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The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel

Ladies, gentlemen, and the wide spectrum identifying somewhere between or beyond the aforementioned options, I have resolved at last to speak. I am a young man. My years number at roughly twenty-one, an age at which I will be able to imbibe alcohol (something of which I will not be taking advantage) and carry concealed within my coat a firearm. For several years now I have had the option to join the United States military, drive a car, and vote. I am employed, I am engaged, and by merit of the above I am by all accounts an adult. A grown man, regardless of my relative youth. I am set loose in the world, told that adventure awaits. “I too, as happens to every man once in his life, have been taken by Satan into the highest mountain in the earth, and when there he showed me all the kingdoms of the world, and as he said before, so said he to me,
`Child of earth, what wouldst thou have to make thee adore me?’” Where Edmond Dantes was content to become an agent of Providence, I find Providence wanting. Providence treats humans as pawns, each as insignificant as the next, working toward the making and inevitable unmaking of kings, the composition of empires, the ends and beginnings of which history is written.

Providence has no need of additional agents. The end is coming at its own pace, beyond which lies the certainty of a beginning, as is generally the case. I needn’t participate. No, my formidable abilities are needed elsewhere. In this world, so vast and glorious, there live millions of people, each a flickering mote of light in an infinite void, lightning bugs drifting languidly through an endless summer’s night. Within each is the potential to bring great joy and great harm, the ration of distribution to be determined by, yes, Providence… but not Providence alone. The joy and harm dealt by life directly affects, in most cases, the likelihood of individuals to react similarly.

This is not an absolute law. The man who is shown kindness retains the potential for evil; free will knows few masters. No matter how possible it may be that kindness will go without reciprocation, one is never furnished with sufficient excuse for failing to act under the assumption that the contrary is fact. That is to say, we must never stop believing that, in doing good, the beneficiaries of our benevolence will follow suit, creating a chain of goodwill and positivity. The chain may break, as chains are wont to do, but what matters it? Another will be forged.

We must never stop trying.

You have perhaps dismissed me now as an idealist, a fool with a soft heart unable to comprehend the cold truths of reality. I respond thus: Never question my understanding of the evils of man. I am young, but I have felt the cruelty of human nature, and I have responded with tenfold wickedness. I have dealt the most dire of blows for the sheer amusement of watching a fellow being crumble. I have imposed upon lesser beings my fell influence, and I have reveled in their falls. I have been the serpent of Eden, I have fallen as the Morning Star, I have permitted Edourd de Villefort to be poisoned.

Still I say that we must never stop trying.

Even Monte Cristo, colder than the Plateau of Leng, realized in the end the error under which he had been operating. Even Lucifer laments. Your kindness must be bolder than the darkest of evils, unrelenting in its radiance. You all possess within you, whether or not you acknowledge it, the potential to do lasting good. You could stand as a beacon of hope in an otherwise grey life. You could save someone long since given to despair. You could be the redemption craved by creatures such as I.

I beg of you… friends, strangers, enemies… go out of your way to do what good you can. The world is a dark place, doubt runs rampant, our once-trusted sources of authority have abandoned us. Religious authorities have lost their way, Presidents and Kings have grown blind. It is upon us, the individuals, the citizenry, to drive back the tide of anguish. We must, as they say, become the change we wish to see in the world.

For this reason, I propose the creation of a New League of the Scarlet Pimpernel in the honor of the man who once saved the innocent from the guillotine for no reason other than the sheer propriety of doing so. Loosely knit as we are, scattered throughout the world, it shall be our mission to take that extra moment, exert that extra ounce of effort, to do genuinely good things purely for the sake of good. Give some change to the homeless fellow you pass every day. When you see someone looking utterly despondent, stranger or friend, ask them if they want to talk. Tell them it will be okay. Tell them about the League if you like, for it is often in the pursuit of goodness for others that we find goodness for ourselves.

There is no facebook group for this. No fancy blog. No mailing list. You will not be making any reports of your various deeds to anyone. No one may ever know. But know that you have a friend in all who share your cause, in all who wear the pimpernel, be it on their lapels or in their hearts.You will not become famous for this. You may never be thanked. That homeless fellow may walk straight to a bar, that despondent chap may tell you to leave them alone. But that will not stop you. You must press on, knowing that what you do is right. Truly right. It is for this reason that we choose the Pimpernel as our symbol; The Scarlet Pimpernel was never known, never gained anything for his actions. Nor shall we. We do not do this for a god, for the promise of an afterlife, for the promise of wealth and greatness.

We do it because it’s right. Join me.

  • 9 December 2011
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