Masema, Perrin and the Way of the Leaf
Masema thinks Tinkers are useless cowards because they won't fight. Later, when he becomes a preacher, we see Masema’s followers – the Dragonsworn - and their extreme violence. The mob at its worst.
Following on from what Masema said, Perrin wonders that the Tinkers get involved in the War against the Shadow:
Finally he said, “I was surprised to see one of the Traveling People, believing as you do.”Leya knows why Perrin is sad; she just wants him to admit it to himself in the hope that he will change.
“It is possible to oppose evil without doing violence.” Her voice held the simplicity of someone stating an obvious truth.
Perrin grunted sourly, then immediately muttered an apology. “Would it were as you say, Mistress Leya.”
“Violence harms the doer as much as the victim,” Leya said placidly. “That is why we flee those who harm us, to save them from harm to themselves as much for our own safety. If we do violence to oppose evil, soon we would be no different from what we struggle against. It is with the strength of our belief that we fight the Shadow.”
Perrin could not help snorting. “Mistress, I hope you never have to face Trollocs with the strength of your belief. The strength of their swords will cut you down where you stand.”
“It is better to die than to - “ she began, but anger made him speak right over her. Anger that she just would not see. Anger that she really would die rather than harm anyone, no matter how evil.
“If you run, they will hunt you, and kill you, and eat your corpse. Or they might not wait till it is a corpse. Either way, you are dead, and it’s evil that has won. And there are men just as cruel. Darkfriends and others. More others than I would have believed even a year ago. Let the Whitecloaks decide you Tinkers don’t walk in the Light and see how many of you the strength of your belief can keep alive.”
She gave him a penetrating look. “And yet you are not happy with your weapons.”
How did she know that? He shook his head irritably, shaggy hair swaying. “The Creator made the world,” he muttered, “not I. I must live the best I can in the world the way it is.”
“So sad for one so young,” she said softly. “Why so sad?”
- The Dragon Reborn, Waiting
Doing no violence also means Tinkers aim to not speak in anger and violence. And in fact Leya makes her points very effectively with her calm manner. Her point about the danger of doing violence in the name of good is well and truly borne out by Perrin, Mat and, above all, Rand. Some are going out of their way to see Rand step back from becoming very dark like the Shadar Logoth evil and regain the humanity he has lost.
The Tinkers are at one end of the violence spectrum, the Shadow, Mordeth and Masema's Dragonsworn extremists at the other, with Rand towards the Shadow end. RJ is saying there is a fine balance here between what is necessary to counteract evil and what is evil in itself. If all did nothing, those who were unscrupulously violent would take over the world. (In The Great Hunt we saw what the world would be like if the Trollocs won.) But if people felt that any violence or crime was justified against evil, the world would be like Ghealdan when Masema was there, or like Shadar Logoth. Balance, as usual, is the key.