Stripping away military education from our universities has become vital
Editorial written the 7th December 10710 by Rémi Dumand.
This week's duelling incident which has seen the death of yet more of our promising youths—including the Crown Prince himself!—has only proven the need for urgent action. For once, our politicians have not disappointed: the formation of a cross-party focus group has been promptly announced. However, what was concluded after their first gathering yesterday in Nélannie may surprise many: our universities need to strip away the mandatory military education from their programme.
T he mandate that all universities in the country have to provide a military education to their students was established in a time of duress and strife. Many now argue that our needs have changed and that we do not benefit from it anymore—quite the contrary in fact.
A violent and merciless society
Indeed, in the 80th century, our country was an extremely violent place. Noble titles and wealth were conquered and seized by force from enemies and neighbours alike. Nobody knew who to trust, and everything came down to power: who had it—and who did not. This resulted in a truly unstable society where proclamations of loyalty and friendships could not be trusted, for who could resist the temptation of stabbing an ally in the back in their moment of weakness and taking their social status for their own? This was true at all societal level, and even the royal court was nothing more than a nest of vipers just waiting to bite the monarch.
Military education: salutary solution?
After yet another assassination attempt, King Guillaume II had had to act. At the time, only the children of noble parents were allowed into our universities, which gave the king a bright idea: to order universities to teach all of their students a core set of "military arts" classes, so as to at least put them all on an equal footing and dissuade them from attacking each other. This was put into law in 7892 and has stayed there since then. Those classes include magical duelling, sword duelling, archery, military tactics, military engineerings, military leadership, and until recently, battle rituals. The king's plan was remarkably successful in settling the identity of the noble houses and building strong alliances and friendships between them.
Times change and societies do too
Since then, those changes have had more than time to get absorbed by our society and become the new normal, which means that their disadvantages now outweigh their advantages. Indeed, now that our government has become very centralised and local nobles have much less power over their estates and villages, everyone relies on the state for justice. Few even think of taking their feuds into their own hands and go murder their neighbours, let along think that they will be allowed to keep the dead's properties and titles.
Unintended but long-lasting consequence: Children murders
Yet, there is one sector of society where this is not true: the students and recent alumni of our universities. Now that they are all handed extremely dangerous weapons and the skills to use them to their highest degree, it is very little surprise that they are actually using them. We all know how tragically high the numbers of children killed in honour duels is, but last week incident during which Crown Prince Simon himself was killed does not allow us to ignore the problem any longer.
New solution: university programme changes
We have to act now, before more of our youths are torn from our embrace in stupid and needless violence. The answer is simple: if we take away all the violence from our children's education, then violence will not be their first answer to every little quarrel and contrariety of life.
Those in favour of reform
"This is the only way forwards for our society" said Lord Mérein, the main political supporter of this reform. "What use is even all this martial education? To stabilise our society? This has already been achieved long ago. To defeat the ennemies of our country? We've already spent centuries terrifying and submitting our neighbours. They've been thoroughly cowed now and won't dare rise against us for a good long while. Any conflict we have with them can be solved by negotiations, which will only increase goodwill and hopefully soon results in strong alliances.
"No, we have no need for violence. And just think of everything else our children could use their newly freed time for! What new artists and scientists our universities might produce without this distraction! Our government has already benefitted a lot from the noble families not being filled anymore with only the most powerful mages, but by also having the most clever and educated ones able to contribute. I'm sure our reform will only build up on that."
Those against progress
Unsurprisingly, as soon as they heard this proposal, some individuals immediately went up in arms.
"This is ridiculously utopic nonsense proposed by naïve imbeciles," said Lady Sandeux. "Negotiating with Rénance and Illinie? And what will we say to them? 'Pretty please do as we ask and don't come with your soldiers to force us to do as you wish even though we don't have any means to stop you anymore?' That's sure to go down well!"
Lady Sandeux is, of course, famous for her role as a general in the last conflict with Rénance and Illinie and her highly controversial use of foreign soldiers in a human sacrifice ritual to heal her own officers. The lady barely managed to avoid being court martialed—thanks to what some says is an illicit relationship with one of the princes—but her reputation and political influence have been destroyed. Everyone meeting her now cannot help but wonder if they are going to be the next sacrifice in her immoral rituals. Once Dark, always Dark, as the proverb goes. Thus, her violent stance in the current debate will not come as any surprise to anyone.
Debates are only starting, but they promise to be heated and prolonged. Nevertheless, this tragedy has determined His Majesty to act fast, and we could be presented with a solution sooner than we expect...