Good, Evil, Blood, Sweat, and Tears: My Moral Compass

In a conversation with my two friends Peter and Lisa yesterday, I realized that I do a crappy job of communicating how I relate to the world.

Somehow they think I see reality in a dispassionate way, voting for calm and reason in all things. Somehow I’ve given the impression that I think ‘peace’ means not feeling anger, sadness, horror, fear, hatred. That I think a beautiful life means censoring the urge to stand up and yell, shout, scream at all the inhuman grinding of the cynical and invisible iron gears of a monster that eats us all alive, everyday.

In fact, reading the Mythic Cartography Explained series, other folks might have gotten the same impression, that my goal lies in the direction of some kind of yogi-like passiveness to the vicissitudes (great word) of life.

Holy hell! I better get it out right, right here, right now, because my sloppiness in that regard will kill life.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

What we do, in the our relationship to Land, to Family, amounts to no less than the rescue of our hearts, our souls, our spirits, the future of all things, the sweet bright eyes of infants bobbing in a tub amongst the countless towering ink-black waves of a world-ending storm.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Our hearts tell us where to draw the line. Our souls tell us when we will tolerate no more. Watching forests fall and die, children hypnotized into self-loathing, rivers run poisoned and stinking, friends marching the zombie path of nine-to-five. Our hearts tell us when we’ve begun to starve, to die; as a people, and as a place. We stand in the middle of that hurricane of emotion, without flinching or backing off, and feel the rage and fear and agony enter every cell of our being, and every gap in between them. Shaking and moaning, thrashing and kicking.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Not hiding, without shame, we feel all the taboo things. Inside our bodies, grand and glorious weather fronts smash and hammer at each other, the colors our deepest needs make when awakened. Fully aware and immersed in this, we can then call ourselves a human being.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Everyday, we lose absolutely everything, We’ve failed before we even open our eyes in the morning, because we wake to a world weeping in its own agony.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Now what do we do about it? Fueled on the intense truth of our self-destruction, we can let our eyes sparkle and flash, fully awake to what we need to do:

Create beautiful lives for us, for our family, for our mothering land.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

So what does this all have to do with a moral code, good and evil?

With savvy, cunning, discerning eyes that flash and sparkle, fueled on the oceans surging in our unstoppable hearts, we use our minds to plan, reflect, choose carefully. Measuring twice, cutting once. Discerning the way through the hazardous thorn-pricked paths; choosing wise paths mean we get a little more every day, of that beautiful life. Choosing foolish paths means exhaustion, suffering, distraction, and spiritual death.

Will raising the sword create that life? Then do it. Hack away at the thorns.
Will eloquence? Then do it. Charm the pricks right off of them.

To me, Good means the flowing grace which increases life and opens hearts. And Evil means the sticky addiction that destroys life, and closes hearts. The compass for determining the difference between the two? That same heart. How well can a closed heart see the difference? Not very well, if at all.

When a lion kills a deer, what does the lion’s heart say? And the deer’s heart? The compass beating in their chests compel them to create far different worlds. The same applies to us. Time spent on what another should do to create life for themselves, exactly equates to time spent ignoring where our own compasses point in that same moment.

So I don’t speak of what others should do, but what I will do.

I don’t speak of good and evil for others, but for myself.

I don’t question other’s motives, but further clarify my own.

Knowing myself, I know the world.

Knowing the world, I laugh, I cry, I forget my keys, I write, and yell at my favorite fools.

Written by Willem