Argent

Did Harmony Do His Best?

Was Harmony Right?   108 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you feel that Harmony's manipulation of the events of Shadows of Self was his best option?


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Simple poll. We see a lot of Harmony's influence in Shadows of Self, with some (both in-world and out-) agreeing that moving people like chess pieces was the best thing he could do to avert crises, while others disagree with his methods as being too close to being Bad. Obviously there are are nuances, but ultimately what do you think - was he right or wrong?

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One question that has to be asked first: what options for action did he have?

 

If what happened in SoS (including, quite possibly, even the extent to which he was able to communicate information to his agents) was the true and complete extent of his capabilities, representing Harmony doing literally everything in his (constrained) power to avert the crisis Paalm was brewing, then that's a different tale than if he had a broader range of options available to him.

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Seems to me he's a destination before journey type of guy.

Though he hasn't killed anyone on purpose at least, just blatantly withheld information from them to keep them on the job without second thoughts. There was really no other way to make sure Wax can pull the trigger on his wife like that.

As for coercing Paalm to fake her death, then utilizing the Flaw this time . . . well I imagine by the time Tan happened he's probably tried talking some sense into her already. For the latter case, it was the most effective option. Paalm then chose to die, and he can't very well deny her of that last thing either.

Might not be the most honest god out there, but he ain't all powerful. Quite the opposite really, seems like his is the most counterproductive combination of shards out there. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do and take the blame for being a manipulative heartless jerk before people start dying on you. Moral grey line here.

(is the synonym for illegitimate children an allowed word here?)

Edited by natc
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Harmony's got a long view here.  He can see some of the future, knows what's going to happen, and plans for the bad stuff to get fixed before they happen.  It's the age-old answer to why God lets bad things happen to good people.  MeLaan said it best when she said that bad things had to happen, and Harmony put the pain to where it could be borne.  It's not ideal for Wax, obviously, but he can handle it.  I think it hurt Harmony to have to do this to someone like Wax, but he knew it had to be done.

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Based on the little info drop that Harmony did in the coach about Southern Scadrians and their technology/aggressiveness my imagination immediately thought of a Scadrian WW1 coming on the horizon. Harmony seemed really worried about Elendels current Technological slump. While his manipulation of Wax was awful it was Paalm going all Viva La Revolution that made him aware of it. While it does kinda seem Destination before Journey I think he is trying to avert a much more dangerous crisis.  

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I find him... confusing.

 

He's willing to alter the courses of people's lives, forcing them to do things they don't want to do, lying/withholding information from them to make sure they do things without hesitation... but telling judges whether or not people are guilty of crimes goes too far? I did not get MeLaan's point to Marasi at the end.

 

He's determined the course of Wax's life, manipulated him along on it, taking away his free will (in some manner - not really interested in trying to define it) in order to stop disasters. But he's willing to let people who are actually guilty go free to preserve their free will?

 

???

 

I would prefer if he would choose or the other, frankly! I would also prefer if he kept a squad of elite kandra assassins using Allomancy/Feruchemy around so he didn't have to ruin people's lives like Wax.

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@natc

 

It's deeply unclear what went down with Lessie's death: whether that was Harmony pressuring Paalm or Paalm rebelling against Harmony.

 

@Moogle

 

To play spoiler, he's not necessarily going all free will with refusing to offer divine testimony in a trial. At least not for the sake of the accused.

 

In this case it could be seen (and is presented in the book) as preserving the integrity of the institutions of justice. If Harmony's whole "thing" these days is for Scadrians to be self-sufficient and building themselves towards a better future, then stepping in and making himself an integral part of their system of law and order probably isn't a good step.

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I don't know how you can really answer this poll because obviously we don't know what Harmony knows. We only know what's presented in the book. I think he's done the best we can, and if we disagree it's likely because we don't know what he does.

 

The other option would be that no he didn't do the best he could because he's being manipulated into somehow thinking he's doing what's best.

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@Kurk:

 

Harmony's thing doesn't appear to be having Scadrians become self-sufficient. He's moved Marasi so that she can work towards what he himself considers good, as well as a thousand other things, I'm sure. He's already stepping in to influence society and culture - maybe some people are working towards a brighter future independent of him, but he's sure trying his hardest to control where the future ends up. He's making himself an integral part of society, it's just not obvious to the common person.

 

Maybe his thing is just an aesthetic preference where he prefers his influence be subtle so people don't think he's leading them around, but I don't have a lot of respect for that.

 

If I were to view Harmony as charitably as possible, he's influencing and meddling so society will eventually reach a state where he's not needed. However, it sure seems like he's going a step farther than that in his manipulations of Wax.

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I don't disagree that he's taking an active (if subtle) role in shaping how Scadrian society develops. Whether this is moral is a separate question which I won't try to address.
 
