My Study into the Four Levels of Importance: Safety

I went through a phase, that I think all girls go through, where the edgy guys seemed to be the most desirable. (There is a Studio C music video about this, that I find hilarious.) My patient and long-suffering husband watched me date a few different guys while biding his time for the right moment. He is a good guy, and I kept coming back to him as a safe friend I could talk to and feel ok around when those other relationships failed, sometimes spectacularly. I eventually came to my senses, to the happiness of all, and decided edgy guys just weren’t worth their salt.

It was because of my husband’s steady nature and reliability that I fell in love with him. I later explained to my husband that one of the reasons I married him is because he is the ‘safe guy.’ He is a safe and responsible driver. He makes safe and sound financial decisions. He always made me feel safe on our dates, treating me with respect and courtesy. He is aware of his environment and makes sure it is safe for me and our children. I tend to be the live wire in our relationship and he grounds me by reminding me to make safe and sensible decisions that invariably secure our happiness. He is the ‘safe guy’ and I love him for it.

For me this relates to fencing because Safety is the first of our Four Levels of Importance. If we are safe and make sensible decisions we will invariably secure our own happiness and the happiness of those around us. That is an environment we could all benefit from. Sometimes our world can be a scary place. Terrasylvae can be a safe haven and refuge from it, if we make it that way.

I believe there are internal, external, and influential depths, to the ideal of Safety. When I consider them I ask myself the following questions, Am I Safe? Do I look Safe? And, Do Those around me feel Safe?

Are you Safe?

Internally we are all aware of our capabilities. We know how far we can push ourselves. What each of us can do will be different from what others can do. Because our abilities are as individual as we are, there is no way for certain to know what each other is actually capable of doing. This is what makes fencing fun. However because of this we have to analyze ourselves with this question. Are we safe? And we must be honest in our response. Fencing is a fast and precision sport, it can be dangerous. It can be doubly so in melee situations. It was in a melee that I fell and broke my neck. I reflect often that I wish the person who struck me in that situation had asked himself this question before he engaged me. Maybe if he had, he would have realized he was unsafe and held back enough to spare me. If we honestly answer to ourselves that we are unsafe we must have the courage to remove ourselves from the fight. As Terrasylvans, we need be consciously self aware if what we are doing is actually safe. We want to exemplify this level of importance. To do so we must begin internally.

Do you look safe?

Even if we know we are safe internally it is important to look safe externally. This is a reflection of you personally and on us as a company. If you are safe but look like an idiot, no one will trust that you are safe.They won’t trust your decisions. They won’t trust your advice. They won’t trust you. And by extension all of us. Terrasylvae and the Order of the Rose are built on trust. We trust each other to stab one another with refined sticks of metal at incredible speeds. There is a bit of crazy in that. It makes it all the more important to look safe. If you don’t look safe no one will want to fight with you. Sometimes looking safe requires dialing back what we are capable of doing to a level where it looks safe externally. I’m not suggesting we don’t fence to our best. We should always strive to do our best, but part of being our best also means appearing safe to encourage trust.

Do those around you feel safe?

We can be safe, we can look safe, but if those around us do not feel safe we are still doing something wrong. It is impossible to control the feelings of others, but there is a lot we can do to help others feel safe. For example, when I am fighting a newcomer I gauge my fight to their capacity. If they don’t know how to execute a certain skill I don’t over exploit it and make them feel foolish. I work with them where they are and improve my own basic skills at the same time. I also make sure that I communicate with those around me. In dueling and in melee. This helps people to be aware of their surroundings and feel safe. I make sure not to shout at people in anger. I strive to encourage good behavior openly, and make corrections in private. This helps people feel safe. Terrasylvae is supposed to be a place where people are welcome and feel free to learn without ridicule. How we treat each other on and off the field can either encourage the feeling of safety or destroy it. This includes the language we use and the stories we tell. All our actions and every interaction should be safe.

I believe that by making safe and sensible decisions internally, appearing safe externally, and encouraging the safety of others, we can invariably secure our happiness. We will be the ‘safe guys’ that people love to fight with. We will be ‘safe guys’ others want to be with. In fencing as well as outside it. The world needs Safe people. People who are responsible, and have sound judgement. There is a great need for respectful people who are courteous and aware of what is going on around them. We can’t force the world to be like this, but we can be a force for Safety in the world. And we can make Terrasylvae a safe haven and a refuge for all who want to learn without fear of ridicule or judgement. We can provide that refuge from the tumultuous world but only if we are Safe. The first Level of Importance is Safety. Please make it your first priority. Be the safe guy.

The Four Levels of Importance

  1. Safety
  2. Honor
  3. Attitude
  4. Skill