doesn't stop there. Becoming a Peer doesn't mean that the Elevated person gets to rest on his/her laurels (no pun intended). Most of the Peers I have spoken to have said something along the lines of, "You know, I still don't think I was ready to be Elevated when I was. Now, maybe, I could be ready." These are often Peers who have been Peers for years.

It's not about the award. It's about the Love of Doing. This is, hands down, (in my opinion, of course) the most important part of being a Peer, whether you have the award or not. Do you love what you do? Do you do it a lot and share it and help others who love it as much as you do? Do you seek more knowledge and to feed yourself and feed others (figuratively or literally speaking) as much as possible? It's the passion. It's the willingness to share that passion with others when you see that spark in them that you recognize in yourself. You don't have to be in a formal Apprentice-Laurel/Protege-Pelican/Squire-Knight relationship. The willingness to reach out, help, and encourage others in their Love of Doing, as well as growing in your own Love of Doing, is a huge part of what I think being a Peer is. The award doesn't make the Peer, but I do think that the award should be recognition of a person's achievement and willingness to keep growing.

I want to teach. I love Arts and Sciences and using those skills in Service. I love learning people and showing people what I know. I love feedback. I realize that I can do and have these things without being a Peer, but Peers tend to be viewed as more knowledgeable. Given that, I am still not certain whether I want to be a Peer or not.

So, is it acceptable to say, "I want to be a Peer!" I think that it is. However, I don't think the sentence should end there. I think that anyone who begins there should go on to say, "...BECAUSE..." and state his/her motivations. I think it's important to be honest about why you want to do something. Is it because you want to be respected in your SCA community? Is it because you want to be seen as an expert in what you do? Is it because you will be able to associate more closely with people you admire? Is it because you want to be the best that you can be? Is it because you want to help the SCA become bigger, better, brighter? Is it because you Love to Do?

I know that Peer-Like Qualities are difficult to define. In some ways, I get the feeling that "we'll know 'em when we see 'em." However, this is my definition: In some ways, being a Peer is only partly what you do. The rest is who you are and how you do what you do.

Further thoughts will probably spill out of my brain on this topic later. Please let me know if I need to clarify anything, if you agree, if you disagree, or if you think my brain has been devoured by space aliens with bendy straws. I have been thoroughly enjoying these discussions, and I feel like I am learning a lot. And that's what it's all about, right?
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