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Mark Atwood
Mark's Stories. "Yea, yea; Nay, nay"
One of my favorite scriptures is:

¶ Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool. Neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
— Matthew 5:33-37

The backstory here was that in the culture of the time, people would preface their words with statements of oaths as to how truthful they were, "By my beard", "by the life of my mother", and so forth. There were elaborate formal progressions as to which ones were "greater" than others, and what public penance one should perform if caught lying (note, not if you do lie, but if you are caught.). The carpenter's son instead said, "All that stuff, stop it. Tell the truth, say what you will do or not do, and leave it at that."

It was part of how the the religion he founded replaced shame (which is based on being caught) with guilt (which is based on knowledge of falling short of internallized morality), and thus helped seed the creation of a working civilization.

This is on my mind, because of recent conversation I had that went something like this:

Me: "It would be going back on my word."
Other: "You gave your word?!"
Me: "I said I would do it."
Other: "For me, 'giving my word' is something more formal."
Me: "For me, it's the same thing."

I fall short sometimes, but it's how I try to be. I always find it disappointing that this is not a shared ethical basic.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
From: j5nn5r Date: July 6th, 2006 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with *you*. If I say it, I mean it. I said it, I meant it. I do my best to stick to it.

"I Promise" is unnecessary.

Do I sometimes fail? Yes.
intrepid_reason From: intrepid_reason Date: July 6th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC) (Link)
To continue my rant from IM, if there's a difference between the two, then how do I know to ever trust anything you say unless you give your word?
hipgnosis6 From: hipgnosis6 Date: July 6th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I also don't see any real difference, beyond formality or reassurance for the person I'm talking to, in what I say versus giving my word. The principle of truthfulness is built into my ethics, and in the times I fall short of that I will usually apologize to the person to whom I've broken my word - to not do so would be dishonorable.
dcseain From: dcseain Date: July 6th, 2006 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)
...and thus helped seed the creation of a working civilization.

Might you expand on this bit some? I find the concept most intriguing.
mauser From: mauser Date: July 6th, 2006 07:12 am (UTC) (Link)
For far too many people, the truth is less important than "Whatever works". Good, evil, truth, falsehood, those are just meaningless concepts in a world with no absolutes, only shades of gray. Honestly doesn't even enter into what they say, and the only "good" is if their words acheive the outcome they desire.

I find that most of these people tend to be liberals.Ï
hipgnosis6 From: hipgnosis6 Date: July 6th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I dunno... I'm pretty liberal and I'm good for my word to the best of my ability.

The real problem with liberals is that they know what they want but have no idea how to achieve it - so when one means doesn't work they happily turn to another and abandon whatever else they've attempted. This fits in with your statement above about good being if the outcome is the one they desire - but I'd be reluctant to pidgeonhole this as a trait of liberals.

I'm killed by conservatives who are into alternative lifestyle choices (poly, paganism, psychonautry, et cetera) who won't acknowledge that these choices are frowned upon by the parties they support - this is as much of a falsehood by way of denial as telling a lie. The Republicans, in particular, talk about small government and less restrictions (for big business) and yet consistently try to take away civil rights. This is duplicitous and I will not support them because of it. Why? Because I place high value on integrity.

(I don't want you to get me wrong - I don't really think that most of the Democratic or liberal canidates have any more integrity than the Republicans and I frequently vote for third party candidates.)
mauser From: mauser Date: July 6th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, don't mistake Conservative and Republican as being the same thing. Actually, you used them correctly above, but maybe didn't draw as strong a distinction.

I consider myself a Conservative Libertarian. And I realize there's an important distinction because there seem to be two kinds of Libertarians out there. Disaffected Democrats who want free access to drugs, and Disaffected Republicans who want the government out of their lives and businesses.

Unfortunately, getting a decent political movement out of Libertarians is like herding cats, so the best I can do is encourage Libertarianism in Republicans and vote that way, because Democrats are a far worse alternative, and I'd rather have an effective vote than a feel-good one.

As far as alternative lifestyles, I do not acree that what gets my dick hard should dictate my political position, which is why I get so annoyed at the assumed, and peer-enforced intersection of far left ideals and the BDSM community, and the political correctness that enforces alignment with other alternative lifestyles. That's why I started conserve_pervs..
hipgnosis6 From: hipgnosis6 Date: July 6th, 2006 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm acutely aware of the difference between Republican and conservative, just as I am between Democrat and liberal. I register as a Democratic Socialist - and know what it means. There's this spectrum that looks like this:

Jeffersonian Libertarianism - Republicanism - Democratism - Socialism

There's lots of Socialist type groups, but most of us can't get our heads on straight enough to adhere into a party that could make any sort of real social impact. I understand that the Libertarian groups have some of the same issues with cohesiveness; everybody's too focused on their own personal pet agendas to get behind the movement as a whole. It drives me nuts. I vote Green party sometimes, Socialist sometimes, and often follow the ILWU recommendations if I can't tell enough about the candidates. Sometimes, I regrettably don't bother to vote; I won't allow myself to be forced to choose between two horrible choices.

My party choice was made very carefully - it backs use of public funds for public works and supports policies of fair trade (representative tariffs are good example - we would like to see tariffs imposed only on countries that charge tariffs or import taxes on our own goods) without getting mired too deeply in humanism to get things accomplished. I'd like to see proportional representation instituted here like it has been in many parts of Europe.

And I'm OK with signing on to an alternative political agenda just as I'm OK with signing on to an alternative religion and an alternative lifestyle choice like poly. I understand why I made those choices, and understand why other people might make different ones.

Unlike a lot of people from ALL PARTIES, I'm respectful of the opinions (and political bents are just that) of other folks. If somebody says or posts something that's blatantly biased, I'll comment - but usually I refrain from trying to change people's minds. I'd rather present evidence and let them change their own mind. And I'll speak out against people making unfair assumptions regardless of how they vote - like assuming that all people in the kink/BDSM community are far-left, or that all or even most people who change their minds are liberals.
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