It is the Hard that Makes it Great

The Gorean Compass is a class given every Thursday by Master Gorm Runo.  Classes are held at the Gorean Campus and are given at noon and 6pm SLT.  All are encouraged to come and join in the amazing discussions. This class was held on March 28, 2019.


Tal and greetings,

I have been listening to an ongoing discussion the past couple of weeks. I won’t go into the details of how the issue began, but it was summed up in a debate on “why everything is the slave’s fault” when it should be “everything is the Free person’s fault.”

The first reaction was to find fault with the word “fault.” It seemed that fault finding was a rather empty pursuit, and “responsibility” is a much more positive way of viewing this.

Is it the slave’s responsibility, for example, to behave, or is it the Free’s responsibility to enforce discipline? That sounds like a more legitimate question.

In pondering my own response to that question, my thoughts drifted down to Earth again, and I began to give some thought to the idea of “group identity.” In this seminar, I have often attacked the very popular Earth idea of intersectionality. This idea is actually group identity on steroids.

The idea is that we are all the product of our various group identities. These things tend to define you, and even more exonerate you from a lot of personal responsibility. If you happen to be, say, female, Hispanic, gay, handicapped physically, and born to poor parents, all of those things are groups that intersect to create you, and if you are having trouble in life, it is because you are a victim of discrimination against one or all of your groups.

All my life, I have bought into a totally different view. I call it “The Draw poker” theory. I see each of those groups in the above sample as one of the cards a person has been dealt. Some are good cards, and some are not, but in the immortal words of “The Gambler”, “Every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser.” You can discard your bad cards, and draw some new ones, and everything then depends on how you play your hand. And from time to time, you come across a story of a gay, Hispanic woman, from a poor family, in a wheel chair, doing something amazing and having overcome tremendous odds.

Obviously, the Gorean world involves much group identity. In addition to gender, sexual orientation, economy condition, race, place of origin, and all the other groups of Earth, we add Caste, and slave vs. Free, to the mix. Certainly, much of how we behave is going to be determined by our membership in those various groups.

However, the Gorean idea does not allow these group identities to become excuses. In fact, in typical Counter Earth fashion, our group identities become sources of pride. I said in a recent class that I am a big fan of “pride parades.” This is one of the facts of the Gorean Caste system. There wasn’t a lot of “class conflict” in Gor, because the low castes did not feel oppressed at all. I am proud to be a Free male, and proud to be from Caer Cadarn, and proud to be a Slaver. I am sure there are Free women, proud to be Free Women, and slaves proud of their collars and their skills and talents.

I am also proud that the world of Gor, that I so love, is totally free from the irrational group identities. An irrational group identity is actually one that has nothing to do with anything, period. The color of your skin, like the color of your eyes, or the color of your hair, is ultimately of no importance, and although you might be proud of your blond hair, or dark skin, it gives you no additional moral authority.

So, Gorean group identity can give pride, and dictate custom and behavior, and help to explain and understand personality, but it can never excuse failure, or justify bad behavior.

We do not do something wrong because we are female, and we do not make a mistake because we are a Free Man.

When I had gone through the above thought process, I realized that when I heard people talking about if it were the slave’s responsibility or the Free’s responsibility, I immediately saw the group identity problem with the question. And I knew the answer, too. It is the slave’s responsibility to behave, and it is equally the Free’s responsibility to discipline her, and insure that she does so.

It always comes back to the same thing. No excuses.

In Tarnsman of Gor, Marlenus makes a well known statement to Tarl Cabot, and I have never quite understood it before today. Here is what he says.

“Before the sword, ” he said, “there is no right, no wrong, only fact— a world of what is and what is not, rather than a world of what should be and what should not be.”

page 113-114 Tarnsman of Gor

Now, I used to argue that this quote was saying that Gor was about a realistic approach, and that there was no room for dreaming about what could be and what should be, and we need to stay grounded in reality. But, that misses the idea of “before the sword.”

Before the sword means before we were civilized, and before we had moved out of our animal beginnings and embraced a higher standard. Now, it is the time to dream. We need to be concerned about what should be, and what should not be. Once our primary daily goal was not mere survival, we began to address proper behavior. We are no longer a pack, we are now a community, and we should be striving to do the things we should do, and imagine even greater things that we might do.

This moral compass is not as complex as many like to imagine it. I know that out on the fringes of morality there are still many gray areas and we continue to debate and even fight over them, but there are many, many things that have fallen solidly into the middle ground of rationality and morality, and it is not rocket science. We usually know when we have done wrong, and we can usually tell when we do something right.

Like behavior vs discipline? It is the slave’s responsibility to behave properly, with exquisite beauty, and absolute obedience, at all times. If she fails to do so there are no excuses.

It is the Free’s responsibility to discipline and correct, and even more their responsibility to maintain personal high standards and consistent guidance. If they fail to do so there are no excuses.

This Gor thing is hard, my friends, when you do it right. You can’t blame others. You can’t use your status, or gender, or if you have freckles or not, to excuse your failures and your short comings. It is on you.

It is not any wonder that so few wish to embrace this idea, or even to roleplay it out. It is hard.

But, to me, and many of you, it is the hard that makes it great.

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