Communal Duty?

Reading this post over at Bleeding heart Libertarians got me thinking about the idea of duty, gratitude, and social justice in an anarchist society. Being a Heathen also leads me to ideas about duty. I am going to start this post by claiming that in a commune and recieving the benefits of a commune requires your loyalty and gives you a duty to help out, defend it, and participate responsibly. I will say this from my Asatruar perspective alone: The myths teach us the virtues to strive towards, and where our duties lie.  Because we are left to judge for ourselves how to meet the challenges and responsibilities that are given us, there can be no one Asatru answer to those questions; no commandments,  just the need to judge for yourself.

I am a vegan psychologist who is a very non-violent person.   There are other Asatruar(and obviously much more orthodox who are omnivores  who also accept their personal responsibility to act to change the world, and are at least as firmly on the path as I am. I might disagree with them on many moral issues but that is my own business, but we we share an understanding of our duty to protect and defend the community, the nation, and the world in which we live.  The gods leave us no easy way out, the duty to act is ours.  How we act is dependant on our abilities and judgement. 

Of course, we have the same number of idiots as any other faith, and given the broad discretion that is mandated by our beliefs, they have a much broader pallet of possible bad choices to pick from.  There are some benefits to a “Ten rules to obey without question or thought”  approach, but without the possiblility of failiure, life would not be a true test.  Besides, until a person is dead, they always retain the ability to grow, learn, and change.  For this reason even our outlaws are given the chance to figure out they have been fuck-ups and mend their ways.  We don’t do forgiveness, so pretty much you are on your own to make resitution once you figure out you have been harming others by your mistakes.  Wisdom often comes with a heavy price tag.

I identified myself as an anarchist (the political philosophy) long before I came across Asatru.  My opinion was then, and is now, that society would be much better off if people were to live in smaller communities, where individual needs and opinions could be addressed, and then each smaller community would in turn meet with the community at large.  This reminds me a lot of the individual villages that existed in Northern Europe prior to Christian interaction. I tend to vote left in elections, because of my social views, and my opinion that those who are actually unable to take care of themselves should be provided for.  But I think poverty and many other issues would be much easier to handle in smaller groups, where individuals could work together to serve the community. In addition, if someone didn’t agree with the views or customs of the community in which he or she lived, there would be plenty of others, and most likely, one or more would suit said person’s taste.

I am an anarchist politically, as I feel no government could ever, in any way provide freedom or social justice.  I hold no party affiliation and feel that government is mostly an extension of corporate interests.  As far as issues go.  I am pro-gun, pro-choice, pro-LGBT, anti-racist,  feminist, anti-capitalist/pro-communist, and radical enviromentalist.

All of this leads to the idea of communal duty. Communal duty is another name for primordial morality which is an outgrowth of Wyrd .  In all of the amazing ranges and reaches of human experience, we often find ourselves comparing our way of living and thinking to others, after the many “ways of being and experiencing” collide and interact with one another, sometimes to good impact, sometimes to disaster. Wyrd forces us to take seriously our deeds and way of thinking; it also forces us to consider the way others act and think, for the deeds, thoughts, tendencies, and beliefs of other people can and will affect us all, eventually.

Those who wish to fall into a sort of laziness regarding the lives of other people, in the name of a truly unrealistic sense of “non-involvement” or even “leaving others to their ways” will swiftly find the danger involved. History gives us many examples of how disastrous social movements and conflicts began in very distant lands, but had a way of spreading out and eventually consuming the entire globe in their power.  Understanding Wyrd forces us to realize that all events in our world are relevant to us, and carries us to the full meaning of the old saying “involvement is the primary duty of the wise”.

When we think interactionally, we easily find our way into what I refer to as “primordial morality”- You begin wherever you happen to be, and you see yourself as a part of the social system that you are necessarily involved with- one’s people, one’s family, one’s friends, and one’s society. Those human groupings are necessarily involved with what we call the “natural” system of the world- the local water, land, forests, animals, and environment.

It’s all one web of power; these distinctions are only made to illustrate a point, and made to satisfy the dualistic nature of language and human understanding. You can (usually) see who and what you rely upon, and who and what your people and your land rely upon.

Reliance is a very widespread notion within the systemic model of interactionism- in the web of Wyrd, we rely on countless powers and beings. Acting and thinking in such a manner as to ensure the safety and health of our community-systems and the natural systems upon which they rely is the greatest “commandment” of natural or primordial morality.

When we consider things in this manner, and examine the realities of life in the ancient world, we arrive immediately at the notion of “tribal” morality; people in ancient times had to live and act in ways that preserved the immediate concerns of family and people. In our modern times, in these times in which the world has perceptually “shrunk” and forced all human beings together into an unavoidable interactive wedlock, the seeds of a global morality are blooming.

This isn’t a morality based on religious notions of “sin” or “God” or what have you- it is not a morality based on which culture is “superior” or “right” or “better”- it is a morality based on interactions that give rise to the common good of human beings and planet earth. Our own “good” is tied to the good of others- what any group of people do to the web of life, they do to all life. Our own survival- and the survival of society- is also tied to others.


~ by ladycat123 on October 28, 2011.

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