A Study in Emerald
Compassion and the Mantis
The warmth and generosity of the Mantis Clan towards its heimin and eta are infamous. They devote significant portions of their trade income for the benefit of their people, they have a genuine concern for their well-being, and they make sure that everyone partakes in their lavish wedding feasts. This closeness is so vastly different from the rest of Rokugani society that even the Unicorn would be slightly uncomfortable at the mingling.
But why is this the case? Some believe it is because the Mantis relates with the lesser folk, having climbed from lesser status, themselves. But this rationale is flimsy. Despite being a minor clan for a millennium, the Mantis have nevertheless always been Samurai descended from Osano-Wo, a station well above that of the common people. And even now, their infamous compassion does not forgive disobedience. The Mantis Samurai are the undisputed masters here, and claims to an affinity with the heimin is a romanticization, at best.
Another reason that gets thrown about is their status as a maritime clan. This seems to fit better, but not necessarily because of a perceived brotherhood borne from sailing together. If anything, a samurai taking command of a ship reinforces the divisions of authority even more. No – the compassion of the Mantis to its people stems from a different reality imposed by an archipelagic culture:
People are the scarce resource.
The Islands of Silk and Spice offer rich, volcanic soil, and it is ideal for growing crops. Its warm shores are ideal for schools of fish to thrive. Anyone can theoretically live an isolated life and live off the natural bounties of the islands. The conversation of deciding who will plant food and where to plant it, which is a basic concern in many other places, is moot here. On the other hand, the land area itself is not so vast, to say nothing of the uninhabited portions filled with dangers both natural and supernatural. Simply put, the islands are paradise, but they are ones that cannot sustain a large population.In spite of this, the Mantis still need their heimin and eta. Rice and root crops still need to be planted. The unclean tasks still need to be done. And despite the dictum of the Celestial Order, the scarcity of the lower classes inspire the Mantis to instill a desire to stay within their charges. This is the core of the their tenet for compassion.