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          This article is excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal. 
          Each issue of the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal is published by 
          High Plains Arts and Sciences; P.O. Box 620604, Littleton Co.,  
          80123, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation, under a Public Domain 
          Copyright, which entitles any person or group of persons to  
          reproduce, in any form whatsoever, any material contained therein 
          without restriction, so long as articles are not condensed or  
          abbreviated in any fashion, and credit is given the original 
                                IN GRANDMOTHER'S LAP 
                                Copyright 1987, RMPJ 
          "Morals are the nagging fear that somebody somewhere may be 
          having a good time." --H. L. Mencken 
               What is the difference between one of us and Oral Roberts?  
          Well, hopefully there are lots of differences, but the top one 
          on my list is that I work on being ethical and he is a moralist. 
               The moralist knows how everybody else should behave in order 
          to be a good person, avoid Hell, fit into decent society, etc., 
          etc.  He is quite likely to feel that he is a valid exception to 
          all his own rules, since he can handle temptation and control his 
          outcomes.  His main characteristic is frantic paranoid distrust 
          of other people.  No one should be seen nude, for instance, 
          because this would be un-bearably sexually arousing and lead to 
          promiscuity, neglect of ordinary duties, etc.  He knows he can 
          control himself, but everybody else has to be "protected" from 
          their evil impulses.  His major defence is projection: "I'm not 
          oversexed, and of course I'd never want to be or want to be 
          unfaithful to my wife, but that woman in the (name situation or 
          article of clothing) sure is asking for it.  Ultimate expressions 
          of this type of thinking are wife-beating -- one man said, "When 
          I walked into the self-help group I thought that when they heard 
          what I'd had to put up with they'd con-gratulate me for not 
          having killed her." -- and witch-burning -- "I am a good person.  
          Bad things do not happen to good people.  A bad thing has 
          happened to me.  Somebody did it!  Kill them!" 
               In essence, the moralist is saying "It can't be my fault 
          (I'm not able to face the idea that it might be my fault).  It 
          must be somebody else's fault.  If people would just follow these 
          few simple rules, which I'll be glad to explain to them, nothing 
          would go wrong and I wouldn't have to feel anxious.  But since 
          they won't all follow my rules, everything is their fault, not 
          mine, and I don't have to feel anxious." 

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


               To me this is nauseating.  I have no idea how you "should" 
          behave; who are you?  What's the situation?  Who else is 
          affected?  Even then, the best I could offer would be some 
          suggestions of courses of action which might have good results -- 
           but I don't believe there are any simple rules for human conduct 
          which are always "right."  What I do believe is that ethical 
          behavior consists of choosing your actions such that you can look 
          at yourself in the mirror in the morning without flinching.  
          Which means I can see a Corsican being ethical and killing 
          another person as part of a feud; a gypsy being ethical and 
          defrauding a gaujo.  I suspect that what I mean here is that 
          ethics impel you to be true to your own values, while morals make 
          you want to 
          a) control others, and 
          b) not get caught yourself.  But being ethical implies that they 
          are your own values, which you have thought through and decided 
          to accept, and not just the ones you have swallowed whole from 
          your family or culture. 
               Marjoe, a famous evangelist who later went straight, 
          described preaching hellfire and damnation and then going back to 
          the motel and making love to his girlfriend of the moment -- who 
          had to be flown in from New York so the locals wouldn't know what 
          he was doing.  Oral Roberts says people have to give him $8 
          million, or God will "call him home."  These are examples of 
          people whose highest priority is influencing others, making the 
          right kind of impression - the actuality doesn't seem to be 
          really relevant to their choice-making process. 
               The ethical person, on the other hand, may not care at all 
          about the impression he is erig; he will say in total sincerity 
          "I know I look like a fool for doing it, but I couldn't have 
          lived with myself if I hadn't."  Or even harder, "I know you 
          think I'm being hard and cruel, but I honestly believe this is 
          the best solution in the circumstances." 
               Next issue (are you holding your breath?) the difference be- 
          tween act idealism and absolute idealism, or how to tell a witch 
          from a fundamentalist without a score card. 
             The Spinster Aunt ..........  FROM RMPJ, 2/3/1987 

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


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