Bird Droppings July 21, 2010
Right or Wrong a big issue?
After watching all the election news and primaries most of my selections won their races and only one I am still concerned about and big money as usual took that race unfortunately the State School Superintendent. So I will be happy with my selections that did win and hopefully education will not suffer. Yesterday I was communication with some of my advisement students over books to read and new books I just received and it took me back to a conversation during school. I was talking with one of my advisement students a few days back and she was saying how much she enjoyed her comparative religion class. I asked her what they were studying and she explained comparing Christianity to other leading world faiths. She went on to say how many times she has seen hypocrisy within her own faith. She was commenting on people who say one thing and do another. I was thinking about this discussion most of the day yesterday.
”You should roam in places that are your own, that arise in accordance with your own true nature, and what is the place that is your own? It’s the pasture of ardent clearness and mindfulness, where discontent and greed are put aside for the sake of the world. That is your own place, your natural range.” From the Samyutta Nikaya
There is nothing like a two thousand plus year old quote to start the day. As I look at this statement and think about how when school is in session and each morning I am watching nearly two thousand people walk by my door you really don’t see two thousand distinct individuals. So many are trying to be something they are not. Several years ago I heard the word poser for the first time. I still hear it today people who are posing, basically deliberately trying to be somebody else or something else. Not only is this attempt at being different but often we tend to be posers in morality as well in how we perceive the world.
“Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” William Penn
For history buffs still learning William Penn founded the state of Pennsylvania. William Penn came to the Americas for several reasons. The main reason he came was for religious freedom as he was a Quaker, or otherwise called the Society of Friends. I am sure monetary reward was an issue as well. But many of our founding fathers had thoughts and ideas based in principal on some of Penn’s ideas and philosophies. William Penn proposes a universal morality right or wrong there are no gray areas. In the Samyutta Nikaya, Buddha is looking for being your self. Can these two ideas meet or perhaps even have commonality?
“The moral virtues, then, are produced in us neither by nature nor against nature. Nature, indeed, prepares in us the ground for their reception, but their complete formation is the product of habit.” Aristotle
The idea that practicing of right or wrong can become habit may have some credence. As I look at Aristotle’s thoughts we are born with a predisposition to do right but it is actually is in the doing of right that it becomes ingrained in us. It is truly sort of a practice makes perfect philosophy embedded through our environment influences.
“Moral power is probably best when it is not used. The less you use it the more you have.” Andrew Young
It was five or six years ago that on the news constantly was the issue of the Ten Commandments that were removed from the steps of an Alabama court house based on another higher courts ruling. Some people are incensed that the “true laws” are being removed and desecrated. However it is laws that are removing the laws of some. Whether totally perfect or totally imperfect the Ten Commandments are a religious statement and Federal law came into play with separation of church and state.
I remember all too well a name most young folks will only see in history books Madelyn Murray O’Hare. So many years ago she took on the nation over prayer in school and the use of the word God since she and her children were atheists. She won and school prayer was stopped in schools. However as I look at going back to Penn and his thought “right is right” and the passage from the Sammuatta Nikaya, two ideas over two thousand years apart yet still vivid and real. One is looking to be your self and the other stating that we can see right. Penn however was a man who believed in religious freedom and he believed you could believe as you wanted but still be held for a universal rightness but not necessarily constrained in religion.
In Pennsylvania it was not religion that mattered but the man. Andrew Young’s comment is so very true when we have to explain we are right maybe just maybe we are wrong. You should not have to explain morality and in imposing your explained rightness it can so often create strife. I was thinking about an article on the front page of a newspaper several years back that in Nigeria a woman was accused of adultery because she had a baby out of wedlock. This was a very controversial issue; however in Nigeria approximately two years after she was pregnant the laws were imposed. Incidentally the penalty for being guilty of adultery in Nigeria is death by stoning. For nearly two years this woman had been in the public eye and as of the story still did not know her fate, she was in appeals of the lower courts that had found her guilty.
In this case who is right? In her defense they were using religious law to protect her. They were saying she became pregnant before the strict religious law came into effect and in that country therefore she was at that moment not under the law and conversely interestingly enough that strict law also parallels the Ten Commandments and subsequently the 686 amendments that are also included in the ancient biblical law. Adultery is for the woman and is also a death penalty. Also another thought I find interesting is that talking back to parents after three verbal warnings the child can be stoned at the city gates that is Hebrew law as well. That would be a sure fire cure for most aliments or as in Nigeria another is that stealing is punishable by losing a hand. Interesting crime is down and shortly though secular law and religious law will buttheads as the next appeal for the adulterous woman goes to federal court which is secular not religious in Nigeria. What is also interesting is with these strict laws Nigeria is still one of the most ruthless and corrupt countries in Africa.
“Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” Jesus Christ in the sermon on a mount
Out of the same verbiage comes a paradox we are to be merciful, and then to turn the other cheek. So for Christians where do you stand, stone the woman for breaking a two thousand year old law or lessen your morality that has been imposed by that religious law and offer mercy as prescribe by you leader. Perhaps an answer is available. I recall nearly ten years ago pulling into Chi Fil A and the typical blonde blue eyed student in pressed uniform said good morning can I help you as I pulled to the window. On her wrist was a bracelet with WWJD. I asked her what was the bracelet and she told me it stood for, What would Jesus do? Having spent a large portion of my education in various asunndery studies of theology and such I paused and thought back through various Greek and Aramaic texts translations of several religions and denominations and thought what an interesting concept. What would Jesus Do?
Perhaps even a secular approach could be used what would a person do if that same event was situated upon you? What if you were on the receiving end? Morality seems to have a sense of who’s in charge as well. Not to be religious or even secular what would Jesus do in Nigeria? Like a good lawyer you go back and seek similar cases. It just so happens there is one. From the scripture, a woman was brought to Jesus caught in adultery, (the man got off totally t free another issue for another time) and he was asked what to we do with her and everyone gathered up stones to start stoning her to death the current trend in adulterous situations, it was the law in ancient Israel as well.
I should say that the law was at least applicable to women. Jesus as the story goes drew a little in the dirt and asked a question to the crowd of men who were holding stones in their hands ready to throw them at the woman. “He who is without sin can cast the first stone”. It seems as the story goes one guy dropped his stone then another and soon only the woman was left. She was asked by Jesus “where are your accusers” and she said they were gone he said to her “go and sin no more”. So what is my gibberish about today? Ten Commandments and protests, a universal morality and or simply doing what is right a lot to think about to ponder today and still please keep all in harms way in your hearts and on your mind.