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What’s In a Name?

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“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

– Barack Obama

I suppose the first thing I should write about is the history behind the name Matylena. When I was in the 9th grade, my English teacher introduced our class to the Fantasy fiction genre by giving us an assignment to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” over Christmas break. We were then to write a book report about it by the time we returned to class in two weeks.

I had, of course, heard about the “The Hobbit” but I was never really into the idea of it. I thought it was just some kid story that you are interested in as a child, and then grow out of. But “The Fellowship of the Ring” is no children’s tale. It is high fantasy adventure, and I have always been grateful to this teacher, though I do not remember her name now, for introducing me to the fantasy genre. Not only did I read the entire thing, but I had already read halfway through “The Two Towers” as well. For some reason, when we got back from that Christmas break, the teacher decided we no longer needed to turn in that assignment. I finished it anyway for fun, and finished the series as well, before moving on into a whole new world of speculative fiction. My eyes were opened, and there was no going back.

This genre has gotten me through some very tough times in my life, as I battle with depression and anxiety. I would spend as many hours as I could in the local public library, checking out new fantasy novels every week. I would breeze through them in days, then go back for more. I could not get enough. Eventually, I was in a Book Stop in San Antonio, browsing the Fantasy and Sci-Fi section, when this older gentleman approached me and asked if I was looking for something new to read. He recommended Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series. It is a sprawling, epic world with a massive fan base, and while it does have its flaws in my opinion (which I may go into later on in future blog posts), it is the driving inspiration behind the name ‘Matylena’.

In 1994, I had already discovered a place called Multi-Users in Middle Earth (MUME), which is an online text-based fantasy role-playing game (RPG). As far as I know, it was really one of the first of its kind. Later, other Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) and Multi-User Shared Hallucinations (MUSHes) became more and more prevalent. One of these games I discovered in 1997, and it was called “A Moment in Tyme“. It was based on Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series, and this is where I truly became hooked into the idea of text-based online role-playing games. These are collaborative storytelling opportunities, and while one might think they are a frivolous waste of time, I found them to be quite educational, and fulfilling. They allowed me to develop my creative writing skills, while also sharing my joy of fantasy novels with friends. Those friendships have blossomed into lasting relationships that I maintain to this day.

Matylena was a character I created on “A Moment in Tyme”. She was my very first character there. She started out as a street rat named “Matty” but as her story developed, she became a powerful and influential figure in the game, even attaining the highest rank of Amyrlin Seat at one point. If you don’t know what that is, I encourage you to read Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series, which was finished by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death in September of 2007. The “Wheel of Time” will soon have its own TV series airing on Amazon Prime, and principle photography started, perhaps not so coincidentally, on the 12th anniversary of Robert Jordan’s death. More details can be found here.

This is why the name Matylena is so important to me. There is a great deal of history behind it. This character defines the core of me, and who I am. She is ambitious, strong-willed, and a character that I have developed over years. I am currently writing a book of my own, based loosely on her experiences within the game. Though of course, I am making the story my own, and creating my own world to put her in. But she is still the same core character I created all those years ago. Matylena and I have been through many trials and tribulations together, both In-Character and in real life.

This blog will be the world as seen through Matylena’s eyes. I hope it will provide a unique perspective to current events. It may have book reviews of current works of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and other speculative fiction. It may have more serious social commentary related to current events. Every post, however, will somehow tie back into Matylena’s point of view, and what she would do in a certain situation.

So, sit back and enjoy the story. I hope someone out there finds this blog as fun as I hope it will be. I expect it will have some serious talking points as well, however.

If you’re interested in the upcoming Wheel of Time TV series, I recommend checking out #WoTonPrime on Twitter.

Matylena

Matylena On Sovereignty

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“Our hope is a word and world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all: a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.”

― Donald Trump

Edited based on feedback: In his address to the UN General Assembly, 2017

Warning: This post may contain spoilers for “The Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

You may wonder why I have included above a quote from President Donald Trump. He is a man that I generally do not agree with, but I find the above quote to be particularly profound, in that it is something that I do believe in. In fact, this is the first time I have ever actually included the title President before his name, and the first time I have ever openly acknowledged that I agree with anything he has to say. But, like it or not, he is the president we have, and because this is a public blog, I will afford him at least that much respect.

I agree with the above quote. I believe firmly that a nation must stand on its own to succeed, as an independent, sovereign nation. The founding fathers of the United States envisioned a land of equal rights and equal voices. A place where we are not ruled by a monarchy, but by the people, and for the people. Within the Constitution of the United States are the ideals upon which our republic was founded.

