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Ethics chapter 9
Introduction

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

 

 

The degradation of love and the fallacy of reason.

Chapter 9

The heart of humanity is ethics regardless of race, culture or creed. It matters little what a person does so much as the intention behind the deed. 

There is an expression, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. Quite simply, action taken without an examination of the thought or intention behind the action is as likely to be a hellish thing as beneficial. Thoughtless action is like a game of chance or Russian roulette. It is to take a potluck attitude to life whether that is the intention or not. Good intentions are not good at all unless one examines the intention and, indeed, what is good. 

Herein lies the folly of religion as a mere observation of doctrine. The pernicious belief that the Christian Bible is the inerrant word of God requires no understanding and denies the critical human faculties that are a vital part of our humanity. Worse than this, though, it denies the moving spirit that each life inalienably is. No teaching or belief can cover every eventuality in life. Sooner or later we must make hard won decisions and bear the consequences of the outcome of those decisions against which good intentions are a mere cop out and inhibit the learning process that is life. 

Good intentions are not ethical and have no basis in either ethics or goodness. Let us bear with intention and not confuse intentions and goodness for that will only blind us to the knowledge of ourselves. It is perilous in life not to understand our intentions, let them be the focus and we shall know for ourselves the good or bad, and thus prevent them from being an affliction to others and to life. 

As we own our intentions then we can begin to grasp the complexity within each one. In our forming and birth is one person made with more goodness than another or with less covetousness or jealousy or hatred? Are we not all a complex measure of all these things, of the finite range of emotions and desires, virtues and vices, which make up the inner human being? 

There is a biblical story of ‘the widows mite’, which is a perfect example of the examination of ethics, intention and goodness. How was Jesus able to say the widow, in the offering she made to the temple, had given all she had? Was this purely a monetary consideration? If it was and ethics are measured in such terms then there is little point in religion, religious debate or any exploration of ethics. Viewed in such terms it is clear that what she did merely meant that she was then broke and the rich men, in offering only a portion of their wealth, were not, and one can only conclude that they were rather more sensible than the widow. We must therefore conclude that what occurred was about intention and the ethics behind that intent. 

In this light what the widow gave was her heart. It was her intent to give all she had, whether her two mites or a million mites. It was her intent and indeed her pleasure and love that prompted such an act. Was this a good intention? No, good doesn’t come into it. The moment she asked herself if this was a good thing to do she would have reduced the gift to a reasoned or intellectual one and reason should have told her that it was not a very sensible thing to do. She may have reasoned that her God was worth her all, but that is a mere observation, it does not engage her inner being of spirit or ethics. Such compulsion, because God is worth it, or worthy of it, is entirely beside the point. 

For Jesus to have made the comment he did the widow had to have given her last mite because behind all intellectual considerations she placed her heart, the quintessential essence of herself, in the offering. She was fully and knowingly engaged in the offering. She was not seeking to do good, nor impress others or please or appease God. It was her intention to offer the best of herself to that which she saw as best. Jesus, in his comments, said that she had put in all she had, even what she had to live on. She clearly knew the consequences of her actions, but to call her intentions good would be to demean the gift and the sacrifice. Only a spiritual charlatan would consider the good as meaningful here. The person who means well or has good intentions is morally and ethically bankrupt.

© 2000 Keith Lindsay-Cameron. All rights reserved.