Happy Sun’s Day
“I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for what I do. I am free no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for what I do.” – The Book Of Rabyd 2:2
Thoughts and Exposition:
I am diverging from the original Book of Rabyd at this point. Much of the old one was the same author and while I respect that author, there are many other true points of wisdom quotes that deserve a place at the table. I could quote Robert Heinlein all day too and he may get one or two but there other author’s whose wisdom I find top-notch and so they will also be included.
There are all sorts of schools of thought about why people do what they do. About ethics and morality in general. The most common I have heard is that we do things out of respect or fear. God, the law or basically some authority in general. I would now maintain is not a very high sense of ethics or morality that you have if you only do things out of some outward focus, or because some outward force compels you to be ethical or moral. It basically is an admission that you are not very ethical or moral and you need someone or something to make you so.
This quote cuts through that bullshit, and drives home the point that the only real thing that is responsible for our choices is us. We alone bear the moral responsibility for our actions. Not our fear of the divine (whom ever they may be), respect or fear of the law, or just plain fear. At the end of the day, it is each one of us that is morally responsible for our actions. We alone bear the responsibility for our choices.
Part of this quote is more truth than choice. We tolerate the rules we find tolerable and we break the rules we find obnoxious. I saw this all the time in Christianity. I would laugh inside when people would decry people with tattoos because of an old testament passage about it, knowing full well that same passage had rules like no blended fabrics and other such rules. If those same people were forced to engage all the rules that would have made them upset. No matter how much a person claims to live fully their code, they make exceptions. Then most of them lie that they don’t. Neither Heinlein or myself will do that any more. Rules either are tolerable to my freedom of choice or they are obnoxious to the point of being worthy of being broken. I simply state and live that reality while others will deny it.
I think people play this game of fear and respect because it allows them to look down on someone morally and be in their ivory tower. To think of themselves as better because they ‘follow’ some moral code and others don’t or do it imperfectly. The problem with such codes, is when you get right down to it people follow the parts they like or make them feel morally superior, and ignore the parts they don’t and try to hide it so their moral judgment doesn’t come back on their own head.Quite frankly I am sick of this fear/respect dichotomy. In my mind it just leads to more ‘evil’.
Heinlein and the Book of Rabyd offer you an alternative. Better is to live like this – I am free because I am completely responsible for my own actions. No one else, nothing else compels me to be ethical or moral – only myself. I live free and take full responsibility. Period. Stop. Nothing else.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.