Recent events are, in large part, the inspiration for this blog. The news of the past few weeks has recalled to my mind the days of playing my character, Matylena.

I learned a number of things on A Moment in Tyme while playing this character, who became a respected ruler. She was considered to be just and fair, but she also knew how and when to make the tough choices in order to ensure the survival of her world. Even if those choices were not particularly popular. Even if she had to work with those she may have otherwise disagreed with, such as the Red Ajah, or even the Asha’man. She wasn’t perfect, but she understood that some things were more important than any personal acclaim she might have received. She understood that the decisions she made would have consequences into the future.

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Our democracy is founded on the principle of our inalienable rights to life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is founded on the value of our right to vote, to freedom of speech and religious belief, on our system of checks and balances. Our Constitution protects so many of our rights which we have been taking for granted. But I see these things being systematically chipped away, and I wonder… what would Matylena do?

First, let’s look at a comparison between the government of the United States, and the government of the White Tower, home of the Aes Sedai. The Amyrlin Seat is an elected official. So too is the office of the President of the United States. She presides over a governing body known as the Hall of the Tower, which is made up of Aes Sedai – women who can channel the One Power. In the United States, we have a Congress, which is made up of the Senate, and the House of Representatives. In addition, there is the Supreme Court. There are some differences, however.

In the Wheel of Time, the Amyrlin is appointed for life. In the United States, a President may only serve a maximum of two four-year terms. In the Wheel of Time, Sitters in the Hall of the Tower are also appointed for life, or until they retire. In the Wheel of Time, only women may be Aes Sedai, because men can’t channel the One Power without going mad. In the United States, we have not had a single woman president, and women still must fight for respect in Congress, in spite of our great strides in earning the right to vote, and the ability to be elected to public office.

What both have in common, however, is a system of checks and balances. An Amyrlin Seat can be deposed, if she is found to be in violation of Tower Law. While her word is law, she must also abide by the will of the Hall of the Tower in certain matters. For all her power, the Amyrlin Seat must still answer to someone. As it should be. So it is intended to be with our government as well.

This is why it concerns me greatly when a president of the United States insists that he must answer to no one. That he is above the law. That he can do as he wishes (even shoot someone on 5th avenue), and expect no consequences for his actions. When a President of the United States ignores those checks and balances that are designed to prevent corruption at the highest level, we have a severe breakdown in our democracy.

A Proud, Independent Nation

The President insists that a nation should be proudly independent. This appears to be one of his highest principles. He wishes to reform our immigration system, and ensure that our economy is self-sustaining. That we do not rely on other countries is something that drives him. This is something that, generally, I can agree with. Yet, our economy is always going to be dependent on the influence of the economies of other countries. Without trade, the world suffers. So, is it realistic for the United States to take on such isolationist policies? Matylena Sedai thinks probably not. We need our allies. Trade and commerce are vital to maintaining a healthy economy. Alienating our allies and discarding long-standing treaties seems, in her opinion, reckless. Embracing countries that have proven to not have our best interests at heart, even more so.

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Let us take a closer look at immigration. While it is not much discussed in the Wheel of Time, from what I understand, people simply moved freely from country to country. While there were borders to be certain, there isn’t anything to stop anyone from traveling from one country to the next. There are no visas, no passports, no regulations against anyone traveling from, say, Murandy to Andor and then setting down roots there. Maybe it’s not very realistic, because it is after all a fantasy world, but it does seem a lot less complicated, and makes it easier for people to travel about and find work, or for refugees to flee from one country to another in times of turmoil. However, it does put a greater strain on the resources of the country that the refugees are fleeing to, and it does open up the possibility of risk to the country’s security. I agree with Trump, that this is a valid concern. However, Matylena Sedai would frown upon the inhumane way in which the United States is currently treating refugees and immigrants. While a nation must certainly consider the economic burden of welcoming refugees, there must still be a need for compassion in the way in which those refugees should be treated. We have a responsibility to treat the people who seek our protection with dignity, whether they come here legally or not. They are still human beings.

Recently, a story broke about how the President allegedly suggested an alligator moat, and shooting migrants in the legs. Whether these allegations are true remains to be seen. If they are true, it is deeply disturbing. This is behavior that I might expect to see from Aginor or another of the Forsaken, though I think even they would not stoop to such petty notions, to be quite honest. It is truly the behavior of a monstrous type of villain found only in fantasy novels, or maybe in Austin Powers movies. I really hope it isn’t true. Please let it not be true!

