cynic_devine wrote:Serving your community does not mean submitting to tyranny. Tyranny isn’t good for communities. Liberty & personal dignity are good for communities & history demonstrates this time & again. That is why democracy works. When Martin Luther King Jr stood up, he was not just trying to make things better for himself or African Americans. He was trying to make things better for all Americans. Racism is damaging to us all. In truth, revolutionaries are even serving their oppressors.
Nice, thoughtful response, cynic! However... while, personally, I agree with you that tyranny and racism are bad, I wouldn't say that liberty and personal dignity are good or the reasons for societal success. Actually, I would submit that we have yet to see a society that really offers a system that promotes personal dignity. That said, democracy is
the most effective peacetime system of government (during war, IIRC, fascism is more effective), but this effectiveness, in my mind, is more a result of keeping a majority content (and it's definitely possible to do so without being moral). Also, while I think racism is damaging (to some), dangerous, and outright evil, I don't think I could say that it's really "damaging to us all." Without going into a lot of RL detail, a lot of people benefit from racist social structures (from job and education availability/selection to criminal justice/punitive measures). Which is why they're in place (see my above statement involving personal dignity). While one could argue that the ramifications of such structures (increased crime rates, dissatisfaction amongst minorities, etc.) are harmful to society at large (and thus, "us all"), to me, this stance is somewhat biased. Damaging to a collective isn't necessary damaging to everyone in the collective. "Black on black crime" (trite phrase, I know... but...) is a killer, but do folk "up on the hill" really care? Only when it spills into their territory, at which point the legislative, political, and social structures they've put into place can deal with them. They have a certain degree of protection. So, in short (and wheeling around back to the topic), I think an alignment system that pushes values like liberty, societal welfare, etc. as definitions of a "good" equivalent alignment is somewhat "loaded" (biased?) and only works for certain genres wherein the moral fallibility of those structures is ignored. In a world more similar to the real world, where a truly moral society does not exist, this system couldn't function (in my opinion).
Nikchick wrote:They served on behalf of *their* communities, which you freely admit were being oppressed. Merely being in the minority, or being in the majority but not holding power politically does not mean that they were suddenly dark aligned.
While, to a degree, I agree with this standpoint, it does touch on another interesting question involving one's definitions of "law" and "morality." It has been argued that both laws and morals are established within a community precisely for the purpose of establishing an "evil other" (a "shadow-aligned" minority, if you will, that allows the "good" majority to feel safer, be stronger, maintain power). Being in a minority makes it much easier for one to be considered evil/wrong/mean/depraved/dark-aligned, as a majority can easily overtake a minority, politically speaking. "Two wolves and a sheep" and all that jazz. Socially speaking, in many cases, right and wrong are both matters of who holds power at a particular time. And in many communities, whoever can sway the most people end up with the most power and wind up being the ones who define morality. I think ignoring this in favor of describing exactly what constitutes moral behavior might limit the value of an alignment system.
As you've said, though, diverging from the majority doesn't necessarily make a person evil, and this entire idea isn't pertinent to many high fantasy settings. Again, in a generic system book, I'd just prefer for there to be more room for a hero with ideas that don't revolve around one particular mindset. In Exalted, for example, a Dragon-Blooded Dynast (decadent noble class, for those unfamiliar with the genre) with a Paragon Nature is somewhat different from a Lunar Exalt (outlandish barbarian-type who often, but not always, believes that might makes right) with a Paragon Nature. Both are, in their respective communities, the pinnacle of "good," but the system makes no judgment on which is the "right good." If that makes sense.
(I'm not trying to be confrontational or nit-picky, Nikchick, and if I come off that way, let me know, and I can try to tone down... I just find this kind of question interesting... hope all this ties together in such a way as to be "on topic")