I have been wrestling with the direction I wanted to take this post for awhile now. Of course within Wicca there is the final line in the Wiccan Rede: “An if it harm none, do as you will,” but where does that leave most of us? Ethics seems to be mixed with the Law of the land. For example, if you steal a cow from your neighbor to feed your family, it is illegal to steal the cow, but is it ethical? You are feeding your family, sustaining life for those you love, but you are being dishonest and taking what is not yours.
This discussion of Ethical vs. Legal was presented in my Ethics course today. It provoked me to think, is there an ethical code that is accepted by most or all Pagan community members? Sure, it’s a great concept to do what you want, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone, but then the cow argument can be discredited. If the cow owner were wealthy and the cow was meaningless to him, then it is not harming him or his family. It is a Robin Hood type situation, but is it right to do so? Are ethics subjective to situation? or in reality, should they be solidified?
When we teach our children right and wrong we don’t specifically tell them, “This is ethical. If ‘A’ happens, then you respond with ‘B'” No, we simply lead by example. We tell the truth, keep our promises, return what we borrow, ask before taking an item, play nice. Kindergarten ideas and lessons really do follow us throughout life. There is a poem by Robert Fulghum that expresses this idea. It is presented below.
“Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.”
In truth, every faith can learn something from this. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t hurt those around us. Treat others how you want to be treated.
Ethical conduct is a serious discussion that needs to be brought forth by Pagans. As much as we wish to say we don’t want organized religion, Paganism is an organized, ritual-based faith. We have steps on worship and instruction on how to worship our deities, we may be void of a book, but that does not mean we can operate however we want. We are a faith based in love and gratitude, we are not vengeful, we are not spiteful, we forgive (we don’t always forget), we don’t get even, that’s karma’s job, we give love and receive love, it is time to make our ethical choices known. We are not without structure, we are the epitome of structure. Let’s publish our love, let’s be known as a force of purity.
Love to all!