White Red - Boros | MTG Color Philosophy
In Magic the Gathering White Red, or Boros, is a color pairing most often depicted as soldiers, leaders and heroes. These portrayals are honestly something we take for granted, as it simply just feels right. I know this because that's the feeling I got when I was pouring over each card and writing this article. Before a single word could be put to paper a question had to be answered, why is it that the designers lean so heavily on these themes? Sure there are variations but as far as two color combinations go this one has really settled into a main cast of characters. As it turns out the answers were right in front of me and in this article we will break down exactly what those reasons are. To do so we must inspect the four core conflicts between the colors present, that of White and Red, colors whose ideologies are antagonistic to one another, in some cases at a fundamental level, as you will come to understand as we discuss our first conflict, that of Stability versus Restlessness
Stability vs Restlessness
At the heart of this combination there is a single conflict of feeling that cannot be ignored. One that defines an intangible set of personality traits that may apply to you if these colors resonate with your own experience, and will give us a basis to build larger concepts upon. You see at its core White is a color who desires order, which is bred from a need for stability. White searches for ways to bring structure into its life and each aspect of the conflicts we will discuss are its way of achieving this. While for Red its impulsive and sometime chaotic life is a product of the restless nature inherent to it. Red is a color that can't sit still and is always pushed and pulled along by its heart, and even though this might seem to some as an act of turmoil, it's instead something Red leans into fully. So how then could these concepts come together?
You would be correct to assume that this may be an uncomfortable state and yet it doesn't have to be, they can coexists. Just because someone is a restless soul does not mean they do not desire to still have some structure in their life and on the flip side structure, for some, can be a stagnation, this type person will still wish to experience what life has to offer.
If we pair down this conflict even further we begin to see why. Stability is based in a desire for safety and restlessness comes from a need for stimulation. In that way a White Red personality wants to feel safe so that it can then pursue stimuli. Perhaps this restlessness and desire for stability comes from a anxious side to the pair. Not only are they people of action they are also those who are aware of what lies beyond the walls so to speak.
Its a delicate dance between feeling safe while allowing for motion. Perhaps then this is why they fight so fiercely for the society that they have built. Its the need to set up the structures of community for itself and those it holds dear paired with a desire to proactively take it upon themselves to make it happen and keep it safe. They cannot simply build that wall and sit behind it, they must instead don their amour, hold up their sword and cross the gates to focus their restlessness into action rather than reaction. Because sometimes the best defense is a great offence. A line we have heard many times but it couldn't be any more fitting for any other pair than that of Boros.
Discipline vs Passion
When we talk about things like Stability and restlessness we are speaking to feelings that are fundamental, but for this conflict, that of Discipline versus Passion, we are then witnessing the methods which allow these colors to express those feelings. Once again we have two concepts which seem antagonistic while its this conflict which breeds a philosophy we see represented most in magic the gathering itself. That of the zealot soldier, the inspiring captain or the raucous hero. A form of character who is disciplined in how it carries itself, in that it maintains a control over its actions guided by purpose, all while overflowing with a passion for that cause. Its the resolute or disciplined mind provided by White that allows such passions to have meaning outside of its own self satisfaction.
In this way Red is tempered by the forge of discipline, and made into something new. But do not be mistaken it's not just white carrying this pair as the underlying passion is a requirement to craft such characters, those who inspire others with their overflow of enthusiasm which sometimes skirts raw discipline. As discipline without passion is blind obedience and in the mind of a White Red personality such obedience is for dogs not heroes. In this way the White Red personality is one that that is devoted to a cause, nation or people and places all of its being into it.
You see passion when set to task and focused is like that of an explosive forces honed to a singular goal, while discipline embolden by passion is at the heart of inspiration. In this way the White Red character is one to lift others up through its grander actions and more subtle states of being. It is the character who tales are told of and whose example ignites a fire in the belly of others.
I also believe this is where White Red's Patriotism comes from, though it is not simply Patriotism built on a blind loyalty to a flag, rather a love for a nation and its people, one which sparks strong feelings when it comes to upholding that nations way of life. Its a form of passion that is routed in a strong love for the society that is built by their pairing. It's something that is felt strongly for both sides within White Red and is why we see so many soldiers in this pair rather than knights. While knights are bound by duty, soldier are bound by patriotism.
