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Question Regarding Honor / II

 

 

Wassail!
Garman here.

 

> Perhaps -- and I don't mean to bring up the unlucky one in this hall of
> luck -- but perhaps one of the things L... teaches is that very lesson of
> which oaths are "Irish" and to be discarded and which are to be held
> seriously. In this regard, perhaps L... acts like an idiot, trying to hard
> to hold to oaths he really oughtn't to be.

 

Not to belabor the L god, I have to confess that on that subject I am a
convicted Jacobite; that is, I tend to cleave to the interpretation of
Australian Alan James, as laid out in his THE TRIAL OF LOKI. The basic
argument there was that L was simply not noble enough, i.e., not god-sprung
enough, to be functioning in his preferred company of real gods like the
AEsir, and in the end he, and of course they, paid the inevitable price of
his cozening importunate and thewfully inappropriate, ultimately corruptive,
godly pretensions amongst them, ultimately unwholesome for both him and them.
It's the old story; he who lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas. I
cannot here do justice to James' arguments, of course, but they do seem to
hang together pretty well, and his booklet is definitely a recommended read
for all serious heathen.

 

> I don't mean to have "sympathy for the devil" as Jagger might put it, but
> recently I was forced into a situation where I had to make a promise to
> someone very close to me to keep them from committing suicide, and it
> really wasn't a promise that I could very well be expected to make under
> rational circumstances. But it is such a strain on my honor to know that I
> have made a promise that I may not be able to keep that it is difficult to
> look in the mirror anymore and like the person I see. In exchange for the
> absurd demands made upon me in the promise, this individual agreed to seek
> help, and my only hope -- the bet I was hedging -- is that in time, as they
> heal, they will see that one can't hold someone to such an oath.

 

That certainly sounds like a textbook example of what Theodsmen call an
"Irish Oath;" namely, one which is fatally flawed as to form, in having been
cozened or compelled, and in being inherently unkeepable by definition.

This is one of those areas in which Theodism always gets this bad rap for
being cruel, draconian, unforgiving, whatever, in that we never allow this
kind of bullying social manipulation. What could be lower than to exploit
someone's natural humanity for purposes of extorting a false oath out of him?
For most people of any humane decency, putting a pistol to your own head in
front of them is just as coercive a form of negotiation as putting it to
theirs, if not more so, and of course every bit as unfair. For a Theodsman,
at least if he chose to cleave to the standard Theodish ethic, it also
wouldn't work, since a Theodsman knows that no oath could ever be held valid
unless it were freely willing and uncoerced, so there is just no sense in
wasting one's breath on it in the first place and risking offending the gods
in the process. Accordingly, the Theodsman's most orthodox kind of response
in such a situation would be something like hey pal, it's your brains, so if
they don't work any better than that, you may as well go ahead and blow them
out for all of me.

No one likes to see someone who never hurt them die, of course, but then, the
fact that someone died foolishly trying to hurt them does take away some of
the sting of regret. It is not that life is not precious; rather, that
personal honor is, after all, just as precious, if not more so, as is the
luck which is inevitably risked in swearing a false oath, however innocently.
In effect, the person who has managed to compel you to a false oath has
stolen a piece of your luck. You may of course think that, unfortunate though
that loss may be, maybe you can spare it, as long as that's the end of it.
The only trouble is, that's never the end of it, is it? It's like loaning the
price of a bottle to a drunk just to get rid of him; you're only rid of him
for a day at a time that way, on the installment plan. The predator who stole
and got away with a piece of your luck will be back, sure as the fox to the
chicken coop, as soon as he can think up some other way to steal another
piece of it. Some parasitical personality types, conventionally known as
"users," live off this kind of predation upon the fat of the kindness of the
land, and sicken the luck for all by their presence in it. This kind of
incremental predation is the usual mechanism whereby codependency
relationships form and take root. It is in this sense that the traditional
Theodish ethic, which in the short run strikes most people as so severe and
cruel, is actually in the long run kindly and merciful, since its effect is
to break the vicious circle which is such a constant menace to the common
weal.

 

> In the meantime, I try to keep my heart in the right place and do justice
> to all parties involved in this complex knot, and hope against hope that no
> one will be hurt.

 

A commendable sentiment, of course. It is unfortunate that the mere existence
of some unjust in this world, so long as indifferently tolerated by the just,
guarantees that the books can never be balanced, and real justice for all
must remain forever out of human reach. But in fact, real justice to all is,
in a life which we all know to be inherently unfair, inherently an
unrealizeable utopian dream anyway. In the last analysis, life isn't about
justice, it is about luck, and the only real justice is in warding your own
luck against predation, and always helping other innocent people do likewise
in every way you can, which is of course the true heroic ethos.

 

> My honor is so important to me, and this has affected me so profoundly that
> in many ways I didn't even want to return to this forum in the recent past
> because I didn't feel I had the right to show my face in such a hall of
> honor after making a promise I knew I might not be able to keep. So it is
> helpful to me to know that even if things turn out badly, since my heart is
> really in the right place, my actions will be shildable. And I for one will
> happily accept such shild.

 

It may well be that for such a giving person as yourself, real wisdom is just
too painful to be practically within reach; i.e., easier to accept and suffer
much pain youself, however unjustly, than to inflict even a little pain on
another, however justified. Yet honor is also obviously important to you too,
and honor may also at times be a cruel taskmistress, even to the point where
to be giving and also to be honorable may set up an impossible double
superlative for you, and force you to make painful choices. Where wisdom may
be painful is in the constant need to review such painful choices as we may
have made, as the only means of gleaning the grains of wisdom from the chaff
of past experience. In the clarity of hindsight, would we make the same
choice again, if we had it to do all over again? Will we make the same choice
next time, if we do have to do it all over again? Such wyrds do weave their
patterns, after all, which do tend to repeat. Perhaps we cheated ourself out
of our own luck by making what we told ourselves was the most merciful, but
was actually, secretly, merely the least painful, choice last time. If we
thus end up convincing ourselves to make the more painful but righter choice
next time, that pain, paid to gain the wisdom, is certainly in its way a kind
of shild paid over against a wrongdoing, even if only a wrong done to
ourselves. And sometimes even forgiving ourselves is not easy; it may be much
harder than forgiving another. Yet sometimes that pain alone may end up being
shild enough. Good luck and Godspeed.......

Garman