President Trump’s quote says that he wishes for a proud, independent nation. And yet, he is openly and in secret seeking the aid of foreign nations to dig up dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. (There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Bidens.) Yet, I saw one article where 29% of Republicans did not believe that he was doing so, in spite of Trump openly calling for such in public. Now, his supporters seem to be trying to help him walk the statements back, but as Lini would say: “When the honey’s out of the comb, there’s no putting it back.”

One of the things I loved most about the Wheel of Time was its politics. If a ruler were to do such a thing in the world of the Wheel of Time, he would be considered a weak ruler. If a person must rely on the aid of foreign powers to maintain one’s sovereignty, then they are a tool. He becomes a puppet, rather than a ruler in his own right. He loses the respect of his peers, and his people. To do this puts you in the hands of your enemies, and ‘in their pocket‘, as it were.

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In particular, I think of the story of Elayne Trakand, the Daughter-Heir of Andor. There are some who consider her to be rather foolish, but in one thing, she was incredibly wise. When Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, said that he would ‘put her on the Lion Throne’, she became indignant. As well she should. If she was to be respected as a ruler, she must do it on her own terms, by her own right as the Daughter-Heir. Not because someone else, who does not have any understanding of how Andoran politics work, said so.

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Alternatively, still looking at the nations of the Wheel of time, let’s examine the nation of Amadicia. It has a king, who is the nominal head of state. He lives in a grand palace, presumably has an army, and servants, and all the things one might expect a monarch to have. But he has no power, because he was put there by the Children of the Light, who are the true power in Amadicia. King Ailron Rovere Lukan is a puppet. A figurehead. He was content to sit in his palace doing basically nothing, maybe enjoying the occasional hunting trip with his court while the Children of the Light are allowed to run the country through military might, putting the fear of the Light into the people. By the time he thought to put up a fight, it was too late.

Cadsuane Sedai of the Green Ajah probably would have a ruler like Trump turned over her knee for a sound switching until he saw things more reasonably. Nynaeve would thump him with her stick. Egwene would box his ears. This is not how things are done in the real world of course. But I can’t help but have a little chuckle at the thought. As for Matylena, she probably would have sent eyes and ears to insert themselves into his staff, who would then secretly run a propaganda campaign for his removal from within his own administration by leaking damaging – but truthful – information. After all, before she went to the White Tower, she was lady-in-waiting to High Seat Diana Damodred of Cairhien. She helped to raise King Justarius Damodred to the Sun Throne, and then she helped to bring him down again. She learned from the best.

Embracing Duty

“Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain.”

– Japanese Proverb

To embrace one’s duty is commendable. I have a great admiration for those who run for public office or serve in the military with a true respect for the ideals upon which our country was founded. While Matylena certainly embraced duty when it was thrust upon her, I cannot ever imagine myself running for public office in real life. I don’t have any formal college education. I am not an expert in political science or any other field. No one would likely listen to someone like me, whose sole “expertise” in these matters comes from a role-playing game. Then again, “Matty” didn’t have any experience either. Maybe her qualifications were even less than mine, because she grew up on the street, and had nothing, until she found her family.

There are much greater minds than mine out there. But this blog is my attempt at making my voice heard somehow. We all have a duty to uphold our Constitution, and the rights it protects. The greatest way we can do that is with our vote. Often it seems even our votes don’t matter, when you read about things like gerrymandering, foreign interference in our elections, smear campaigns, actual fake news designed to counter the truth. People blindly believe the propaganda without bothering to fact-check. I will do my very best, within this blog, to fact-check everything before I publish it. That is my promise. A promise that I can keep. If I have researched a thing to check the facts, it will include a hyperlink to the evidence. My personal opinions will be stated as such.

To embrace Duty is a complicated matter though. Each person sees their duty differently. But then, this is what we have the Constitution for – a means of guiding us in our duty. Involvement of foreigners in our democratic process, in my opinion, is a violation of our Constitution, and a dereliction of duty. Russia, Ukraine, China… none of them have a place in our democratic process. They should not be brought into it at all. It is my firm belief that a ruler should stand on their own merits. To rely on foreign support is weakness, and a betrayal of our country’s values and moral obligations to its people.

I do believe, then, that Donald Trump should be impeached. He has shown that he is a weak ruler, he has betrayed us, and he cannot be trusted. Quite frankly, Matylena would probably refer him to the Yellows to see if they can rediscover how to Heal mental illness. A pity Semirhage turned to the Shadow.

I will have more to say on other aspects of the above quote in future blog posts. Friendship, dignity, and this beautiful Earth. I have many other topics in mind as well.

Please feel free to leave comments below. I welcome your thoughts and opinions, even if we do not agree.

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