If we look at the nine noble virtues (which, is admittedly a shortcut to heathen ethics), we see that the virtues don’t focus on “the ends.” In fact, they largely focus on “the means.” We’re to be true in our dealings with others, we’re to be productive individuals, regardless of our pursuits.
The virtues don’t say “become wealthy” or give you a goal. They tell you how one should behave in community.
Now when we think of “being heathen” we should also take into consideration that our actions can also be defined by what “segment” the individual falls into. I’ve concluded there are six segments:
- Our family and Hearth
- Our Community
- Our Friends
- People we don’t know
- Our Opposition, or people that are known to be hostile to us
So the question is, as a given person or persons “moves down” the scale, should are means/ends threshold change as well?
For example, if we’re dealing with our family, its my belief as a heathen that the ends would probably never result a justification of the means pushing the edges of our ethics.
On the other hand, if its someone we are in opposition to, are “all bets off?” Because we know they actively are hostile to us, when dealing with this group of people, does any ends justify any means? It would seem that in today’s political environment, this is what is presumed. Either that or we have to assume that politicians believe that their ends are so important they in fact justify any means. Personally, I don’t think for many politicians this is truly the case.
So ultimately, when we’re looking at “pushing our ethical standards” we aren’t on a two axis “ends/means” chart, but rather a three axis “ends/means/who we’re dealing with” chart. Fairly complicated, and each Heathen has to come to their own understanding of how any given situation sits on that chart.
However, what I would argue is that the “who we’re dealing with” axis, as we grow as people, should become less and less a factor. It’s a bit idealistic, but that’s what we should shoot for.
A little something to think about before Beltaine.