This weeks Flamekeeping discussion is about morality and it’s place within Flamekeeping. You can read the original article here.
I want to start off with the first line of this article:
What is the point of a religion? Is it to dictate morality, or to define and aid in connection with the Divine?
I want to answer this, because I think that it would be helpful for anyone reading this blog to understand that I do not think that religion’s purpose is to define or dictate morality. At all. Not even close. I personally believe that culture dictates morality. Not religion. And while religion tends to go hand in hand with culture- they technically are different. And for myself personally, religion is there to help me connect with the divine- and the world around me.While it is possible for the religion to have a sort of method to help with this (Ma’at, Kannagara, etc), I do not believe that these concepts can really be considered hard and fast rules for morality.
The article then goes on to list two ‘rules’ for morality, which I think are well written.
1. We are all Divine, and must be loved and respected as such. By this I mean that we need to treat ourselves and other humans with as much respect and love as we can. Every time we treat another person as a means, every time we denigrate someone because they are not what we wish they are, we are going against our own nature and against the Divine. We are ALL holy, not just the people we like, not just the people like us. Everyone. Even the people we hate. And we need to respect them as such.
I think this is something that many people should take some time to learn- that we need to be nice to everyone. Even the people we can’t stand. I know that I am not always successful in this, but I do try- despite what people might think or see. I’ll get more into this when I answer the questions for this entry.
The second rule:
2. We must improve the Divine as we can. The Universe is not already perfect, it moves towards perfection, and we are a part of that. When we see something we think is wrong, we should act to fix it as we can. And we should also be aware of what lies behind the problems we see whenever possible: it is easy to say poverty is bad and to place a few dollars in a fund drive once a year. It is much harder to look at the systems that benefit us but encourage poverty, and to try and find ways to change the system to keep poverty from happening. (In the meantime, of course, we should also continue to give those dollars. There is no virtue in working for the long term and letting the short term suffer needlessly).
I completely understand about improving the Divine. I want to improve it. I wish I had more resources so that I could do more to improve it. Right now, I am focusing on the small, little things. And with any luck, I’ll be able to work my way outwards to bigger, better things.
The questions for this entry:
What does morality mean to you? Do you judge it in positive terms (you should) or negative (you should not)?
Morality is a word I don’t like to use, honestly. It’s a loaded word and it usually brings up the wrong types of imagery to be useful. For me, I like to think that I’m held to a code of honor, as it were. It seems like it’s something that Set has driven me towards/goaded me into. It’s basically about honoring you words and your beliefs. Putting your money where your mouth is.
For example: I see someone totally beating down on someone (whether in real life or on the forums) when that someone hasn’t really done anything wrong. Set or I goes “So, I see someone is totally being a jerk. Shame that no mods are coming around to fix it.” And then it sits there in my head. I can’t let that stand. And while it’s possible I could just ignore it, or leave it for someone else to do- that’s not putting my money where my mouth is. I can’t leave things for other people to do when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself- and what if no one ever comes to help set things straight? What if, then, that person really gets upset over it, or gets the wrong idea.. or or or…. it just doesn’t sit well with me. And so I have to jump in the fray. Otherwise I feel like I’m not living up to my standard of ethics. And I can’t even imagine what Set would do to me if I made that a normal practice of mine (not putting my money where my mouth is).
So my ‘morality’ my ‘code of ethics’ is defined by putting my money where my mouth is. When I see something that should or could be fixed, I fix it. At least, to the best of my ability. I define it with positive terms- you should try to be this, you should try to do that, you should try to be this or that way.
And above all, when the heat turns up and your ethics are put to the test, you should
try to stick to your guns.
What does it mean to see everyone as Divine? Is this hard for you? What moral strictures does that rule impose on you?
I’m not sure what it means to see everyone as Divine. We’re Divine. It’s as simple as that. Everything is Divine and for me, there is nothing hard to wrap my brain around. It is what it is. The only moral restrictions or caveats this places on me is that I need to not be a complete ass all the time. I need to show restraint and tact. I need to not bitch slap anyone that does something ‘wrong’ or that hurts me. Which is pretty often (for the latter). I turn a blind eye to the things that I feel aren’t worth it and I reinforce my Money Mouth rule on the things that I feel are important enough to step in on.
What does it mean to improve the Divine? Is this one difficult? Again, what strictures does this impose on you?
I want to improve the Divine. I have a burning fire to do a lot of things with my time here, but not nearly enough resources to get those things done. So for now, I’m starting small. I’m starting local and working my way out. Starting with getting me okay. Making sure that I am in a good position to help other parts of the Divine. While doing this, I’m also helping my s.o. to become okay so that he is better equipped to help other parts of the Divine. From there, it’s working with more people that are nearby. And eventually branching out. This doesn’t impose any limits on me, really. If anything it drives me literally crazy because I feel I’m not moving fast enough. I want too much too quickly. I want it all now. The world can’t wait ten years for me to get financially stable. I can’t wait that long either. But alas, those things are out of my hands and out of my control. So again, no limits. It really doesn’t even factor into my morality, it’s just something I’m hardwired to want to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.