Part 5: Documentation as Courage
This will be the last post in our series on the Virtues of documentation. Throughout this series of posts we’ve used the virtues associated with the peerage orders of the SCA as a lens to look at documentation. The last virtue we’ll discuss is courage.
As one of the main virtues we associate with the Chivalry, the idea of courage tends to conjure images of heroic deeds on the battlefield or in tournaments. But, there are things in all parts of our lives that require courage, including the Arts and Sciences of the SCA. It can take courage to try something new. It can take courage to ask for help. It can take courage to correct mistakes or start over when something goes wrong.
So, how does our documentation show courage?
Sharing your documentation takes courage. Whether you are putting your work into a competition or display, putting it online in a blog or social media post, or just sharing with your friends and members in your local group, sharing your documentation can be scary. Allowing anyone else to look through your work may come with the possibility of criticism. In an ideal world, criticism would always be constructive and delivered only when requested and consented to. But, even among friends it can be scary to open your work to criticism. And it takes courage to overcome the fear of criticism.
Sharing your documentation can also invite debate. It’s perfectly reasonable for different people to look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions. For example, in the SCA we are often trying to reproduce historical items based on very limited information about how they were originally made. It’s very easy in these situations for different people to come to different conclusions based on limited information. In these circumstances, debate is often healthy. But defending your choices can be scary, too. And being open to debate, being asked to defend your decisions and conclusions, also takes courage.
I often hear that people are intimidated by documentation in the Arts and Sciences. Either because it’s something new to them, or because they are worried they won’t do it well. But, if you can find the courage to overcome such doubts, the world of A&S can be very rewarding.
– Abu-Darzin Ibrahim al-Rashid, Laureate