But there is a difference (mostly in kind, but also a bit in principle) between setting things up to run a certain way and making it so things only run if he's there to oversee it all.
 
If we're to take a metaphor that might be a bit too on the nose, consider raising a kid.
 
You can raise them to be self-sufficient—with skills, good judgement, etc.—such that once they leave home they can function well in society. You support them in subtle ways along the way and try to shape them as they develop, but at the end of the day if you keel over dead from choking on a fish bone the kid should be fine and be able to keep living his/her life the same way, as you raised them to.
 
The alternative model is giving your kid a trust fund (that happens to be tied to your staying alive, I guess. Just roll with it). The kid won't die of starvation or want for anything while you're alive, but if that money disappears for any reason (like, say, it suddenly has to fight and interstellar battle with a god of hatred...) then the kid is in a bad shape, not able to support themselves or continue living as they'd grown accustomed.
 
-On the principled side, the argument could be made (and generally is, in contemporary society) that the trust-fund kid is worse off, intrinsically, than the one who's self-sufficient.
 
EDIT: To clarify how this is applicable, if the justice system of Elendel became accustomed to God coming along and giving evidence whenever there was a major case, then Harmony has made himself an integral part of the system, and if he ever stopped giving this testimony then things would come crashing down in some major or minor way. Not to mention the general concerns that lie with allowing a single entity to be essentially the sole source of truth in questions that decide men's freedom.

Edited by Kurkistan
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My biggest problem is that he resorts to manipulation rather than just flat out asking his agents for help. Especialy people like Wax & Wayne, who more likely than not would listen. Really, the whole second book wouldn't have happened if Harmony had Lessie reveal hersalf as a Kandra when Sazed though Wax was needed elsewhere.

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I honestly don't think we have enough information to make a fair judgement, so I gave Harmony the benefit of the doubt and voted Yes.

 

First, we know that Harmony is both Ruin and Preservation, and those must be in balance. So he can't just "help" the humans. It would be at odds with his "balanced" nature to do that. And for that matter, it's been my experience that we tend to think of "balanced' as being, basically, all good and happy. That's not the kind of balance Sazed has to have.  Ruin is destruction, and Preservation is... uh, preservation.  Those two intents are naturally at odds, and the "balance" has to include both creation/preservation and destruction.

 

Second, knowing that, we can assume that in order to "nudge" things in the direction he would like them to go, Sazed has to use some methods that we might consider immoral by our code of morality in order to do so.  That could easily include murders, manipulation, and outright lying to the people you want to do whatever thing you're getting them to do.

 

Third, we don't know the endgame. Sazed at least implies to Wax that he, essentially, knows the outcome of all the actions he might or might not take on Wax's life. He also says he's not omniscient, though, but perhaps that just means Cosmerically omniscient.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to know that he has prescience as it relates to the timeline on Scadrial and how his actions will affect that timeline. Of course, that could also be limited to knowing what his interference in the Scadrial timeline will cause to happen.  He might not be able to see what would happen if, for example, another shard were to show up and try to create havoc...

 

Bottom line, I return to my original statement that I don't think we really know enough to definitively judge Sazed's actions, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

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This.

 

I honestly don't think we have enough information to make a fair judgement, so I gave Harmony the benefit of the doubt and voted Yes.

 

...

 

Bottom line, I return to my original statement that I don't think we really know enough to definitively judge Sazed's actions, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

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Wow, I somehow managed to miss an entire section of you post, Moogle. Sorry.
 

If I were to view Harmony as charitably as possible, he's influencing and meddling so society will eventually reach a state where he's not needed. However, it sure seems like he's going a step farther than that in his manipulations of Wax.


So what I'd say here is that it looks like he's influencing and meddling in such a way that society is perpetually in a state where he's not needed. Helpful, but not needed.
 
I'll stay silent on the issue of Wax for now, as that's beyond the scope.

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I might have edited that bit in after you read it; the horrors of being a mod and sometimes forgetting to hit that darn checkbox...

 

As to your post: that's fair. I'll concede the point.

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I don't know how you can really answer this poll because obviously we don't know what Harmony knows. We only know what's presented in the book. I think he's done the best we can, and if we disagree it's likely because we don't know what he does.

 

The other option would be that no he didn't do the best he could because he's being manipulated into somehow thinking he's doing what's best.

 

Going by the book. Assume what we know about his motifs is true and valid.

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morallly, I accept that he is doing right in interfering. I trust his judgment, knowing that on the southern continent there are other, possibly hostile people, and that there are other shards around, many of whom unfriendly, that harmony has to take steps to protect himself and his planet; and that the common people are like soldiers in a war, and can become casualties.

