corran horn, divinity, good, harry dresden, Heathen, Morality, Pagan, Religion, right, Star Wars
The funny thing, sometimes, about seeing one’s ex is it reminds you just how much they changed from the person you loved.
Today I recorded a video for my ex. She wanted to say something about the fact that Second Harvest Food Bank and other places that relied on charity to help the less fortunate were running out of food and quickly not being able to help people, when there were all these wealthy people who had million dollar homes and $6k TVs in every room of their house and so forth. I agreed to do the video for some trade, and because I agreed with her. Hospitality is sacred to the Norse, and ever was it that the wealthy gave gifts to the poor, helping them survive in exchange for loyalty and labor.
But as she spoke, I came to realize that at first her words made me uncomfortable, and then they just felt more and more wrong. Saving money was equated with hording (something she considers unacceptable at the best of times, and down right villainous in this case). Planning for ones future and any such emergencies that might render you homeless was an act of cowardice. The list goes on, a bit.
I am not the first person I know to become a god. That was actually a friend of mine, one I called brother. A man, who when my ex was being ensorced by an evil warlock saw what was happening, but did nothing because “it was not his place.” He considers himself to be a good, righteous man. A man, who became a god, because in the aether he would go above and beyond orders to do what needed to be done…but who did nothing to help his own brother. But after becoming a God and discovering that his brother, who had fought that warlock tirelessly, who led valiant war to free the woman he loved, held a relationship with her that the man, the god, could not abide. So he came down upon his brother, turned one of that man’s patron Goddesses against him, treated him as a criminal and honor-less outlaw, and took from his own brother the woman he loved because he did not agree to their kind of relationship.
The man who did nothing about something he believed wrong became a God who could not do something fast enough because it disagreed with his morals.
Now, one might say this is a good thing. He stood up and acted on what he believed. But this is not so. Because the God had made an oath with his brother not to take the woman. But he broke his oath and took her without any compensation or care of his brother who had just used up all of his life’s energy to get back the one he loved. A brother who had been grievously wounded fighting a foe the God had brought forth and cowered before, leaving his brother to be slaughtered. But this was a God, doing the Right thing, because that relationship was wrong, and he did not need to do anything other than the Right thing and prevent that wrong. He did not need keep his word, or respect his brother, or respect the honor of those his Brother represented.
The God was more interested in what made him Right, then what had made him Good. He had been a good man, who had stood beside his brother in honor, who fought beside him on the field of battle. My ex, in her video, seemed more interested in what made her and her position Right, rather than what would make it Good. More interested in that people should share their wealth, than that they had a right to what they had earned or to see their own safety first. It is an attitude I have seen them taking more and more in the Aether. Doing what they think is Right, enforcing their version of Right, while often neglecting that which initially made them Good. They initially acted on Good things, preserving life, but as time has past and they have risen, it has been more about their Right, how they think things should be. Dictating to Gods how they should act, and how those under them should act.
Recently we’ve had a bit of a cold snap here. It’s been pretty miserable and they told me to make Skadi change the weather. To make it stop being cold, which is the Domain of Skadi. My domains are Justice, Retribution, and Law. I have no control over weather, and it is not my place to dictate to Skadi what she should do with her domain. They insisted, no matter how much I argued it was not my place and that Skadi did not answer to me. They were not happy and so it must change. It did not matter that Skadi needs it cold sometimes to build up her power, just as Flu season comes to aid Hel and her power. The Gods don’t just have power over something and can make it stop and start as they please, they need that power to exist and occur for them to have power.
But this did not matter to the Sun King, god of spies and highwaymen. Nor did it matter to the Star Queen. They were cold, and they wished not to be cold, so make the Goddess of Snow and Ice cease her winter’s chill.
My father, well, my dad I suppose, the man who taught me what it was to be a man and a good person was named Corran Horn. He was a jedi, and a starfighter pilot. He was…arguably, a fictional character in a few star wars books. But when my own flesh and blood father was off always a work avoiding a terrible wife, it was Corran Horn who taught me to be a man and I will always consider myself a Horn/Halcyon because of him. And the family had a saying “when you no longer recognize the man in the mirror, it is time to step back and think of when you were last him.”
