Back when I was just a Master Thaumaturge, at some level beyond 45, but not yet 50, I was told of a place by a stranger where gold was sure to be bountiful: "the Coven." Masking my ignorance, I began walking through the Commons asking if anyone wanted to join for "the best farming instance." Honestly, I had absolutely no idea where the Coven was, or even what they looked like. In fact, I was hoping to meet a more experienced player who would show me the way when we grouped.
Instead, I met Scarlet Deathblood, who was around the same level, wearing optimal Bazaar armor (Lv 40) like I was; she was the first to chime in with a Tell-back. Luckily for our group, she had access to the instance, so while I didn't learn where to find the birds (instead, we all teleported to her), I got to see their crooked, old beaks in person. After a couple of runs, we got to replace our current gear with the drops, and from that day forth, we became inseparable friends.
I later learned that "Missy" was her name, and I revealed that mine was consistent with Battleblood's. We quested together, finished missions at the same time, beat Malistaire, and achieved our first Briskbreeze success together, in a 3-man. The most memorable and significant activity, which reflects the strength of our bond, was farming for each other's 100-damage class swords. The farms lasted from 2 to 4 hours daily, until we got our corresponding weapon. Neither of us gave up on each other, or felt hesitant to continue pursuing the other person's item. You can pretty much call Missy and me "siblings."
The friendship grew to a point where one of us could say anything to or about the other person, and we would not feel offended. For example, Missy has a close relative who is constantly suffering, whether or not they are receiving treatment. On the night that I found out about this, I asked her, "So why are they still around?" I know, this sounds like a cold question, especially when that person is someone she loves. But, without hesitation or negative reaction, she answered me sincerely, "I don't know. I don't want him to go, but it hurts to see him like this. I really don't know why he wants to do this, either." Our insight and comments to and about one another do not feel like slaps in the face, but rather they are window openings, giving us the opportunity to visit a new perspective, or escape from annoyance or grief. We challenge each other intellectually and emotionally.
When the depth and complexity of our conversations flourished, each of us revealed a dark secret to one another. We both initially feared that our skeletons in the closet would compromise the friendship, but we had more than enough faith in the bond, and trusted one another.
Missy's secret definitely topped mine...in fact, I couldn't even imagine that I'd meet such a person in Wizard101, let alone with that personality of hers! Don't worry, it wasn't anything horrifically serious, nor did she harm anyone, but it would definitely stir a stranger's outlook on her. My mind began questioning about the friendship, whether we should still be in one another's company or separate ways.
Usually when humans are presented with situations or cases so unusual or extreme, we can't help but stereotype or draw upon cliches to find a personal solution or answer. A general example is like my experience: finding out that Missy did something that the majority of us would look down on. Those quickest to judge would already associate her with a negative essence, based on the proposed idea that she had done something unacceptable to most. Already, extreme cases flood the minds of some. "She did A. Or B. Or X. She cannot be trusted."
How did I react? At first, I was a bit thrown off, and certainly questions about trust ran through my head, but I did not conclude that we could no longer be friends, nor did I hold any conditions against her, such as, "I'll play with you, but let's never bring the subject up again," or "Give me time to think about it." I didn't know the whole story at the time, but I didn't have to.
As humans, we have that gift of learning from experiences and developing insight on those events. The consequences, results, and effects of our actions play the major role in who we become in the future, not the acts themselves. Certainly, what we did is part of our past and our identity (i.e. "a former ____"), but whoever we are in the present has branched off from the subsequent timeline of our life, rather than from a single point. We become influenced, either through enlightenment/realization or passion/indulgence. How we act upon and after that is what really matters.
I never thought about this before, but it solidifies the point: I always felt it odd that an animal was euthanized when it unknowingly violated a human's basic right to life, which is something impossible for it to comprehend. Instead of receiving "life" in a cage, it's put to sleep, without the justification that it acted on instinct. It becomes forever categorized as "dangerous," and "unfit" to live among us. I wonder if it's the mindset of "once a killer, always a killer" that brings that judgment. Or, if we assume the animal doesn't have the capacity to learn or recognize "right" vs. "wrong," it is then exempt from second chances.
Thus, those around us should be treated as humans, and not quickly condemned for something that happened long ago. We all have the capability to mature or better ourselves, unlike animals. Treat them as the friend you know them as, regardless of what you discover about them, because that's the person you became friends with; not the mistaken or misguided individual they used to be. Your friendship could also provide for them a support system they lacked in the past. Or, the friendship was possible between you both due to some proactive, positive and healthy decisions made by that person; they grew into being that person you now like. Going back to the "intro" post, the man may have lost someone truly special, due to negatively associating them with their history. Perhaps his partner has changed her way of life and agrees with his views now...it's a shame he never found out.
Missy, to me, is pretty much the personification of the Bartleby (Rebirth) spell. She did a complete 180 on her life, and I'm proud and honored to get to know her, let alone meet her. Cheryl and Ronan have expressed more than once that they also feel the same.
True, there are some extremities where certain actions cannot be forgiven or disregarded. In the case when someone wasn't hurt in the short or long run, however, we should think twice before giving up on a connection.
What do you guys think? Have you ever had a situation like this, and if so, what did you do?