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Ethics chapter 4
Introduction

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

 

 

The degradation of love and the fallacy of reason.

Chapter 4

A person who follows rules, ethics or morality without examining what these are, or striving to understand them, is, like the monk in the previous chapter, a slave.

 There is an underlying form to rules and ethics, which once understood leaves us entirely free of them even whilst following them more closely and reverently than one who does not understand them.

 There is a school of thought, attributed to satanic origins, which says, ‘Do what you will shall be the whole of the law’. ‘Right’ minded people meet such thinking with repugnance. It is suggested by such ‘right’ minded people that doing what you like means it is ok to rob, steal, rape, pillage and generally behave in as destructive, narcissistic and selfish ways imaginable. 

Governments and religions subscribe to this theory of descent to our lower nature at the least opportunity; that we will revert to our base nature if we are not controlled. When Thoreau said, ‘That government governs best which governs least.’ he was suggesting, amongst other things, that people are capable of making ethical and moral decisions without the imposition of rule or law. Is it the case that we are inherently unfair, grasping and base creatures? Certainly, many religions teach this, and the one I am most familiar with, Christianity, expounds the fallen nature of ‘man’ in need of redemption, and offers a place of eternal torment if we do not mend our ways. Many Christians will argue that it is simply in accepting the Saviour that we are saved, but those very same Christians will also say that continuing to do what we like is not on. 

Doing what we will is the same as doing what we like. Even in choosing to do an unpleasant or altruistic task, we make a choice for whatever reason, to do what we will. A devout religious, in saying, ‘Not my will but your (God’s) will be done’, is making a choice to do what they like, more than that, to do what they think is ‘best of all’, as Christ did. 

A family man or woman might argue, ‘This is all very well, but I have responsibilities, a home and children to support, I can’t just go around doing what I like’. But that man or woman chose that course in life, chose to marry, buy a home and have children. Whilst they probably did not fully understand the responsibilities or suffering these life choices entailed at the time does not mean that they did not do what they liked at that time, nor does it mean they are not free to renege on those responsibilities at any time, as current divorce rates testify. 

Still others may argue that doing what they liked has been restricted by circumstance or the behaviour of others towards them. So the impoverished beggar in a destitute country or a rape victim who raises the child of that crime or the victims of war and oppression could reasonably argue against this. But can they? Even under the grossest oppression life is about making moral, ethical, and behavioural choices at all times. 

Consider the following: 

First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.


Then they came for the communists
And I did not speak out –
Because I was not a communist.


Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out –
Because I was not a trade unionist.


Then they came for me –
And there was no-one left
To speak out for me. 

Martin Niemoller. 

In not speaking out the person who wrote this was doing what he liked or willed, which was protecting himself. Had he spoken out that too would have been making an ethical and moral choice for what he believed in, what he liked, despite the consequences. 

Part of the fallacy inherent in the repugnance against doing what we like or will, is the assumption that we will always seek pleasure or comfort for our own selfish ends. Is that the case? Are we all rampant hedonists hell bent on pleasure? I could make a statement from an examination of history, but I need not go that far. If I examine this writer, myself, I can make a reasoned plea that hedonistic, self-seeking pleasure is not inevitable. As anyone who has ever written will aver, writing is a painstaking process, it requires self-discipline, a working knowledge of language, a critical mind, the ability to withstand incredibly low feelings, and much more, in short, it is hard work. Writing is about following a personal predilection and is not without pleasure in amongst the hard work. In writing I am certainly doing what I like, but that is far from a descent into barbarity, though my treatment of language might argue otherwise to more informed writers. 

In as much as we follow rules or law, we are no better than children in adult clothing, and in as much as we do not do what we like, examine who we are and make informed choices, we are impoverished creatures at best. 

The monks in the previous chapter are a clear example of what is best and what is worst in being human. The monk, who raised the issue of the rule, had never examined what the rule meant. What was the rule made for, what was it’s intent? Was it meant to restrict or to liberate? If I choose to live as a monk and to be celibate then I had better be aware that at some point my sexual needs are going to make a loud internal noise, clamouring for attention. The rule of celibacy is there to help me in the struggle to accommodate to the very pressing needs of my sexuality. It is there to help me at the time when my sexual needs are most keenly felt and most oppressive in my chosen life, a fall back place to help me overcome this most basic and fundamental need. If I never overcome this need, then I either embrace the rule as a friend in my chosen life, or, in as much as I find it oppressive and restricting and I resent it, it would be far better to give up being a monk and do something about it, for whilst my sexual needs demand my attention I am far from the spiritual life it was my intent to follow. In as much as I overcome the need, I no longer need the rule. Its application in my life is no longer pertinent because I am truly a celibate man. So carrying a woman across a puddle is no more meaningful than carrying a stone, though perhaps a greater kindness. 

If  ‘Do what you will shall be the whole of the law’, is a satanic creed, then the underlying form may well be absolute hedonism without thought for the consequences or impact of that on the lives of others. If it were enacted without thought for ethics or morality or any regard for society, then it would be a kindness if everyone acting out this creed in this way were exterminated because they are setting themselves above society like a virus attacking a higher life form; eradication is the sensible and ethical option.

© 2000 Keith Lindsay-Cameron. All rights reserved.