Most, if not all, the pagans/heathens that I have come across in one manner or another have been hesitant to discuss the use of any of their practices to create, force or aid any kind of change on a mass scale. In one respect, I understand their hesitance. There are lots of, frankly, obvious reasons why. In other respects I do wonder as to the wisdom of that stance.
I have raised once before, though I do not remember the article by detail or name, the state of the world with direct reference to my own country – at the time of the article in question I do believe it was the federal election period for Australia. The idea of being able to affect changes on such an important level as federal elections in a country is nothing short of a power fantasy. Having the power to actively change the outcome of something so important is blatantly a power fantasy and there is no hiding that fact. Even raising the subject makes me uncomfortable, because just raising it brings a lot of things into sharp focus – prepared though I am to go where other people wont, I don’t deny that there are things that make me very, very nervous. Irrefutably so.
A lobbyist and a protestor are remarkably similar for people who often find themselves at cross purposes, though I feel that is more the stereotypes speaking than anything else. Both parties believe that they are right, or at least that those they campaign against are wrong and strive to do everything they can to change the outcome of the matter at hand. Sometimes it is as small as the treatment of animals in animal shelters and sometimes it is as large as environmental welfare and climate change. Both use all the resources they have at their command to affect a change, sometimes that means money, sometimes that means social media and the power of vox pop (Latin: people’s voice).
One thing which really typifies the battles of lobbyists and protestors is the moral and/or ethical dilemma at the heart of their fight. Which is an oversimplification perhaps, but one I feel is accurate. More broadly speaking the element of this dilemma is the existence of the dilemma – one side believes that they are right morally and/or ethically speaking and the other side either believes they are right and not the other party OR they outright believe that the other party was wrong sans a counterpointing moral and/or ethical stance. Often the sheer exclamation that ‘change is needed’ is all that holds a lobby or protest together.
If not from my other post today than from other such posts, it is probably clear that I do not shy away from the never ending debate that is morality and ethics. If I had majored in Philosophy instead of Literature I probably would have done most of my work in one of those two areas (and for those who would argue that morality and ethics are the only purviews of Philosophy, I direct your ire to Philosophy subjects such as the aesthetics of art etc). However this particular topic has taken me to a place that I’ve never been before and is rather… intriguing.
What if there is, within strictly defined parameters, actually a moral absolute?
Now, there are naturally those who would argue every side of the very idea of a moral absolute but I am not going to. Rather, I want to put forward a question using a moral absolute:
Hypothetically speaking, in a situation like the one which Australia faces currently whereby it’s Prime Minister is leading the country down a detrimental path that has definite and unequivocal negative consequences, a path which is unnecessary and only to the benefit of a disproportionately small number of the country, do groups such as Pagans and Heathens that possess powers and/or abilities that ordinary affecters of socio-economic change possess (for example lobbyists and protestors) have a moral imperative to do everything within their power to change things?
At this stage, textually and chronologically, I’d like to mate note that having finished writing that question I immediately had doubts about putting this up and asked someone for advice. Perhaps unknowingly they answered with the philosophically humorous “Really just follow your instincts”. I tell you this because it is important, to me at least, that it is clear that this is something I’m not writing lightly or thoughtlessly.
In all honesty, I don’t have an answer for my own question.
However, as I am sure is obvious, I decided to do what my instincts told me to do. I started writing this post because I felt that there needed to be more attention on the subject and the advice to follow my instincts galvanised my original intention. I really do feel that the further we push forward into the future, the more need there is for these kinds of questions to be asked. We cannot shy away from them, as I nearly did, for fear of the precedents that they might set or the changes the very act of asking the question might itself bring about.