Archive for October, 2012

The Guardian

Posted: October 22, 2012 in Poetry

The Guardian

Here I stand, a guardian, ever present should she call upon me

But she does not, silent she remains, daring not to be free

She does not fear freedom but fears what a new sense of seeing will bring

For she has bathed in lies freely, the only comfort she knows to calm her being

Darkness comforts her, for she cannot see her brokenness there

Despite the effort of others to show her the error of her ways

She sips the poison she knows so familiar, but eventually she will pay

For one can only go off the road so far before being crippled by fear

And still I stand, extending my hand, begging her to take it

I have tried to show my concern, a tear for her every hit

Not upon me, but upon her, and I was too far away

I wish I could, but this is her dragon to slay

She lies in the snow, bruised and bloodied

I lie next to her, sharing in her sorrow

This is a strange fate to be guardian, sometimes it feels hollow

But that is only darkness’s attempts to swallow

Me into an early grave, to hang her upon the gallows

To join in the tragedy of humanity, oh so storied

But I cannot give up on her, for there was one who did not give up on me

And that guardian of my soul was the one who set me free

I am not that guardian, I am one of a lesser sort

In the form of the One who saved me from my date in court

So now I honor the One who gave me this chance

This chance I hope now to show to the one now in my stead

I plead with her daily so that one day I may not find her dead

I only want to see her happy, to sing and to dance

I only want to see the kingdom of light to advance

For her to be done with the deceitful nuance

But she shakes her head and says that she is alright

She is still not willing to flee from her plight

So here I stand, her guardian, praying that one day she will see the Son

Shining upon her, illuminating the path, so that she may finally be done

I walk beside her now, waiting for the day when she will take my hand

Then I know that she may indeed traverse through this wretched land

Nothing will change, I will still pray for her and be by her side

I will still care for her, but I will be happy that she is finally alive

So Here I stand, her guardian, ever with her until we arrive

At the palace where goodness thrives, where the One who saved her dwells

Knowing that she is finally safe and sound, hearing the tolling of bells

I smile, my mission complete, my sword now in its sheath

As her and I enjoy peace now, and with happiness do breathe

In the smells of a quiet life, I life as I see her children dancing

Who she shall spend her life with is something I will not fancy

For I am her guardian, her wellbeing is what matters most

So here I stand, ever watching, until I give up the ghost

I really didn’t want to talk about this subject, I really didn’t but upon further analysis I felt there were some major subjects that needed to be talked about that this work of fiction brings up. No I’m not talking about the Hunger Games, I’m still doing my reviews upon the trilogy, I am talking about Mass Effect Three.

            For those of you unfamiliar with the Mass Effect trilogy (why does everything need to be a trilogy nowadays?), Mass Effect, or ME, is a RPG video game produce by Bioware that has received numerous awards and is probably considered one of the greatest stories ever presented in a video game format…at least until the ending ME3.

            For those of you unfamiliar with ME3 ending controversy, let me try to be as brief and clear as possible as one can be with a story a hundred hours in the making (a rough average time if you put all three games together).

 

            The Mass Effect games place you a hundred and fifty years into the future, with space travel and aliens and all, in the shoes (or shall we say futuristic metal combat boots?) of Commander Shepherd, a soldier of some renown that serves in the Alliance military (the group that represents Humanity’s interests in the galactic community).

            Right at the very beginning you are given choices, whether Shepherd is male or female, what their back-story is, how they look, and what their combat specialties are. Right at the beginning you are given choices, and that is what the Mass Effect story is all about: choice. You can choose to be a kind and good and work out difficulties by diplomacy kind of guy, or you can be a malevolent, evil, and “shoot first ask questions later” kind of guy, or somewhere in between.

            Every single choice you make matters in these games, so much so that what you did in the previous games effects what kind of experience you have in the next game. Never before has such a game interwoven choices with an incredible story with unforgettable character, which brings us back to the ending.

           

            Before we continue let me make a side-note and say that there are spoilers in the following paragraphs; if you want to buy the games, something I don’t recommend in light of what I am about to say, don’t continue. Also the story is one of the best, up to the ending, I have ever experienced, however plentiful language litters the landscape and there are quite a few times of sexual innuendo, all things that tarnish the story…but let us continue

 

            So here we are…at the ending…about to defeat the genocidal, galactic scourge of the Reapers (the story’s “bad” guys), when we find out it that all the choices we made were completely meaningless.

            Now the original ending was poorly put together and had plentiful plot-holes in it, but the kicker was that the player was given an ultimatum of only having three narrowly defined choices at the end of the game, all of which resulted in an almost exactly the way. This turning back on the core principles caused such outrage that the Bioware team came back together to create an extended “explanation” to the ending they had chosen.

