Matters of Conscience.

While my notes regarding the schedule of what to post for each day says that today is the day for recommendations, I felt the need to address something a bit different. As of the present moment, the USA is in the middle of a particularly ugly presidential election season. There are things happening in my country that evoke a deep sense of shame, anger, and horror. Police violence, insitutionalized abuse of the population, the ravaging of the natural resources for the sake of a quick buck, and the endless litany of small horrible deeds that people commit upon their neighbors is inescapeable in the media. Some people have taken it upon themselves to rail about how this is a sign of the end times and encourage divisiveness with an almost cultish glee.

In times like this, it is easy to get caught up in the tide of fear. It seems like no matter where you turn, something awful is happening and each time it strikes it is closer to your home. In just the last week, in my region, someone was murdered sitting out on their back deck in a sleepy small town. It is not a place where we are somewhat programmed (sadly) to expect violence, like in the inner city ghettos. If I sat down and made a casual effort to sift out all the bad news that is getting spread around, my time would be wholly consumed and I would be especially depressed and anxious by the end of it all. In the media, there is an axiom ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ that managed to rule how our news is presented to us. The bloodshed need not be literal, as the salacious and offensive remarks made by the Republican candidate in the past have cast a good deal of lurid offensiveness upon the news today. You could say that such things are like spiritual bloodshed or perhaps the injury to a sense of common decency. (It’s a whole kettle of fish that I simply can not begin to unpackage right now and really isn’t part of my main point here.)

We are faced with a question when horrible things make themselves apparent before us. That question is do we express approval or disapproval. This then leads into the question of how to do it. Many gentle souls within the Filianic/Déanic community express their disapproval of the horrid things that lurch into view by turning away from them. They quietly shun that which does not promote their beliefs and make a concerted effort to not participate in such things. This is a valid option and, for many people, it is the best option for them. It helps them avoid contentious situations and accidentally incurring some measure of the spiritual miasma that comes with such things. For these people, and many others, such as the Amish and the Mennonites, the quiet act of not participating and refraining from being immersed in the horror is what is best for their conscience.

For some people, they are moved to action. The water protectors at Standing Rock is perhaps the most ready example I can give you. They gather at their site. They peaceably protest with songs, prayers, and nonviolence. It is an act of engaging those who would continue the horrors of what the media keeps showing us and resisting them, pushing back against the concerted forces that care nothing for the welfare of the world The Black Lives Matter movement is another example of this. These people engage their opposition with their voices, deeds, and any other means they have accessible to them to fight against the harm that these others are causing. The water protectors at Standing Rock are perhaps the most peaceable end of the spectrum of response. At the other end, you have the people in Syria who are fighting to keep their families and neighbors safe from harm by way of active violence against those who are actively seeking to kill them.

Deciding to withdraw from the unacceptable things happening or to actively resist them, you are still taking a stand against them. It is important, however, to remember that choosing to ignore the unacceptable horrors in the world is not really a good option. Yes, there are a vast many things that we can not process and we can not actively do anything concrete about. I implore you, however, whatever choice you make, be deliberate. And when they who promote the horrible things try to say that they have your support, make your rejection of their ideology clear. Because choosing to ignore the problem and act like ‘everything is fine’ is giving silent assent to these awful things happening.

Act in accord with your conscience and what you know to be just, ethical, and most conducive to a world where there are less horrors happening. It is difficult. It may lead to some hard conversations, possible loss of associates, or some discomfort, if not worse. Do not bend in the face of this. The world needs you to act to help heal the great gaping injuries within it. Even working to maintain your own clear conscience and knowing that you have done your best helps. Because, at the very least, we should do no harm.

May Dea bless you. May the gods you follow and those of your ancestors bless you.

Originally Published: 10/7/16

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