30 Days of Paganism: Ethics

This is actually a kind of raw topic for me right now, so I’m going to try to be as brief as possible on it.

I can sum up my ethics thusly:

Be excellent to each other.

Don’t be a dick.

Consent matters; boundaries matter.

Protect your own.

A bird's eye view of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies on a wooden table.
A good example of being excellent to each other is sharing cookies. Or making cookies! I like doing both. I also like eating cookies. mmm, cookies.

These can contradict each other, and do so, frequently. I make choices dependent on the situation. I do try to make a point to be excellent to people, but that is only possible to the extent to which I am able — and sad to say, but mental illness interferes there (so does physical illness, because it takes energy to be excellent to other people — especially when they’re not doing so to you). Being excellent to each other also includes myself, so I need to not hate myself for when my mental illness turns me into a dick.

Same with ‘don’t be a dick’ — I don’t go out of my way to be dickish to people, but I also understand that dickishness is sometimes the unintended result of a shitty day (or week or month or year or life). Or the unintended result of your brain being a dick. It happens. I try to hold myself to these standards, and try to be understanding when people are dicks to me.

Understanding goes away, however, when dickishness either interferes with boundaries or violates consent, or attacks those I love. And you can bet I will stop being excellent to you if you decide to go after my family, my friends, and yes — my gods.

Does this mean that people can’t disagree with those I love? No. Obviously not. I disagree with them all the time. But when people stoop to slander, yeah, I get riled, and no, I won’t be fucking nice anymore. Being lied about or hearing lies about those I love is one of my major fucking triggers, so when it happens I no longer hold myself to the standards of being excellent or not being a dick. Prepare yourself for full dickishness.

And if it goes beyond lies, if it goes into worse attacks? Prepare for epic dickishness. Hell hath no fury like a Morag whose family and loved ones have been wronged.

Same with consent and boundaries. Boundaries are important to respect, and hard to articulate. It’s not easy. Consent when it comes to basic things like not touching people without their permission is a bit more cut and dry. I’m more likely to get riled when my consent is violated/not asked for than when my boundaries are — because with the latter, it’s just as likely I didn’t articulate them properly. (Working on it.) But if you kiss me without my permission? Yeah, that’s a fucking obvious violation of consent. I shouldn’t need to articulate to people I barely know “Btw, don’t kiss me unless I ask.” Like, seriously. (Yes, that incident still bugs me.)

And, too, when it comes to respecting the consent and boundaries of other people — yes, I work on this everyday. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s important. This includes everything, by the way, not just physical acts of hugging/touching. I don’t pray for people without their permission, because if they have issues with the gods I pray to that could be a problem. Same with any healing work, or any magic at all that’s directed to another person. I don’t do any of that without someone’s permission.*

I don’t hug people unless I know they’re okay with me hugging them (this includes in virtual environments — I try always to type ::offers hugs:: instead of ::hugs::). I don’t touch people, if I can help it, unless I know them. (On public transit touching others inadvertently is unavoidable.)

The list goes on. It’s something I have to always be aware of, and sometimes I’m fully aware there’s no truly ethical choice for me to make. In which case, I try to make the most ethical choice out of the ones presented to me.

Insofar as ethics relate to my religion…well, for the longest time they haven’t. These, or something similar, would still be my ethics if I weren’t on a religious path. However, as time has gone on, my ethics have informed my religion and vice versa. And to be honest, having a religious backing to my ethics helps me.

I’m not saying that’s true for everyone, or that you need religion to have ethics — obviously, you don’t. But for me, personally, I struggle with not being a dick to people, or choosing to be excellent to them. Because they bug me. A lot. And tbh, most people I encounter in daily meatspace life are fucking assholes. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about punching someone in the face.

What stops me from doing so? Consequences. In the case of punching someone in the face, there’s the injury I’ll do myself, and possible legal repercussions — and the knowledge that I violated my own ethical standards, and failed my gods.

Does this mean there will never be a time when I will choose to punch someone in the face? No. There may, indeed, come a time when the fear of possible consequences of doing so are outweighed by the absolute need to punch that person. There may even come a time when punching someone is the most ethical choice I can make in a given situation. I won’t know until I’m in that situation.

Ok, this turned into a much longer post than I anticipated and I’m not even sure if it makes any sense at all. I hope it does. I’m just going to post it, because I’m exhausted, and I don’t think I can make myself clearer on this subject, and to be honest I really want to finish this blogging challenge in the next week.

~Morag

*The big exception, of course, being hexing and cursing. No, I won’t ask a victim’s permission before doing that kind of work, and yes, that is a violation of their consent and boundaries. I also don’t hex people until they’ve crossed a very big line, so the violation of my ethical code is something I’m willing to do.

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