            Honestly the extended ending did address the plot holes and gave me more satisfaction with the story coming to an actual conclusion, but it only made me angrier about how meaningless the Mass Effect story ultimately is.

 

            It starts with a philosophy, a philosophy that is exposed as meaningless in the Mass Effect trilogy. The worldview of the story is based upon evolution and through the ending the games exposes, not purposefully, the utter lack of ultimate purpose or meaning to life that characterizes evolution.

            It comes full circle and rears its ugly head in the last twenty minutes of the saga, when you find out that the Reapers are not “evil”. As the uber-“logical” Catalyst AI child explains that the Reapers are like a fire, they are only doing what they are programmed to do (which by the way is to destroy “advanced” organic life but also absorb it so that it is not fully lost, otherwise synthetics, i.e. robots, would completely wipe out all organic life) and although it is not stated, by implication the Reapers cannot be evil, although they contain the knowledge and understanding of what they are doing, a paradoxical statement.

            To be concise, what is being said is that the Reapers are only doing what they are programmed to do, like a mindless piece of machinery. However, the Reapers are sentient and thus by definition would have an understanding about morality of a certain form. The Reapers then are a paradox, an impossibility in reality.

Now one might say that Mass Effect is a work of fiction, and science fiction at that, so that the story doesn’t match reality shouldn’t be that big of a deal. But we are not talking about a suspension of disbelief as is common when one participates in a work of fiction; what we are talking about is a complete denial of one of the realities of our existence: the acknowledgement of good and evil.

 

What the Reapers are doing is evil by every definition in the book, but we are told in the end that they are not evil, they are just what they were programmed to do. It is the Nuremburg defense to its logical end, the Reapers were “just following orders”, how could these sentient galaxy destroying AI’s be held accountable for their actions?

It is a ridiculous argument for the Reapers, but to top it all off, despite the fact that you are not in a struggle of good versus evil, you are given an utterly meaningless choice to end the “conflict.” It is also through these choices that reveals the foolishness of the Mass Effect story and ultimately the philosophical implications of evolution.

Without going into to detail, the four, extremely narrow choices, leave you with only one “good” solution, the synthesis of organic and synthetic life, leading to, as the AI Catalyst child says “The final step in evolution”.

 

So that was it? The whole point of the story, despite uniting the galaxy and getting them to work for the common good of stopping the Reapers, despite all the countless people that gave up their lives to accomplish said goal, despite doing thing hard and right way, despite investing so much time, money, and emotion into a series, the point of whole story was so that sentient life could merely evolve into a final stage of “improvement”?

Where is the point in that? The Answer? None.

 

Now some may use this to point out the foolishness of fiction, that it serves no purpose. But that simply is not true, fiction (or literature) is meant to be used to reflect reality, that is why so many people unknowingly hated the ending to ME3. A proper use of fiction is to portray some facet of reality in a different light, so that it may be easier to grasp it. We as humans build up walls so often that when we hear certain keywords or ideas we just block them out without giving them a chance; fiction allows us bypass those wall we put up. Even Jesus used parables to preach His message, to make His point.

Fiction has its purpose, but if that purpose does not reflect reality in some way, it loses its meaning. ME3 had its purpose, or should I say understanding, in the human mind because we all have a concept of good and evil, but when all that got turned on its head, we were left floating without any foundation.

 

I didn’t write this piece to bash ME3, although I would not recommend this game to anyone because of its ultimate meaninglessness, I wrote this piece to address the game’s meaninglessness, and the philosophy that allowed it to happen.

What I mean to say in all of this is yes your decisions matter, your values, your choices, your life, they all matter. They don’t matter because of evolution, evolution can’t answer the meaning of life, you have to have an absolute to have that. What I am saying is that there is an absolute, just as every person did who felt empty inside at the conclusion of ME3. We knew there wasn’t something right, but many didn’t know why it was, and to be honest I didn’t know for awhile, but the answer came to me and I felt I needed to write this.

Despite what the unintentional message of ME3 sends, your life has value and I believe it to have value because of Jesus Christ, because He wrote the parameters of value and life and meaning. You may not believe that the Triune God of Christianity is the truth, but let me tell you this; just as you cannot define a word by using the same word, you cannot define “good” by personal means, otherwise it is just your opinion, you have no basis for it.

“Good” by definition then cannot come from one’s self, from anything material or human, it must come from something beyond us. Going back to the example, goodness then can only be found in the definition of that word, not in the word itself. Just the same, we cannot find meaning in ourselves, finite life; we can only find meaning in an existential force that goes beyond material life as we know it, and only then can we realize that our decisions, choices and values truly have importance and a ‘mass effect’ upon others.