Author Topic: Awakening: Immoral Practice?  (Read 2835 times)

Morderkaine

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2010, 01:52:54 AM »
Hmm... Having reread the pertinent scene I see what you mean, although what actually happens is quite vague.  Vivenna notices the girl's aura "flicker" then wonders if Denth was lying to her about the all-or-nothing rule.  Is there an annotation elucidating this issue?

At any rate, assuming you are correct, that darkens my view of Awakeners in general and Vivenna in particular a great deal.  There is, then, no excuse not to return her ill-gotten gains to those in need.

Annotations for Warbreaker have just started to be posted but there was a Warbreaker Q&A on goodreads.com where this issue was discussed.

From the Good Reads Warbreaker Q&A
http://www.goodreads.com/group/comments/10915.Fantasy_Book_Club?user_id=3145554-brandon-sanderson

Quote
The "You must give up all of your Breath, not some" line was mostly perpetuated by Denth, who is saying it to Vivenna to stop her from giving away her Breath to all the people she passes. It is a lie. Now, it's a lie that's commonly accepted by a lot of people. But it's still a lie—as we find out midway through the book, you can stick some of your Breath in an object and bring it to life, and then recover that Breath. So it's very easy to give some of your Breath to someone if you know the logical steps to take. Invest most of it into an object, give what you have to someone else, then pull back what you Invested. So it's flat-out proven in the novel that what Denth is telling her is wrong. Now, he could dance around that lie by pretending to be the ignorant mercenary—he's just perpetuating a falsehood that many people believe. But it is a lie. In fact, a lot of the things people believe about BioChromatic Breath isn't true.

...

Vasher has learned to suppress his Returned Breath. When it's suppressed, it's as if it doesn't exist to him. He's Invested it into a place within himself, much like you can Invest your Breaths into a shirt, and when he gives away the rest of his Breaths, he doesn't give that one away. He could split off others of his Breaths if he wanted to—he's learned to do that, so that he could give a few Breaths and not all. It's just a matter of practicing as long as he has. But even people who aren't as practiced as him do it all the time when they Invest an object with not all of their Breath but just enough to bring it to life.

Liadan

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2010, 04:29:48 AM »
I think this debate comes down to a couple of things.

1. From whose view do you look at this from as there are many.

     The religion of Idris sees awakening, as well as the giving/selling/buying/acquiring of breath as immoral. This comes somewhat from their history, that they were exiled from their ancestral home by awakeners. They have blocked out of their religious memories where they came from and who they are descended from. Their religion holds that any way other than theirs is wrong, and that nothing can be gained from the giving/selling/buying/acquiring of breath.

     Viveanna seems devout in the religion of Idris; however she has been groomed much like a child in any faith that their way is the only right way. She is forced into a situation that is not of her choosing in being given the breath, and as she progresses, she learns about other religions and who she is as a person. Who is to say her decision to use breath as an awakener is right or wrong other than her. She weighs both sides of the coin so to say, and when it comes down to life or death, she finds out what truly she believes. Yes, she could have learned how to give breath to drabs or those perceived in need, but who is to say that the drab/beggar/perceived begger won't turn right around and sell it. Much like the beggar on the corner. If you give him money, he mayuse it to feed himself and/or his family. He may go buy beer or cigarettes or drugs. You never really know. If you in turn offer him food, you have a better indication of what his intentions are.

    Siri who has felt like an outcast in her society when confronted with a similar situation to her sister, chooses to embrace her new life. Again she knows the teachings of her religion, and finds that perhaps there is truth in more than just one religion. She finds that she really never knew the other side of the story. She may judge quickly and in some cases incorrectly, but when she takes the time, she makes her own decisions, and if she chooses the wrong decision, she learns from it. She is compassionate, sometimes to a fault in being blind to the truth, but again she will admit she was wrong as well.

    With those like Jewel who gave their breath for their gods, in her mind she sacrificed something that she didn't consider important to help her family. Her family was blessed, she feels as a result of her decision. It's similar to one of my mom's friends, who as a child was beaten regularity by her father. She went to a christian church, gave offerings, and prayed that God would stop the beatings. When she was a teenager, she said that she felt a man put his hands on her shoulder one night and tell her that the beatings would stop as she prayed. As she looked down she saw feet with nail holes through them. The next day her father left and never came back. No matter what might happen later in life, she will always believe her religion caused the miracle. Nothing anyone can say can change her mind, and if I had that experience I would be able to say nothing and no one could change mine.

2. The situation in which the breath is acquired.

Those who actively seek people willing to sell breath, create an underground market to sell breath illegally. Brandon wasn't specific in what regulations and safety nets were in place for those who sold their breath, but he mentioned that those who gave their breath to the gods were reimbursed fairly for their breath. The experience Jewel tells Viveanna supports this. Now, if a thug lord is prostituting the breaths of the people who look to him for protection, and they are not benefiting from the selling of their breath, then yes, I feel the issue is immoral, as one gains from something that he perceives is his but actually belongs to another, and the person it is taken from does not benefit from the loss.