 

But I strongly disagree with how he did it  from a pragmatic point of view. You want wax to go fight evil in elendel? Well, how about asking nicely? wax is a good person and wants to protect others; if lessie had revealed herself as a kandra and asked wax to go to elendel, wax would have. If harmony had told wax that his wife was a kandra and has gone crazy and was killing people, wax would have been the first to try to stop her. The path he took maximized the suffering of wax and minimized his chances of success: not knowing that bleeder was his wife, wax was mightily shocked at the reveal. He could easily have lost the fight for that. A risk that would not have been there if wax had been warned beforehand.

This is not the first time harmony took a bad decision; his first bad decision was to hide knowledge of hemalurgy. Notice that paalm knew hemalurgy from the lord ruler. So, if spook hadn't written about it against harmony's wish, and marsh hadn't given the book to wax - again against harmonys wishes - wax would have had no idea what a victim with a gaping hole in the chest meant, or what powers the assassin would have.

So, I see a pattern there. Twice harmony made a bad call in withdrawing informations from his people. That's really important: withdrawing information. So, first harmony claims that he want the people to be self-sufficient and to have free will, and then he hides from them the information that would allow them to be self-sufficient and that would let them excercise their free will at best? doesn't seem very consistent. It's like having a democracy because you want people to choose, but then suppressing free media because you want them to choose a certain way. May as well be honest and call it a dictatorship.

 

To go back with the "son" metaphor, yes, we all agree that if you do everything for your son, he'll never grow. But what harmony did basically accounted to paying a girl to be his girlfriend and manipulate him, then arrange for her to apparently die just to get him to leave the town; arrange matters so that he had apparently casual meetings with people you want him to be friend with, while pushing and pulling at his emotions -  the real world equivalent would be to drug him - to make him more receptive to your suggestions. All the while without telling him what you want from him, despite the fact that he'd be likely to trust you if you just asked him. No, that's not the way to raise a son.

 

Also his principle of non-intervention is highly debatable. So, he cannot have a kandra assassin to do the job for him, but he can riot on the emotion of a guy, plant a kandra as his girlfriend, then later send another kandra to help him kill people. How is that different? You may also notice he's not "letting mankid learn to solve its problems". No, he's letting wax solve those problems. Again with the son analogy, you don't do your son's homework, because that way he'd never learn. Instead, you ask one of your son's friends to do his homework for him. Cause, yeah, that's totally different!

 

To sum it up, I agree with harmony's intentions, but I believe he's going all wrong about it.

Edited by king of nowhere
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saze is WITNESS but cant be called to stand the LAW should hqve RULEs for how to get evidense from witness that cant be called to stand it cant be the first itme

saze shuild be in CONETMEPT OF COURT for obstructin of justice

in diskworld even DEATH is witnes saze has not excuse

does saze think beign STORNG means you dont need to obey teh LAW?

Edited by Robot Aztec
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Are there two ways to get someone to do something? Generally yes. But the problem is that method one and method two produce different results. Maybe one way makes a person more committed and the other encourages the person to do just enough to get by. I think Harmony is preparing Wax in exactly the way he needs to be prepared, to carry out the tasks he needs to get done.

 

Could just asking him to go to Elendel have gotten him there? Maybe, but that doesn't mean he would have all the tools and knowledge he needed once he was there.

 

morallly, I accept that he is doing right in interfering. I trust his judgment, knowing that on the southern continent there are other, possibly hostile people, and that there are other shards around, many of whom unfriendly, that harmony has to take steps to protect himself and his planet; and that the common people are like soldiers in a war, and can become casualties.

 

But I strongly disagree with how he did it  from a pragmatic point of view. You want wax to go fight evil in elendel?

 

....

 

To sum it up, I agree with harmony's intentions, but I believe he's going all wrong about it.

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I would prefer if he would choose or the other, frankly! I would also prefer if he kept a squad of elite kandra assassins using Allomancy/Feruchemy around so he didn't have to ruin people's lives like Wax.

 

Isnt that what Marsh is for?

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morallly, I accept that he is doing right in interfering. I trust his judgment, knowing that on the southern continent there are other, possibly hostile people, and that there are other shards around, many of whom unfriendly, that harmony has to take steps to protect himself and his planet; and that the common people are like soldiers in a war, and can become casualties.

But I strongly disagree with how he did it from a pragmatic point of view. You want wax to go fight evil in elendel? Well, how about asking nicely? wax is a good person and wants to protect others; if lessie had revealed herself as a kandra and asked wax to go to elendel, wax would have. If harmony had told wax that his wife was a kandra and has gone crazy and was killing people, wax would have been the first to try to stop her. The path he took maximized the suffering of wax and minimized his chances of success: not knowing that bleeder was his wife, wax was mightily shocked at the reveal. He could easily have lost the fight for that. A risk that would not have been there if wax had been warned beforehand.