Governance vs Freedom
While the conflicts we have discussed so far are held a personal level the natural progression must then be to look at how the colors present are reflected up a society. In this case our conflicts then become Governance versus Freedom. White is a color that believes that there must be structures put in place otherwise people will fall to chaos, while Red states that we must be free to pursue our impulses as order stifles our pure selves.
The truth is that this balance is the sort of negotiation we make in the free world already. We accept governance to protect and provide stability which allows us to express our individuality. Sure this may sound contradictory but the truth is that enemy pairs are a combination of what may seem like contradictions, but are rather concessions which allow for a new philosophy to flourish. If you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing, then that act in itself tells you a lot about what colors you are. In the mind of White Red pure governance is fascism and pure freedom is anarchy.
So in that way it accepts that rules and leadership must be put in place while still asserting that freedom should never be stripped away. Of course like all things this is a struggle that is ever fought between White and Red even in a society built from their pairing. The result of such a combination is a level of democracy, that if negotiated with both ideals in mind, results in everyone getting what they need from said society.
Though even with this set in place within a community of White Red there is often citizens who fall under two different camps, those who are emboldened to protect the freedoms of its people, leading to those who are rebellious and outspoken, while on the other side it will result in those who are militaristic and conservative, of people who wish to protect their way of life. Neither can be removed and both are required to exist within a White Red society that way it doesn't slip fully into one ideal or the other. This system of counterweights allow for both Governance and Freedom to exist together and while these counter weights exist the truth is that most of the society will fall somewhere in the middle, accepting that governance and freedom must exist in equal measure.
Order vs Chaos
We have travelled from the personal to the societal but now I want to take you along as we discuss the big picture in regards to the philosophies and themes of each color present, in this case the conflicting concepts are of Order and Chaos. The goal being the discovery of that space where these ideals can meet in some form of cooperation or understanding. You see, when it comes down to it, and everything is stripped away, white is a color whose aspirations are to bring order to a chaotic world, while Red forms that chaos as a rejection to forcing order onto what need not be controlled. In many ways chaos and order are a result of what we have discussed not a source.
Red does not aim to be chaotic its just that its core themes and philosophies lead to a sort of chaos of being. The same can be said about White, sure it does strive for order, but order is the result of a desire for structure. In the end neither concept on its own is healthy in the mind of this combination, as a life marred by chaos is always on the back-foot, while true order will remove any form of passion. What this means is that there must be a flexibility between the two. The White Red personality appreciates that there is chaos in everything, and that there is order in that chaos as well, given enough scale, time or perspective.
In reality both exist at the same time, from space itself, to society, and even further still at a minute level. If we took a microscope and peered down to smallest atom, its composition would seem chaotic to us, and yet as we zoom out it begins to take on a form we recognize, further still that form becomes ordered and takes shape as one unified structure. Its as if within order chaos is always present and to the White Red personality this is more than an abstract idea, its something we must always be cognizant of.
In this way a person may pursue passions that seem chaotic within the greater structures of the society it has built, and this state of being, on the part of the individual, does not invalidate order. What this means it that actions which seem chaotic but are fulfilling are just as valid as actions taken to bring stability to chaos. Both exist in equal parts and to deny this is to deny a fundamental aspect of not just humanity but the foundational building blocks of everything. It's never about some perfect equilibrium between two abstract ideas but rather a coexistence of conflicting concepts that are both ever present.
In Magic the Gathering White Red or Boros is a combination mostly represented by soldiers, leaders and heroes, and as we have come to learn there is a reason behind this. Ideals such as Discipline and passion do indeed forge characters who lead by example and put themselves on the line for others or a cause they believe in.
They are characters who understand the precarious balance between Governance and Freedom and on a personal level deeply feel the tug of such concepts as stability and restlessness. Forms of being based in a desire for both stimulation and safety. Its a dance you play over and over again as you move in and out of such states. Above all of these concepts is the basis for the most fundamental of of building blocks, that of order and chaos. States ever present in not just the decisions we make but that of the universe that makes up our being. So if you find yourself dancing between these two states of being then perhaps you my friend are White Red.
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