Listen, I wasn’t saying that rockets are worth more than trees, okay, I was just saying they’re a lot of fun.
Winter’s Veil is here, and it looks like my journeys will be postponed for a bit, since my spasmographer — who produces the images you see here that go along with my text — is taking vacation and won’t tell me where he’s going for fear I will follow him.
So before I continue my authoritative guide to goblins, and before I get back to Thunder Bluff to be harrassed by my relatives for a few weeks, I thought I’d talk about this little war we’re having, which happens to be somewhat about trees. At least, trees are one of the more reasonable things to fight over, being real and useful and pretty.
I am a card-carrying member of the Cenarion Circle and Expedition, as well as the Earthen Ring. Actually, it’s not a card, so much as a hippogryph with my name on its underpants, and my address so that if he gets lost he can be returned to me. And he carries me, rather than me carrying him. That’s not the point.
The point is, I actually spend a lot of time around night elves without either of us clubbing the other over the head. And naturally, the question of why is difficult to avoid. Why, they say, if the Tauren are so religiously close to Nature, do they remain allies with Orgrimmar whose relationship with trees is one of a decidedly gustatory bent? How can we conscience the aggression, as they see it, of our homeland against theirs?
There are partisan answers. You may know some of them. To many of us in Kalimdor, the Alliance looks rather more like an Empire than an alliance — the Empire of Stormwind, in which dwarves and elves answer to a human king, gnomes answer to their dwarven protectors, and the Dranei wander through the party with a politely confused expression on their priestly features, asking everyone if they’d like a set of windchimes. The Dranei think that if everyone had their own set of windchimes we’d all calm the fuck down. I … well, maybe they’re right.
Maybe if the night elves hadn’t opened fire upon sighting Thrall’s lumberjacks, maybe if they’d taken the time to explain their relationship with the forest, maybe if the Alliance had tried to negotiate a treaty to trade building materials for the more sustainable resources of Central Kalimdor — like Quilboars — while Thrall was on the throne and his faction still spoke for peace within Orgrimmar. Maybe things would have turned out the same way. Maybe not.
But none of these arguments answer the real question — the question about Tauren and nature. The question about Why the Horde.
First of all, Tauren don’t worship nature. Not in the same way the elves do. We don’t have a goddess. We don’t build temples. And trees cut down to make houses isn’t a crime to us if the house is well-used and well-loved. We can’t worship nature because we see ourselves as a part of it. Inseparable; it sees to our needs, but not without struggle, not without cost. No spiritual connection — which we have — can attenuate the need to take and transform the things around us for our survival. Indeed, the intimacy of that relationship is the basis for the spirituality that causes the elves to question our allegiances.
The destruction of eastern Ashenvale and Stonetalon is reckless, in some places wasteful, in all places tainted by the hatreds and foolishness that come with sustained, bloody conflict. But at its heart is the driving need of two people to survive — though I confess, I do not understand why the night elves claim to need every tree and animal in northern Kalimdor, yet seem to pay so little relation to them that they may as well be pretty paintings on a canvas, not the utterly basic material of their lives. The orcs are using these things shamefully, but at least they use them out of need.
Sorry, I’m being a jerk again.
So I mentioned that many of us see the Alliance as an empire. And I would suggest that most of those outside of it see the Horde as a singular despotism, a rigidly bounded tribe. A… well, a Horde. I guess. So that’s our bad. Kind of an unfortunate name, right?
The sternness — sometimes brutality — of Horde authority really comes from looseness, not rigidity. Every member of the Horde has an allegiance — or more than one — outside of it. Bloodhoof, Darkspear, even the old Fel Horde clan ancestries; ties of family, indebtedness, reciprocity, criss-cross the shapeless bulk of the Horde, give it meaning not obvious from the outside. They give it strength, and also weakness — just ask a Grimtotem where his loyalties are. Before you rip their throat out.
The Horde are a band of misfits and outcasts. A collection of nations manqué, if you’ll pardon my elvish. All of us bring an experience of weakness, of failure. All of us are looking for the kind of stability of history that people living in a place like never-conquered Ironforge take for granted. So if our manners are lacking and our civilization doesn’t seem to have much in the way of civility — which I will grant is sometimes true — it isn’t finished yet. Nor is it done.
Bloodhoof stays with the Horde because it was Thrall who helped bring our tribes to unity and security in Mulgore, from the brink of extinction at the hands of the Centaur and Quilboar. And we stay because their enemies are too-often our enemies: the same night elves who express disgust that I would ally myself with tree-cutting orcs are usually blankly surprised when I aske them why they ally with dwarves who tear whole hills apart that have stood for ten thousand years. Hills that fed my forecows.
And we stay because they need us. Perhaps more than many of them know.
Oops, sorry. I did promise, didn’t I?
Well, I won’t belabour the point. Nothing I say here is going to make any impression on any of the boisterous pinheads on any of the thrones of the world. Nor will it keep that seriously crazy little dwarf woman from stapling fawning postcards to me with a poisoned knife.
Hopefully though, it will make tons of hate mail drop through my front door in Thunder Bluff — that way, I can excuse myself from my relatives for a few hours to answer it, and be spared the joshing about my fishing skills.
Man, that shit takes time. At least there’s a daily lesson now.Next: On the Green »