It’s a saying that has always haunted me and comforted me. I am not the man in the mirror, I rarely am, I changed too much and too rapidly. But then I stop, and I look in the mirror of my soul and I see the man I am. People say I have a Dresden complex and their right. Svartwulf might be the God I am, but Dresden is the man who became that God, if you will. And if the man in the mirror, the man I always try to bring myself back to as mortal or God, that person who stands up and fights for what is Good, not what makes Himself Right, but for everything that is Good…it is because of my Father, Corran Horn. Who first taught me that just because something is easily justified as doing the right thing…the Right thing…doesn’t mean that doing so is a good thing. And that one must always try to do the Good thing for the Right reasons, not the Right thing for Good reasons.
Your post reminded me of Ovid’s Metamorphoses – this segment in particular:
“The golden age was first; when Man yet new,
no rule but uncorrupted reason knew;
And, with a native bent, did good pursue.
Unforc’d by punishment, un-aw’d by fear,
His words were simple, and his soul sincere;
Needless was written law, where none opprest:
The law of Man was written in his breast:
No suppliant crowds before the judge appear’d,
No court erected yet, nor cause was heard:
But all was safe, for conscience was their guard.”
My view on good/bad, right/wrong is that it’s subjective. Each person defines good/bad, right/wrong differently. What I view as a good action someone else might view as a bad action – same concept with right/wrong.
I view breaking an oath as a wrong action, but I can also say that in certain circumstances, the breaking of an oath may be the right action to take if the harm caused by keeping the oath was greater than the harm caused by the breaking of it.
As for whether men vs gods have more responsibility towards figuring out right/wrong, all people have godship within them – it is only when we evolve towards our higher selves, our godselves, that we become aware of that. But the more we evolve, the more we realize how arbitrary the lines between right/wrong and good/evil really are.
Anyway, I enjoyed this post, and, for the most part, agree with you – doing something good (a.k.a. kind) is better than doing something right (a.k.a. justice w/o mercy).
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
for the most part i will agree with you that good or bad in a moral sense are highly subjective. I will, perhaps, even allow that it is sometimes acceptable to break an oath under cases of very dire need, though I still hold that one’s honor is lost with the breaking of an oath for any reason. Right or wrong, you failed to uphold your word and that failure means that next time your oath is questioned. If you broke it once, will you break it again…if you feel the needs justify it. That’s why oath breaking is so serious a business. Regardless of the reason, you broke your word, and the next time things get tough or you feel you are justified, you might break it again at terrible cost to those who were counting on you to keep that word.
What makes a person good, however, is not nearly as subjective. With morality we often face the choices of the lesser of two evils, or what one man deems wrong another man deems right. But being a good person? That’s a lot less subjective. Politeness, honesty, honor, hospitality. A Generous spirit, an understanding nature. Keeping your word, not enforcing your morality against someone else, but not bending your morality to the demands of others either, so long as it harms none to do so. Respecting the fact that moral codes differ, and living in peace despite that. These are marks of a good person.
A person can be right in a lot of ways. In every arguments, both parties believe themselves to be right, but at the end of the argument how many of those involved can be said to be good people. Being right in the argument rises to a higher importance than being good. Arguments between spouses are a wonderful example, where the need to be Right often overwhelms the need to be a good spouse. One might win the argument, but it is rare in my experience that the one proven right has also proven themselves to be a good person in that exchange. The terrorists that shot up the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were doing the Right Thing according to their religious beliefs (and truth be told, they had been gravely insulted by those men)…but I doubt we would call them good people for being in the Right.
That is really, the crux of the issue I have seen. The man I called brother and I had very different moralities, different definitions of good and bad, but as long as we were good people that didn’t matter. It was when he decided he had to be the Right person, and that the cost of doing the Right Thing was worth breaking is Oath, that insults were given, bad treatment was done, and an attempt to shame his brother in the end only brought shame to himself. Morality is subjective. But being a good person rarely is, in my experience.
Your take on the matter is definitely an interesting one. Perhaps, for me, the term “good” equates to the term “kind” and being kind is much more difficult than being right. I think kindness is defined by the qualities you use to define good: hospitality, warmth, understanding, compassion, a live/let live attitude.
