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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in ethics

 River, Stream, Movement, Turbulent, Stormy, Flow, Turbulence, Commotion,  Water, Wave, Aquatic | PixCove

A Thought Experiment

 

I believe in the peoplehood of pagans.

Here's my contention: that, collectively, pagans constitute—in effect—a transnational and transethnic people.

I would contend, in fact, that pagans are, essentially, an emergent ethnic group.

 

So: a pagan and a non-pagan fall into a river. You can only save one. Which one do you save?

In reality, of course, moral decisions are rarely so clear-cut. But ask yourself: under these circumstances, which one would it be?

The pagan moral universe is one of graded responsibility. (Yes, there may be a few heroic souls out there who have managed to transcend such petty restrictions and truly love everyone equally. Well, good on them. I'm talking here about the rest of us poor unwashed unenlightened.) I have more responsibility to immediate family than to more distant relatives. I have more responsibility to distant kin than to non-kin. I have more responsibility to non-kin members of my tribe than to those not of my tribe. And so on, expanding outwards from self.

That said, would I save the pagan, or the non-pagan?

Usually, of course, a question of this sort implies some sort of moral weighting. I'd be more likely to save someone that I knew over someone that I didn't know, the one that I liked better, the one that I perceived as less able to help themselves.

(In the funniest set of pre-flight instructions that I've ever heard, the way-gay air steward mugged: "If you're traveling with a child, please see to your own needs first. If you're traveling with two children, please see to the needs of the most promising child first.")

All that being equal, though, Posch, which one would you save?

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Divining The Lines

This post started as notes in preparation for a talk I was planning for the seers group in my tradition. I decided to share it with some modifications to make it more broadly applicable. The following points are offered to encourage mindfulness and dialogue regarding the ethics and best practices for divination, oracular work, and allied disciplines. They do not cover all possible situations and differences in applications or doctrines, so change and adapt what is here to match your needs. I think that it is important for your sake and the sake of those lives that you touch to be clear on your ethical guidelines if you offer readings or oracular sessions of any kind. If you do not agree with any or all of these suggestions, I hope you will work to create your own or consider these a template that you can adjust.

1.   Ethics & Morals

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgAny discussion of the meaning of “Harm none” can - and should – generate plenty of questions. That’s the nature of determining our ethical behavior: our perspective shifts as we circle the problem at hand. This is necessary. The reason for ethics is to determine how to minimize damage to others, and unless we try to walk for a while in their shoes, to empathize with their viewpoint, its almost impossible to do that. This includes our own viewpoint. If we didn’t need to consider our own desire in any given matter, there would be no need for ethics. Which means we need to be very clear about why we want something, and ideally be aware of the consequences of that desire.

We might call this being good neighbors. How would you treat your neighbor if you want to continue – or create – a good relationship? That in no way means that you must be friends with this person, it only means that when you see them in person, that a smile and a wave is easily done. It might be faked, this person may have done something to mildly annoy you, but the fake is easy, and can eventually become a genuine smile if the offense is not repeated.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Do the Beautiful Thing

Do you lead a beautiful life?

Ethicist Magenta Griffith once observed to me that beauty is a moral quality.

This strikes me as one of the most profound—and useful—statements on the topic that I've heard in years.

When making decisions, I frequently have cause to ask myself: What is the right thing to do? What is the honorable thing to do?

But maybe I also need to be asking: What is the beautiful thing to do?

We err if we restrict consideration of the beautiful to aesthetics. Beautiful behavior is something that we all recognize when we see it, even if we can't define it.

What is the beautiful thing to do? Well, Socrates could give you a better rule of thumb than I can. But I'll be happy to name some specifics.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Megan
    Megan says #
    Perfectly written and simply put!
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    I do agree wholeheartedly! Nice piece.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Ethics of Glamour

It's tax season which is every bit as wretched as you expect it to be.  I'm on my feet for over nine hours a day in the goddamn copy room which is both a safe haven and a prison, depending on the day.  My book doesn't come out until August which feels even farther away the closer we get to it somehow, probably because I could have had a baby and a half in the time I'm sitting on my hands waiting for it to come out.  I mean, I'm trying to get launch events together for when it comes out but I'm like Ali Sheedy in The Breakfast Club dumping her giant purse out all over the table and no one wants to sit by me.  No.  One.

I very nearly had, like, the awesomest event ever put together but we had irreconcilable differences over how the bar tab would be handled.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Critter
    Critter says #
    Where is the diddly-darn like button?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
An it harm none

An it harm none do what you will at first glance seems to be an invitation for any kind of behavior.  However, this founding concept for most nature based religions is not as simplistic as it first appears. Paganism has two leading ethical principles, the Wiccan Rede and the law of return.  According to Marion Green in A Witch Alone “An it harm none, do what ye will. None in this case implies everyone and everything! An in old English means In order that and will is your soul’s own true will, not the whim of the moment.” (pg 41)  In other words - In order that no harm comes to anything or anyone do what your soul’s own true desires.  The law of return basically means that whatever energy you put out it will come back to you, three, ten or a hundred fold depending on what path you follow.  As with other religions, this is interpreted in a variety of ways.  The law of return, which is a western version of karma expounds personal responsibility.  According to Rabinovitch and MacDonald in An Ye Harm None there are two central concepts on morality “1) that there are causes for and reasons why something happens and 2) that every action you take will have effects.” (page 5)  In its simplest form the rede is the guide for making life choices. The law of return is the penalty or prize for any action taken.  

In any discussion concerning Pagan morality and justice it is difficult to pin down the one overriding belief the entire community has.  Paganism, Witchcraft, and the other nature-based belief systems are very individualistic, which is part of their appeal.  This means that those practicing these systems have to determine their own ethical and moral beliefs based on the minimal guidance found in whatever path they choose to follow.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What's Your Name?

What will they remember about you when you're dead?

1300 years ago, the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce—the Tribe of Witches—called it nama. 5000 years before that, it was *nomn. But they both meant the same thing.

As one whose concept of afterlife is the Grand Sabbat of the atoms, I've sometimes been asked: What, then, is your motivation for moral behavior?

The ancestors had a name for it: Name.

What's your name?

Call it name, or reputation. Name is what they know you by.

What do they say about you? What's your reputation among those that know you?

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