I have now sat at this keyboard for close to fourteen hours (off and on) trying to figure out how to approach the corner that I painted myself into for this post. To refresh, my last statement on the Part One blog post was:
But this still leads me back to trying to decide between what is “good” or “right” versus what is “bad” or “evil”…
Yeesh….but I said I would try and figure this part of my Personal Pagan Ethics (let’s just abbreviate that to PPE, shall we?) – and I will certainly attempt to give it my best attempt here.
The difficult part in trying to articulate all of this boils down to my problem with perception. What is “Right” or “Good” about a decision or action is a rather subjective thing, in my opinion. What I may consider to be a “good” decision or action may be the complete opposite when asking someone else. To use a political perspective to make the point – here in America, the Republican Right likes to point to the choices made by the Democratic Left as being “bad” for the country. In essence, the perception that they hope to sow with such statements is that the Democratic Left do not make decisions and choices based on a love for the country. The reality is rather different. The Democratic Left love the ideals of what makes America what it is just as much as the Republican Right does. Their focus is a little different, and thus the choices that they make are based on that focus. And before I start to digress on what I feel is wrong with American politics, let me come back to the topic. The choices are made on a perspective of what is “Right” or “Good” in the focus of the Democratic Left, just as similar decisions are made by the Republican Right for the same reasoning.
So, in trying to define what is “Right”/”Good”/”Wrong”/”Bad” — I am left in a corner that I have painted myself into. Once I define these terms, I am creating what is my own personal dogma or core principle. I can only hope that you – the very few readers of this blog – can see that I am applying these only to myself. I am not trying to determine what is Right/Wrong or Good/Bad in relation to your own choices, decisions and actions.
When I think in terms of how my decisions and actions are good/bad – wait a moment here. I really need to make one alteration here. Instead of using the terms Good/Bad/Right/Wrong – let me change that to two terms I am far more comfortable using: positive and negative. Just wanted to put this in here, so that you won’t be too confused when I change the terminology on you here. When I think of how my decisions and actions are positive/negative, I am reminded again how each choice I make sends ripples out through many ecosystems, even into those that I was unaware of being connected to. In this scene from the movie “The Last Samurai”, the characters of Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe discuss a part of Bushido, the way of the warrior. The phrase “Life in every breath” plays heavily on my mind throughout each day.
When I think of the impact I have in every motion I make, in every action I take – I see the ripples that affect my immediate ecosystem. Every morning that I change the water in the birdbath, and sprinkle bird seed outside by my backyard stone circle – I am helping the small animals in my neighborhood with their everyday existence. They can come to my birdbath for clean water. They can come to my yard for a small amount of food – particularly in the warmer months, when their food and water supplies get much more scarce. When I commune with the Spirits of the Land in my neighborhood on my walks, I venerate their existence, and even when I feel that they are unaware of or are oblivious to my existence. When I hold rituals to thank the Gods for their presence in my Life, when I do my daily meditations, even when I eat – each action and decision has a ripple through my immediate ecosystem, and cascades even further into others. I am not always aware of where those ripples go or what action they may cause. But I am aware that with each action and decision – each breath I take, each mouthful of food I ingest, each statement that I make – there is a ripple. In every breath, there is life…
To come full circle now – good, evil, bad, wrong, right – these are merely perceptions of what our actions, reactions, decisions and choices come to. These are subjective to the position of the individual viewing the aftermath…the result of what has come. How does this relate to my PPE? That I try my best to be aware of the ripple effect of those choices. That I remember that every action I take, every statement I make, every choice I ponder can and will effect others. And that others are not always human in nature – that I am merely a single entity in my ecosystems. In my opinion, once I am aware of my choices and decisions, I am also aware of how those can affect others. Life in every breath….