Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Creed, or I am an Assassin.

Gentle reader, I come today to discuss Assassin's Creed. Not as a game or a series, although I could speak at great length about it, but as a concept. As a philosophy, as a way of life. Specifically, the eponymous Creed itself. What drives these pseudo-ninja, these white-robed zealots? What motivates them to take a life? And how could that fit into a modern society?

The Creed itself is the maxim, the basic guideline of the Assassin Order that must be followed lest you be turned away from your brotherhood. First introduced in the original Assassin's Creed, these rules were reinforced in a scene in which the protagonist, Altair Ibn Al'Ahad, kills an innocent, and is symbolically killed himself in front of the entire Order, stripped of his privilege and badges of office, and forced to re-prove his worth.

I want to take a look at it, and how it might apply to a normal, non-stabby person's every-day life.

  • Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent

This is the first, and most important, part of the Creed. In any of the games, if you kill innocents, you lose. Now, political murders are less and less common these days, but there's an important lesson to be had regarding picking your targets and not lashing out against people that don't deserve anger.

  • Hide in plain sight

Getting attention and standing out is fine, but sometimes you just want to disappear. Personally, I've found it quite useful to cultivate the ability to blend into a crowd at times, and step out and act like I'm supposed to be there at a moment's notice.

  • Never compromise the Brotherhood

The people you consider your closest allies, your family, your friends. Value them, and never put them at risk.

  • The Three Ironies
    • The Assassins seek to promote peace, but commit murder.
    • The Assassins seek to open the minds of men, but require obedience to rules.
    • The Assassins seek to reveal the danger of blind faith, yet practice it themselves.

Contradictions are useful things. On paper, it's easy to forget that the real world is not black and white, a field of moral absolutes. The world works, and has pretty much always worked, on a sliding scale of moral relativism and shades of grey. Remembering these things can keep your mind open to new ideas.

The lessons taught by the Assassin Order, which are based heavily on the 1930s novel Alamut (named after the fortress the original Hashashin lived, which in turn was the base of the fictional Assassin Order) are, I believe, still relevant today. Pick your fights, and your words, carefully. Know when to stand out and when to blend in. Protect the ones you care about.  And step back and look at the bigger picture.

I leave you with the words of one Ezio Auditore da Firenze, in my opinion one of the most well-developed characters in all of gaming:

"To say that nothing is true, is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted, is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic."

1 comment:

  1. "... should my skills fail me, or my ambition lead me astray; do not seek retribution or revenge in my memory, but fight to continue the search for truth so that all may benefit. My story is one of many thousands and the world will not suffer if it ends too soon."

    Ezio is on my my all time favorite characters, couldn't agree more with your assessment.


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