So recently I have found myself tracing to my gaming roots and started playing a game for the original X-box game, Jade Empire. Now I've played this game several times...and yes I mean several times (cue shifting glance and slight laugh) as I do enjoy the game very much. There are several reasons I enjoy the game, some of those being that of the dialogue, (it can get quite amusing) the open way you are allowed to play the game, main and side quests, the side characters, as well as other things. The main thing I enjoy though is the 'alignment' system within the game. Like other games like the Knights of the Old Republic games, and the Fable series as well, the actions you choose for your character, as well as dialog options you deign to choose affect which part of the alignment your character slides into. You can play the middle ground if you wish, but like in the aforementioned games, not choosing one extreme or the other makes it so that you miss out on certain choices, abilities and such. So a good part of the fun of the games is playing through one way and then going back after completing it and completing it in the opposite fashion.
What sets Jade Empire apart from the others is that the alignment isn't based off of strictly a good and evil morality scale, or a pure and corrupt (Fable 2) scale. It's more like the actions and the path chosen defines the action and the individual in relation to the harmony (or lack thereof) with the world, society, and even oneself. The two paths being Open Palm and Closed Fist, and I'm sure from the names of them you can get a pretty good idea of what they mean, and which one does what, but I still feel like breaking it down a bit.
Open Palm, or sometimes referred to as 'The High Path' is often times mistakenly wrote off as being 'good.' It is more a path of Harmony, harmony with yourself, with the people around you, and your station in life, always making sure to consider the whole over oneself before acting. This often times can lead to sacrificing oneself for the good of the greater whole of things. It is a path that yields little profit or gain for the one who follows it, but those around the follower will often times find themselves benefiting greatly from the acts of the follower. A follower of OP will help anyone at the drop of a hat, even at the risk of their own safety (which is a great hazard of the zealous OP followers, the teachings of OP warn against needless self-sacrificing as a caution) making sure that others are safe and happy. These followers know believe in the power of a community, that all are made strong when the wheels of the machine all move together in harmony and aid the others. If they are stronger than those around them, then it is their duty, a moral duty in their eyes, to be the aid in whatever is necessary.
It's counterpart is the path of the Closed Fist, often called 'The Low Path,' it is mistaken as being 'evil.' It is more a discord with one's station, never content with one's place in the world, followers of CF are always reaching for more than they should have. To do this, the Way teaches that power is the end desire, and strength is needed to reach it, as such, strength is the ultimate tool and to be the most respected. The weak hold to their station and deserve their place, as only those willing to reach far deserve to have power. Followers of CF will do anything to obtain their heart's desires, even if it means harming those that they care about if they are objects in the path to power. Again they are not 'evil' as an evil man will not help someone because they do not care (which is a disconnection from the world), a follower of CF will not help someone because they would feel that person needs to help themselves, prove that they are stronger, though they might help the person if the odds were quite unfair, or perhaps even to get something from it. There is thought and meaning behind their actions. Though it can become twisted and the Way teaches to ward against pointless cruelties.
A prime example of the difference between the two paths comes from the game itself. At one point when coming into a struggling little town, you come across a mother and her almost completely grown daughter, who have a quick conversation with you and then hastily leave the town. Later when you end up at a pirate's fortress (yes, pirates) you find the mother, who begs that you find her daughter who was taken up to the slavers to be broken and then sold to the highest bidder. Eventually you do come across the young woman just as she is about to be broken (mentally, or at least it eludes to that) by a slaver, or sold to a fat and rich nobleman nearby. Now the woman notices you and yells for your help, alerting the slaver and his cohorts of your presence and they attack, you beat them to a pulp, and then the choice comes. Of course a follower of Open Palm at this point would of course refuse to allow the woman to go into slavery, even if the Noble was promised a slave, so either you refuse point blank or perhaps even compensate him a bit for the loss. With Closed Fist however, you can be a real dick and sell the young woman yourself and make a tidy profit, thus attaining your own end, or you could do what I chose to do (which I did quite frequently whenever I could) and chose the option that would teach another person. I handed the young woman a blade and told her she needed to earn her freedom, to kill the Noble, she of course refused and I told her that if she wasn't strong enough to fight for her freedom, she deserved to be a slave. This was motivating to her and she proceeded to 'stab the fat man' and thus earning her freedom, this changed her a bit and it was pretty obvious that she was going to learn how to use a blade and be unafraid to turn it on another threat again down the road, thus the lesson I imparted made her more self-sufficient and I kind of pitied the next fools who tried to kidnap her and her mother again.
I haven't given the Paths (Ways) all the justice that they deserve (as I find them endlessly fascinating) but it really takes reading from internet sources, and even playing the game, though taking a couple quizilla quizzes could help as well. (Side-note: Anyone who really does do all of that research, or has played the games and wants to discuss it with me, for the love of a deity or whatever, PM me) Though I have managed to get the basic idea out there, as well as hopefully manage to get whoever may be reading this to get a good understanding of it as well.
Now myself personally, I in the real world do (if I were to apply it that is) follow along the path of CF, though not completely, I am in the middle of the two, though I take more from that than that of OP. I find giving up your own things for the sake of the whole to be a bit wasteful of your own energy and such, and I'm not always the kindest and most giving person either, I won't bother to lie about that fact. I know others who I could place into one extreme or the other, and those that I could place somewhere along the gray area in the middle. Incidentally those that I place in the OP category, or even those in the gray that are closer to OP, are a bit off put by me, and I by them, then again I can be quite put off by those that I deem in the extreme of being CF. I personally don't like extremes all that well, as I believe in a good balance, or at least trying to maintain a balance of things, even though I will openly admit to not being completely balanced as I swing from being in the middle to being more CF. (insert snort and possibly a snicker)
Now my point being (I know, I kinda have one, weird huh?) is that really, taking this system, you could place this upon a lot of people in the world. Those that don't really follow one path or the other, or could really fit in the system can be wrote off as the apathetic and lethargic people who aren't connected with the world for the most part. (Bare in mind that this is my experience, not to be taken as me making it like it's definite.) People who actually feel connected to the world and want to make a difference in it, in their life or others, fall somewhere along the line.
Honestly it's a fun little thought, and interesting to me along the way.
So I present this little bit to you, whoever may be reading this.
-What do YOU think of this school of thought?
-Do you think it has real world applications?
-Now on a scale of 0-6, 0 being completely Open Palm and 6 being Closed Fist, (yeah, yeah, Kinsey eat your heart out XP) where would you place yourself? Whole numbers only
-Now, why would you give yourself that number?
Now I've already admitted to being fascinated with the school of thought, and that it has real world applications to me, and even why I would give myself the number, but yet I didn't give the number. XP
That number being a 5 since I said use whole numbers, so I rounded up
Anyways, tell me what you think.Further InformationGame Information
-Gives a loose overview of the game itself and covers the philosophies as well a bit.Open Palm Information
-Pretty self-explanatory title Closed Fist Information