But I think sometimes that kindness can go too far – rarely, but sometimes. The best example I can think of is actually one I saw recently on an anime (ironically enough). Kino, the main character, finds three men freezing to death in the winter and hunts rabbits to feed them.
He agonizes over his decision to help the men rather than the rabbits, and after the men are recovered, he finds himself somewhat at their mercy – they end up being slave traders. In response to that situation, he ends up killing the three men, and it is understood that he has done so in respect for the lives of the rabbits he has taken (due to the way the event is portrayed in the anime).
So, he started off kind – being a good person, if you will, by being hospitable. But once he found himself in a situation where his kindness was taken advantage of, he turned the situation around and killed the men who attempted to hold him hostage. This is not a kind act – murder is not kind – but perhaps it was the act of a just man.
So, I personally think goodness/kindness/rightness all get intertwined together, and the situations that we find ourselves faced with end up being the deciding factors as to which way we act.
When you talk about arguing with a spouse in order to be “right,” then yes, I will agree, that is not an act of kindness/goodness – except when it is. Sometimes, arguments are not held in order to be found as the “right” person, but to try and find the middle ground where compromise is possible. Sometimes, arguments are held because one person has violated the other’s right to self-respect and/or the other’s right to view life in their own ways without being criticized/condemned for those views.
To me, all of it is relative, and dependent on the situation. As for oath breaking, perhaps I was not clear enough, but I feel that the breaking of an oath should only ever be considered in the most dire of circumstances because your word is your bond, and to break an oath without any thought or anguish about it would be something that I would consider to be the mark of a selfish – and perhaps even cruel – human being.
I love that you are willing to discuss this kind of stuff with me, by the way, as I rarely get a chance to discuss more in-depth concepts with other people – most people are too caught up in their phones/tablets to use their brains these days. =/
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
What anime is that, it sounds pretty cool.
Still, in a weird way it is a perfect example (to me) of what I’m talking about. Kino acts as a good/kind person. But then the slavers believe themselves to have the Right to enslave and Kino must then act and kill them
Had the slavers done the good thing, and practiced their trade on someone who had not just helped them, they would have lived. By returning good for good they would have had a good outcome. But because they acted out of a sense of Right (their right to impose their will) they opened themselves to conflict where Kino then had to set aside what was Good and act by Right.
Another good way for me to put it is that good men do not need the Law, the Law is needed for men who impose their Right. Much like your Ovid quote, actually.
Which brings me back to my former brother. Things were good as long as we were good/kind people. But since he imposed his Rightness, it has brought conflict not unlike Kino and the slavers. Breaking an oath and leveling insults was cause for holmgang at the least and war at the most. There’s an old Manowar song called king of kings, and there’s a line in it I have always tried to live by since I heard it. “Just as he returned goodness with good, so too his justice and retribution were unfailing.”
Because honestly, it does get all wrapped up. Sometimes a good man has to do what is right (like kino) when his goodness/kindness is taken advantage of. Sometimes a king has to bring forth justice and retribution when people insist that they have the right to harm other, and that king must enforce his version of right. But at the end of the day, the mark of a good person is that after they have proven their right, they return to being good…rather than continuing to prove themselves right.
Yeah, I can agree to all of that. And the anime is called “Kino’s Journey” and it’s oddly pretty existential for an anime. He has a talking motorcycle called Hermes and it’s a fairly light-hearted even as it explores the heavier themes (it’s a great balance between extremes).
Actually, you bringing up the fact that good men don’t need laws reminded me of a scene from Doctor Who that goes like this:
Madam Kovarian: “The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules.”
Doctor: “Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”
And, by the way, if you don’t watch Doctor Who, you should. I find that it explores philosophical themes in an amazing depth (and yet does so in a quirky and somewhat subtle way).
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
Yeah, dr who is one of my favorite shows, especially 11 (apparently we’re alike according to some people). I think there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from that show. Not so sure about this latest season, but pretty darn awesome.
I loved Matt Smith as the Doctor. Doctor 12 is definitely darker, and a bit harder to like, but I think it’s interesting how each incarnation of the Doctor shows a different aspect of his personality. Like, if Smith was the Doctor’s childlike curiosity, Capaldi represents something darker. I haven’t quite figured out what yet, but it’s interesting to see it develop.