Surviving the Crucible

"The Guardians - Show us the way!" | Art by JanPhilippEckert. Used with permission.
I don’t think I would be willing to sign up for any sort of training regime that would end with my demise. Granted, I don’t have a Ghost following me around to resurrect me.

Why do the Guardians from Destiny put themselves through this? If you’re a Guardian, that means that you’ll die several times in just a single match!

Lord Shaxx’s arena is designed to bring the absolute best out of the Guardians of the Tower. From fighting to control strategic points in a battlefield, to igniting the enemy’s rift, to straight up firefights, the Tower’s Guardians are pitted against one another in ruthless matches with live ammunition.

I think if we’re to have a better understanding of why the Crucible exists, and is even encouraged, we need to understand the man behind it and his reasons for pushing the Guardians to their limits.

Centuries previous, the Traveler, a large mysterious sphere, appeared in our solar system and ushered in the Golden Age. Technological advancements were occurring at rates never seen before. Humanity spread to the moon, Mars, Venus, and beyond.

Humanity was at the height of its power, thanks to the knowledge it gained from the Traveler. But then the Darkness came. Humanity, even Earth, was overcome by the Darkness, a mysterious enemy of the the Traveler. The Traveler sacrificed itself to save humanity from the Darkness. Now, the humans live on in the Last City on Earth, protected by the now-silent Traveler hanging above it.

We all need some sort of community that acts as a Crucible of sorts.

Few remember exactly what the Darkness is, but it has returned and gives power to evil alien races, like the Fallen. These ruthless scavengers united in a desire to secure the Traveler from the hands of humanity. They came together in battle at a place called the Twilight Gap.

Shaxx emerged from the battle of Twilight Gap as a hero. Seeing the human army falling in droves before the united Fallen, Shaxx rallied his fellow Guardians to a counter-attack that eventually led to victory. And I can’t help but wonder if this battle was the very thing that inspired Shaxx to oversee the Crucible.

After the devastating loss of Guardians and their Ghosts (small beings made of machinery at the Traveler’s Light who serve as guides for the Guardians of the City), Shaxx was inspired to train each Guardian to be their very best, to be a powerful foe on their own or an indomitable force together. Shaxx is the coach that would rather see you vomit than stop running laps. He would rather see you die fighting than give up.

You might think that Shaxx is just out to get you, sending you to die over and over again against your comrades, but what if he’s concerned about a bigger picture that you can’t see? What if he is pushing you to learn what you need to know in order to survive?

We live in a society that’s scared to be judgemental. To the point, I fear, that we severely limit the feedback we give to others. True, saying everything that comes to mind isn’t always useful. There is value in putting your words through a filter and evaluating the timing and location. But surely there’s a middle ground? Surely there’s a healthy step somewhere before “just say nothing at all.”

The problem is this: when nothing is said, nothing improves. When we ”take it easy” on each other, we don’t get better.

I have a vivid memory of when I first learned to play chess. I had just received a chessboard from my grandparents for Christmas and I wanted my dad to teach me how to play. So he did, by dominating me time and again. I was pretty young, maybe eight or so, but I recall being beaten by the same string of four moves. Again and again we would reset the board, I would try to defend against it, I would fail, we would reset the board and then start all over. Sounds awful? I loved it. And you can be sure that I know how to defend against those moves now.

This is the very same thing that Shaxx is attempting to do with the Crucible.

I know, now, that I can’t just walk calmly around any corner in the Crucible. I know that because I’ve been shot in the head by a sniper a dozen times already.

You might think that Shaxx is just out to get you, but what if he’s concerned about a bigger picture that you can’t see?

I know that keeping calm is important in the midst of a fight. I know that sometimes it’s better in the long run to flee from multiple foes rather than die after taking out just one of them.

I know these things because I’ve tried the wrong thing and failed again and again. I know these things because many of my adversaries are much more experienced than I am and they certainly don’t take it easy on me.

The Crucible works because the Guardians don’t hold back. And they don’t hold back because they know it’s a safe place to test out new strategies, new weapons and abilities, to push each other, to fall and get back up again.

And that, I think, is the key to finding the in-between of saying nothing and being overly judgemental: trust, safety, and most of all, relationship. If a total stranger came up to me and told me that I’m absolutely awful at something, I might not think much of it, especially if their opinion is the opposite of mine. But if my wife, or a close friend or family member, approached me and said that very same thing, then it’s worth considering.

It’s within the safety of relationship and community that we can push each other to be and do better. We all need some sort of community that acts as a Crucible of sorts, a place that we can go to safely ask questions and to hear feedback.

So I have to ask, where is your Crucible?

Dustin Asham

Dustin Asham

Staff Writer at Area of Effect
Dustin Asham is like HAL 9000; ruthless, emotionless, and the only song he knows is Daisy, Daisy. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Providence University College and splits his time between his young adults ministry, his wife Cassie, and beating his friends at board games.
Dustin Asham

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