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Ethics chapter 1
Introduction

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

 

 

 

The degradation of love and the fallacy of reason.

Chapter 1

Now that the millennium bubble has burst and the post millennium depression of the realization that it is business as usual, life goes on, has settled somewhat, it is perhaps time to address what the millennium represented to a hungry world. Indeed, it is time to ask what hunger, if any, was represented in the millennium experience. It is no fluke, and entirely relevant, that in Britain the millennium showpiece, the Dome, was part funded by the National lottery. What has the lottery got to say about the millennium experience with its glitz and glamour format and is there a link between what the dome and the lottery represent? 

There are four issues that are raised in looking at this, comfort, reason, materialism and dogmatism. But overshadowing these, like an Everest that dare not be climbed, is a war between the experienced subjective needs and desires of every day humanity and the authority and power of objectivity represented by science, religion, politics and economics. 

As midnight approached on December the 31 1999, I was buried in the entrails of a computer, striving needlessly to ensure it was ‘2000 compliant’. I was listening to the radio as I worked and heard, and experienced, the epiphany of the moment, the event horizon reached. A few minutes after midnight the lady of the house where I was staying appeared and demanded that I ‘come and see’. We ran to her car, and drove in a never-land world of evanescent light to a hilltop and stood in awe as the sky continued to explode in multi-coloured glory. Into that moment a thought intruded, ‘throughout the world, those that could afford it, billions of hands were lighting billions of fireworks to celebrate – what?’ 

The news the next day denigrated the ‘River of fire’ that the River Thames in England was intended to be. It worked if one had been in a helicopter a thousand feet up. From the ground, it was a damp squid. The millennium experience had failed. The event horizon had come and been found wanting. Indeed, the ‘MILLENNIUM BUG’ (which bug exactly was that?) failed to send airplanes plummeting from the sky or render lifts and cars and microwaves and videos and, in fact, anything with silicon chips inside it, inoperable (The exceptions did not establish the rule of how clever we had been in sorting it.). The television adverts on new years day offered the same bargains in the sales and the same holiday locations of previous years. Post millennium depression hit big time. So what, on earth, was the millennium all about?  

Capitalism, the great and driving global force in the world today, is probably the most successful invasion the world has ever seen. It’s only near rival, Christianity, failed to achieve what capitalism has achieved. Global domination. Where missionaries failed to penetrate vast areas of the world to preach the gospel to all humanity, capitalism is not only reaching those places but building highly sophisticated bastions of its authority in the shape of such multi national edifices as MacDonald’s and the like, and/or it is raising huge factories and refineries and decimating vast areas as it strips out natural resources and/or exploiting third world labour to produce cheap consumer goods for the capitalist elite.  

The rise of capitalism to its pre-eminent position in the world presents us with a huge dilemma. It is clear from the many issues raised by Greenpeace, Amnesty International and many other organizations, and the actions against the excesses of capitalism and fundamentalism by individuals across the world that something is very wrong. Capitalism is not benign. To quote a Cree Indian, ‘Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money’. What the Church achieved by force and the threat of eternal damnation has been far surpassed by the power of capitalism to promote itself into every facet of life with vicious and malign disregard for indigenous peoples, cultures and ecology.

In all of this there is something missing. It has been missing throughout the history of the world and it is time that some sort of redress was attempted, because until it is the sense of wrongness or imbalance in the world will continue. What religion fails to address with all its doctrine and dogma, and what industrialization and capitalism also fails to address in its hunger for growth and resources and promotion of consumption, is our humanity.  

The war of want between the experienced subjective needs and desires of every day humanity and the authority and power of objectivity represented by science, religion, politics and economics is about our voice, yours and mine. Who are we? 