This is not the first time harmony took a bad decision; his first bad decision was to hide knowledge of hemalurgy. Notice that paalm knew hemalurgy from the lord ruler. So, if spook hadn't written about it against harmony's wish, and marsh hadn't given the book to wax - again against harmonys wishes - wax would have had no idea what a victim with a gaping hole in the chest meant, or what powers the assassin would have.

So, I see a pattern there. Twice harmony made a bad call in withdrawing informations from his people. That's really important: withdrawing information. So, first harmony claims that he want the people to be self-sufficient and to have free will, and then he hides from them the information that would allow them to be self-sufficient and that would let them excercise their free will at best? doesn't seem very consistent. It's like having a democracy because you want people to choose, but then suppressing free media because you want them to choose a certain way. May as well be honest and call it a dictatorship.

To go back with the "son" metaphor, yes, we all agree that if you do everything for your son, he'll never grow. But what harmony did basically accounted to paying a girl to be his girlfriend and manipulate him, then arrange for her to apparently die just to get him to leave the town; arrange matters so that he had apparently casual meetings with people you want him to be friend with, while pushing and pulling at his emotions - the real world equivalent would be to drug him - to make him more receptive to your suggestions. All the while without telling him what you want from him, despite the fact that he'd be likely to trust you if you just asked him. No, that's not the way to raise a son.

Also his principle of non-intervention is highly debatable. So, he cannot have a kandra assassin to do the job for him, but he can riot on the emotion of a guy, plant a kandra as his girlfriend, then later send another kandra to help him kill people. How is that different? You may also notice he's not "letting mankid learn to solve its problems". No, he's letting wax solve those problems. Again with the son analogy, you don't do your son's homework, because that way he'd never learn. Instead, you ask one of your son's friends to do his homework for him. Cause, yeah, that's totally different!

To sum it up, I agree with harmony's intentions, but I believe he's going all wrong about it.

You're making some interesting assumptions there. We don't know what went down when lessie was shot by bloody tan. Was that harmony trying to manipulate wax? Or was that what happened when lessie was rebelling against harmony? It could be that she manipulated things to apparently die because she didn't want to be a way for harmony to manipulate Wax anyone. We literally don't know. We do know that harmony never intended for wax and lessie to fall in love. That was accidental, and changed things.

I'm not saying harmony isn't a compared moral character. He is. But we don't have enough information to even be able to tell what's going on, let alone to be able to judge whether his actions are morally right.

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I found Harmony to be too utilitarian in his justifications. While his ability to know the know the future solves some of the epistemological problems with that philosophy, it's unsettling for a god to be so straightforward about it. It comes very close to saying that life only has value in its consequences. It seems like he should save people just for the sake of saving them, not after performing some cost/benefit analysis over their future.

 

Regarding Lessie specifically, I don't think we know the whole story nor do we have sufficient information on Harmony's limits. In his defense, I suspect they are more arbitrary than reasonable. It may be that in order to intervene as strongly as he did here, gratuitous cruelty was required into order to maintain balance.

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I found Harmony to be too utilitarian in his justifications. While his ability to know the know the future solves some of the epistemological problems with that philosophy, it's unsettling for a god to be so straightforward about it. It comes very close to saying that life only has value in its consequences. It seems like he should save people just for the sake of saving them, not after performing some cost/benefit analysis over their future.

 

Regarding Lessie specifically, I don't think we know the whole story nor do we have sufficient information on Harmony's limits. In his defense, I suspect they are more arbitrary than reasonable. It may be that in order to intervene as strongly as he did here, gratuitous cruelty was required into order to maintain balance.

 

Yeah, as a previous comment said, Sazed/Harmony definitely seems to have a "Destination Before Journey" worldview.  Of course, the "Journey Before Destination" maxim comes directly from Honor's worldview, so it's probably not all that surprising that a different shard would have a different viewpoint.

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It seems like he should save people just for the sake of saving them, not after performing some cost/benefit analysis over their future.

 

I don't think I can agree with this. Harmony is a God with a purpose - two purposes, in fact. And often times he can't act on either one because the other one blocks him. He can't, for example, save somebody because half of him wants to see that person die. And on the other hand, he can't kill outright someone, because half of him wants that person preserved. The way I see it, he really only has two options - move pieces, people, around and trust that they will act as he wishes them to, or find ways to act in a way that pacifies both of his Shards. Not easy either way.

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I don't think I can agree with this. Harmony is a God with a purpose - two purposes, in fact. And often times he can't act on either one because the other one blocks him. He can't, for example, save somebody because half of him wants to see that person die. And on the other hand, he can't kill outright someone, because half of him wants that person preserved. The way I see it, he really only has two options - move pieces, people, around and trust that they will act as he wishes them to, or find ways to act in a way that pacifies both of his Shards. Not easy either way.

Rather be able to save them. It's jarring to see a god restrained by something other than principle. Though Harmony does still have principles

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