Pretty much what I take from this, is that it depends on the perspective you are looking at the situation from, and the complete situation as to how the breath was acquired. There is always more than what you see at first, and the more you know, the better you are able to decide for yourself weather or not you think the choice is right or wrong, and even then, you need to be aware that the choice is not always yours to make. Choice is what makes us human. We may or may not agree with the choices of others, but it is their right to make their own choices, and we can't judge a person because we don't agree with their choice.
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2010, 06:23:37 PM »
We can't judge a person because we don't agree with their choice? In what circumstance can we judge someone, then?
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Miyabi

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2010, 07:56:18 PM »

I have to strongly agree with Peter here.  I'm all about not judging people, but the one thing you can, and should in my opinion,  judge them on are the choices they make. 
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2010, 10:40:14 PM »
It's important not to judge prematurely—before you have all the facts—and to be willing to change your opinion when presented with new evidence.

I think Vivenna doesn't really get the give-one-breath trick yet. And there's a lot about awakening that she doesn't know—and that we don't know as well.

Actually, I think not judging prematurely is one of the major themes of this book.
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Ari54

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2010, 05:27:45 AM »
I think also there's a difference between judging and condemning. You can disapprove of someone's behaviour without making a huge issue of it by condemning, lecturing or mocking them. Really, if you think someone should consider a different choice, you're much more likely to convince them by connecting with them socially and living by example, so condemnation is generally a self-defeating strategy anyway.

Besides, judgement is inherent in choice: how do we come to a choice if not by judging the options? It's natural and beneficial that we should extend our own process of judgement to other people to compare how our decisions differ. It's how we use that information that might be good or bad.

Liadan

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2010, 05:58:58 PM »
sorry, my statement wasn't too clear.

I meant don't judge the person because you don't agree with their choices, judge weather or not you think the choice was correct, but not the person. Everyone makes bad decisions, and if we judge the person based on their choices, we do them a disservice by not knowing them as an entire person.

some examples:

Some people find Homosexuality and prostitution to be immoral (I am one of these people). I don't judge people who choose this lifestyle and have many friends who have. I feel that the people are good people; however I don't agree with their choice of lifestyle. I understand that it is their god given choice to live the way they wish, and mine to live the way I chose. Their choices don't necessarily make them a bad person, even if I don't agree with them.

On the other hand, I find murder and child abuse to be immoral as well. Someone who can take away the life of a person, either completely or who this person may have become had they not been abused is evil. Their actions in these cases tell us what kind of person they are. Even still, in these cases, I have seen interviews with brothers, sisters, children and spouses of some of the worst serial killers, and they can say they didn't know the bad side of these people, and that the choices they made were wrong, but that they loved these people, and that they thought they were very charming, and good people.

Pretty much what I was trying to say was don't judge the person because you don't agree with their choices, judge the person based on who they are as a person. We all make bad choices, but we are not all bad people.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Ari54

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2010, 07:27:56 AM »
Yep, that was pretty much what I was saying. I didn't really want to give examples though so that it didn't flare into a political debate, especially given that I suspect I might be on the smaller side here. ;)

Liadan

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2010, 08:29:57 PM »
I tend to write what I think, as well as speak what I think. It gets me into trouble at times, but I figure that if people don't like me for who I really am because I hide my opinions, then they really don't like me... they like who they think I am.  :D

... and sorry to all if I'm a bit long winded. I try to give the short version of my thoughts...
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Comatose

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2010, 10:14:22 PM »
I really like the family heirloom idea, but there's a problem with it.
To have any real power as an awakener, you need at least the first heightening, if not higher.  That means at least 50 generations will need to have passed for someone in the family to gain awakening.  True, during this time your entire family may be more healthy and live longer, but it's still not going to amount to much (this could be sped by everyone in the family giving their breath to one person on they die, as per the investment suggestion).
In short, I don't think awakeners could exist if people did not sell their breaths.  As the system is, I was wondering throughout the book where all the breaths came from, and why EVERYONE wasn't a drab already.  First, each God needs a breath a week.  Let's say there are ten gods for easniness' sake (I don't know the actual number, but I think it's around there).  Each takes a breath a week, assuming years are the same length as ours, that's 520 new drabs per year.  Plus 104 more for the God King, since he usually takes two per week.  Every two years, there are about one thousand new drabs.  True, more people die and are born than that in two years, but I still think it's significant portion of the population.  Especially when you take into consideration how many awakeners there are.  There are many who have reached the first heightening (I believe most of the higher nobility and priesthood has).  For each one of them, there are fifty new drabs.  Vivenna and Vasher are significantly more powerful, and though they are rare, they are not alone, thus that's more breaths out of the system.  Also, every lifeless costs a single breath to make, and breaths are also sometimes lost (as Vasher demonstrated).
Sorry for being long winded.  Basically my point is, Awakening could not exist without the current system UNLESS the collection of breaths on the deathbed was highly standardized, concentrating these breaths into certain people, not just passed down through families.
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Terrisman243

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2010, 07:46:35 AM »
I think that the kidney metaphor is close- except that instead of a healthy kidney going into  a sick person who needs it, it goes into a person who's healthy, giving them an extra kidney. Or, in the case of the God King a lot of extra kidneys.

Ari54

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Re: Awakening: Immoral Practice?
« Reply #26 on: July 22, 2010, 12:07:16 AM »
Assuming society's getting wealthier, you would actually be more likely to be concentrating a large amount of Breaths into fewer people in the family heirloom scenario, as family sizes tend to drop dramatically as quality of life increases.