I am a man, born, as each of us is, bringing nothing into the world and certainly, at the end, taking nothing material from it. What significance does my small life have in this world? Taken at its broadest I have two choices in making my way in the world, to give myself, and my time, to religion or spiritual pursuits and/or sell my labour (I broadly include science and research here) in the market place. Those are the sensible choices, I could choose to lay down, wither and die, aspiring to neither and nothing, and whilst I respect individual choice, I don’t think such a choice makes very much sense. 

In addressing our essential humanity and what that is about it is, I hope, clear that as a labour commodity and as a consumer, whatever I achieve with that, and through that, is of no benefit to me apart from living. It contains worth only so long as I am alive. If I am to address our essential humanity then that, of necessity, needs to embrace that area of my life about which I know least, when I do not, or cease to, inhabit a physical body. Why is that? Quite simply, as a human being I am aware of my mortality, that is an issue for me, as it is for each one of us. In addressing life as self, that needs to include every aspect of who I am, and that includes beyond this physical existence. What I am going to do then is to pare down this discussion to the bare essentials and that means I am going to dismiss science, politics and economics.  

What the Dome and lottery represented to a hungry world, as I am addressing this, is nothing. The £780,000,000 it cost to build the Millennium Dome and the National Lottery with its get rich quick, tantalizing, glitz and glamour, mean absolutely nothing. They are, in fact, irrelevant. The only purpose they serve here is to highlight the discussion by their very meaninglessness.  

The petard that awaits me above, yet to be addressed, is, therefore, religion. There are many religions in the world which maintain that they are the true way and that anyone who does not believe in their teaching will go to a place of eternal torment, call it what you will. So Christian or Muslim, to name but two, and it requires no more than that, you cannot subscribe to both and therefore, on the basis of religion all of us are going to a place of eternal torment. I take no issue here with Zen or any other teaching or religion other than, in their pursuit of the Godhead, Nirvana or whatever, they ignore eternal damnation. It isn’t that I cannot subscribe to reincarnation, the teaching of Zen and many others, in fact I would find that entirely attractive, were it not that some other faith says that isn’t the case and I need to embrace, here, the worst case scenario. So, on the basis that one cannot embrace or satisfy all the religions of the world in order to explore the basis of humanity, they too are dismissed. 

We are left, then, with our simple humanity, and what, in its dreadful nakedness, is that? 

In this scenario let us view an act of kindness. I suffer from acute depression. Three years ago I was offered counseling by someone I had met briefly once, but had no connection to in any way. This person offered me counseling at no cost, twice a week. I am still struggling with why she would do such a thing. It makes no economic sense to do so, and it makes no religious sense, from the above, either. Were I about to burn forever in some eternal fire, or eventually achieve god like status at an indeterminate point in time, why would this person offer me her time and space to work through my madness. It was, and is, a bolt out of the blue. It fits no paradigm that I can explain through economics, religion, science or politics.  

What it reveals is mind and ethics. Before religion, politics, economics and science there is ethics, the ability to know, to question and to choose. Biology cares nothing for these things, nor life or death. The quality of life or death only matters because I can cognize them and make ethical choices around them and about them. Science, economics, politics and religion are nothing without ethics. What then, am I making a clear case for dogma? No, such ethics as I speak of here are those from within each one of us, not imposed from outside. The imposition of ethics from outside is no better than corralling animals. The ethics of the church, the state and the market place in so much as they are imposed are the denigration of the individual.

Am I suggesting that the individual is greater than the cohesion and order of society? Not at all, in so much as the stomach is not greater than the whole body, nor is any individual greater than society. However, if poison is put in the stomach then the rest of the body had better watch out. Or if a wound in the leg is left untreated then the whole body may become threatened. And, in so much as some wholesome food is put in the stomach then the whole body benefits and had better pay attention. In the same way the edifying thoughts of one individual are of import to the whole of society and are ignored to societies cost. There is no growth or progress without ideas, so an idea is greater than the whole of society and, indeed, as history shows, worth dying for.

 

© 2000 Keith Lindsay-Cameron. All rights reserved.